"and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness—and he was called a friend of God."
Abraham took a proposition about God and acted upon it.
But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
At the beginning of Isaiah 41:8 God addresses his Israel and then, half a sentence later, addresses them as Jacob. He is reminding his people of the name-change from "One who supplants" to "Wrestles with God." It was IN Jacob's wrestling -- in finally engaging with God in a physical way -- that Jacob's future is formed. Then he addresses them as offspring of Abraham. The play on the change from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many nations) is evident. And God's sovereign choice of us to be his people is shown in the passage; and we are told not to fear; and we are promised strength, help, and support (an allusion to the Trinity, I think: strength=father, help=holy spirit, support=son). James is saying that "Abraham believed God"="Abraham moved when God told him."
What do I do? I so often sit, frozen in fear because I can't quite make the leap from Jacob to Israel, from Abram to Abraham. And so I find it is safer to sit on my couch and let everything fall apart (or not) around me than to act decisively because I am sure that God is my father and I am beloved. Will I ever come to the place where he calls me his friend?
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.