The secrets of a unique relationship between God and man
Inspired by my Brother, David Clayton
There are people in the Bible and when Christians ponder about them today, they often sigh with envy. “It is so good for them! How God loved them!” – But we do not go beyond the infertile yearning. What is common in these cases is that the Almighty has expressed a special degree of love and appreciation for all of them, whether in the form of words or wonderful events. However, when we study some of these stories, several encouraging and inspiring secrets may shed light on the background of our special relationships with God. Considering these, it can also be stated that the Scripture is very concise. Most of the time, we can extract the most valuable nuggets of gold only by reading between the lines.
- When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (1 Moses 5:18-24)
- For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with housands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Judas 1:4.14-15)
The first thing that is noticeable about Enoch is that he walked with God all his life and then disappeared from the Earth mysteriously because the Lord elevated him to heaven. We know nothing of the circumstances of Enoch’s ascension. It cannot be ruled out that it resembled Elijah’s taking up into heaven in a chariot. In any case, an earthly love has won an eternal continuation in heaven… Compared to its predecessors and descendants, Enoch spent a very short time here, only three and a half centuries. He is one of the twenty-four “elders” who today represent humanity around God’s heavenly throne. The apostle Judas refers to him as a prophet in a very peculiar context: Enoch spoke to the people surrounding him of the glorious, second coming of Jesus, which would be the final judgment of the corrupt world.
But what does it mean to walk with God? Certainly, it could not have been very common at that time (neither), to have stories recorded. The prophet Amos asked a very pertinent question in this regard: Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? (Amos 3: 3) The Old Hebrew word ‘jada’, among other things, means to engage. It means a tight relationship, a continuous process of gaining knowledge of each other in harmony on a daily basis. This development has a decisive influence on all other areas of life. We definitely need to imagine a relationship based on intensive and continuous communication, in which dialogue is mutual. What’s more, Enoch’s dialogue with God happened in an environment that was heading to destruction. The next chapter discusses the flood. Enoch was not only in harmony with God’s intentions concerning his personal life; he was also concerned about the condition of his surroundings. In response to his questions and concerns, God shared with him the solution in a vision that would cure everything. As a result, it is likely that as the predecessor of Noah, he must have preached the impending judgment. The closer one is to God, the greater is the pain of seeing human wrecks drowned in selfishness and addictions. It is more likely, he desired to show the human wrecks a way out. Surely Enoch’s life was characterized by a duality of intense joy and intense pain: joy in the Almighty and suffering at the sight of the consequences of evil. In the end, his decision to continuously choose God from the beginning came with abundant rewards that could not be imagined by humans.
- Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.” (Jacob 2:21-23)
- When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? (1 Moses 18:16-19)
The peculiar feature concerning Abraham is that God bestowed the world with the promise of eternal blessing upon him, which will be discussed below in connection with David. In addition, he became friends (!) with the Son, the Lord representing the Father. And it was because of his faith. Friendship is based on sympathy, sincerity, true dialogue between two parties, in which the participants not only tell the truth, but also believe in each other. The decisive factor is therefore:
- Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him… Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Rome 4:18-22)
The word ‘pistis’ expresses faith, but it also means trust, which unfolds and gradually strengthens as a relationship unfolds. For it is not at all self-evident to believe in the word of God in a world ruled by Satan, for we are literally born sceptics. However, despite all his doubts, God did not reject Abraham, but tied his faith to the starry sky. When the patriarch looked up, he had to constantly remember the son to be born and the multitude of his descendants. He, just like all mortals, came to the realization at the cost of struggle, and Every word of God is true, all His deed come from his faithfulness. If it solidifies in us and becomes knowledge, there will be no more obstacles to friendship! In any case, Abraham had been strengthened in his assurance of the Lord’s faithfulness before the child of promise first began to cry. It is this faith that made him righteous in the eyes of God, and therefore became the head of the family of believers. Let us add that Sarah also turned into a worthy companion as his wife, and his name bears the most beautiful declaration of faith:
- … she considered him faithful who had made the promise. (Hebrews 11:11)
One of the peculiarities of friendship is that we share our dealings, our depressing worries with one another: The Lord told the sad purpose of his visit to Earth to his host, who was not unaffected by the impending destruction of the evil cities. Abraham immediately began to bargain for the life of his nephew, Lot, and his family, citing God’s just and compassionate character, and we know from the sequel, not in vain. The Lord delights in seeing His own mercy reflected in the people who have become His friends.
This friendly relationship also developed to such an extent that God dared to reveal Abraham’s faith to the entire universe when he asked him to sacrifice the child of promise. God’s earthly friend was supposed to kill the person for whom he had waited for decades with his own hands to be born. But he did not become disobedient or suicidal and that was because he remembered and trusted in God’s faithfulness:
- Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. (Hebrews 11:18)
Through his faithfulness, Abraham gained far more than he could have hoped for: not only could he spare his son, but could understand, could see the essence of the coming redemption. Jesus referred to this in his discussion with the Jews:
- Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad. (John 8:56)
The particular day which Jesus referred to was the day of the Erection of the Cross, the day of the blood shedding of the true sacrificial lamb, the day of the deliverance of mankind. The Lord, who talked to Abraham in the oak grove belonging to Mamre, showed himself to him as a thorn-crowned, mocked king who, despite his total desolation, was able to triumph — in behalf of his past and future friends…
- And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name. (2 Moses 33:9-14)
- Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:“When there is a prophet among you. I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? ”The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them. (4 Moses 12:5-9)
- And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” (2 Moses 33:15-23)
Moses was also one of the distinguished people of whom God declared to be in a friendly, direct relationship. This honourable friendship prompted Moses to unconditional obedience in all respects. We know that during his long service, he did not exactly act as God had commanded in only one case. At the same time, he became “addicted”: he wanted more and more of God. He was not satisfied with what was already far beyond the godly experience of his contemporaries, he wanted to see his glory with his own eyes. He longed for His constant guidance and imminence. He considered his knowledge of the Lord he had acquired until then insufficient. At God’s call, Moses turned his back on the throne, his comfortable life in Egypt, and with his whole being turned to the Lord of heaven, and then he consistently ascended higher and higher — and, we now know, after his death, he did indeed attained the company of Enoch.
However, it is very interesting, even touching, how God responded to Moses’ questions: He did not resent his insatiability, he did not blame him for his arrogance, He did not reject him offended either. On the contrary: He admired his friend, revealed His love for him, and shared Himself with his friend through wonderful experiences. He confined the light of his glory to make it tolerable for mortals, offering protection against his own, destructive presence… The impossible was realized, if only for a moment: man found himself behind God’s back!
- The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13:14)
- Then at their request for a king, God gave them Saul, the son of Kish, a man of the family of Benjamin, who was their king for forty years. And having put him on one side, he made David their king, to whom he gave witness, saying, I have taken David, the son of Jesse, a man dear to my heart, who will do all my pleasure. From this man’s seed has God given to Israel a Saviour, even Jesus, as he gave his word; (Acts 13:21-23)
David’s name is special in itself, meaning ‘beloved, cherished’. He rhymes with God’s words a thousand years later, which he repeatedly said about Jesus: He is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 17: 5) He was indeed a forerunner of the Saviour in many ways, a good shepherd and a good king. Perhaps his example is the easiest for us, as he was the author of countless psalms which today give us an insight into the mystery of why God could have considered him a man of God’s own heart. In short, he was loved by God and He gave innumerable signs of this beginning in David’s youth. One early example of God’s love was when he stood up in defence against Goliath in the name of the Lord. Afterwards, as the King of Israel, he danced with all his might in his joy over the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant. But perhaps most importantly, he asked God for the most part about his actions before he made decisions, and listened to the commandments and counsel from heaven because he trusted that God would not allow him to be ashamed of His trust. (When he did not do so, there was indeed shame and tragedy.)
Attention was always turned to the creator of beauty and majesty:
- When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained. What is man that You are mindful of him. And the son of man that You visit him? (Psalms 8:4-5)
- By the word of the Lord the heavens were made. And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. (Psalms 33:6-7)
David was the one who expressed his devotion and longing for God undisguised. He wanted to be with the Lord with his whole being every minute. He wanted to live in harmony with Him:
- I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in [e]Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalms 16:8-11)
- As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness. (Psalms 17:15)
- The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. (Psalms 18:2-3)
Perhaps no one has experienced the torment and pain of repentance and sorrow caused to God, as well as the bitterness of self-blame deeper than him:
- Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight. That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. (Psalms 51:3-6)
Through his Psalms, he was the greatest evangelist of his times, who recorded prophecies concerning the Messiah. After all, the greatest treasure of David’s heart was God, and he was not ashamed to share it with the world:
- I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. (Psalms 9: 2-3)
- While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding.” (Daniel 9:21-23)
Daniel, the prophet who was taken captive to Babylon at a young age, received this reassuring response from God in the midst of a heartfelt prayer: the Lord of heaven and earth bespoke to him and answered his questions. In fact, he received much more than he had hoped to ask for. First, he learned that he was an esteemed and beloved child of God. Although exile was a punishment imposed on Israel, the Lord watched the prisoners, honoured them with his special grace. Their loyalty was precious in his eyes. On the other hand, God shared with him not only statements about their situation at the time, but vital ones considering history. Moreover, God hurried to Daniel’s aid when it came to understanding His words, sending his angel with the explanation as mentioned above. Everything that Daniel, as a dear child of God recorded can serve as a compass for mankind until the return of Jesus.
- So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. … After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (John 11:5.11)
Lazarus, about whom John noted that Jesus was especially attached to and his sisters, stands out when looking at paradigms in the New Testament. When we read all the relevant details, we can see that their home in Bethany must have been the home of Jesus, too. He often stayed with them. The persecuted prophet of Galilee found a bed, food, serenity in their home as well as loving open hearts, faith and willingness to listen. They recognized in him the only begotten Son of God, and they treated him as such. As a result of this friendship, they also stood the greatest test of faith: Lazarus’ illness, his fight with death, and death itself. Finally, they saw one of the greatest miracles. It was a miracle God could do based on their trust before the death of Jesus’. Trust breeds trust, which, as a retaining bridge, arches over the deep depths of tribulation.
- His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” (John 13:21-23)
- Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:21-23)
Finally, let us remember of the beloved disciple who ventured into the most confidential relationship of the twelve disciples. He longed for the closest relationship with Jesus Christ, both spiritually and physically, and even declared it. Jesus did not reject this tenderness. As a result, John became an unshakable apostle of love, to whom Christ, just like to Daniel, revealed many secrets of salvation, which resulted in the Book of Revelation.
Who does God love best?
In the case of the above mentioned people, we definitely see a number of features in common. By no means should we think about rigid, formal expression of religion. Instead, we should perceive personal relationships characterized by two basic features:
On one hand, these are devoted, relationships like that of a child based on deep trust in God and expressed in obedience. This attitude transcended the greedy selfishness of infancy, when children are constantly occupied with their own hunger and other needs. The obedient ones know that in this relationship they will get everything they really need. They also know that obedience is not a restriction but an experience of freedom.
On the other hand, it is an age matured in faith, still continuously maturing, that is willing to feel God’s worries, the Lord’s dealings, to take part in the Father’s plans — by faith but by divine power. Consequently it is a constant longing for closeness, togetherness; it is courage to ask for, to ask questions, boldness and perseverance to siege God. It is like a heart beating with God’s heart in sync, a complete sincerity and opening up before the Lord. At the same time, it is a willingness to listen to the Lord of Heaven and then fit into His plans. They all strived for the fullest possible longing and self-surrender. They opened themselves up to the love of God and longed for more of it afterwards.
Nevertheless, in the light of the stories of these biblical figures, we can rightly think that God made exceptions and had favourites from time to time. What could this all mean? To find the right answer, of course, we must consider the whole of the Scripture. What we can say in advance is that God did not love them because they were flawless. Of the men mentioned above, Moses and indirectly David both became murderers. Not only did Abraham laugh at God once, but out of selfish fear he even exposed his wife to a pagan king. Even John, the beloved, fell asleep during the last fight and then ran away so he wouldn’t be caught. Therefore we can conclude that they did not become friends with the Lord due to their perfection!
God is in Search
- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
- God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. (Psalms 53:2)
- For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war. (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Total deliverance called salvation is an accessible and liveable reality for all people on Earth without exception. God has opened the way back to heaven for everyone. However, He still has to look for those who are receptive to the love and solution He offers. In any case, He is looking forward to finding human hearts longing for Him and satisfying in Him.
Your proximity is fine to me
- But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge. I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalms 73:28)
- Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour, no good thing does he withhold, from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. (Psalms 84:11-13)
One of the key elements is the human response to divine call. It is exactly in this where the seven distinguished men differed from the contemporaries: they heard and then evaluated the word of the Lord for themselves and said yes to them. They valued the words of God the highest of all the positive events they had experienced until then. They responded to God’s approach with a final and fatal attraction. They surrendered to the magnetism of the Lord’s love, and never repented later.
We got to know him and we believed him
However that is not enough, it continues: the apostle John understood an essential aspect.
- And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)
- We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)
A sceptic must become acquainted with the fearsome, omnipotent God. They have to believe in His loving attitude; they have to experience the reality of paternal care. They have to fight their way through a sea of their own prejudices and doubts that their environment imposes upon them, as well as obstacles that are present in religion of the given times. They also have to fight the weaknesses of their own personality. The apostle Paul begs, among other things, so that his Christian brethren may have the opportunity to get to know the depths and heights, the breadth and length of God’s goodness, that is, the infinity of God’s goodness. This is not possible to see through binoculars from a distance. We have to go close, until we are united… The God we truly got to known becomes for us a truly lovable and at the same time personally loving God. Ultimately, we can say that God loves one who lets themselves to be loved, those who return his forever existing love. He can approach those and smother those with His gifts who turn to Him, who pay attention to Him and give in to his words, and then try to get to know Him for a lifetime.
But what will we have?
Fine, it’s all nice, but it all happened a long time ago! Can man today repeat Peter’s longing questions, meaning: what do we gain here and now from God’s nearness? Even better to ask: what will we have? Since all, including Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel but the Apostle John and Lazarus would envy the children of faith living in the ages after Pentecost. They had only fragmented knowledge and experience of their beloved God: they sacrificed a lamb, set up a tent, climbed mountains, turned to Jerusalem and prayed to meet the Lord in some way. God even asked Moses gently, “Shall my face go with you to comfort?” However, the face of God, Jesus Christ, became available to all sincerely seeking God two thousand years ago. In Him the relationship between God and man rose to a new level:
- My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:12-16)
Every Christian who accepts Christ into his life, who makes a covenant with Him through water and the bathing of the Spirit will become the living temple of God, the personal friend of Jesus, with whom He can share the innermost thoughts of His heart, and who will remain with us until the end of the world just as He promised. If you want to be a favourite of God, you can do so with confidence. He has been waiting for you to take the place made for you! From the moment of unification, He becomes a spiritual companion ever present: in pain, in trials, in war, and in joy. And when the day comes when Christ returns physically, you will be able to experience the same thing as Enoch did: the Lord will raise you up and then we will be with the Lord forever.
However, until then:
- remember to walk with Him daily as Enoch did;
- remember to believe all His promises like Abraham did;
- remember to seek His face and His glory day by day, as Moses did;
- remember to bless and glorify Him as passionately as David did,
- remember to search His word as steadfastly as Daniel;
- remember to seat Him on the head of the table every day like Lazarus did;
- and remember to love as openly and passionately as John did.