Summary: This stewardship sermon uses the Example of Abraham’s offering of Isaac to introduce the principle of Jehovah Jireh (the Lord Provides) adding principles from Haggai 1 and Malachi 3 to teach the value of tithing.
Finding “Jehovah Jireh”
(An original sermon by Ed Skidmore)
Genesis 22:1-14 03-16-03
(During Offering Time:)
SKIT: Angel Education:
Many of us have heard the phrase: Jehovah Jireh. The origin of that phrase is found in Genesis chapter 22. God tested Abraham’s obedience and faith by instructing him to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac as an act of worship. Isaac … sharp boy that he was … noticed that they had failed to bring along a lamb for the sacrifice. Listen to Abraham’s response as we read our scripture text:
SCRIPTURE READING: Genesis 22: 7-14
We are told in vs. 14 that Abraham called that place, “Jehovah Jireh,” which means “The Lord will provide.”
Jehovah Jireh is more than words to a catchy song. It is a principle of daily life. This is the primary way we show that we actually have faith in God, and it works out in our lives in a number of ways. In the same way that Abraham discovered Jehovah Jireh, we too are called upon to discover that God is the source of all our Provision.
1. THE SOURCE OF PROVISION: PROVERBS 3:5-10
That is a hard lesson for Americans to learn. We are taught early on that, above all, we are supposed to be self-sufficient.
Remember the story of The Little Red Hen from the Children’s Golden Book Series? The Little Red Hen kept asking other barnyard animals to help her gather and prepare food, but they kept giving excuses. Over and over the Little Red Hen replied Then I’ll do it all by myself! The Little Red Hen did all the work all by herself, then rewarded herself in the end by eating the whole feast: “all by myself”.
We grow up hearing phrases like:
· there’s no free lunch,
· I’m the cause of my own effect,
· I am the captain of my ship, the master of my fate,
· God helps them that helps themselves.
Well, let me tell you, none of that is in the Bible. Look in Proverbs 3:5-10 to see what IS in the Bible:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:5-10
The first principle of Jehovah Jireh is to understand that God himself is our provider. This isn’t just a mind game we play, it’s the simple TRUTH. Until we really believe Jehovah Jireh, we will not be able to move forward in faith and obedience. But once you actually trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, then you’re ready to learn about the SIGN of OBEDIENCE.
2. THE SIGN OF OBEDIENCE: HAGGAI 1:5-11
In scripture, stewardship is the sign that we truly believe Jehovah Jireh. Specifically the scriptural sign of obedience is “tithing.” The principle of the tithe is found first in Genesis 14:19 when Abraham gives 10% to the mysterious High Priest Melchizadek. The principle of the tithe continues throughout the scriptures as a way of acknowledging Jehovah Jireh.
What’s really sad is that the majority of church people have not discovered Jehovah Jireh in their lives. All we have to do is look at some recent statistics to see this is true. In America today, across denominational lines, 60% of church members contribute nothing at all. Another 20% contribute something, but at a level well below a tithe. Only 20% of church members actually tithe from their incomes.
That shows that, like the Little Red Hen, many church people actually believe they are doing it all by myself! I think this is one reason why so many in our nation are in deep financial debt. We tend to think of indebtedness as a purely financial problem, but it actually has spiritual roots. People who haven’t discovered Jehovah Jireh have cut themselves off from a marvelous promise of God and instead are living under a self-imposed curse.
God told the Israelites how this works in the book of Haggai. After the Israelites returned from Babylonian captivity, they tried to reestablish themselves in their homeland. Unfortunately, they were trying to do it, all by themselves. They did not return to keeping the laws of God. Haggai the prophet explained to them the real source of their dilemma in Chapter 1, verses 5-11:
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat but never have enough. You drink but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it…