Summary: There is no other religion on the face of the earth whose god/gods care enough for their worshipers to provide anything for them. Only our God PROVIDES for his followers. But why does God even care enough to do that?
A boy and his mother had gone to the corner drug store to buy a few items. And there on the counter was a candy jar. The little boy stood mesmerized looking up the jar filled with all that candy, and the owner smiled as he watched. He gently said the boy “you want some of this candy?” The boy nodded, and the manager said “well go ahead and stick your hand in the jar and take a handful”. But the boy just stood there and didn’t move. Again the owner said, “go ahead. It’s OK. Just reach in and get a handful of candy”. But the boy still continued to just stand there and stare at the jar. Finally, the owner reached in the jar and pulled out some of the candy and gave it to the boy who filled his pockets. When they got outside the mother asked him “why didn’t you take that handful of candy when the man told you it was O.K.?” The boy smiled and said, “because his hands are bigger than mine”.
That’s one smart kid! He knew if he put his hand in the jar he wouldn’t get nearly as much candy as when the owner did it for him. So he waited for the owner to PROVIDE for him! Because, if the owner provided for him, he’d get more than he would have gotten by himself.
In our text today, we find that Abraham learned that very lesson. In answer to his son’s question about where the sacrifice was, Abraham said, "God will PROVIDE for himself the lamb for a burnt offering” Genesis 22:8
And later, when God did supply the Ram for the sacrifice “Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be PROVIDED." Genesis 22:14
The Hebrew phrase used here is “Jehovah Jireh” – which means “The LORD will provide.” We folks don’t often use that phrase “Jehovah Jireh. Instead we have an English term “PROVIDENCE” – which essentially means “God provides.”
Now, what interesting is that, outside of Scripture, there’s a lot of folks don’t accept that. There’s a lot of folks who worship other gods… gods who won’t “provide” for them. For example, in Buddhism… there is no god. Buddhists technically don’t worship any god. As a result, there’s NO ONE out there to provide anything to worshipers.
By contrast, in Hinduism there are over 300 million gods, but these gods really doesn’t “provide” or “love” their worshipers. A former Hindu noted that “Talking about love and a direct and personal relationship with God is revolutionary for Hindus because they don’t have a connection to the gods. And that a god would love us—that’s pure gold” (Sai Anand, https://www.imb.org/2018/10/19/im-a-hindu-and-this-is-what-i-believe/)
Then, there’s the Muslim faith. They have only ONE God – Allah – but he doesn’t provide anything either. Muslims see Allah as simply sitting in judgment. Allah doesn’t really love or really care for his worshipers… he judges. A former Sunni Muslim named Emir Caner - who said that “(Allah) is as close as your jugular vein, which is a place of fear, not of faith. As Muslims, grace was a foreign word to us” (Comments About Muhammad Originate in Key Islamic Source Norm Miller & Joni B. Hannigan, Baptist Press News Service. 6/14/2002).
And I could go on and on. But the point is this: OUR GOD is unique. Our God is Jehovah – Jireh. Our God is the God who provides. And that truth is written across every aspect of Scripture.
One of the most beloved passages of Scripture in the Bible is the 23rd Psalm The LORD is my shepherd; I shall NOT WANT. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3). What’s that saying? It’s saying the Lord PROVIDES.
Later in Psalms (Psalm 34:10) we’re told that “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” Why don’t they lack good things? Because the Lord Provides!
And in the Sermon on the mount Jesus declares: “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). It’s like a constant drumbeat across Scripture. God cares for you and He desires to PROVIDE for you.
But now, what I found interesting here (in Genesis 22) is that this seems to be the 1st time that Abraham spoke of God being his “provider.” Now God had always provided for Abraham, and I’m sure that–in the back of his mind –Abraham had always thought that was true. But I think Abraham was a lot like us. His theology was pretty good. He believed in God and he’d done all kinds of things up to this point because he believed that God existed. But when he got right down to APPLYING his theology in his life, his trust factor hasn’t been real high.