Summary: When Abraham experienced Jehovah’s provision, he built an altar so that he would remember that day. The Lord’s Table is our Mount Moriah … where we come to remember that Jehovah is our “jireh” … our provider.
That’s right … I’m asking you to take a deep breath right now.
Breathe in … hold it … and let it out [exhale].
I want you to do that again … only much s-l-o-w-e-r this time. Concentrate. Feel the air as it goes past your nostrils and fills your lungs. Feel it. Be aware of it. When your lungs are full … hold it … and then feel the air as it comes out. And when you’re done exhaling, say: “Thank you, Jehovah Jireh.”
Breathe in [inhale] … hold it … exhale. “Thank you, Jehovah Jireh.”
“Thank you, Jehovah Jireh, for providing us with all the air that we will need today and for our entire lives.”
The name “Jehovah” is the English transliteration of God’s personal name … YHWH … or “Yahweh” … much like we’ve taken Jesus’ Hebrew name … “Yeshua” … and turned into “Jesus.” The word “Jireh” means “provide” in Hebrew. Put the two names together and you get one of the 72 names used for God in the Bible. “Jehovah Jireh” … “God the Provider” or “God Who Provides.
Remember the first name of God that we encountered in the Bible. We found it in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning Elohim” … God the Powerful Creator. He created the universe and everything in it … galaxies … solar systems … stars … planets … suns and moons. He created the land and the sea and filled the earth with birds and fish and animals of all kinds … and then He “provided” for them. He created air and water … food and shelter. He “created” all this to “provide” … to “jireh” … for His creation.
“Jehovah Jireh” … “God Provides.” When the time came for the Hebrew slaves to flee from Egypt, the only food they took with them was some unleaven bread and whatever food that they could carry. They certainly didn’t have anywhere near enough food to last them until they reached the Promised Land. But God provided. He provided bread and water. It may not have been a sumptuous feast but it was enough to sustain them. While “bread” may not sound so glorious, we need to remember that we’re not talking about just any old bread, are we? We’re talking about “manna” … “bread” from Heaven ... bread from God’s own hand, so to speak.
Someone who literally experienced God’s provision of “daily bread” first hand was a poor widow living in a town that no on had ever heard of before … Zarephath … until Elijah showed up there one day. We don’t know her name … she is simply known in the Bible as “the widow of Zarephath” … and that is how she is still known today. Her story can be found in Chapter 17 of the Book of First Kings in the Old Testament. In verse one of chapter 17, Jehovah tells Ahab, the king of Israel, through His prophet, Elijah, that “ … there shall be neither dew nor rain these three years, except by my word” (1st Kings 17:1). The drought was a judgement against Ahab and Israel for their rampant idolatry.
Needless to say, King Ahab and the citizens of Israel were not happy with the news so God commanded Elijah to leave Israel for his own safety. For awhile, Elijah hides in the wilderness near a “wadi” or “stream” …while God sends ravens to bring him bread and meat … hum … sounds familiar, doesn’t it? God providing bread and meat in the wilderness. Eventually the stream dries up because of the lack of rain, so God commands Elijah to go to the little village of Zarephath. God tells him that when he gets Zarephath to seek out a widow there whom Jehovah has commanded to feed and take care of him (see 1st Kings 17:8).
When Elijah reaches Zarephath, he begins looking for a widow. He spies a woman who is by herself all dressed in black picking up sticks, presumably to take home and burn in her fireplace or oven. Elijah calls out to her and when she comes over to see what he wants, he asked her to bring him a little water to drink (v. 11). Hospitality, especially when it came to guests and strangers passing through town, was not only a kindness but sometimes a matter of survival. As she turns to get Elijah a drink of water, he stops her and asks, “Can you bring me a morsel of bread in your hand as well” (1st King 17:12; paraphrasing mine).
Normally, this wouldn’t have been an unreasonable request but there is a drought going on and droughts tend to bring on famines as there is not enough rain to grow food. “As Jehovah Your God lives, I have nothing baked … only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son that we may eat it … and die” (1st Kings 17:12). “Do not be afraid,” says God’s prophet, “go and do as you said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me , and afterward make something for yourself and your son” (v. 13). Whoa! Elijah’s insistence must have seemed heartless and cruel, to say the least. “FIRST” … really ? … before she makes her last meal for her son and herself…. Really? Like she doesn’t have enough to deal with. She just told this total stranger that she’s about to cook her last meal … ever … and eat it with what’s left of her family. And apparently this person wasn’t listening because she said she only had enough flour and oil to make a last bit of bread for her and her son and this “stranger” who just showed up out of nowhere … tells her to take what’s left and make a little cake for him and then make something for her and son after that … with what?! She just said that she barely had enough for her and her son … if she makes a cake and gives it to Elijah there’ll nothing left for them.