“Provision” isn’t a word most Americans think much about. It’s a weightless word to us. We may use it euphemistically when we stock up on “provisions” for a road trip, meaning Twizzlers and combos. We may use it to refer to unexpected upgrades in live – “The Lord provided us with a new car” or “The Lord provided our church with the means to get that new sound system.” Some of us remember times when God provided for needs in obvious ways like a check in the mail to cover rent or the generosity of a friend to pay for a hospital bill. We recognize these as God’s provision, but we rarely depend on provision.
When God introduces himself (the Bible is His word, after all) as Jehovah Jireh, meaning “the Lord will provide,” it’s not in the context of snacks or cars or money or bills. It’s in the context of the most profound physical need a person can face – the loss of life. In Genesis 22 we read the story of Abraham being commanded by God to take his son Isaac to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. Isaac was the son of promise, a miraculous gift from God when Abraham and Sarah were old. He was the promised child whom God had promised to make into a great nation. He was God’s provision, or so it seemed until God said to lay him on the altar and offer him as a sacrifice.
Abraham obeyed. Hebrews 11 tells us that he acted in faith that God would raise Isaac. He obeyed in the belief that God would provide a miracle of some kind, and God did – a ram caught in a thicket as a substitute sacrifice. God the provider, Jehovah Jireh, gave life. He saved the promised son from being a sacrifice. He preserved His promise to make Isaac a great nation. He acted faithfully in response to Abraham’s faith in His provision.
At our worst we think of God’s provision as if he is a waiter: we signal him to our life, place our orders in “faith,” and receive what we have requested. More often, though, we are not so trite. We do think of God providing for us – jobs, family, friends, care, church, abilities, answered prayers. These things are significant and meaningful; they are absolutely a portion of God’s provision to us. But too often we stop there, and in doing so we stop short of the deep reality of what “the Lord shall provide” truly means.
In Matthew 6 Jesus tells his disciples
“Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on . . . Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they . . . Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
In these verses Jesus shows one end of the spectrum of God’s provision. He cares for the smallest and even the inanimate in his creation. He clothes and feeds them. His eye is on them as treasured created things. So why should we worry about His provision? Are we not image bearers, uniquely made to be God’s children? He provides as a father ought – exactly those things that are best for His children without hesitation and always at the right time.
In Jesus’ teaching we see one side of God’s provision. In Jesus’ mission on earth we see the other. “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) Jesus came so that we might “have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10) And this provision, this inestimable gift of His son, was more than kindness. It was a rescue, a ransom, a debt paid, a punishment born as a substitute for the guilty – us.
The same God who smiles on the brilliance of wildflowers and feeds a baby sparrow sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for sins already committed (Romans 3:25). Jesus was the last and final sacrifice, the flawless lamb able to redeem all sinners and pay for all sins once for all time. Jesus is God’s perfect and complete provision, the answer to every person’s deepest question and the fulfillment their deepest needs.
In Genesis Abraham’s only son was set to be sacrificed and was saved by God’s miraculous provision. In the gospels God’s only Son was sacrificed as the miraculous provision for all people.
When we say Jehovah Jireh, The Lord will provide, we can be certain it is true. We can see it in the flowers and birds. And we can see it at the cross – Jesus is His great provision.
This post was originally published at BibleStudyTools.com and is used with permission.