And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:14)
There is something both inspiring and humbling about looking down on the world from a lofty mountaintop or from a plane. It provides a different persepective, an opportunity to see the ‘bigger picture’ and catch the tiniest glimpse of how God sees – except, of course, that we don’t see detail. Our human limitations allow us to see detail only in our immediate surroundings. From the plane, we see panorama, a ‘finished patchwork’ as it were, without being able to distinguish each individual, detailed piece. As I continued to revisit the names of God, this was the image that emerged so clearly in my meditation on Jehovah Jireh.
It’s a remarkable gift of grace that our God has woven His nature into His Word. Throughout the Bible, we see Him revealed through His interaction with His people in a real and practical way. The fundamental purpose behind the ‘compound names’ of God is revelation. None of them are entirely independent of each other. They overlap here and there, but they also contain the meaning of each of God’s non-compound names. ‘Jehovah’ is obvious, but the relevance and reality of Elohim and Adonai must also always be included as being present. In other words, they always provide the framework in which the compound names function.
We should never overlook the wonderful truth that Jehovah Jireh is about much more than provision.
Most of us will easily and readily translate ‘Jehovah-Jireh’ as ‘God provides.’ That’s the accepted rendition of this wonderful name, and this is essentially correct. It’s a wonderful encouragement and assurance to us as believers to know that our God is one who provides for His people. The problem that often emerges, however, is that many Christians apply this wonderful truth to their finances or material needs and never look further. As a result, we can easily close the door on the full spectrum of God’s grace. Jehovah Jireh involves so much more than just material or financial provision.
To grasp this, the principle of ‘aerial view’ is revelatory because it illustrates the full truth behind Jehovah Jireh. While it is not incorrect to say ‘the God who provides’ it is a little restricting. The literal meaning of the name is ‘the God who sees,’ with the implication of ‘the God who sees all.’ Doesn’t this give us a much more ‘panoramic’ perspective? Human limitation means we either see the detail around us to a limited point, or we see the panorama without the detail. We cannot do both at the same time. God, on the other hand, sees the panorama in great, graphic detail at any time, all the time. This is remarkable power within Jehovah Jireh – He provides because He sees.
Let’s look at it from an amplified persepective: Jehovah Jireh means that the great I AM, the God who is willing and able to be everything to His people, sees every single detail of our lives and our needs and is able to meet each and every one out of the fullness of His perfect, complete nature. Wow. That’s a mouthful, and we’ve kept it simple. It’s an awesome, powerful truth that adds wonderful dimension and perspective to our assurance that He is a God who provides for us – wherever we are, whatever we’re going through, whatever our lack or difficulty, our God sees it all in absolute, perfect detail. Jehovah Jireh misses nothing, and this is why He is able to provide everything.
The entire context of the revelation of Jehovah Jireh is the most profoundly beautiful illustration of the entire redemptive work of God and His interactive relationship with His people. It’s well worth spending a little time on Abraham’s dilemma and his simple faith, because it adds such meaning and relevance to this wonderful name of God. To be absolutely honest, I really don’t think I’m ready to sacrifice my only child. To be brutally honest, I’m not at all sure that I will ever be. I cannot even imagine being in that situation, and pray that I never will be in a place to make that kind of choice.
But Isaac represents so much more than a physical dilemma. We should keep in mind that he represented, to Abraham, the fulfilled promise of God. Isaac was the living, breathing reminder that God had kept His Word and given Him a son when it was absolutely humanly impossible. Secondly, Isaac represented Abraham’s future. Children meant a legacy, a continuation of the family name, an assurance that all he had achieved would continue long after his death through his descendents. God was not only asking Abraham to give Him his past and his present, but also His future and all the promises He had given for that future. He was demanding all. Whichever way we look at it, human nature will see that as regression, not progression – moving backwards rather than forwards, giving up absolutely everything, including what might have been.
For us, it’s so easy to see the wonderful type of Christ in Isaac – the father’s only son demanded as a sacrifice – but Abraham never had that comfort. His was ‘blind faith,’ the kind that requires all and seems to offer nothing in return. We can see the relevance of the ram in the thicket – the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lamb of God provided by God Himself – but Abraham did not have that wonderful revelation. For him, encountering the full revelation of Jehovah Jireh meant surrendering every single thing he owned, loved, dreamed, or hoped for. It was the place where the all of man met the I AM of God in a poignant and powerful act of ultimate worship.
The message is really very simple if we only pause to see it. God both sees all – every tiny detail – and is able to provide all to meet every single need, great or small. Whether it be strength, grace, comfort, mercy, love, finances, physical healing, possessions, opportunities, knowledge, wisdom… the list is endless, and He is able and willing to provide for each and every thing. But there is a fundamental principle that directs the manifestation of Jehovah Jireh in our lives. We must give up in order to get. We must first relinquish before we can receive.
This does not imply a doctrine of works, or that we somehow have to first ‘earn’ the provision of God for our needs. What it does mean is that we are sometimes so full of our own ‘clutter’ that there is no space for what God wants to release in our lives. To clarify, let’s remember that we are created as ‘vessels.’ Like any vessel, be it glass, bowl, or jar, we have limited capacity. We can only contain so much. We’re naturally filled with self and the world before we come to Christ, and our Christian walk is a slow process of ‘less of me and more of Him.’
There is no condemnation in this. Our daily worship involves surrendering those things in us that are not of God. It’s not an ‘instant transformation,’ even though the potential to be completely surrendered is there. We still have to ‘work out our salvation’ by walking with God, learning from Him, listening to the leading of the Spirit, and dealing with things one by one. The contents of our vessel are gradually being replaced. We pour out a little of what’s there and replace it with God. Eventually, through a slow process, the contents will be ‘completely God’ but that will never happen in our lifetime on earth. It’s a process, and it’s one in which we constantly need to engage with God.
Logically, the principle of Jehovah Jireh can only operate on the basis revealed so eloquently in this story of Abraham and Isaac. To receive all, Abraham was required to relinquish all. As an example, if I need finance for some valid reason or need, I can without any hesitation, trust and believe that God is willing and able to provide. Real faith recognises that God has already seen the need and so has already made provision. It’s now matter of its release. He may well require us to do certain things or pursue a particular opportunity in the process of release, but this is where human nature gets in the way. We often rush headlong into ‘helping God’ by doing all kinds of things or looking for our own solutions. While we’re filled with self-reliance or reliance on others in this matter, there is no space for us to receive what God has prepared.
We often mistake the concept of ‘all.’ Yes, it does indicate a complete and absolute inclusion of everything. But it also relates to the ‘all of this.’ ‘All’ can be detail and situation specific. To illustrate, if you needed to raise a mortgage on your house, the bank would require ‘all’ of the house as collateral, not just the garage. But it wouldn’t require your cars, TV, and kitchen appliances. Engaging with the full and wonderful seeing and providing that is included in Jehovah Jireh means surrending the ‘all’ of us that is blocking the receiving of all of Him. It is usually a matter of self, an often subconscious manifestation of pride and a lack of faith, which pushes us to fill ourselves with our own solutions. While we’re doing it, God is not. He doesn’t share His glory.
If we don’t see the manifestation of Jehovah Jireh in our lives, it is often because we don’t fully understand the magnitude – that God truly sees every tiny detail of every tiny need and is willing and able to provide for it – or we allow self to intrude. We approach Jehovah Jireh only in worship – surrender of self. There can be no demands, only a humble submission to the great I AM who knows us and loves us, and who alone is the source of all provision, no matter what it may be. Letting go means letting God.
Jehovah Jireh, we worship You today, and thank You for showing us that You are indeed our all in all. Help us to learn to surrender in all things. Show us where self and pride interfere with Your loving and miraculous provision, and teach us to seek You first in all things.