Also see: Faith Tested and Crowned (Genesis 22:1-14) by Alexander Maclaren
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 12TH, 1884,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON
“And Abraham galled the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” — Genesis 22:14. - YouTube - Jehovah Jireh
“Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh,” or “Jehovah will see it,” or “Jehovah will provide,” or “Jehovah will be seen.” We are offered a variety of interpretations, but the exact idea is that of seeing and being seen. For God to see is to provide. Our own word “provide,” is only Latin for “to see.” You know how we say that we will see to a matter. Possibly this expression hits the nail on the head. Our heavenly Father sees our need, and with divine foresight of love prepares the supply. He sees to a need to supply it; and in the seeing he is seen, in the providing he manifests himself.
I believe that the truth contained in the expression “Jehovah-Jireh” was ruling Abraham’s thought long before he uttered it and appointed it to be the memorial name of the place where the Lord had provided a substitute for Isaac. It was this thought, I think, which enabled him to act as promptly as he did under the trying circumstances. His reason whispered within him, “If you slay your son, how can God keep his promise to you that your seed shall be as many as the stars of heaven?” He answered that suggestion by saying to himself, “Jehovah will see to it!” As he went upon that painful journey, with his dearly beloved son at his side, the suggestion may have come to him, “How will you meet Sarah when you return home, having imbrued your hands in the blood of her son? How will you meet your neighbors when they hear that Abraham, who professed to be such a holy man, has killed his son?” That answer still sustained his heart — ”Jehovah will see to it! Jehovah will see to it! He will not fail in his word. Perhaps he will raise my son from the dead; but in some way or other he will justify my obedience to him, and vindicate his own command. Jehovah will see to it.” This was a quietus to every mistrustful thought. I pray that we may drink into this truth, and be refreshed by it. If we follow the Lord’s bidding, he will see to it that we shall not be ashamed or confounded. If we come into great need by following his command, he will see to it that the loss shall he recompensed. If our difficulties multiply and increase so that our way seems completely blocked up, Jehovah will see to it that the road shall be cleared. The Lord will see us through in the way of holiness if we are only willing to be thorough in it, and dare to follow wheresoever he leads the way. We need not wonder that Abraham should utter this truth, and attach it to the spot, which was to be for ever famous: for his whole heart was saturated with it, and had been sustained by it. Wisely he makes an altar and a mountain to be memorials of the truth which had so greatly helped him. His trials had taught him more of God, — had, in fact, given him a new name for his God; and this he would not have forgotten, but he would keep it before the minds of the generations following by naming the place Jehovah-Jireh.
Observe as you read this chapter that this was not the first time that Abraham had thus spoken. When he called the name of the place Jehovah-Jireh he had seen it to be true, — the ram caught in the thicket had been provided as a substitute for Isaac: Jehovah had provided. But he had before declared that truth when as yet he knew nothing of the Divine action, when he could not even guess how his extraordinary trial would end. His son Isaac had said to him, “Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” and the afflicted father had bravely answered, “My son, God will provide.” In due time God did provide, and then Abraham honored him by saying the same words, only instead of the ordinary name for God he used the special covenant title — Jehovah. That is the only alteration; otherwise in the same terms he repeats the assurance that “the Lord will provide.”
That first utterance was most remarkable: it was simple enough, but how prophetic! It teaches us this truth, that the confident speech of a believer is akin to the language of a prophet. The man who accepts the promise of God unstaggeringly, and is sure that it is true, will speak like the seers of old: he will see that God sees, and will declare the fact, and the holy inference which comes of it. The believer’s childlike assurance will anticipate the future, and his plain statement — ”God will provide” — will turn out to be literal truth. If you want to come near to prophesying, hold you hard to the promise of God and you shall “prophecy according to the measure of faith.” He that can say, “I know and am sure that God will not fail me in this mine hour of tribulation,” will, before long, drop pearls of divine confidence and diamonds of prediction from his lips. Choice sayings which become proverbs in the church of God are not the offspring of mistrust, but of firm confidence in the living God. To this day many a saying of a man of God is quoted among us, even as Abraham’s word was quoted. Moses puts it, “As it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen;” and we might mention many a sentence which is said unto this day which first fell from the mouth of a faithful spirit in the hour of the manifestation of the Lord. The speech of the father of the faithful became the speech of his spiritual seed for many a year afterwards, and it abides in the family of faith unto this day. If we have full faith in God, we shall teach succeeding generations to expect Jehovah’s hand to be stretched out still.
True faith not only speaks the language of prophecy, but, when she sees her prophecy fulfilled, faith is always delighted to raise memorials to the God of truth. The stones which were set up of old were not to the memory of dead men, but they were memorials of the deeds of the living God: they abundantly uttered the memory of God’s great goodness. Abraham on this occasion did not choose a name which recorded what he had done, but a name which spake of what Jehovah had done. It is true Abraham’s faith was worthy to be remembered throughout all generations, for there he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness, and the Lord said to him, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” There the patriarch had endured the extreme test: no gold was ever passed through a hotter furnace. But true faith is always modest; from her gate boasting is excluded by law. Abraham says nothing about himself at all, but the praise is unto God, who sees and is seen; the record is, “Jehovah will provide.” I like that self-ignoring; I pray that we, also, may have so much strength of faith that self may go to the wall. Little faith is very apt to grow proud when, to its own astonishment, it has wrought righteousness; but strong faith so completely empties itself, and so entirely depends upon the all-sufficiency of God, that when anything is achieved it remembers nothing but the divine hand, and lays the crown where it ought to be laid. Growing in experimental acquaintance with the God of the covenant, faith has a new song and a new name for her God, and takes care that his wonderful works shall be remembered.
Note yet further, that when faith has uttered a prophecy, and has set up her memorial, the record of mercy received becomes itself a new prophecy. Abraham says, “Jehovah-Jireh, — God will see to it”; what was he doing then but prophesying a second time for future ages? He bids us know that, as God had provided for him in the time of his extremity, so he will provide for all them that put their trust in him. The God of Abraham liveth, and let his name be praised, and let us rest assured that, as certainly as in the patriarch’s distress, when there seemed no way of escape, the Lord appeared for him and was seen in the mount, even so shall it be with all the believing seed while time endureth. We shall all be tried and tested, but in our utmost need God will see us, and see to our deliverance, if we will but let faith have her perfect work, and will hope and quietly wait the moment when the Lord shall be seen working salvation. The Lord is the Preserver of men and the Provider for men. I long for all of us to get this truth firmly fixed in our hearts, and therefore I shall try to show that God’s provision for Abraham and Isaac typified the far greater provision by which all the faithful are delivered from death; and that God, in providing in the mount, has given us therein a sure guarantee that all our necessities shall be provided for henceforth even for ever.
Consider, then, that the provision which God made for Abraham was symbolic of the greater provision which he has made for all his chosen in Christ Jesus. “Jehovah-Jireh” is a text from which to preach concerning providence, and many have been the sermons which have been distilled from it, but I take the liberty of saying that providence, in the ordinary sense of the term, is not the first thought of the passage, which should be read with some sort of reference to its connection, and the more so because that connection is exceedingly remarkable.
I. When Abraham said “Jehovah will provide,” He meant us, first of all, to learn that The Provision Will Come In The Time Of Our Extremity.
The provision of the ram instead of Isaac was the significant type which was before Abraham’s mind, but our Lord tells us, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad;” and surely if ever Abraham saw the day of Christ, and was beyond measure glad, it was at that moment when he beheld the Lord providing a substitute for Isaac. At any rate, whether Abraham understood the full meaning of what he said or not, he spoke not for himself; but for us. Every word he uttered is for our teaching, and the teaching is this: that God, in the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, made the fullest provision for our greatest needs, and from that we may infer that whatever need shall ever occur to us, God will certainly provide for it; but he may delay the actual manifestation thereof till our darkest hour has come.
“Just in the last distressing hour
The Lord displays delivering power;
The moment of danger is the place
Where we shall see surprising grace.”
The Lord gave our Lord Jesus Christ to be the Substitute for men in view of the utmost need of our race. Isaac was hard pressed when God interfered in his behalf. The knife was lifted up by a resolute hand; he was within a second of death when the angelic voice said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad.” God provided instantly when the need pressed urgently. Beloved, was Isaac nearer to death than sinful man was near to hell? Was that knife closer to the throat of the beloved Isaac than the axe of the executioner was near to the neck of every sinner, aye, to the neck of the whole race of man? We have so sinned and gone astray that it was not possible for God to wink at our transgressions; he must visit our iniquities with the just punishment, which is nothing less than death eternal. I constantly meet with persons under the convincing power of the Spirit of God, and I always find that in their apprehension the punishment of sin is something terrible and overwhelming. When God deals with men by his convincing Spirit, they feel that their sin deserves nothing less than the wrath of God in hell. So it was with our race; we had altogether destroyed ourselves, and were shut up under condemnation by the law, and it was in that dread hour that God interposed and proclaimed a Savior for men. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” I would to God we all felt what a dreadful thing it is to be lost; for then we should value the provision of the Savior much more than we do now. Oh, sirs, if no Redeemer had been provided, we might have gathered here this morning, and it you could have had patience to hear me, all I should have been able to say would have been, “Brethren, let us weep together and sigh in chores; for we shall all die, and, dying, we shall sink into the bottomless pit, and shall abide for ever under the righteous anger of God.” It must have been so with us all if a substitute had not been found. If the gift of the loving Father had not been bestowed, if Jesus had not condescended to die in our place, we must have been left for execution by that law which will by no means spare the guilty. We talk about our salvation as if it were nothing very particular: we have heard of the plan of substitution so often that it becomes commonplace. It should not be so; I believe that it still thrills the angels with astonishment that man, when he had fallen from his high estate, and had been banished from Eden, and had become a rebel against God, should be redeemed by the blood of the Heir of all things, by whom the Divine Father made the worlds. When death and hell opened their Jaws to devour, then was this miracle completed, and Jesus taken among the thorns was offered up a sacrifice for us.
God not only interposed when the death of Isaac was imminent, but also when the anguish of Abraham had reached its highest pitch. The patriarch’s faith never wavered, but we must not forget that he was a man like ourselves, and no father could see his child offered up without an inward agony which surpasses all description. The anguish of so perfect a man as Abraham, a man who felt all the domestic affections intensely, as every truly godly father must feel them, and who loved his son as much as he loved his own life, must have been unspeakably great. What must have been the force of faith which enabled the man of God to master himself, to go contrary to the current of human nature, and deliberately to stand ready to sacrifice his Isaac! He must have been wound up to a fearful pitch of anguish when he lifted up the knife to slay his son; but just then the angel arrested his hand, and God provided the ram as the substitute in the moment of his utmost misery.
Surely the world had come to a great state of misery when at last God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, that he might become the sacrifice for sin. At any rate, this I know, that as a rule men do not see Christ to be their substitute nor accept him as their Redeemer till they feel that they lie at hell’s door, and till their anguish on account of sin has become exceeding great. I remember well when I first beheld the lamb of God who suffered in my stead. I had often heard the story of his death; I could have told it out to others very correctly; but then I did not know my own pressing need, I lad not come to feel the knife at my throat, nor was I about to die, and therefore my knowledge was a cold, inoperative thing. But when the law had bound me, and given me over to death, and my heart within me was crushed with fear, then the sight of the glorious Substitute was as bright to me as a vision of heaven. Did Jesus suffer in my stead without the gate? were my transgressions laid on him? then I received him with joy unspeakable, my whole nature accepting the good news. At this moment I accept the Lord Jesus as my Substitute with a deep, peaceful delight. Blessed be the name of Jehovah-Jireh for having taken thought of me, a beggar, a wretch, a condemned criminal, and for having provided the Lamb of God whose precious blood was shed instead of mine.
II. Secondly, upon the mount The Provision Was Spontaneously Made for Abraham, and so was the provision which the Lord displayed in the fullness of time when he gave up his Son to die.
The ram caught in the thicket was a provision which on Abraham’s part was quite unsought. He did not fall down and pray, “O Lord, in thy tenderness provide another victim instead of my son, Isaac.” Probably it never entered his mind. But God spontaneously, from the free grace of his own heart, put the ram where Abraham found it. You and I did not pray for Christ to die. He died for us before we were born, and if he had not done so it would never have entered into our mind to ask for so great a gift. Until the Lord sought us we did not even seek to be saved by Christ, of the fact of whose death we had been made aware. Oh, no; it is not in man by nature to seek a Savior: it is in God to give a Savior, and then the Spirit of God sweetly inclines the heart to seek him; but this seeking comes not of man. “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” It is ours to sin, it is God’s to save. “We have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Ours is the wandering, but the laying of those wanderings upon Jesus is of the Lord alone: we neither bought it, nor sought it, nor thought it.
In Abraham’s case I believe it was an unexpected thing. He did not reckon upon any substitute for his son, he judged that he would have to die, and viewed him as already dead. As for ourselves, if God had not revealed the plan of salvation by the substitution of his only-begotten Son we should never have dreamed of it. Remember that the Son of God is one with the Father, and if the Holy Ghost had not revealed the fact that the offended God would himself bear the penalty due for the offense, it would never have occurred to the human mind. The brightest of the spirits before God’s throne would never have devised the plan of salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus. It was unexpected. Let us bless the Lord, who has done for us exceeding abundantly above what we asked or even thought in giving to us redemption through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I may say of Christ what I could not have said of Abraham’s ram, that not only was he unsought for by us and unexpected, but now that he is given he is not perfectly comprehended.
“Much we talk of Jesu’ blood,
But how little’s understood!
Of his suffering’s, so intense,
Angels have no perfect sense.”
I am often ready to beat upon my own breast as I study the wondrous mystery of atoning love, for it seems to me so mean a thing to be so little affected by such boundless grace. If we fully felt what God has done for us in the great deed of Jesus’ death, it might not be wonderful if we were to die under the amazing discovery. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” The immortal God undertakes to bear death for man! The incarnate stands in the sinner’s place. The well-pleasing Son is made accursed for those who else had been accursed for ever. He who was above all shame and sorrow laid aside his glory and became the “Man of Sorrows,” “despised and rejected of men.” “Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” It is more extraordinary than romance! Poets may sing their loftiest stanzas, but they shall never reach the height of this great argument. “Paradise Lost” a Milton may compose, and fascinate a world with his majestic lines; but Paradise Restored by the divine substitution is not to be fully sung by mortal mind. God only knows the love of God. All the harps of redeemed men and all the hymns of adoring angels can never set forth the splendor of the love of Jehovah in providing for our need, providing for our salvation, providing his only-begotten Son, and providing him of his own free love, unsought, and undesired of men.
III. But, thirdly, we ought to dwell very long and earnestly upon the fact that for man’s need The Provision Was Made By God Himself.
The text says, “Jehovah-Jireh,” the Lord will see to it, the Lord will provide. None else could have provided a ransom. Neither on earth nor in heaven was there found any helper for lost humanity. What sacrifice could be presented to God if a sacrifice could be accepted? Behold Lebanon, as it rises majestically toward heaven, white with its snows; see the forests which adorn its sides! Set these all on fire, and see them blaze as the wood of the altar of God. Yet “Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.” Take the myriads of cattle that roam the hills, and shed their blood till you have made a sea of gore, but what of that? “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Men may themselves die, but in death each man who dies only pays his own debt to nature; there is nothing left for another. “None can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” Where shall a redemption be found by which it shall be possible that the multitude of the elect shall be effectually redeemed from death and hell? Such a ransom could only be found by God, and he could only find it in himself, — in him who was one with himself, who lay in the bosom of the Father from old eternity. The provision was made by God himself, since none other could provide. God alone could say, “Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.”
But was it not singular that the Lord Jehovah should provide it? When law has been broken, and its honor has to be retrieved, it would not be judged likely that the aggrieved party should make the sacrifice. That God, against whom all the blasphemy and sin and wickedness of a ribald world was aimed, shall he himself make expiation? Shall the judge bear the penalty due to the criminal? “Lay it on the sinner; for it is his due”; so justice cries aloud, — ”Lay the penalty on the transgressor”; but if a substitute can be permitted, where can one be found able and willing to become surety for the guilty? Found upon the throne! Found in the majesty that is offended! Brethren, I am beaten down by my subject; forgive me that I cannot speak of it as I would desire. There is no room here for words; it is a matter for silent thought. We want the fact of substitution to strike us, and then the cross will grow sublimely great. In vision I behold it! Its two arms are extended right and left till they touch the east and west and overshadow all races of men; the foot of it descends lower than the grave, till it goes down even to the gates of hell; while upward the cross mounts with a halo round about it of unutterable glory, till it rises above the stars, and sheds its light upon the throne of the Most High. Atonement is a divine business; its sacrifice is infinite, even as the God who conceived it. Glory be to his name for ever! It is all that I can say. It was nothing less than a stretch of divine love for Jesus to give himself for our sins. It was gracious for the Infinite to conceive of such a thing; but for him to carry it out was glorious beyond all. What shall I say of it?
I will only interject this thought here — let none of us ever interfere with the provision of God. If in our dire distress he alone was our Jehovah-Jireh, and provided for us a Substitute, let us not think that there is anything left for us to provide. O sinner, do you cry, “Lord, I must have a broken heart”? He will provide it for thee. Do you cry, “Lord, I cannot master sin, I have not the power to conquer my passions”? He will provide strength for thee. Do you mourn, “Lord, I shall never hold on and hold out to the end. I am so fickle”? Then he will provide perseverance for thee. Dost thou think that after having given his own dear Son to purchase thee He will let that work fail because thou canst not provide some little odds and ends to complete the work? Oh, dream not so; dote not on such a folly. Whatever thou wantest, poor sinner, if thou believest in Christ the Lord’s provision of a Savior in Christ warrants thy believing that God will provide it. Salvation begins with Jehovah-Jireh, the cross and the bleeding Savior. Dost thou think it will afterwards drivel down into thy providing this and that? Oh, thy pride! Thy insane pride! Thou art to do something, art thou? What! and yoke thy little something with the Eternal God? Didst thou ever hear of an angel failing to perform a duty until he was assisted by an emmet? Hast thou ever heard of God’s great laws of nature breaking down till some child’s finger could supplement their force? Thou to help thy God to provide! Get thee out of the way, and be nothing, then shall God come in and be everything. Sink! It is the Lord that must rise. He shall be seen in the mount, and not thyself. Hide thyself, and let the glory of the Lord be manifested in thee. I wish that every troubled one here could catch this idea, and hold it fast. Whatever you want to put away your sin, whatever you want to make you a new creature, whatever you want to carry you to heaven, Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide it. He will see to it. Trust thou in him, and ere long thou shalt see the divine provision, and Jehovah shall be glorious in thine eyes.
IV. But I must pass on. That which God prepares for poor sinners is A Provision Most Gloriously Made.
God provided a ram instead of Isaac. This was sufficient for the occasion as a type; but that which was typified by the ram is infinitely more glorious. In order to save us God provided God. I cannot put it more simply. He did not provide an angel, nor a mere man, but God himself. Come, sinner, with all thy load of sin: God can bear it; the shoulders that bear up the universe can well sustain thy load of guilt. God gave thee his Godhead to be thy Savior when he gave thee his Son.
But he also gave in the person of Christ perfect manhood, — such a man as never lived before, eclipsing even the perfection of the first Adam in the garden by the majestic innocence of his nature. When Jesus has been viewed as man, even unconverted men have so admired his excellence that they have almost adored him. Jesus is God and man, and the Father has given that man, that God, to be thy Redeemer. For thy redemption the Lord God has given thee the death of Christ; and what a death it was! I would that troubled hearts would oftener study the story of the Great Sacrifice, the agony and bloody sweat, the betrayal in the garden, the binding of the hands, the accusation of the innocent, the scourging, the thorn-crowning, the spitting in the face, the mockery, the nailing to the tree, the lifting up of the cross, the burning fever, the parching thirst, and, above all, the overpowering anguish of being forsaken of his God. Bethink thee, O soul, that to save thee the Son of God must cry, “Lama sabachthani!” Bethink thee that to save thee he must hang naked to his shame between heaven and earth, rejected of both; must cry, “I thirst,” and receive nothing but vinegar wherewith to moisten his burning lips. Jesus must “pour out his soul unto death” that we might live. He must be “numbered with the transgressors,” that we might be numbered with his saints in glory everlasting. Was not this a glorious provision? What greater gift could be bestowed than one in whom God and man are blended in one?
When Abraham on the mount offered a sacrifice it was called a “burnt offering”, but when the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary died it was not only a burnt offering, but a sin offering, a meat offering, and a peace offering, and every other kind of sacrifice in one. Under the oldest of all dispensations, before the mosaic economy, God had not taught to men the distinctions of sacrifice, but an offering unto the Lord meant all that was afterwards set forth by many types. When the venerable patriarch offered a sacrifice, it was an offering for sin, and a sweet smelling savor besides. So was it with our Lord Jesus Christ. When he died he made his soul an offering for sin, and “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” When he died, he also offered unto God a burnt offering, for we read, “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.” When Jesus died he gave to us a peace offering; for we come to feast upon him with God, and to us “his flesh is meat indeed, his blood is drink indeed.” One would need many a day in which to expatiate upon the infinite virtues and excellencies of Christ, in whom all perfections are sweetly hived. Blessed be his name, God has most gloriously provided for us in the day of our need. Jehovah-Jireh!
V. Fifthly, The Provision Was Made Effectively. Isaac did not die; the laughter in Abraham’s house was not stifled; there was no grief for the patriarch; he went home with his son in happy companionship, because Jehovah had provided himself a lamb for a burnt offering.
The ram which was provided did not bleed in vain; Isaac did not die as well as the ram; Abraham did not have to slay the God-provided victim and his own son also. No, the one sacrifice sufficed. Beloved, this is my comfort in the death of Christ — I hope it is yours, — that he did not die in vain. I have heard of a theology which, in its attempt to extol the efficacy of Christ’s death, virtually deprives it of any certain efficiency; the result of the atonement is made to depend entirely upon the will of man, and so is left to hap-hazard. Our Lord, according to certain teachers, might or might not see of the travail of his soul. I confess that I do not believe in this random redemption, and I wonder that any persons can derive comfort from such teaching. I believe that the Son of God could not possibly have come into the world in the circumstances in which he did come, and could not have died as he did die, and yet be defeated and disappointed. He died for those who believe in him, and these shall live, yea, they do live in him.
I should think that Isaac, the child of laughter, was solemnly joyous as he descended the hill and went home with his father. Methinks both of them tripped along with happy step towards Sarah’s house and their own loved home; and you and I this day may go home with like joyousness. We shall not die, for the Lamb of God has died for us. We shall never perish, for he has suffered in our stead. We were bound on the altar, we were laid on the wood, and the fire was ready for our consuming; but no knife shall touch us now, for the sacrifice is offered once for all. No fire shall consume us, for he who suffered in our stead has borne the heat of the flame on our behalf. We live, and we shall live. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” This is an effectual and precious providing. I do not believe in a redemption which did not redeem, nor in an atonement which did not atone; but I do believe in him who died in vain for none, but will effectually save his own church and his own sheep for whom he laid down his life. To him we will all render praise, for he was slain, and he has redeemed us unto God by his blood out of every kindred and people and nation.
VI. Turn we then, sixthly, to this note, that we may well glorify Jehovah-Jireh because This Provision Was Made For Every Believer.
The provision on the Mount of Moriah was made on behalf of Abraham: he was himself a man of faith, and he is styled the “father of the faithful”; and now every faithful or believing one may stand where Abraham stood, and say, “Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide.” Remember, however, that our faith must be of the same nature as that of Abraham, or it will not be counted to us for righteousness. Abraham’s faith worked by love; it so worked in him that he was willing to do all that the Lord bade him, even to the sacrifice of his own dear son. You must possess a living, working, self-sacrificing faith if you would be saved. If you have it, you may be as sure that you are saved as you are sure that you have sinned. “He that believeth on him is not condemned,” because Christ was condemned for him. “He that believeth on him hath everlasting life:” he cannot die, for Christ died for him. The great principle upon which our security is based is the righteousness of God, which assures us that he will not punish the substitute and then punish the person for whom the substitute endured the penalty. It were a matter of gross injustice if the sinner, having made atonement for his sin in the person of his covenant Head, the Lord Jesus, should afterwards himself be called upon to account for the very sin which was atoned for. Sin, like anything else, cannot be in two places at once: if the great God took my sin, and laid it on his Son, then it is not on me any more. If Jesus bore the wrath of God for me, I cannot bear that wrath; it were contrary to every principle of a just moral government that the Judge should cast our Surety into prison and exact the penalty of him, and then come upon those for whom the suretyship was undertaken. By this gospel I am prepared to stand or fall; yea, by it I will live or die: I know no other. Because I believe it, I this day cry from the bottom of my heart, “Jehovah-Jireh,” the Lord has provided an effectual redemption for all those who put their trust in him whom God has set forth to be a propitiation. It is true, as it is written, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” It is true that the faith which worketh by love brings justification to the soul.
VII. But now I close with a remark which will reveal the far-reaching character of my text.
“Jehovah-Jireh” is true concerning all necessary things. The instance given of Abraham being provided for shows us that the Lord will ever be a Provider for his people. As to the gift of the Lord Jesus, this is A Provision Which Guarantees All Other Provision. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Abraham learned that; for, as soon as he had slaughtered the ram, the covenant was repeated in his ears, and repeated as he had never heard it before, — accompanied with an oath. God cannot swear by any greater than himself, and so he said, “By myself have I sworn.” Thus was the covenant ratified by blood and by the oath of God. Oh, that bleeding Sacrifice! The covenant of God is confirmed by it, and our faith is established. If you have seen Jesus die for you, your heart has heard God swear, “Surely in blessing I will bless thee!” By two immutable things, wherein it is impossible for God to lie, he hath given us strong consolation who have fled for refuge to the hope set before us in the gospel. Let us fall back on this eternal verity, that if God has provided his own Well-beloved Son to meet the most awful of all necessities, then he will provide for us in everything else.
Where will he provide? He will provide for us in the mount that is to say, in the place of our trial. When we reach the place where the fatal deed of utmost obedience is to be wrought, then God will interpose. You desire him to provide for you when you lift up your eyes and see the mount afar off. He does not choose so to do; but in the mount it shall be seen, in the place of the trial, in the heat of the furnace, in the last extremity Jehovah will be seen, for he will see to it, and it shall become a proverb with you, — ”In the mount Jehovah shall be seen.” That is to say, when you cannot see, the Lord will see you and see to your need; for his eyes are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. You will not need to explain to God your difficulties and the intricacies of your position, he will see it all. Joyfully sing that revival ditty —
“This my Father knows.”
As soon as the Lord has seen our need, then his provision shall be seen. You need not climb to heaven or descend into the deep to find it: the Lord’s provision is near at hand, — the ram in the thicket is behind you though you see it not as yet. When you have heard God speak to you, you shall turn and see it, and wonder you never saw it before. You will heartily bless God for the abundant provision which he reveals in the moment of trial. Then shall the Lord himself be seen. You will soon die, and perhaps in dying you will be troubled by the fear of death; but let that evil be removed by this knowledge — that the Lord will yet be seen, and when he shall appear you shall be manifested in his glory. In the day of the revelation of the Lord Jesus your body shall be raised from the dead, and then shall the divine provision yet more fully be discovered. “In the mount it shall be seen,” and there shall God himself be manifested to you, for your eyes shall behold him and not another.
There is a rendering given to my text which we cannot quite pass over. Some read it that “in the mount the people shall be seen,” — in that mount in years to come the multitude would gather to worship God. God’s presence was in the temple which was built upon that spot, and thither the tribes went up, the tribes of the Lord to worship the Most High. I dwell in a house not made with hands, but piled by God of solid slabs of mercy. He is building for me a palace of crystal, pure and shining, transparent as the day. I see the house in which I am to abide for ever gradually growing around me. Its foundation was laid of old in eternal love, — ”in the mount it shall be seen.” The Lord provided for me a Covenant Head, a Redeemer, and a Friend, and in him I abide. Since then, course upon course of the precious stones of lovingkindness has been laid, and the jewelled walls are all around me. Has it not been so with you? By-and-by we shall be roofed in with glory everlasting, and then as we shall look to the foundations, and the walls and to the arch above our head, we shall shout, “Jehovah-Jireh,” — God has provided all this for me! How we shall rejoice in every stone of the divine building! How will our memory think over the method of the building! On such a day was that stone laid, I remember it right well: “I was sore sick and the Lord comforted me.” On such a day was that other stone laid, — I was in prison spiritually, and the heavenly visitor came unto me. On such another day was that bejewelled course completed, for my heart was glad in the Lord and my glory rejoiced in the God of my salvation. The walls of love are still rising, and when the building is finished and the topstone is brought out with shoutings of “Grace, grace, unto it!” we shall then sing this song unto the Lord — Jehovah-Jireh! The Lord has provided it. From the beginning to the end there is nothing of man and nothing of merit, nothing of self, but all of God in Christ Jesus, who hath loved us with an everlasting love, and therefore hath abounded towards us in blessing according to the fullness of his infinite heart. To him be praise world without end. Amen, and Amen. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
JEHOVAH-JIREH by Alexander Maclaren
'And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-Jireh;
(that is, The Lord will provide).'- Genesis 22:14
As these two, Abraham and Isaac, were travelling 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,'
'The Lord will provide.'
1. The words have become proverbial and threadbare as a commonplace of Christian feeling.
But it may be worth our while to ask for a moment what it was exactly that Abraham expected the Lord to provide. We generally use the expression in reference to outward things, and see in it the assurance that we shall not be left without the supply of the necessities for which, because God has made us to feel them, He has bound Himself to make provision. And most blessedly true is that application of them, and many a Christian heart in days of famine has been satisfied with the promise, when the bread that was given has been scant.
But there is a meaning deeper than that in the words. It is true, thank God! that we may cast all our anxiety about all outward things upon Him, in the assurance that He who feeds the ravens will feed us, and that if lilies can blossom into beauty without care, we shall be held by our Father of more value than these. But there is a deeper meaning in the provision spoken of here. What was it that God provided for Abraham? What is it that God provides for us? A way to discharge the arduous duties which, when they are commanded, seem all but impossible for us, and which, the nearer we come to them, look the more dreadful and seem the more impossible. And yet, when the heart has yielded itself in obedience, and we are ready to do the thing that is enjoined, there opens up before us a possibility provided by God, and strength comes to us equal to our day, and some unexpected gift is put into our hand, which enables us to do the thing of which Nature said: 'My heart will break before I can do it'; and in regard to which even Grace doubted whether it was possible for us to carry it through. If our hearts are set in obedience to the command, the farther we go on the path of obedience, the easier the command will appear, and to try to do it is to ensure that God will help us to do it.
This is the main provision that God makes, and it is the highest provision that He can make. For 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.
And then there is another thought here which, though we cannot certainly say it was in the speaker's mind, is distinctly in the historian's intention, 'The Lord will provide.' Provide what? The lamb for the burnt offering which He has commanded. It seems probable that that bare mountain-top which Abraham saw from afar, and named Jehovah-Jireh, was the mountain-top on which afterwards the Temple was built. And perhaps the wood was piled for the altar, on which Abraham was called to lay his only son, on that very piece of primitive rock which still stands visible, though Temple and altar have long since gone; and which for many a day was the place of the altar on which the sacrifices of Israel were offered. It is no mere forcing of Christian meanings on to old stories, but the discerning of that prophetic and spiritual element which God has impressed upon these histories of the past, especially in all their climaxes and crises, when we see in the fact that God provided the ram which became the appointed sacrifice, through which Isaac's life was preserved, a dim adumbration of the great truth that the only Sacrifice which God accepts for the world's sin is the Sacrifice which He Himself has provided.
This is the deepest meaning of all the sacrificial worship, as of Israel so of heathen nations--God Himself will provide a Lamb. The world had built altars, and Israel, by divine appointment, had its altar too. All these express the want which none of them can satisfy. They show that man needed a Sacrifice; and that Sacrifice God has provided. He asked from Abraham less than He gives to us. Abraham's devotion was sealed and certified because he did not withhold his son, his only son, from God. And God's love is sealed because He hath not withheld His only-begotten Son from us.
So this name that came from Abraham's grateful and wondering lips contains a truth which holds true in all regions of our wants. On the lowest level, the outward supply of outward needs; on a higher, the means of discharging hard duties and a path through sharp trials; and, on the highest of all, the spotless sacrifice which alone avails for the world's sins--these are the things which God provides.
2. So, note again on what conditions He provides them.
The incident and the name became the occasion of a proverb, as the historian tells us, which survived down to the period of his writing, and probably long after, when men were accustomed to say, 'In the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.' The provision of all sorts that we need has certain conditions as to the when and the where of the persons to whom it shall be granted. 'In the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.' If we wish to have our outward needs supplied, our outward weaknesses strengthened, power and energy sufficient for duty, wisdom for perplexity, a share in the Sacrifice which taketh away the sins of the world, we receive them all on the condition that we are found in the place where all God's provision is treasured. If a man chooses to sit outside the baker's shop, he may starve on its threshold. If a man will not go into the bank, his pockets will be empty, though there may be bursting coffers there to which he has a right. And if we will not ascend to the hill of the Lord, and stand in His holy place by simple faith, and by true communion of heart and life, God's amplest provision is nought to us; and we are empty in the midst of affluence. Get near to God if you would partake of what He has prepared. Live in fellowship with Him by simple love, and often meditate on Him, if you would drink in of His fulness. And be sure of this, that howsoever within His house the stores are heaped and the treasury full, you will have neither part nor lot in the matter, unless you are children of the house. 'In the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.' And round it there is a waste wilderness of famine and of death.
Further, note when the provision is realised.
When the man is standing with the knife in his hand, and next minute it will be red with the son's blood--then the call comes: 'Abraham!' and then he sees the ram caught in the thicket. There had been a long weary journey from their home away down in the dry, sunny south, a long tramp over the rough hills, a toilsome climb, with a breaking heart in the father's bosom, and a dim foreboding gradually stealing on the child's spirit. But there was no sign of respite or of deliverance. Slowly he piles together the wood, and yet no sign. Slowly he binds his boy, and lays him on it, and still no sign. Slowly, reluctantly, and yet resolvedly, he unsheathes the knife, and yet no sign. He lifts his hand, and then it comes.
That is God's way always. Up to the very edge we are driven, before His hand is put out to help us. Such is the law, not only because the next moment is always necessarily dark, nor because God will deal with us in any arbitrary fashion, and play with our fears, but because it is best for us that we should be forced to desperation, and out of desperation should 'pluck the flower, safety.' It is best for us that we should be brought to say, 'My foot slippeth!' and then, just as our toes are sliding upon the glacier, the help comes and 'Thy mercy held me up.' 'The Lord is her helper, and that right early.' When He delays, it is not to trifle with us, but to do us good by the sense of need, as well as by the experience of deliverance. At the last moment, never before it, never until we have found out how much we need it, and never too late, comes the Helper.
So 'it is provided' for the people that quietly and persistently tread the path of duty, and go wherever His hand leads them, without asking anything about where it does lead. The condition of the provision is our obedience of heart and will. To Abraham doing what he was commanded, though his heart was breaking as he did it, the help was granted--as it always will be.
3. And so, lastly, note what we are to do with the provision when we get it.
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. He did not say anything about his agony or about his obedience. God spoke about that, not Abraham. He did not want these to be remembered, but what he desired to hand on to later generations was what God had done for him. Oh! dear friends, is that the way in which we look back upon life? Many a bare, bald mountain-top in your career and mine we have got our names for. Are they names that commemorate our sufferings or God's blessings? When we look back on the past what do we see? Times of trial or times of deliverance? Which side of the wave do we choose to look at, the one that is smitten by the sunshine or the one that is all black and purple in the shadow? The sea looked at from the one side will be all a sunny path, and from the other dark as chaos. 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.
This name enshrines the duty of commemoration--ay! and the duty of expectation. 'The Lord will provide.' How do you know that, Abraham? and his answer is, 'Because the Lord did provide.' That is a shaky kind of argument if we use it about one another. Our resources may give out, our patience may weary. If it is a storehouse that we have to go to, all the corn that is treasured in it will be eaten up some day; but if it is to some boundless plain that grows it that we go, then we can be sure that there will be a harvest next year as there has been a harvest last. And so we have to think of God, not as a storehouse, but as the soil from which there comes forth, year by year and generation after generation, the same crop of rich blessings for the needs and the hungers of every soul. If we have to draw from reservoirs we cannot say, 'I have gone with my pitcher to the well six times, and I shall get it filled at the seventh.' It is more probable that we shall have to say, 'I have gone so often that I durst not go any more'; but if we have to go, not to a well, but to a fountain, then the oftener we go, the surer we become that its crystal cool waters will always be ready for us. 'Thou hast been with me in six troubles; and in seven thou wilt not forsake me,' is a bad conclusion to draw about one another; but it is the right conclusion to draw about God.
And so, as we look back upon our past lives, and see many a peak gleaming in the magic light of memory, let us name them all by names that will throw a radiance of hope on the unknown and un-climbed difficulties before us, and say, as the patriarch did when he went down from the mount of his trial and deliverance, 'The Lord will