Summary: This morning our focus is on another name for God. He is Jehovah Jireh, God our Provider.
You may have heard about the guy who fell off a cliff and on his way down he was able to grab onto a tree branch jutting out from the face of the rock. As he hung there reviewing his options, he started yelling, “Is anyone up there?” He was surprised to hear a voice say to him, “Yes, this is God.” The man was greatly relieved, and quickly stuttered, “God, can you save me?” “Of course I can, responded God.” The man was really happy now and shouted out, “Great! What should I do?” The answer from the Almighty was not what he was expecting: “Let go of the branch.” After a long period of silence, the man replied faintly, “Is there anyone else up there?”
We’re like that man sometimes, aren’t we? We want God to help us but we don’t always want to do what He says. Specifically, we’re not always interested in letting go of those things that we think are holding us up. It’s tough to release our grip and give control of our lives to God. We kind of know that God will provide but maybe we’re not really sure He’ll come through for us. And so we hold on, and wonder if there is someone else who can help us.
We’ve been reminded in this series so far that God goes by the name of Elohim (Creator), Adonai (Lord), and Jehovah Shalom (The God of Peace). As we learn to call Him what He goes by, our knowledge and awe of the Almighty will grow and our faith will deepen. This morning our focus is on another name for God. He is Jehovah Jireh, God our Provider. We know from the Bible that God loves to meet the needs of His people. He counts every hair on our heads and he sees the sparrows that fall to the ground. And because of that, He will take care of us (Matthew 10:29-30). God provided for Daniel when he was in the den of lions, He came through for David when a piece of tiny gravel wiped out a great giant, he provided manna for the Israelites in the wilderness, he met the needs of a widow, and he delivered Gideon from the mighty Midianites. God loves to come through for His people, but often not until they “let go.”
Perhaps the most moving and heart-wrenching account of God’s provision is found in Genesis 22. Let me give some background. Abram was called by God when he was 75 years old from the area that is now Iraq. In Genesis 12, he is told to leave what he had always known and live in a land that God would later show him. To let go of all that was familiar to him demonstrated incredible faith. God then promised him that the entire world would be blessed through his offspring. But when time passed and Sarah was still not pregnant, Abram took things into his own hands and fathered a child by his wife’s servant. He compromised then but he was also courageous when he went on a rescue mission to get his nephew Lot back from the bad guys. Abram demonstrated a lot of positive qualities like appealing with God to not destroy Sodom but we also know that twice he lied about his wife in order to protect her. Finally, after 25 years of waiting, the son of promise was born to them. When he and Sarah got the news they both started laughing, and so God gave the boy the name Isaac, which means laughter.
Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude of nations.” Now the promises of God could be fulfilled through Isaac. I imagine that the household was filled with laughter and joy. According to Genesis 21:32-34, Abraham was even experiencing shalom with his neighbors. But God still had some things he wanted to teach Abraham.
1. The Promise Tested (1-2). Look at verse 1: “Some time later God tested Abraham.” When we finish chapter 21, Isaac is still pretty young. Now he is about 15-years-old, which means Abraham is around 115. God is now ready to “test” Abraham. This word literally means “to test completely through a demonstration of stress” and was often used in the Old Testament of God testing the faith and faithfulness of His people. In a similar way the “Underwriters Laboratory” tests thousands of products, not to break them, but to demonstrate that they are good and reliable.
Later, in Deuteronomy 8:2, we read that God led His people into the desert for a specific purpose: “…To humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Keep in mind that God does not tempt us as Satan does; He tests us in order to bring out the best. Someone has said that “temptations often seem logical while trials seem very unreasonable.” Real faith is not believing in spite of the evidence but obeying in spite of the consequences.