There is a famous story in the Old Testament that begins with a test. Abraham, who Scripture calls the “friend of God” is given a challenge by God. Most of us hate tests. They bring about nerves and anxiety, forcing long nights of cramming material that we missed while napping in the back of class. They are a chance to prove what we’ve learned, or in some unfortunate cases what we didn’t. This test in Genesis 22 is a test of Abraham’s faith and obedience. The truth is however, that this passage teaches us much more about God than it does about Abraham. Here we learn at the end of this passage another name for God. Another name which reveals more truth about who He is and longs to be for us. Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide.
God gives Abraham a command to take his son Isaac and go into the land of Moriah. His mission upon arrival is to sacrifice his only son on one of the mountains that God will reveal unto him. This is one of those passages that force you to stop and read again. What kind of father would be willing to sacrifice his son? Though I am not a father, I cannot imagine being asked to give up and sacrifice any loved one in that way. I find Abraham’s response to be staggering. It is one of complete and immediate obedience. Notice the language in verse three of Genesis 22. “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” Abraham springs into action following each command that God gave to him. After a three day journey Abraham and Isaac arrived at the mountain of God’s choosing. I can imagine Isaac looking at their supplies and considering all the things needed for a sacrifice. Altar…check! Wood…check! Sacrifice…?? Isaac asked his dad about this and Abraham once again shows great faith and obedience with his response. He answers Issac, “my son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” I can just imagine Abraham’s grief as he laid his son Isaac on the altar and prepared to sacrifice him to the Lord. Perhaps the emotion of the moment is lost on us who so casually can read the next verse. God intervened and provided a ram to sacrifice instead of Isaac. Just as Abraham had promised Isaac, God had provided himself an animal for a burnt offering. Abraham called the place Jehovah-Jireh. This is undoubtedly an incredible story of testing, faith, and obedience. But what can we learn from this story about God and how is it applicable to us today?
Notice in verse fourteen of Genesis 22 the language of scripture. “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” The word jireh really means to see. Jehovah-Jireh means the Lord will provide, but really it means the Lord will see. It might be better said the Lord will see to it. The english word provide finds it’s roots in a Latin word which means to foresee or to look ahead. God’s provision is really an understanding that is God is sovereign. He sees where we are and where we’re headed. With God’s calling and commanding comes His enabling and providing. God was not calling Abraham to a situation he had not foreseen and provided for. Before Abraham made it to the land of Moriah, God knew the ending of the story. God sees our need before we even know about them. Perhaps you are in a situation you never dreamed you would find yourself in. Facing, like Abraham, grief due to a loved one, an overwhelming need, a lack of direction, or confusion in your purpose. God sees you and He knows the end of your story. Never be afraid to trust God with your unknowns. God doesn’t want you to live in fear of the future. He loves you and promises to take care of you! Remember the words of Luke in Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” If God cares enough to provide for the birds, He cares enough to provide for you!
Abraham was quick to obey God. I can’t imagine the questions, fears, and unknowns that ran through his head on that three day journey. Would God really take what is most important from me? Why would God ask this of me? How will I ever explain this to Sarah? A sacrifice was a form of worship to God. In worship, there is nothing more important than the heart. This is seen all throughout scripture. In Matthew 15:8; “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” 2 Corinthians 8:5; “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord.” Luke 10:27; “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. The list of examples is long. Remember this about God’s testing of Abraham in this passage. God did not want Isaac’s life, He wanted Abraham’s heart. God’s testing to us is often a test of reliance. Would you be willing to sacrifice your most valuable worldy possessions in order to obey God? What is it that God is asking you to be willing to give up in order to follow Him? Even good things become idols when they take the place of God in our lives. The call of a disciple is not one that comes without a cost. Luke 14:33; “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple”
Today, be encouraged with this truth; the Lord sees your need and will provide. His provision will not always be in the way you expect or on your timeline, but He is Jehovah-Jireh. Learn from Abraham’s faith and obedience and remember that God can be trusted. Is there something in your life that has taken the place of God? He wants and deserves your heart. After all, Abraham wasn’t the only father willing to sacrifice his only son. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice for our sin. If he provided a way for sinful man to be reconciled to a holy God, surely He can and will provide for your need!
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? - Romans 8:32