"The Lord Will Provide:" Why Is God Called Jehovah Jireh in the Bible?

Barnabas Piper
| WORLD Magazine
2021
26 Apr
jehovah jireh

“Provision” isn’t a word most Americans think much about. It’s a weightless word to us. We may use it euphemistically when we stock up on “provisions” for a road trip, meaning Twizzlers and combos. We may use it to refer to unexpected upgrades in life – “The Lord provided us with a new car” or “The Lord provided our church with the means to get that new sound system.” Some of us remember times when God provided for needs in obvious ways like a check in the mail to cover rent or the generosity of a friend to pay for a hospital bill. We recognize these as God’s provision, but we rarely depend on provision.

The name "Jehovah Jireh" is first seen in Genesis 22:14 when God provides a ram in the thicket in place of the sacrifice of his son: 

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. - KJV

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." - NIV

Photo Credit: Unsplash/JeremyYap

jehovah jireh

Meeting Our Provider, Jehovah Jireh, in Genesis 22

When God introduces himself (the Bible is His word, after all) as Jehovah Jireh, meaning “the Lord will provide,” it’s not in the context of snacks or cars or money or bills. It’s in the context of the most profound physical need a person can face – the loss of life. In Genesis 22, we read the story of Abraham being commanded by God to take his son Isaac to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. Isaac was the son of promise, a miraculous gift from God when Abraham and Sarah were old. He was the promised child whom God had promised to make into a great nation. He was God’s provision, or so it seemed until God said to lay him on the altar and offer him as a sacrifice.

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, “Here I am.” He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’… When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son” (Genesis 22:1-2; 9-10).

Abraham obeyed. Hebrews 11 tells us that he acted in faith that God would raise Isaac. He obeyed in the belief that God would provide a miracle of some kind, and God did – a ram caught in a thicket as a substitute sacrifice. 

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/jen-loong

jehovah jireh

The Origin of the Name Jehovah Jireh

As these two, Abraham and Isaac, were traveling up the hill, the son bearing the wood, and the father with the sad burden of the fire and the knife, the boy said: 'Where is the lamb?' and Abraham, thrusting down his emotion and steadying his voice, said: 'My son, God will provide Himself a lamb.' When the wonderful issue of the trial was plain before him, and he looked back upon it, the one thought that rose in his mind was of how, beyond his meaning, his words had been true. So he named that place by a name that spoke nothing of his trial, but everything of God's provision—' The Lord will see,' or 'The Lord will provide.'

There is nothing in this life that we need so much as to do the will of our Father in heaven. All outward wants are poor compared with that. The one thing worth living for, the one thing which being secured we are blessed, and being missed we are miserable, is compliance in heart with the commandment of our Father; and that compliance wrought out in life. So, of all gifts that He bestows upon us, and of all the abundant provision out of His rich storehouses, is not this the best, that we are made ready for any required service? When we get to the place we shall find some lamb ' caught in the thicket by its horns'; and heaven itself will supply what is needful for our burnt offering. God Himself will provide a Lamb - the spotless sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world. 

Abraham christened the anonymous mountain-top, not by a name that reminded him or others of his trial, but by a name that proclaimed God's deliverance - Jehovah Jireh. He did not say anything about his agony or about his obedience. Let us name the heights that lie behind us, visible to memory, by names that commemorate, not the troubles that we had on them, but the deliverances that on them we received from God.

(excerpt from The Book of Genesis Commentary by Alexander Maclaren)

jehovah jireh

The Lord Will Provide

“But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided” (Genesis 22:11-14).

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

God the provider, Jehovah Jireh, gave life. He saved the promised son from being a sacrifice. He preserved His promise to make Isaac a great nation. He acted faithfully in response to Abraham’s faith in His provision.  

Jehovah Jireh - For Our Daily Needs

At our worst we think of God’s provision as if he is a waiter: we signal him to our life, place our orders in “faith,” and receive what we have requested. More often, though, we are not so trite. We do think of God providing for us – jobs, family, friends, care, church, abilities, answered prayers. These things are significant and meaningful; they are absolutely a portion of God’s provision to us. But too often we stop there, and in doing so we stop short of the deep reality of what “the Lord shall provide” truly means.

In Matthew 6 Jesus tells his disciples

“Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on . . . Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they . . . Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

In these verses, Jesus shows one end of the spectrum of God’s provision. He cares for the smallest and even the inanimate in his creation. He clothes and feeds them. His eye is on them as treasured created things. So why should we worry about His provision? Are we not image bearers, uniquely made to be God’s children? He provides as a father ought – exactly those things that are best for His children without hesitation and always at the right time. 

Jehovah Jireh - For Rescue from Sin

In Jesus’ teaching we see one side of God’s provision. In Jesus’ mission on earth we see the other. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus came so that we might “have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10). And this provision, this inestimable gift of His son, was more than kindness. It was a rescue, a ransom, a debt paid, a punishment born as a substitute for the guilty – us. 

The same God who smiles on the brilliance of wildflowers and feeds a baby sparrow sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for sins already committed (Romans 3:25). Jesus was the last and final sacrifice, the flawless lamb able to redeem all sinners and pay for all sins once for all time. Jesus is God’s perfect and complete provision, the answer to every person’s deepest question and the fulfillment of their deepest needs.

In Genesis Abraham’s only son was set to be sacrificed and was saved by God’s miraculous provision. In the gospels God’s only Son was sacrificed as the miraculous provision for all people.

When we say Jehovah Jireh, The Lord will provide, we can be certain it is true. We can see it in the flowers and birds. And we can see it at the cross – Jesus is His great provision.

Photo Credit: ©Unplash/annie-spratt
Design Credit: Rachel Dawson
 

 

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