The Lord will provide …
As a kid in Sunday School, I always equated this aspect of the Lord’s character with stories of God’s provision of food and the necessities of life, like when He sent manna and quail to the Israelites in the desert or had ravens carry bread to Elijah in the wilderness. Or the way that He set the universe in motion and causes the earth to rotate around the sun, day to turn into night, spring to lead to harvest, and rain to fall.
But if you look at the passage in Scripture—Genesis 22—where the title Jehovah-Jireh is first used, an even deeper, more beautiful meaning comes to light.
Around about that time, God had chosen to establish a covenant relationship with a man named Abraham. He called Abraham out from his homeland, led him to be a stranger in a far country, and promised to make Abraham the father of a great nation who would be chosen to serve Him. But as Abraham and his wife Sarah were getting along in years and still hadn’t had any children, God’s plan started to seem less and less likely.
But God reaffirmed His promise to Abraham, and sure enough, they were blessed with a son, Isaac. The child of the promise.
But then, God asked the unthinkable of Abraham.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” – Genesis 22:2
Sacrifice his son? His only son whom he loved? The child of the promise?
If I had been Abraham, I would have had some serious doubts in that moment. But Abraham saddles his donkey, gathers the wood and a knife, takes his son Isaac and steps out in obedience.
At one point, Isaac looks around and asks about the lamb for the offering, and Abraham replies with a deeply profound statement—though I doubt if he realized then just how incredibly true his words were.
Abraham answered, “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. – Genesis 22:8
They reach the top of the mountain, and Abraham begins building the altar. Imagine the agony wrenching his heart as he sets the stones in place. Each thud resounding through his bones. The struggle between faith and fear. God Himself will provide …
Even if it means bringing Isaac back from the dead. (Hebrews 11:17-20)
So Abraham binds his son and places him on the altar, clutches the knife in his hands, and prepares to drive into his son’s heart. But the angel of the Lord calls out to him and tells him not to harm the boy, that God is satisfied in knowing that Abraham fears the Lord. When Abraham looks up, he sees a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he releases Isaac and sacrifices the ram in place of his son.
So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. To this day, it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” – Genesis 22:14
I’ll admit that this passage puzzled me at first. Why would God tell Abraham to sacrifice his son, when God abhors human sacrifices? It’s true that He wants us to sacrifice our whole lives to His service, but He certainly does not want us to kill and burn children through some twisted idea of somehow bringing Him glory. But as I reflected further, I realized the deeper meaning behind this strange event.
Yes, this was a test of Abraham’s faith and trust in the Lord and His promises, but it was more than that too. God asks the unthinkable of Abraham. Sacrifice your son to me. And Abraham does the unthinkable. He steps out in obedience and faith, only to have God step in and provide the sacrifice for him—in this instance, a ram. But this passage also serves as a beautiful foreshadowing of another sacrifice on another mountain, a hill called Calvary, when God steps into history and does the unthinkable, willingly offering His own Son as the sacrifice for mankind. The Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? – Romans 8:32
Jehovah-Jireh. The Lord will provide. Not just food and air and light and life, although without Him we would have none of those things, but the sacrifice for our sins. And isn’t that a beautiful truth?
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. – Psalm 129:7-8