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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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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