This week in my theology class I was teaching about the doctrine of God—His essence, names and attributes. One of the ways that God reveals himself in Scripture is through the Divine names. Today I want to focus on just one – Yahweh Jireh (or Jehovah Jireh if we’re speaking Old King James or singing the song), though its more testimony than theology this week.
Around the middle of last year my family of six was preparing to move from Wheaton, Illinois, back to Melbourne Australia. For months before we left, we had been praying that God would provide a place for us to live. These prayers became understandably more fervent as our departure became imminent. At the beginning, we had prayed quite specifically. We wanted a four bedroom place within walking distance of the kids’ school and we didn’t want to pay any more than we were currently paying rent. It was a tough ask to be honest, but we were full of faith. But as the weeks rolled by and we were no closer to finding anything that even remotely met our criteria we began to wonder.
One morning, after a fruitless search online for properties, I got onto google earth and looked at the area surround the school where we had enrolled the children for perhaps the hundredth time. I jokingly put my finger on the street closest to the school and prayed “Fleur Court Lord. Fleur Court. That would be ideal.” Frustrated and defeated I closed the application down. About a week later we were becoming desperate. We totally let go once-and-for-all of all of our precious criteria. We prayed something like this: “Lord we know that you always provide for our needs. We know that you have gone before us. We have told you what we think we want, but what we really want is what you have provided for us. We trust you Lord.” We slept that night in the peace of surrender.
The next morning when I logged on to the real estate site for my daily search a house on Fleur Court had become available. Four bedrooms, literally across the road from the school, the exact same rent as we were paying in Wheaton—indeed the very street I had named! We rejoiced and claimed it in faith. The matter was of course by no means settled at that point, but deep down we knew that God had spectacularly answered our prayer.
I only found out this week that another couple with kids enrolled in the school who were moving into the area had also been praying for a house within walking distance of the school (the wife does not drive). They too had rejoiced when the house we now live in came onto the market, but despite submitting an application, they were unsuccessful. Amazingly, God provided a house for them several weeks later three houses away, which actually suited their own needs better than the one that we now live in. We met this week at a literacy night at the school and as the other father and myself were taking the (incredibly short!) walk home, we were sharing with one another God’s wonderful provision for our families. It was fascinating to me that God had allowed the answer to our prayer to be their contradiction, but that our own answer had not come without much contradiction, and it kind of got me thinking that prayer for provision is often like this.
Indeed, when God first revealed himself as Jehovah Jireh (sorry – sticking with KJV, it just sounds more familiar) it was in a context where Abraham, the ‘father of faith’ was praying fervently for God’s intervention and provision, and choosing to believe despite contradictions—contradictions, I might add, that make the minor setbacks that I have described above seem petty and utterly insignificant. God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. On the way to the place of sacrifice, Isaac began to wonder. “Father,” he said. “We have brought fire and wood…but where is the lamb for sacrifice?” Abraham replied, in spite of his circumstances, “God himself will provide a lamb.” And at the last minute—the very last minute, when Abraham had already bound his son, laid him on the altar and was ready to kill him—God did provide a lamb. In response, Abraham called the place of sacrifice “The LORD will provide” or “Jehovah Jireh.”
God will and God does provide spectacularly for all of our needs; often despite conviction; more often than not at the very last minute; always with the motivation that we would trust him despite circumstance. But it is important to see that this temporal provision, vital at times though it may be, is secondary to and dependent upon God’s ultimate provision of his own son, Jesus—the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.