SERMON TITLE: Jehovah Jireh
TEXT: Genesis 22:1-19
SPEAKER: Matt Heft
Watch the sermon here
Take notes here
Good morning. My name is Matt Heft. I’m an elder here at Gateway Church. Typically, you’ll find our family worshiping over at the North Main Campus. It is a joy every Sunday to be able to worship with you…whether that’s here at County Road 9 Campus or at our North Main Campus. Pastor Josh, I appreciate you giving staff and other elders the opportunity to preach from time to time. And Pastor Josh and the whole congregation, for myself and on behalf of all the elders, I want you to know that we love you and God loves you too.
And as you know, when Josh isn’t preaching this year, the elders and staff are walking through the names of God. As we’ll see shortly, the name of God we’ll be covering this morning is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord provides. We’ll be using a story that is very familiar to many in this room. Growing up, this story always made it into the Sunday School rotation. For those that are into movies, a movie about today’s narrative just came out in the past couple of months. And I can’t think of another name of God that has made more headway in Christian music than this one. The number of songs based on the name Jehovah Jireh is mind-blowing with artists from Maverick City, to a version by thrash metal band Deliverance, to versions from the 1980’s that would probably fit better in a Fiddler on the Roof reprise. I’ll leave you in suspense about which one is my favorite.
With this name of God all around us, I’m sure we have a reasonably good grasp on what it means. But today, I hope that through God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will move this name of God from head knowledge to heart knowledge. I hope that this name of God will begin to change how you live when you walk out of here, what you worry about, what you think about, and how you think about others.
Go ahead and turn in your Bibles, and I do hope you have a Bible, to Genesis Chapter 22:1-19.
One quick note as you’re turning there. Josh always gives us plenty of time to prepare our sermons, so I actually knew I was going to be preaching on this when I made my most recent trip to Havana in late February. I used some of the same points with the church there that I’ll be covering this morning. That will be relevant in a couple comments I make as we continue.
Read Passage from Genesis
Let’s go ahead and read through the entire narrative where we find the name Jehovah Jireh mentioned. Being a longer passage, I’m going to read from the New Living Translation.
Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” 2“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” 3 The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 “Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.” 6 So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, 7 Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” 8 “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together. (In awkward silence….I can’t imagine what was going through Abraham’s head at this point!) 9 When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” 12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” 13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” 15 Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. 18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.” 19 Then they returned to the servants and traveled back to Beersheba, where Abraham continued to live. Genesis 22:1-19 (NLT)
Although odd to our ears, I think this story is fairly straightforward, but let’s just make sure we have a grasp on what happened.
- God tells Abraham to take his promised son, Isaac, and sacrifice him.
- So, the next morning, Abraham got up, packed up, and headed out to do what God commanded. Quick side note, if anyone feels that God is calling them to do this, let me assure you he is not. In addition to later passages strictly forbidding child sacrifice, I have checked with our local officers and they confirmed that you would immediately be put in prison.
- They get to the mountain and Abraham and Isaac proceed alone, without any of the servants going along.
- Isaac begins to question where the sacrifice is.
- Abraham simply tells Isaac that the Lord will provide, but at this point, he still has no idea how he will do that.
- They get to the place for the sacrifice, they build an altar, they arrange the wood.
- And then it gets real…Abraham binds Isaac, places him on the altar, and takes out his knife. Did you notice that it says nothing about Abraham looking around and trying to figure out a way out of this…he was faithfully obeying what God had called him to do.
- It is now, finally, that God calls out to Abraham and tells him to stop.
- And then, Abraham sees the ram caught by its horns, and uses the ram as the sacrifice, instead of his son.
In verse 14, it says that Abraham called that place Jehovah Jireh. The passage even tells us that that means, “The LORD will provide”.
Now here’s where I take a bit of exception with our theological ancestors. It says he called the place Jehovah Jireh. It doesn’t say he called God, Jehovah Jireh.
I struggle to wrap my head around Abraham calling a place, Jehovah Jireh, but yet, on every list of the names of God, one of the first we add is Jehovah Jireh. Abraham called a place by this name, we say that it’s a name of God.
I don’t think I have a point with that…yet.
How Has God Provided?
I’d like to use the balance of our time to reflect on how God provides for us. These are going to be obvious. You could have come up with this list on your own, but I hope through the sermon this morning, I’m able to shine a new light on some different passages in the Bible and I hope that the Holy Spirit will work in your heart in a new way that you’ll be conformed to look more like him.
Let me provide right up front the list that I came up with.
The LORD provided, so we have hope
The LORD provides, so we can be satisfied
The LORD provides, so we can obey
The LORD provides, so we serve
The LORD provides, so we share
That’s it. You’ve now heard my entire sermon. Feel free to leave or take a nap.
Ok, it looks like most of you have stayed and stayed awake, so let’s dive in.
The Lord Provides a Substitute, so We Have Hope
Let’s start with the most obvious, and most important example of God providing. He provided Jesus. Abraham went to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but God provided a better sacrifice, the ram. The ram is a type of Jesus. Let me define what I mean by type.
Type - a person or event in the Old Testament taken as a foreshadowing of someone or something in the New Testament (Google Dictionary provided by Oxford Languages)
The ram that was slain in place of Isaac is a type of Jesus. Just like the ram that was slain, so that Isaac could live, Jesus died, so that we could live. The ram was provided by God, just like Jesus was provided by God (Hebrews 11:40 (NIV84) – God has planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect).
Turn to John 3:16. Let’s look at this very simple, but yet very direct verse that succinctly explains what God has provided for us.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (ESV)
God so loved the world, that he gave, he provided, his only Son. His only son was a substitute. There had to be a penalty paid, there had to be a sacrifice and Jesus willingly took that on himself. It goes on to say that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. This should give us hope.
So here’s my first point. The LORD provided a substitute, so we have hope.
Whether you’ve been a Christian for a long time, or you’re just starting to explore what it means to be a Christian, you need to know that God loves you so much that he provided a substitute that would take on all of your sin and face the wrath of God through that horrible cross. Here’s where Jesus isn’t quite like that ram. He was not caught, trapped, or stuck. He chose to do this because of his love for you.
Just like John 3:16 tells us, if you’ll believe in him, he’ll wash away your sins and you will not perish, but will have eternal life. Now I know this life can be tough, but that right there sounds like some hope. If you’re here this morning and maybe just hearing this for the first time, I hope you’ll reach out and ask some more questions. I’d love to talk with you, same for Josh or the other elders.
Now I really contemplated making this my final point in the sermon. But that would have made for a very short sermon. Seriously though, the Gospel is the pinnacle, the ultimate, the final word.
But at the same time, everything else I want to talk about this morning hinges on the fact that Jesus was a substitute for us. And because he was and is a substitute for us, we can find the hope of salvation in him and that gives new life to everything else we do. The LORD provided a substitute, so we have hope.
Now let’s look to some other ways that God provides for us.
The Lord Provides, so We Can Be Satisfied
If you would, turn to Matthew 6:25-34.
Let’s go back to that trip I took to Cuba a couple months ago. On Sunday mornings, when we visit with the churches in Cuba, several members of our team will share a testimony or a passage of scripture, and then someone will preach a short sermon. This isn’t highly organized and we allow a lot of freedom as the team members share.
As my group arrived at our church on Sunday morning, no one knew what I would be preaching on and I didn’t know what they might be sharing. So, when one of the University of Findlay students on our trip got up and shared this next passage, I was a bit shocked and dumbfounded. I was already planning to share it in my sermon and then he got up and shared the exact passage. I took it as a pretty cool sign that the Holy Spirit was already at work in our group.
Let’s look at Matthew. “His eye is on the sparrow, so I know he watches me.” Those aren’t just words from a popular, old song, that thought comes from these verses.
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT)
I titled this section, The Lord provides, so we can be satisfied. The thought I’m going for with the word satisfaction is having enough to meet our needs, but not so much that we become gluttons. Gluttons of food, possessions, whatever. God provides, so that we can be satisfied. There’s no need for worry, because God is going to provide, so that we will be satisfied.
But, as we sit here in modern-day America, we have gone way beyond satisfied. We are on a constant search for more. We may not worry as much about food and clothing. At least not to the point of wondering if we’re going to have any. But there’s no denying, we still worry about these things. Even though as a society, we have an overabundance of possessions, we still worry about money. We still worry about what we’re going to eat.
But then I start to think beyond these areas where we’re probably better off than much of the world, and I think of ways in which we have a more obvious need for God to provide. How about all of those things we feel anxious about? Or those feelings of loneliness? Or that nagging depression? Do you really think that God is like, “I can handle money and clothes, but woah!, you’re really out of my league with issues like that.” That’s nonsense and we all know it, but we live like that’s the case, don’t we? The Lord provides for our needs, all of them. The easy ones, the hard ones, all of them. He provides for all our needs.
But, sometimes, we keep calling things “needs” that God says are not just wants, but NO’s. We look to external things to bring us peace. We might call those things idols of the heart. Maybe it will be money or how we dress. Or maybe we can find it in success and power. Maybe we can find what we’re looking for in romantic relationships or friendships. Here’s the definition of an idol that I use.
Idol – anything or anyone that begins to capture our heart, mind, or affections more than God.
We try to find something that will satisfy us, something, anything, other than God. And I have to use the word “try” because if we’re honest, we know that none of those other things ever have or ever will satisfy. It is only God that can truly satisfy. Perhaps you’re here this morning and you would say, “I don’t believe in all this Christian stuff”. But I would challenge you to consider if you’ve really found anything else that can satisfy those deep longings of your heart.
Our name of God today is Jehovah Jireh, the LORD provides. I want to emphasize here, as we think about the sparrows that he provides for, that it is the LORD who does the providing. It is not your hard work, it is not because you are so charming, and it is not because of your wealth. When it comes to the things that we really need, it is the LORD who provides.
A lot of my work during the week is in the state of Louisiana. In addition to the cajun food that I love, they have this word down in Louisiana that I really like. The word is lagniappe. I’ll put it up on the screen, so that you know I’m not making it up and so that you can spell it. Lagniappe – an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.
Whether it’s here in the United States or with my friends down in Cuba, we all have daily needs. But with our success as a nation in America, we tend to think too often that we…or I…or my job…or my effort…provides for my daily needs. God provides the extra, or the lagniappe. I do all the heavy lifting. We’ve got it wrong and notice that I didn’t say we have it backwards. We have it wrong. God does the heavy lifting. God is the one that provides for our daily needs and he is also the one that provides the lagniappe. The LORD provides, so we can be satisfied.
The Lord Provides, so We Can Obey
Let’s take a little different turn. Flip over to 1 Corinthians 10:13. The LORD provides for our daily needs, but the LORD also provides for us when we face temptation. The LORD provides, so we can obey.
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
We’ve moved to a very strange place in our society when it comes to temptation. If temptation is that pull to do something that’s wrong or sinful, then we have to define what sinful or wrong is. Our society has been chipping away at that list of things that would have historically been called sinful or wrong for a very long time. But we can’t totally blame society, can we? Where convenient for us as Christians, we have gone right along with the world, and their new definitions, or lack of definition for sin. If something isn’t clearly defined as sin, then I don’t have to worry about this silly thing called temptation, right? Wrong.
We must return to God’s word for the definition of right behavior and right thinking, and also wrong behavior and wrong thinking. Once I know what is right and wrong, then I can begin to identify the temptations that I face. Now, I don’t want to oversimplify this. I know there are truly some hard situations out there that are tough to know how to work through. I hope you’ll turn to your spiritual leaders to let them walk with you through that situation.
But just because some situations are challenging to know what is right and what is wrong, not every situation is like that. In fact, I think I could make an argument that most situations are not like that. The temptation to yell at our kids or spouse when they don’t do what we want. Or maybe the opposite, the temptation to give them the silent treatment. The temptation to grumble and complain about those in leadership at work, in our state, or country. The temptation to follow down that path of lust. The temptation to be discontent, dishonest, or disobedient.
Again, as we study God’s Word, we begin to see more clearly the distinction between right and wrong. And when we see right and wrong more clearly, we can see more clearly when we are being tempted.
Our verse we just read tells us that God provides. He provides a way out of that temptation, whatever the particular temptation may be for you.
But, how does God provide a way out of temptation? Let’s run through some key ways that he does that.
First, and we’ve already covered this, he provides his Word, so that we can identify right from wrong.
Second, he provides us with instant, 24/7 access to himself. I know that for me, when I am faced with a temptation, turning to God is about the last thing that I think about and if I do think about it, it’s about the last thing I want to do. But turning to him is exactly what my heart needs. If I had to summarize what sin is, it’s anytime I say, I want to do things my way, not God’s way. Anytime I might say, this is what I want, and I’m willing to go against God to get it. His primary way of providing a way out of temptation is by simply saying, “Child, here I am. Turn to me. Let me be in control”. He knows what you’re going through, and what you’re going through, and what you’re going through, and over at North Main, what you’re going through, and he wants you to turn to him.
One more thought for you. I heard an interesting phrase recently. I’ve been chewing on this for months trying to decide if I agree with it. I would have to say that in the vast majority of situations, I do. Here it is…temptation is a sprint, not a marathon. Temptation is a sprint, not a marathon. Think about that for a minute. If temptation is a sprint, then it will be over soon. Well, at least relatively soon. I know that sprints for some of us take longer than for others. If we can fight through, if we can be patient, if we can look to the LORD and the way out that he provides, this temptation will pass. Now I’m not saying that it won’t come back, but as we get in the habit of pushing away these temptations, I know that we will be able to look back and see a track record of God providing a way out for us.
But what about the fact that it still seems like I give into temptation. We do fail, but we’ve already looked at the wonderful gift of Jesus being the perfect sacrifice in our place. This isn’t a license for us to just do whatever we want, we still need to resist the temptations that come our way, but we can rest in the everlasting love that God has for us when we do sin.
One last time though, the LORD provides, so we can obey.
The Lord Provides, so We Serve
Another thing that God provides to us is strength. Let me read from 1 Peter 4:7-11.
7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:7-11 (ESV)
This passage feels like it could fit right in with the series we’ve been doing in I John. Let’s look again there in verse 11. “as one who serves by the strength that God supplies”. Think of what kind of serving it must take for you to need a strength that God supplies.
- How about loving and serving that child who doesn’t seem to be walking away from God, they are running away from God. That takes a strength that only God can supply.
- How about that husband or wife who seems lazy to you, to the point that it’s really impacting your marriage? You can continue to serve them, but it comes through the strength that God provides.
- Or how about that boss? You may be thinking, “I don’t know how I can go back into that office for one more day”. You go back in tomorrow and you serve, with the strength that God provides.
And why do we serve in this way and why does God provide us with this kind of strength? He tells us that right here in this verse too. “in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” When we serve, it reflects the character of Jesus, and how he served us. Through that, God is glorified.
Let’s recap before we get into the final way that I’ve identified that God provides. We see the illustration of Abraham & Isaac. That leads us immediately to reflect on the cross and the fact that God provided for our greatest need through Jesus. And then we’ve looked at how God provides for the needs of the smallest creature and even plants, so we can be confident that he will provide for us not just physically, but all of our needs. Then we looked at the point that God provides a way for us to avoid temptation from evil. And we just now looked at how God provides us with strength, so that we can serve the way Jesus served us.
The Lord Provides, So We Share
The final area that I want us to look at is this, God provides so we share. In 1 Timothy 6:17, turn there if you would, it’s as if Paul is saying to Timothy…Remind them that God provides…and because of that, they need to do good. They need to be rich in good deeds, to be generous, and to be willing to share. Let’s go ahead and look directly at the passage.
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
Just like today, when I was in Cuba preaching, this was my final point. I was a little apprehensive to share this with them, so I had actually written out exactly what I wanted to say to them when I read through this passage. As it happened, I decided in the middle of talking not to cover this final point. I wrapped up the message and I sat down. Immediately afterwards, the pastor got up and started talking to the people. As he went on…and without knowing that I had planned to talk about this section of scripture…he challenged the people to be sharing what God had provided to them.
Now if the pastor at that small Cuban house church can get up and encourage his congregation to be sharing because of how God has blessed them, then friends, I challenge you a thousand times over: we need to be sharing from the abundance of what God has provided to us. We need to be sharing in our local community, around the United States, around the world. Financially, that starts with a tithe to your local church, but how much fun would it be to let your generosity spread all across the world. Beyond money, where can you give of your time and energy?
Don’t forget that it is God who has provided, so that you can share, not so that you can keep it all for yourself. He has provided so that you can store up treasure in heaven, not here on this earth.
The LORD provided, so we have hope
The LORD provides, so we can be satisfied
The LORD provides, so we can obey
The LORD provides, so we serve
The LORD provides, so we share
When I first started preparing to preach this sermon, it really did bother me that Abraham’s title of Jehovah Jireh was the name of a place, not a name for God.
But the more I’ve thought about it, I think I’m willing to set aside my concern over that. But I have to ask, do you have a place or a time in your life that you can call Jehovah Jireh? Do you have a place or a time that you reflect back on and say, “The Lord provided”? Maybe it was a time that you were able to serve with a strength not your own, or a time when you shared freely from what God has given you, or perhaps you realized you could be satisfied in how the Lord provides for you on a daily basis. Most importantly, I hope you can look back on your life and see how desperate your need was for a savior and then looking at Jesus say, I’m going to be ok, Jehovah Jireh. The Lord provided the greatest gift of all through Jesus. If you haven’t called out to him and placed your trust in him, I hope you’ll do that this morning.
Beyond your salvation, maybe you don’t have a time or place that you can call Jehovah Jireh. Perhaps today is that calling that you need to take a step out in faith and follow our Savior on a great adventure.
Jehovah Jireh, thank you so much for providing your only Son to take our sin on himself. Thank you that even beyond that amazing gift, you continue to provide our daily needs, you provide us with the possibility of obeying, you provide us with strength to serve, and you provide us with abundance, so that we can share.
Thank you for these and the many more ways that you provide for us. It’s in your wonderful name that we pray. Amen.
As you leave today, go, knowing that the Lord Provides. No matter your circumstance, your temptation, or your blessings, the Lord is the one who provides. You are sent.