In the northern Galilee there is an ancient site called Tel Dan. This particular place is mentioned several times in Scripture, many times referred to as Layish. That was the name of the city when Abraham was in the area, and we know from Scripture that Abraham did come to this place. It says in Genesis 14:14 that when Lot was taken captive that Abraham pursued his captors as far as Dan, or Layish.
There in the ancient site of Layish is a gate which has been dubbed the Gate of Abraham. It was not called that in antiquity, but if Abraham had come to Layish, he would have entered the city through this particular gate.
When we reflect upon the life of Abraham, we can the cost that must be paid in order to be called a friend of God. He had to endure many tests and trials that would have caused most people to succumb. Most people might have given up, turned around and gone back to Ur. But Abraham persevered and, in the end, was not disappointed that he did. Notice what the Creator had said to Abraham in Genesis 17:1-2:
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’”
Notice that He told him to walk before Him, not to walk alongside of Him or with Him. The Bible tells us that Noah “walked with God,” Job “walked with God” and yet to Abraham He says, “Walk before Me.” What is the difference? The answer is given in a parable of two sons.
A man had two sons; the older one was reserved, goal oriented, and tended to think things through before making a choice. Through the years he impressed his father with his ability to apply what he had been taught to a situation and make wise choices. The younger son was a bit more immature, more impetuous, and more liable to be distracted by things that seemed exciting. His tendency was to make poor decisions.
There came a day when the father wanted to go to the city and he invited his two sons to go with him. He knew there would be a lot of business and many distractions. There would be opportunities for either of his sons to be led astray by all that the city had to offer. He came to his younger, more immature son and said to him, “You walk with me.” He took him by the hand and began to walk with him, keeping him very close to his side. He knew the hustle and bustle of town would be overwhelming for his younger, more immature son and didn’t want him to become lost.
To his older son he said, “Walk before me.” This son had shown time and again that he had the ability to make wise choices. Therefore, his father gave him yet another opportunity to choose wisely. His son would never be out of his sight but would have the freedom to make his way through the crowd. And so, the parable asks the question, “Which one of his sons did he love the most?” The answer is, He loved them both equally. It’s just that he knew them both very well. So he kept the one close to his side and to the other he said, “Walk before me.”
Chances are that we have all have been the son who has to walk very close to the Father and be held by the hand, so to speak. In our immaturity, the world’s distractions can easily entice us to wander and, potentially, become lost amongst them. There does come a time in our spiritual walk when the Father no longer says, “Walk with Me,” but says, “Walk before Me.” We continue to trust Him in all situations but are given the opportunity to demonstrate that we have listened to His voice and can think clearly and will choose wisely.
In other words, many are being called to learn what it really means and what it’s truly going to cost if we are to be called “friend of God.” If we are the seed of Abraham, then we are called to do the works of Abraham; one of those is learning how to walk before God and be blameless. Our prayer today should be that when the time comes “to walk before Him,” that we will be equipped and empowered to do so. He will never take His eyes off of us, for He is watching and observing to see, “Can I trust you to do the right thing in these last days?”