Wouldn’t it be great to actually hear God’s voice? Then following his will would be clear and easy.

Or so I thought.

We have several accounts in the Bible where people actually heard the voice of God. One of the most intriguing is recorded in Genesis 18. As the story unfolds we increasingly recognize that this is no ordinary encounter.

Abraham and the Lord

It begins with Abraham offering hospitality to three men. The first hint that this is something unusual is given in verse 5, where the text says “they answered” with one accord. (Is this an early example of the Trinity?) Abraham recognizes something unusual is happening, and he rushes to prepare the best meal possible for his guests.

By the time we get to verse 10 the text lets us know that this is the Lord speaking, and He predicts that Sarah will have a son, in spite of their age.

Then follows an intriguing conversationAt first, it sounds like the Lord is talking amongst the three of them, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” He decides to tell Abraham his intentions about Sodom.
Incredibly, Abraham begins to challenge him to reconsider.
Even more incredibly, God does not strike him dead, but engages with Abraham – and changes how he would carry out his intentions!
The first time I read this story it stopped me dead in my tracks. God allowed a human to effect His will? Doesn’t God just have a will, and it was to be done no questions asked? This story of Abraham challenged my paradigm.
A Clue
Biblical writers also reflected on this story. Centuries later the prophet Isaiah gave us a clue when he described Abraham as the friend of God
Hold that thought …
Fast Forward to the New Testament
… where we learn this man called Jesus is no ordinary man but is the Lord walking again on the earth.
Jesus said to his disciples, “I no longer call you slaves because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends since I have told you everything the Father told me.”
This is an amazing pattern, consistent throughout the Bible – God wants to engage us in a real relationship.
A relationship occurs between two people, each with a will and freedom to interact and affect each other.  God does not want a mechanical, repetitive or formal relationship, but a genuine engagement with people.
An inescapable conclusion emerges:
  • God is not looking for slaves to mindlessly carry out his will (the blueprint model)
  • nor has he left us to figure it out by ourselves (the wisdom model)
  • but rather he invites us to enter a relationship with him where we literally are co-deciding matters with him (the discernment model).
But does this mean that there is no divine will apart from us? No need to learn wisdom? Are we just to listen to a voice? Stay tuned for the next blog …
Question: What do you think this “friendship with God” means?