Graced by a Provision Beyond Ourselves
Everybody likes to hear a good story. So, much of the world’s literature consists of stories: love stories, war stories, stories of adventure. Most of these are very much alike, though they are told about different people and are set in a variety of places and diverse circumstances: boy meets girl, a problem arises, boy loses girl, the problem is overcome, boy gets girl again, they live happily ever after. Only occasionally does a story come along that is so unique that it captures the imagination of people, not merely in one age, but in all ages. The historical record of Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac is one of these stories. Noting its poignancy, James M. Boice quotes F. B. Meyer: ‘So long as men live in the world, they will turn to this story with unwaning interest. There is only one scene in history by which it is surpassed: that where the Great Father gave his Isaac to a death from which there was no deliverance.’[i]
As we continue our study in stewardship, living for God’s glory, we will focus this week on the God who provides. One of the stories we will consider is that of Abraham and Isaac as it reveals to us one of our Lord’s most gracious names: ‘The God Who Provides’.
The names of God are windows through which his character is seen. The names tell us that he is the Most High God, Possessor of Heaven and Earth (El Elyon), the Almighty God (El Shaddai), the Eternal, Unchanging God (El Olam), the Lord (Adonai), and much more. Since the names of God declare his attributes, we are not surprised that the unparalleled revelation of God’s wisdom and grace in Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son brings with it another of God’s names: Jehovah Jireh, which means ‘the Lord will provide’. In Abraham’s day, God provided a ram for sacrifice in place of Abraham’s son. But what Abraham really learned was that at the proper time, God would provide his own Son to die for our salvation.
I do not know how much of this the patriarch Abraham foresaw, though I suspect a great deal. I do know that he was trusting God when he named the future site of Jerusalem Jehovah Jireh. This must be our trust too. Donald Grey Barnhouse writes,
‘Our minds must go on in the logic of faith. We must call the name of our God Jehovah Jireh, ‘The Lord will see to it. His wonderful mind will provide the way out of the dilemma. In fact, he has provided the way. At the mount of Calvary God saw to it. There love and justice met. There righteousness and mercy kissed each other. There the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, was provided in God’s perfect plan. All he asks of you is that you fix your eyes upon him and believe his Word that he is satisfied with that which he himself has done.’[ii]
And then live by that same faith. For the God who provided Jesus as the perfect sacrifice continues to be the God who provides for his people. The Apostle Paul knew this. Although he was in prison in Rome, probably shortly before he died a martyr’s death, he was not worried. He trusted God and commended this faith to the Christians at Philippi, to whom he was writing: ‘My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:19). ‘God will see to them.’ That is what Paul is saying. God will see to those daily needs, just as he has – by sending Jesus to die – seen to our great need of salvation.
Boice concluded his chapter with these powerful words of encouragement: ‘God’s mercy cannot be exhausted by anything – even your needs, however great they may be. He is the infinite God. Can the finite exhaust the infinite? Can the part exhaust the whole? Can human beings exhaust God? It is impossible. God will see to your need. [God] will provide.’[iii]
I invite you to join us this Lord’s Day as we consider ‘Graced by a provision beyond ourselves’ from 2 Corinthians 8:1-9. Will you pray for our service? Would you bring a friend along with you? Come, and bring your needs to the God who will see to your need.
[i] James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: Vol 2, A New Beginning, 12-36 (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 683.
[ii] Quoted in Boice, 694-5.
[iii] Ibid., 695.