Sunday, August 7, 2022

Names of God: Jehovah-jireh, The God who Provides

Your worst nightmare.. what is it? The worst possible thing that could happen to you? What would it be like? Worst case scenario… it’s a scary thought. For Abraham, his worst case scenario had come, when he thought he was going to lose his only son, Isaac. As he walked up the hill of Moriah, every step must’ve felt like a thousand pounds of weight. Yet he kept marching, trusting in God even then.

Because he knew his god was and is, Jehovah-jireh, the God who provides.

“The historic incident out of which the name Jehovah-jireh rises is one of the most moving and significant in the word of God. The historic account is found in Genesis 22. It is the account of the last and greatest crisis in the life of Abraham. Every event in his life has led up to this supreme hour from the time of his call to a high destiny, through every vicissitude, through every joy, through every trial or failure, through every measure of success and blessing, through every hope and promise and assurance. All had been in preparation for this event. The great promise had been fulfilled, the supreme hope of his life realized.” -Nathan Stone, Names of God

When we have a problem in our lives, a financial problem, a relationship problem, a property problem, car problem, what’s the first thing we do? We get to work trying to fix the problem. Or if you’re female, you talk about it with friends, reflect, and later, maybe, try to fix the problem, right?

I’m kidding. In any case, our first reaction is to try to solve problems when we get them. Often times we’re able to solve a problem. Whether it’s a broken car, we take it to someone to get repaired, if we’re sick we see a doctor, if there’s an error on our taxes, we fix it, and on life goes.

But what about when we can’t fix the problem? A loved one dies. You can’t fix that problem. You lose your job, and you can’t seem to find a new one. You find out you can’t have children anymore. Then what do we do?

For Abraham, in the book of Genesis, he had ran into a problem he couldn’t solve. His wife Sarah was barren, she couldn’t have children. He had no son to carry on his line. So what he did, was he turned to God for help. And God did help him. But it took years of faithfully waiting on God, for it to finally happen. Mistakes were made on the way. But in the end, God caused Sarah to become pregnant, and Sarah gave birth to Isaac.

Abraham loved Isaac so much, his favorite son. They were so very close. They did everything together. Isaac was special, blessed, loved by Abraham and God. Abraham had gone from waiting in faith, to finally after so many years, walking in the blessing. He had received what he had asked for. He was sitting on the sunny beach, sipping a cold drink, breathing the fresh air.

For me, I worked for years to become an officer, a pastor in The Salvation Army, it was my dream for many years. Back in 2014 and 2015 I was an intake worker at a homeless shelter. In 2015 I became a soldier of The Salvation Army. 2015 to 2017 I did a 2 year internship in Upper Michigan at a corps serving Escanaba along Bay De Noc. From there I went to Chicago in 2017 and studied for 2 more years, and finally I saw the blessing become a reality in 2019 when I became a corps officer.

And so today I walk in that blessing. Of course there are other blessings God has promised me, which I still wait for today.

But imagine Abraham, walking in the blessing, enjoying special memory after special memory with his son Isaac.

And then this happens.. from Genesis 22:1-18 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

So after everything, all the waiting, God said, alright, I want you to give up Isaac. Will you give up your only son because I’m your God?

What on Earth is going on? He received this blessing, Isaac his son. And now God commands him to offer him as a sacrifice?

But Abraham had an incredible faith, a trust in God that went beyond anything. He knew God would provide somehow. So let’s see what happened next.

"Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

We often say that we are saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ. And that is certainly true. That’s from Romans. But it’s also true that faith without works is dead, which is from the book of James. We often talk about how “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Which is certainly true. Yet, in Genesis we also see Abraham received the promise only after he had obeyed God, by being willing to offer up everything to God, even his own son. Faith without works is dead. His faith came together expressed as works as Abraham went up to offer Isaac as a sacrifice.

But God stopped him, and said, I myself will provide. Which is our name of God, for today, Jehovah-jireh, God will provide or God who provides.

God spared Abraham’s only son, but He did not spare his own son Jesus Christ, but gave his son Jesus Christ to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins, so we could have eternal life with him in paradise.

God himself would provide. How often when we have a problem, we try to provide ourselves for the solution. That is why every religion on planet Earth, every man made one, is all about doing good deeds to try to make things right with God. But not with our God. Our God, the real and true God, provides a way for us through Himself, through Jesus Christ, not from our own efforts. Jesus Christ becomes our way, our healing, our righteousness, and our hope for eternal life.

Jehovah-jireh, our God himself provides, we must renounce our own efforts to prove ourselves worthy by doing enough good things or being a moral person, we can’t be good enough to please God, instead we must repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation. And then our sins are blotted out, and we gifted with new life. It’s a gift. A free gift.

Just like God provided the ram to replace Isaac, so God provides Jesus to pay off our sin debt. That is the arrangement, can you receive it today? Can you repent and put your faith in Him? Can you set aside your own efforts, and rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ?

Jehovah-jireh, God himself provides.