The Names of God: Jehovah Jireh

The Names of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:44
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Did God really command Abraham to commit child sacrifice? Genesis 22:1-14 tells us the story. Abraham names the place "of sacrifice", "Jehovah Jireh". What does it all mean? Join the Grace United crew as we once again marvel at how God has revealed Himself through His name, Jehovah Jireh. Note: Please view right before the message begins and at 34:03 mark.

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The Names of God: Jehovah Jireh

I have a question for the young people here. I have a $10.00 bill and a penny. If you could choose would you take 1 $10.00 bill every day for a whole month, or would you take one penny and I would double that amount every day for a month? Don’t spend time analyzing it, just give an answer!

Often we are in the moment in the stresses and the inconveniences of life. That’s true whether we are just a kid or very seasoned. I have a phrase I say often when it comes to inconvenient times: “ain’t nothin but a thang”. But real hard times come on us suddenly. They hit us full force and we can’t analyze things but can only react and it’s during those times, it’s anything but, “ain’t nothin but a thang”.

Today, we’re going to take in another of God’s names. Unlike last week where God actually said, “this is My name”, we’re going to see where a saint of God called a place one of His names, the one we’re looking at today: Jehovah Jireh. Genesis 22:1-14 is the passage we discover where this name originated. But first, we’re going to review our theme verses for this series, to remind ourselves that Yahweh, the One who is with His people, desires that we know Him. Jeremiah 9:23-24: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts, boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight’, declares the Lord”.

If there’s anything we know about this man named Abraham, it’s that he is a big league player on God’s team. Abraham is known as the father of three world religions: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity—over half of the world’s population makes up these 3 religions. So, Abraham is a big deal.

But as big as he is, he also has big league faults and failures. See if you can find Abraham’s big fault lines in his story, which goes right along with God’s command to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

So, come with me on a journey of the life of Abraham. We will eventually get to Genesis 22, but only stop temporarily. Because as great a man as Abraham is, Jesus is the hero! And especially on this day, almost 2000 years ago, Jesus took His first donkey ride, and appeared in his first parade on what we call Palm Sunday—the day His people welcomed Him as king and sang hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

So let’s begin at the beginning of Abraham’s life. There’s not a whole lot we know about him before his retirement age of 75—him as well as Sarah—she was also on the rolls of the Chaldean Social Security at 65. But there’s something we do know about and I want to mention as we talk about Abraham and Sarah before God called them into relationship with Himself.

Abraham and Sarah lived in a world of pagan worship. The ancient Chaldean religion had about 2100 gods they bowed down to. There were two things I want to point out about their worship though, which served to prepare Abraham to hear God’s voice. The first is how the worshippers saw the gods. On one hand, they were to be feared and obeyed, and on the other hand, to be celebrated and related to in a close relationship. In other words, the gods were seen as somewhat knowable. The second is that they understood what we talked about last week—the idea of substitutionary atonement, where a substitute, usually an animal, paid for sin with its blood to appease a given god that was worshipped. But it seemed that the worshippers “understood” this part too well. Child sacrifice was what many religions, including ancient Chaldeans, practiced. Now, of course, the Lord never told His people to do this. How many times did God tell them to not “pass their children through the fire”?

The prophet Micah crystallized this horrendous pagan practice: Micah 6:7—“Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” In other words, Satan, who hates God and the highest of God’s creation, wants us to destroy ourselves, and he developed this horrendous teaching—if a person wanted to get rid of sin, they had to sacrifice their firstborn: “The fruit of the body for the sin of the soul.”

So, at this first stage of Abraham’s life on his way to Mount Moriah and God’s test for him, what can we learn? Primarily, that God wastes nothing in our lives. He is active in every life, working in their circumstances, preparing every person outside of God’s kingdom that when He confronts them with the gospel, they can understand it. God does not deal with us in a vacuum. He uses all things, even wicked things for His glory.

Now let’s see the events leading up to Abraham’s test from the time God called him to relationship with Himself to that fateful day on the mountain. Here’s where we need to strap on our seat belts because we’re going to go through this rather quickly.

When God called Abraham, He promised to make him a blessing to the world and to make of him a great nation. But there was one problem. Abraham and Sarah had no kids. How could God make him a great nation? So, with God’s visitation ringing in his ears, Abraham moved with his wife and nephew, Lot, to the land God promised to show him, and later to the land God promised to give him.

Fast forward to over a decade later. A handful of visits from God. No Bible. Can you imagine not hearing from God for months and even years? The vision God gave Abraham was permanently placed in his heart and mind. Food for thought: when God tells us something, how deeply does it affect us? How long does it stay with us? Does it permanently alter us as it did with Abraham?

Genesis 15 is a monumental chapter. Here is where God again promises He will make of Abraham a great nation and give him so many kids he will not be able to count them all: Genesis 15:5–6: And He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Up to this time, still no kids. Abraham laid before God, Eliezer, Abraham’s servant as his choice to inherit the blessing. And God said in verse 4, “No, Eliezer will not be your heir, but one from your own body will be your heir.” End of communication. Now, with about 4000 years of history between us and this story, we naturally think, “Trust God, Abraham” and we assume that God will show up and all of a sudden Sarah will conceive in her old age. Miracle accomplished!

But that’s what happens when we fail to take into account the world in which Abraham and Sarah lived. Because their custom, which was practiced far and wide, was what was called concubinage. It may sound familiar. Concubine is contained in that word. Here’s how it works. When a wife can’t produce children, the husband is allowed to have a concubine, so that she can bear children on behalf of the wife. The concubine is a legal wife and the children are treated as if the wife bore them. Make sense? And this is what happened with Abraham and Sarah. Hagar, Sarah’s servant, was the concubine, Abraham’s second legal wife, and Ishmael was the legal, first born son. Let me emphasize here: no sin committed. We often think that Abraham and Sarah failed to trust God but he was only living in the world of that day.

Now, fast forward another 13 years. Abraham is 99 and Sarah is 89. Ishmael is about 13. God appears again. Instead of chiding Abraham for “showing a lack of faith” in having Hagar as a concubine, in Genesis 17:15-21, the Lord tells Abraham in essence, “Ishmael will not be your heir—though he is your firstborn, but your wife, Sarah, will conceive and bear you a son.” And how did Abraham respond? He fell on his face and laughed! By the way, Sarah did as well. “Too good to be true, Lord!” Ever do that? Laugh in disbelief? And that’s how Isaac got his name, for it means “he laughs”. Who laughed? Isaac’s parents.

I think there’s a lesson for us here. I believe that Isaac was named Isaac because it was the Lord’s reminder to both Abraham and Sarah of their temporary lapse in faith. Not because of Hagar and Ishmael, but of Abraham’s and Sarah’s response to the Lord’s announcement of the miracle! Every time they called Isaac, I believe it was a gentle reminder of their failure to trust the word of the Lord. So, the lesson for us: when we know the Lord has told us something, let’s instantly believe it, and permanently live it!

Let’s take the next step. Through a series of events, Hagar, the concubine and Ishmael, the now blessed and legal first born, were sent away from Abraham’s household. God told Abraham to do that. And in their going away is when God set the stage for Abraham’s big test. Genesis 22:1–2 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.”

Now, given Abraham’s pre-conversion days, and there were a lot more of them than the days he walked with God, what might have been going on in Abraham’s mind? “The fruit of the body for the sin of the soul.” I’m sure that it crossed his mind many times during those fateful three days, and may have concluded, “this lord is just like all the rest of them. He requires my son for my sin.”

Remember, Ishmael was still Abraham’s son—his firstborn. Remember that a number of years passed and now Isaac probably was a pre-teen. I can also imagine that God, having told Abraham to send Ishmael away, that all Abraham had left of the promise God gave him was Isaac. I believe the bottom line was that God’s good gift named Isaac became Abraham’s idol. I believe Abraham, probably out of fear, was selfishly holding on to Isaac. Notice how God describes Isaac—from Abraham’s perspective: your son, your only son, Isaac whom you love.

Like all of us, Abraham had issues. And this spiritual giant’s issues were fear and idolatry. Can you relate? God gives His good gifts. But what do we often do with them? Take them. Own them. And forget the giver.

Three days journey to the sacred place. A boy and a man with a sorrowful face. Tortured yet faithful to God’s command. To take the life of his son in his own hands.

And when they got to the place, Abraham took Isaac and had him carry the wood, while Abraham took the fire and the knife, and told his young men to stay with the donkey for they will worship the Lord and then return. And as they were climbing the trail to the top, Isaac said, “Here’s wood and fire, where’s the sacrifice?” The questioning voice and the innocent eyes. Is the son of laughter who you’ve waited for, to die like a lamb to please the Lord? And Abraham said, “God will provide a lamb”.

They arrived at the top where Abraham arranged the altar and the wood. He bound up his son Isaac and laid him on it. “A gleaming knife. An accepted choice. A rush of wind! An angel’s voice! A ram in the thicket caught by its horns. And a new age of trusting the Lord is born.” For God has provided a ram to be offered up in the place of the son. Genesis 22:14 reads like this: So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”—Jehovah Jireh—as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

There are a couple of things I want to point out. First, what exactly did God provide? A ram of course, in place of Isaac. That’s the go-to observation. But there’s something far more significant that’s being played out here. Let me remind us of the spiritual warfare that every person on the planet has been engaged in, from Adam and Eve on down. And the warfare is so often fought within. Within our minds. Our hearts. Our perceptions. Let me remind you of the temptation of the serpent. “Did God really say that you can’t eat of any tree in the garden?” What was the serpent implying to both Adam and Eve? “God is holding out on you. He doesn’t really care for you. God knows that the way you can really know what good and evil are, is that you have to experience it for yourself.” And we know how that turned out.

Time, and warfare marches on. Let’s review the satanic teaching of Micah 6:7: “The fruit of the body for the sin of the soul.” Translation: God is not good. See what He demands of you? He actually wants the most precious thing you have out of your heart. He is a tyrant. He hates you.” In other words, could it be that through the enemy’s lies, we believe that God is not good? That He doesn’t want what’s best for us? That He demands more than what we could ever give? Isn’t that the way most people see Him? And when push comes to shove, even some of us sometimes.

But what did God do here? I’m convinced that since God knew Abraham, He also knew that Abraham turned God’s precious gift into an idol. Out of Abraham’s fear because of what learned about worship in his pagan days, he selfishly held on to his son. He didn’t want to give the fruit of his body for the sin of his soul. But God dealt with Abraham for those 3 days, and that trip up the mountain, and God weaned him away from his idolatry. From his fear that God is not good. And in the sacrifice of Isaac, God revealed more of His goodness than Abraham ever dreamed! God is not the ultra demanding ogre he had learned about in his pagan days, where he learned pagan ways. It’s been said that it takes an instant to make a convert but a lifetime to make a saint. And I believe that in God’s test of His choice servant, Abraham passed the most extreme test toward saintliness.

Not only did God give an actual Abraham an actual command to sacrifice his actual son on an actual altar, it’s also a picture that pointed to the greatest actual sacrifice the world has ever known.

Fast forward 2000 years. Palm Sunday. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. When the people waved the palm branches and put their coats on the road, they declared their allegiance to King Jesus. “Hosanna! Save us!” they shouted. What were they shouting? “King Jesus! Save us from the Romans!” No wonder the religious leaders were trying to quiet them down. What was happening was amounting to sedition against the state—and the Jewish leaders were afraid—for themselves.

But there was something else going on. See, what we call the Triumphal Entry was also “lamb selection day”. This is when the Passover lamb was chosen to be sacrificed a few days later. So, while the people saw a king, as did God the Father, He had a bigger picture in mind, much like the illustration I showed you at the beginning of this message. For Jesus was not only the king riding on that donkey, He was also the Father’s offering of His sacrifice lamb, to be slain for the sins of the world. Whereas God provided the ram in the place of Abraham’s son, God provided His Son in the place of all sinners.

Fast forward to the Passover meal. Jesus and His men had the traditional Seder. Or so it began that way. But Jesus began to transform it. He took some bread and passed it around and told them to eat from it, because that was His body. Then He took a cup of wine and told them, “This is the New Covenant in My blood. All of you drink it. Jesus’ broken body. Jesus’ shed blood. That is how the New Covenant was to be established. The New Covenant, where God said through Jeremiah that He will write His Law on the hearts of His people. By His grace His people were going to live the life God had always wanted them to live—in holy union with Himself and with one another.

After supper, Jesus and His eleven men left the upper room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane—the place of the olive press. Here it began: the sin of the world began to be pressed upon the Savior of the world.

Here now the profound grace of our God: Romans 8:32—He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? See, God didn’t spare His own Son, but Abraham held his back. But God in His mercy brought Abraham to that place of giving his all to the Lord.

And when Abraham offered his idol on the altar, he discovered that the true and living God, Yahweh, was far different, and far more glorious than any so-called god Abraham had ever worshipped in his pagan days. In Abraham’s obedient sacrifice, he discovered the life transforming truth of the infinite goodness and love of God. And that’s the life lesson we can take from this story.

And so what do we do with this? We offer our idols on God’s altar as a burnt offering, as did Abraham. We might be thinking, “I don’t have any idols.” Or, “how do I know if I do?” In a word, think “red flag”. Also think, “Jehovah Jireh cares for me and knows me.” In His mercy He continually comes to all His sons and daughters who are in the New Covenant and lifts His red flag. How does He do that? How does He alert us to our idols?

Whenever we have a resistance inside when it comes to God’s commands. For example, you have a “bad habit” of taking little tiny things home with you from work. Paper clips, pens, etc. You think nothing of it until your Christian co-worker mentions that the Lord convicted him about his taking the little things home. You react. “It’s no big deal” you think. Or you rationalize and justify by telling your co-worker: “I take it because I need it.” Red flag! It may be an idol in your life. “A pen or paper clip?” is my idol? No. Because it doesn’t matter what the item is. The taking of the items is the fruit of what the main teacher in the Behold Your God series says. He says there are two kinds of sins: Root sins and the fruit sins. The fruit sins are like apples on the tree. We know that an apple tree is an apple tree how? Because it bears apples. In the same way, we can tell that we have root sins because of the fruit.

Besides fruit sins, Snyder says that there are 3 root sins: pride, unbelief and selfishness. And when we react against one of God’s commands we can trace that reaction to one or more of the root sins. And it’s in those root sins we find our idols.

So, when we experience a red flag-again by our reaction against a command of God, we detect the possibility of an idol. We are to offer it as a burnt offering to the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

But why should we turn from it? Let’s return to Abraham. Out of his fear that Yahweh was like every other god he learned as a pagan, Abraham clung to his idol. But when he offered his idol as a burnt offering, he made the glorious discovery: God is good! See, when we refuse to repent of our idols, something happens in our hearts and minds: our way toward new discoveries of the goodness of God is blocked, and we become stuck in our spiritual growth to be like the Lord. So, our motive for turning from our idols is to discover just how good God really is! And that brings us back to our last memory verse in our series, 1 Timothy 1:5: And the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart, and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Two questions: how badly do you want to know and understand our God, like He invites us to do? As we offer our idols on the altar as burnt offerings, that opens the way for us to understand and know Him.

Second question: How badly do you really desire a holy, godly love that spring from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith? As we offer our idols as burnt offerings and say to Him whenever that red flag is raised in our heart: “Lord burn up my pride. Burn up my unbelief. Burn up my selfishness”, He reveals to us more of His holy love that spring from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.

I purposely didn’t give you any fill in the blanks on the back of your bulletin this morning. This space is for you to write down one or more of your idols so that you can offer them on the altar of your heart—or even as an act of worship, lay them at the cross, as a burnt offering. If you’re not aware of any, ask the Lord to show you. I would like to take a moment for you, in this holy moment, deal with your idols. Let me pray this prayer of David from the Psalms and then give you a moment before we ask the Lord’s blessings on our offering and then close the service with our last song.

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