Abraham was the only man in the Old Testament called the friend of God.
James says Abraham was called the friend of God. The Lord Himself, speaking through the lips of the prophet Isaiah, used this phrase"Abraham my friend" (Isa. 41:8).
Do you see why he was the friend of God? Do you see the basis of that exclusive title - God's friend? Because of the utter abnegation of the self-life demonstrated and proved in his offering of Isaac.
Abraham knew what that meant, "If Isaac goes, everything goes. But God is God and He has made a covenant, and I can afford to offer Isaac. In some way, God will bring Isaac back again."
Paul said Abraham believed God who gives life to the dead (Rom. 4:17).
And when you get through where you can so utterly let go to God because you believe so utterly in God that no matter how much you let go, there will be no loss in the long run where God is concerned; you are not going to lose anything or be limited by letting go to God utterly and absolutely.
If we can come to that position with God and God seems to be striking at that in which everything is contained and with which everything is bound up, and say, 'All right Lord, You are the covenant God; You have covenanted concerning this. I do not know how You are going to do it or what You will do, but I am going on with You'. That is the basis of this friendship.
Now you see how it points to the Cross of the Lord Jesus. "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet" (Heb. 2:6-8). "Thou makest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands" (Psa. 8:6).
The Son of Man is Jesus Christ, as the context shows. He is made to have dominion over all things, made to have all things put under His feet, made the Heir of all things before times eternal. So says the Scripture. Very well, go to the Cross and die! He offered Himself, He laid down His life, and in so doing everything of God's covenant was put on the Cross, but He believed God.
Beyond the Cross His seed was as the sand of the desert, as the stars of heaven - all through the Cross. You see the principle. It is a very, very impressive principle.
So then, Abel establishes the principle once and for all. Noah shows how absolutely universal that principle is. Abraham shows that in relation to God's great purpose of having a great multitude which no man can number out of every tribe and kindred and tongue, God's great purpose to take out of the nations a people for the Name of His Son is by way of the Cross, by way of the closed door to the flesh.
We who are so concerned with the matter of evangelization, the salvation of the multitudes, the increase of God, the life of men, may we not be standing in the way of it all by bringing so much of our flesh in? Just frustrating it all because we come into the picture?
It will be a crucified church that lives and grows, and no other.
It will be crucified men and women who live before God and who multiply.
It will be a crucified ministry that brings Life and increase.
You hear Abraham: in the time of trial and testing, the incident in the interval with Hagar and Ishmael had taken place, when Abraham had tried to do this in his own energy, tried to bring it about, and had met a closed door with God. And he knew it, and cried, "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" (Gen. 17:18).
Ishmael does not live. I have produced Ishmael by my own energy, by my own wit, by my own effort to fulfil divine purposes.
I have brought Ishmael into being, but he is dead, he does not live! God has not accepted him.
O that Ishmael might live before thee!" No! No Ishmaels live with God, that is the fruit of the flesh, the work of the flesh.
Only Isaac lives with God, and Isaac bears favour. That is the mark of the Cross in Abraham's life.
~T. Austin Sparks~