THE NAMES OF GOD Lesson #2
Jehovah-jireh - The Lord Will Provide Genesis 22:14
Pay no attention to those who teach that it is never God’s will for his children to suffer, or that all suffering is an indication of God’s displeasure. Genesis 22 writes this message out in bold letters: TRUE FAITH MUST BE PROVED BY TRIALS. Here the Holy Spirit has recorded Abraham’s most severe trial. Abraham was the friend of God. But, in God’s wise and good providence, Abraham was called upon to endure the most heart-rending trial any man ever had to face in this world, other than the Man of Sorrows. Faith must be proved; and it is proved only when it is put to the test. HOWEVER, THE PRIMARY THING TO BE SEEN IN THIS CHAPTER IS NOT ABRAHAM’S TRIAL, BUT GOD’S PROVISION FOR ABRAHAM AND HIS SON UPON THE MOUNT. The Lord God provided a ram as a substitute to die in the place of Isaac. And there Abraham raised up an everlasting memorial to his God. Read verse 14. “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” The name by which God revealed himself to Abraham, “Jehovah-jireh,” may be translated in three ways. It could be translated “The Lord will See,” or “The Lord will Provide,” or “The Lord shall be Seen.” However we translate this name of our God, Jehovah-jireh expresses the idea of God seeing and of God being seen. For God, to see is to provide. You know how we sometimes say, “I will see to it,” when we mean, “I will take care of it,” or “I will provide for it.” That is the meaning here.
The truth contained in this name of God, Jehovah-jireh, ruled Abraham’s heart even before he uttered it and established it as a memorial in the place where God provided a substitute for Isaac. It was faith in Jehovah-jireh that sustained the old patriarch’s heart throughout this ordeal. Faith in Jehovah-jireh, the Lord who will provide, enabled Abraham to render the prompt and unswerving obedience that is recorded in this chapter. Many things must have crossed Abraham’s mind which might have caused him to disobey his God. As he took that painful journey to Moriah, he must have had many perplexing questions about Sarah, his relationship with her, the promises of God that were wrapped up in Isaac, Isaac himself, and the response of his friends and neighbors to his act of slaying his son in the name of God. But the old man strengthened his heart, as he went up to Moriah. Determined to obey God, regardless of cost or consequence, Abraham said to himself, “The Lord will see and the Lord will provide. He will not break his promise. He will not alter his word. Perhaps he will raise Isaac from the dead. But even if he is not pleased to do so, by one means or another, my God will justify my obedience and vindicate his command. His name is Jehovah-jireh.” This name of God, Jehovah-jireh, silenced every unbelieving thought and carnal objection. Do not miss the practical application of this to your own heart. If you believe God, if you follow the Lord’s bidding, he will see to it that you will not be ashamed or confounded (Rom. 10:11). If you come into great need by following his command, the Lord will see to it that you lose nothing by your obedience. If difficulties rise like mountains before you, so that your way seems to be completely blocked up, your God will see to it that the way is cleared. Walk in the way of obedience and, as you walk, every obstacle will fall before you. “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5). Confer not with flesh and blood, and the Lord will make a way for you to do his will (Gal. 1:16). The Lord will see us through the way of faith and obedience, if we are willing to walk in it. He will see to our way, if we dare to walk in his way (Pro. 3:5-6).
“The Lord will see and the Lord will provide.” That is what Jehovah-jireh means. We should not be surprised to find Abraham declaring this truth and attaching it to the spot that was to be forever famous. His whole heart was saturated with it. His soul was sustained by it. His trial taught him more of his God than he knew before or could have known in any other way. In fact, it gave him a new name for his God. And Abraham’s grateful heart desired to keep this name of God as a memorial to all future generations, to encourage all who believe God to obey his will and persevere in his ways. Abraham says to all, “The name of our God is JEHOVAH-JIREH, the Lord will see and the Lord will provide.”
This was not the first time Abraham had used such language in speaking of God. In verse 14, “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh,” because he had seen it to be the truth. This was something he had experienced for himself. The ram caught in the thicket had been provided as a substitute for Isaac. Not only had the Lord seen, but according to the promise made to Abraham’s faith, the Lord had provided as well. Even before he knew how this trial would end, Abraham confidently believed God, trusting him to provide what was needed (Rom 4:20). Read verses 6 and 7. Isaac said, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham answered with confident faith in his God, “My son, God will provide!” And in due time, God did provide. Then, in verse 24, Abraham honored God, repeating the words he had spoken to his son, with only one change. Instead of using the ordinary name for God, he used his special covenant name, Jehovah. He said, “Jehovah will provide.”
As these words were spoken prophetically by Abraham concerning Isaac and his substitute, they were also a direct prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Substitute whom God has provided for sinners. He was, by the Spirit of prophecy, saying to us, as God provided a substitute for Isaac, so he will provide a Substitute for all his covenant people in whom the Lord will be seen. That Substitute is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He was also telling us that, as God provided for him in his time of extremity, so he will provide for all who trust him. The God of Abraham lives today! He is the same today as he was in Abraham’s day. In the hour of Abraham’s great need, when there seemed to be no possible way of escape, the Lord appeared for him and was seen in the mount. So it shall be with all the children of Abraham. We shall be tried and tested, but in the hour of our utmost need our God will see us. Seeing our need, he will provide for us. And he will be seen in the provision he makes. The name of our God is Jehovah-jireh. He is worthy of absolute trust and confidence. The Lord, Jehovah, is our preserver and our provider. Let this truth be firmly fixed in your heart. God’s provision for Abraham and Isaac typified the far greater provision of his grace, by which all believing sinners are delivered from sin and death. And God’s provision for us in Christ, by his death at Mt. Calvary, has given us the sure guarantee that all our necessities, both carnal and spiritual, shall be provided by him for both time and eternity. A careful examination of the three translations of this name by which God revealed himself to Abraham, Jehovah-jireh, will clearly demonstrate that this name for our God reveals his glorious saving purpose toward his people.
JEHOVAH-JIREH MEANS “THE LORD WILL SEE.” Jehovah-jireh tells us that the Lord will see our great need. God constantly sees the needs of his children and provides for them. The provision of the ram to die in the stead of Isaac was the significant type that was before Abraham’s eye when he called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh. Our Lord tells us that “Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Surely, if ever Abraham saw Christ’s day and was made to rejoice for it, it was at that moment when the Lord provided a substitute for Isaac. Whether he understood the full meaning of what he said is not important. He spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not for himself, but for us. Every word he uttered was for our instruction (II Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 15:4; I Cor. 10:11). The teaching is this: God, in the gift of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, made full provision for all the needs of his people. He sees us in our need, because of our own sin, and provides for all our needs in his Son. The Lord graciously beheld the needs of his sinful people long before we were even aware that we had any needs before him. The law of God demanded our punishment (Gal. 3:10). The gates of hell were opened wide, ready to swallow us up into perdition. We were all perishing, dead spiritually and condemned to die eternally. But our great and merciful God beheld our need and intervened to save us by his free grace (Eph. 2:5-9; Ezek. 16:6-8). Just when Isaac was in imminent danger of death, the Lord stepped in to deliver him. The knife was lifted up by the resolute hand. Isaac was but a second from death, when the angelic voice was heard, saying, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad” (v. 12). God provided when the need pressed urgently. So it was with us. When God saw that the world had come into a state of great danger and misery, he sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law. God sent his Son into the world that the world through him might be saved (John 3:17). “In due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). “When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son” (Gal. 4:4). The same thing is true in the experience of grace in conversion. It is not until men and women feel themselves lying at hell’s door, with the anguish of their guilt and sin crushing them down into eternal ruin, that God the Holy Spirit reveals Christ, the sinner’s Substitute. No man will ever be saved until he is lost. No one will ever be clothed until he is stripped. No one will ever be filled until he is empty. Christ comes only to those who need him. But he always comes to those who need him.
JEHOVAH-JIREH MEANS “THE LORD WILL PROVIDE.” If God sees our need, his provision is sure. This is what Abraham tells us by the name, Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide. Jehovah-jireh was Abraham’s testimony to the goodness and grace of God in providing a ram to take the place of his son, Isaac, upon the altar of sacrifice. And it is the testimony of every sinner who sees Christ, as his Substitute, sacrificed upon the altar of divine justice at Mt. Calvary. God’s provision upon the mount was made spontaneously. It was altogether voluntary and free. And the provision God displayed in the fullness of time at Calvary, when he gave his Son to die in the place of sinners, was also voluntary, free, and spontaneous. Christ died for us freely, unsought, undesired, and unwanted. God sent his Son to redeem us, and Christ came to redeem us by his death, simply because he loved us (John 10:15-18; I John 3:16; 4:9-10). The provision God makes is always the very thing needed - “a ram!” Here is a substitute to take Isaac’s place. This is just what was needed, a bloody sacrifice to die in the place of Isaac upon the altar. God knew what we needed; and only he could provide the needed Sacrifice. We needed a Substitute; and Christ our passover was sacrificed for us (I Cor. 5:7; II Cor. 5:21). And this provision for our need was made by God himself. Where shall a redemption be found by which it shall be possible for the vast multitude of God’s elect to be effectually redeemed from death and hell? Such a ransom could only be found by God himself. And he could find it only in himself. Since no one else could provide a ransom for our souls, God provided it and said, “Deliver them from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom” (Job 33:24). One other thing that must be noted is this: God’s provision is gloriously effective. Isaac did not die! Like the ram that was slain for Isaac, our Lord Jesus Christ is a burnt offering, acceptable and well-pleasing to God on our behalf (Eph. 5:2). By his one sacrifice, Christ put our sins away. Therefore God’s elect, for whom he was slain, cannot die (Rom. 8:1).
JEHOVAH-JIREH MEANS “THE LORD WILL BE SEEN.” He will be seen in the mount of sacrifice. He will be seen in the gospel of Christ, our crucified Savior. Go often to Calvary, for there the Lord will be seen. He will be seen in the mount of trial. Your trials may seem severe; but do not despair. In your greatest extremity, the Lord will be seen. He will be seen in Mount Zion. Look up to heaven, there the Lord will be seen in the person of Jesus Christ our Substitute. Would you know God? Then study Christ. Learn of him. Know him. Soon all who are born of God, all who believe, all for whom the Son of God died upon the cursed tree, will see him as he is, and shall be seen with Him (Heb. 9:28). Jehovah-jireh shall see us with satisfaction; and we shall see him with satisfaction. Jehovah-jireh shall provide us with glory; and we shall provide him with pleasure. Jehovah-jireh shall be seen with us; and we shall be seen with him. The gift of the Lord Jesus Christ as our Substitute is a provision that secures all other provisions. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?” He will give us all things in providence. He will give us all things promised in the covenant. He will give us all things in heaven.