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Names of God #5

Jehovah-Jireh


THE NAMES OF GOD

by Nathan J. Stone (1944)


JEHOVAH-JIREH

     THE NAME Jehovah-jireh is one of a number of names
compounded with Jehovah. Naturally these names owe something of
their significance to the name Jehovah itself, which as we have
learned, reveals God as the eternal, self-existent One, the God
of revelation, the God of moral and spiritual attributes--of
righteousness, holiness, love, and therefore of redemption, the
God who stands in special covenant relation to Israel in contrast
to Elohim, the general name of God in relation to all the
nations.
     Most of these compound names of God arise out of some
historic incident, and portray Jehovah in some aspect of His
character as meeting human need.

HISTORICAL SETTING

     The historic incident out of which the name Jehovahjireh
rises is one of the most moving and significant in the Word of
God. The story is found in Genesis 22. It is the story of the
last and greatest crisis in the life of Abraham. Every event in
his life has led up to this supreme hour from the time of his
call to a high destiny, through every vicissitude, through every
joy, through every trial or failure, through every measure of
success and blessing, through every hope and promise and
assurance. All had been in preparation for this event. The great
promise had been fulfilled, the supreme hope of his life
realized. He had settled down to live the rest of his life in
peace and in joyous anticipation of the larger fulfillment of the
promise through the centuries, and its final spiritual
fulfillment. The rationalistic critics have long been silenced
who denied or doubted the reality of the Patriarchs as actual
persons, but interpreted them merely as ideal and imaginary
figures around which ancient Hebrew tradition cast its national
origins and early history. For apart from our faith in the Bible
as the inspired revelation of God, and its Old and New Testament
testimony, to the reality of Abraham as a historic person,
abundant evidence has been brought to light in recent years and
decades as to the historicity of the persons and the veracity of
the events to dispel all doubts and invalidate all objections.
In this incident Elohim appears to Abraham with the astounding
command to offer up as a sacrifice, a burnt offering, his only
and well-beloved son Isaac. Abraham, apparently, is not aware
that this is a testing. His feelings can scarcely be imagined.
His tremendous faith, in view of all the circumstances, is,
perhaps, not sufficiently appreciated. The record reveals not a
word of objection or remonstrance on his part. But if he laughed
in his heart with joyful hope, even though perhaps mingled with a
little doubt, when this son was promised to him, how deep his
anguish and perplexity must have been at this amazing request
from the God who had been so good to him. Yet the faith which
enabled him to believe such a staggering promise in the first
place is now sufficient for an even more staggering demand. This
incident, then, reveals Abraham's obedience and faith, Isaac's
willing submission, and Jehovah's gracious provision of a
substitute in his place.

THE MEANING OF THE NAME

     Before we discuss the derivation and meaning of this name,
it will be well to briefly recall the happenings which occasioned
its use. On the way to the place of sacrifice Isaac cannot
contain his curiosity about the lamb for the burnt offering.
"Behold the fire and wood"; he said, "but where is the lamb for a
burnt offering?" (Gen.22:7). Abraham's answer to this question is
that God will provide Himself a lamb. It is not necessary to
suppose that Abraham thought of an ordinary lamb in this answer,
although he may have had some such dim hope in his mind. At any
rate, in his instructions to his young men to wait for him he
says: "I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again
to you" (v.5). It is only at the last moment, when Isaac lies
bound upon the altar, and any such hope he may have entertained
is gone, and the knife in his upraised hand is about to descend,
that the voice of the angel of Jehovah arrests and stays his
hand, and Abraham looks about and sees a ram caught in a thicket
by its horns, which he offers up instead of his son. Then in
verse 14 we read in the Authorized Version of our Bible: "And
Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is
said to this day, In the mount of the Lord [Jehovah] it shall be
seen." In the American Standard Version of our Bible, however,
instead of "it shall be seen," it reads "it shall be provided."
Still another rendering of this important word is "he shall be
seen." Thus, "in the mount of Jehovah, he shall be seen or
provided."

     First of all it must be understood that in this name
Jehovah-jireh, the word "jireh" is simply a transliteration of a
Hebrew word which appears many times throughout the Scriptures
and is translated for what it means. Only its unusual
significance here, its connection with this remarkable event, and
its union with the title Jehovah has brought it down to us as a
compound name of God. It is simply a form of the verb to see.
What connection can there be then between the word see and
provide, for both of these English words are used to translate
the one Hebrew word, and they certainly seem to be quite distinct
in their meaning? It must be admitted, too, that in the great
majority of cases where this word occurs in the Hebrew Bible, it
is translated "see" or "appear." Why then should we translate it
"provide" here?
     One reason for this, no doubt, as one writer declares,' is,
that with God, to see is also to foresee. As the One who
possesses eternal wisdom and knowledge, He knows the end from the
beginning. As Elohim He is all-knowing, all-wise, and
all-powerful. From eternity to eternity He foresees everything.
But another word for seeing is vision, from the Latin word
video-to see. Thus with God foreseeing is prevision. As the
Jehovah of righteousness and holiness, and of love and redempti
on, having prevision of man's sin, and fall, and need, He makes
provision for that need. For provision, after all, is merely a
compound of two Latin words meaning "to see beforehand." And we
may learn from a dictionary that provide is simply the verb and
prevision the noun of seeing beforehand. Thus to God prevision is
necessarily followed by provision, for He certainly will pro
......

Webb-Peploe, The Titles of Jehovah, p.24.
......

vide for that need which His foreseeing shows Him to exist. With
Him prevision and provision are one and the same thing. All this
is certainly expressed in the term Jehovah-jireh; and it is quite
correct and in its proper significance to translate this name of
God Jehovah jireh, "God will provide."
     Another form of the word from which jireh is derived is also
used of men in the sense of foresee. It is translated "seer" or
"prophet." Several references are made in the Scriptures to
Samuel the Seer and the Book of Samuel the Seer ( I Chron. 9:22;
26-28; 2 Sam. 15:27; 2 Chron. 16:7). The word is ro eh which, as
can easily be seen, is much like jireh. In I Samuel 9:9 it is
stated that the prophet formerly was called a seer. Even as late
as the time of Isaiah (30:10) this was the word sometimes used
for a prophet. Here the prophet Isaiah speaks of a people who say
to the seers: "See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us
right things." A prophet is, of course, one who foresees, and
since seer, or ro'eh, is the same as prophet, it consequently
means one who foresees.
     Besides this the word jireh is translated in Genesis 22:8,
even in our Authorized Version of the Bible, as provide. Abraham
here said to Isaac: "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for
a burnt offering." Even if we were to translate here, "God will
see to it," or "God will see for Himself a lamb for a burnt
offering," the meaning would be exactly the same as provide.
     The importance of the words used here can hardly be
overestimated, and afford striking evidence and confirmation of
the hand of God in revelation. "Abraham called the name of the
place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of
the Lord it or he shall be seen." "It shall be seen"-jeroeh-the
same word as jireh. That is, God's provision shall be seen. In
the mount of the Lord! What was this mount of the Lord? In
Genesis 22:2 the command comes to Abraham: "Take now thy son,
thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the
land of Moriah; and offer him there upon one of the mountains
which I will tell thee of." The significant word here is the word
Moriah, of which more will be said later. This word, many Hebrew
scholars agree, is a kindred word to jireh, derived from the same
root. Its ending is an abbreviated form of the name Jehovah. Thus
it may be rendered "seen" or "provided of Jehovah." All of this
confirms and justifies our translation of the word jireh as
"seeing" or "appearing and providing," and invests this name of
Jehovah with a wealth of meaning and significance.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS NAME

     This name is significant, first of all, because it is a
commemoration-a commemoration of a great deliverance. This was
the primary reason for naming the scene of this event
Jehovah-jireh. It was a constant reminder of the wonderful grace
of the Jehovah who had wrought this deliverance. Now that it was
all over, and Abraham had learned the lesson God was teaching him
and could see something of God's glorious purpose in it all, he
sought only to magnify the grace of Jehovah. His magnifying of
this grace was in proportion to the deep and dark perplexity that
had filled his soul on the way to the mount. Had God really
spoken to him and called him? Did the Elohim mean what He had
said? Could He really mean what He said now? Such may have been
Abraham's thoughts. But his joy and gratitude were in proportion
to his sorrow and despair at the terrible prospect before him-the
overwhelming horror that must have flooded his soul at the
thought, yes, the very act of plunging the knife of sacrifice
into the body of his own, son, his only son, the son so longed
for, hoped for, prayed for, the child of their old age. What a
great and glorious deliverance it was that Jehovah's grace had
provided, and how unexpected and dramatic! Man's extremity is
ever God's opportunity, not only for deliverance but to teach
also wonderful lessons of His purpose as well as providence.
Surely out of this experience of Jehovah's delivering grace there
must have come a purer, more spiritual relationship of love
between this father and son. This must have been one lesson the
experience was intended to convey. As one great commentator has
declared, it was that he should no more love his beloved son as
his flesh and blood, but solely and only as the gracious gift and
possession of God, as a good entrusted to him by God; which he
was to be ready to render back to Him at any moment (Delitzsch).
According to the words of the angel of Jehovah it is fullest
proof of Abraham's faith and obedience, "seeing thou hast not
withheld thy son, thine only son from me." And He might have
added, "Even as I will not withhold my only and well-beloved Son
as the great provision for man's redemption." For this, after
all, is the chief lesson of the story, the deliverance of Isaac
through the provision of a substitute. For just as Abraham is
about to slay him, the voice of the angel of Jehovah arrests him:
"Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do anything unto him."
And there in the thicket is the substitute provided by Jehovah.

     A further significance of this name of God lies in the
expectation of something yet to come. Even if we were to
translate Jehovah-jireh as "the Lord doth provide" rather than
"will provide," it would be Abraham's testimony to the fact that
Jehovah is a God who always provides; that as He provided then He
would also provide in the future-deliverance from death, the oil
of joy for the ashes of sorrow and mourning, blessings for
obedience, even though obedience be made perfect through
sufferings. The naming of the place Jehovahjireh was meant to be
proverbial of this very thing - "as it is said to this day."
But this naming of the place was more than proverbial with
Abraham. He can hardly have emerged from such a remarkable and
solemn experience without feeling or realizing that it had far
deeper significance than the test of his own faith only. The
profound import of the occasion is strikingly attested by the
most solemn language of Jehovah Himself calling from heaven a
second time after the lamb of His provision had been offered, and
saying, "By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah." The word
translated "saith ' is the particular word used of Jehovah when
making the most solemn prophetic utterances. Some translate it
"utterance," others, "oracle." Then follows an emphatic
confirmation of the promises to make Abraham a multitude, and a
blessing to the world "because thou hast done this thing," and
"because thou hast obeyed my voice." There are various allusions
in the New Testament to this great transaction that indicate that
Abraham saw far more than the immediate provision and deliverance
in it It was more than proverbial. He saw in it a prediction. He
called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh; not merely Jehovah
doth provide but Jehovah will provide. And then, "as it is said
to this day, In the mount of Jehovah it shall be "seen" or "it
shall be provided." One of the most noted of medieval Jewish
commentators also understood this expression to mean, "God will
manifest Himself to His people."

THE REALIZATION

     What then was that provision which Abraham saw, dimly
perhaps, with the eye of faith? What was the reality of which
Isaac, and the lamb, were but types? Certainly Abraham understood
the reality of sin, and realized the need for atonement. The
numerous altars he built and the offerings he sacrificed attest
that fact. Why then the demand for Isaac as an offering? Was it
not to impress upon Abraham more deeply the temporary character
of these sacrifices; that it was impossible that the blood of
bulls and goats should take away sins (Heb. 10:4); that they were
only shadows of which something infinitely worthier should be the
substance and reality? Thus Isaac was exhibited as the pattern of
one under the judgment of God for sin. Animals cannot take away
the sins of men. Animals cannot be consecrated to God instead of
men. "Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof
sufficient for a burnt offering" (Isa. 40:16). Only one of like
nature, if one worthy enough can be found, can make such
atonement and consecration. Here again in the deliverance of
Isaac as he was about to be offered Abraham received more than an
inkling of the fact that not even Isaac, that none born of flesh
alone, is sufficient for that. For Isaac was offered and received
back only in a figure (Heb. 11:19), and the lamb became his
substitute also.

     Surely'God was teaching Abraham that the only sacrifice
acceptable to Him is the one chosen and appointed by Himself.
"Wherewithal shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before
the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with
calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of
rams ... shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the
fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" says Micah 6:6,7.
In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen or provided, and that
mount is Moriah which, as already stated, means appearance or
provision of God. It was this Mount Moriah which later became the
site of the Temple and the center of Israel's worship, its
sacrificial system. In II Chronicles 3:1 it is written: "Then
Solomon began to build the house of the Lord [Jehovah] at
Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where Jehovah appeared unto David his
father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing
floor of Ornan, the Jebusite." It was here, in David's time, that
God in His mercy staved the hand of avenging justice when David
offered the sacrifices of substitution. The very heart of
Israel's religion, centered in the Temple on Mount Moriah, was
its substitutionary sacrifices. A Jewish interpretation of
Genesis 22:14 is: "God will see and choose that very place to
cause His Shekinah to rest thereon and to offer the offerings."
But, like Abraham, the true and faithful Israelite must have
realized that the sacrifice of animals was only a shadow of
something to come. Jehovah's gracious promise to Solomon in II
Chronicles 7 to set His heart and eyes and His glory on that
place indicate something infinitely nobler than animal sacrifice.
     
     Isaiah and Micah make sublime predictions concerning the
mountain of the house of the Lord. Zechariah speaks of the glory
of that holy mountain, the mountain of Jehovah of hosts. What was
the glory of that mountain? Surely it was no temple made with
hands. Surely it was not all the beasts on Jewish altars slain.
The Abraham who looked not for an earthly city but for one "which
hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God," also looked
for a better and more enduring sacrifice; for the Mount Moriah of
which he spoke saying: "In the Mount of the Lord it shall be
seen," became the site of Calvary and the scene of that grand and
awful sacrifice of God's only begotten and wellbeloved Son, who
was put under judgment for sin, and became our Substitute.
     Perhaps Abraham understood better than we realize the wonder
of Jehovah's provision for man's redemption when he said: "In the
Mount of Jehovah, he will appear." Was it not this to which the
Lord Jesus Christ Himself referred in John 8:56, when He said:
"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and
was glad."
     Abraham and Isaac, as father and only begotten son, are both
types of Jehovah's full and glorious provision for man's sin and
need. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son
..." (John 3:16). And Paul speaks of God as "he that spared not
his own Son. but delivered him up for us all ..." (Rom. 8:32).
"Who was delivered up for our trespasses ..." (Rom. 4:25). And
John says again: "In this was manifested the love of God toward
us, in that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that
we might live through him" (I John 4:9).

     On Mount Moriah Jehovah was teaching Abraham what He Himself
was prepared to provide. He was teaching the awful cost to
Himself of the provision of the sacrifice for sin. Does it break
your heart, Abraham, to give up, to slay, yes, by your own hand,
as an innocent sacrifice, your well-beloved and only son? Then
think of the awful and infinite cost to Me of what 1 am prepared
to do for man. The thing that Abraham foreshadowed on Mount
Moriah was realized, accomplished, when God's Son upon the cross
cried, "It is finished."
     Isaac asks, "Where is the lamb?" Abraham answers, "God will
provide himself a lamb." John the Baptist announces, "Behold the
Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
     This was the Lamb provided and slain from the foundation of
the world but manifested on Mount Moriah for us; through whose
precious blood, even the blood of Christ, as of a lamb without
blemish and without spot, we are redeemed (I Peter 1:18,19). This
Lamb is the center of heaven's glory and the object of its
adoration. Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of
thousands say with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb that was
slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and
honor, and glory and blessing." Yes, and every creature will join
in saying: "Blessing and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him
that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever"
(Rev. 5:11-13).
     God will provide Himself a lamb. In the mount of the Lord it
shall be seen, it shall be provided. In the mount of the Lord He
was seen, He was provided, even Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God,
our Saviour, our Lord, to whom be glory forever, and who is over
all God blessed forever. Amen.

                          ......................


To be continued


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