Calvary Road Baptist Church

“JEHOVAH-JIREH”

Genesis 22.1-18

 

Turn in your Bible to Genesis chapter 22. You will find this to be one of the richest of passages in God’s Word. Because this chapter in the Bible contains so much that is relevant to New Testament Christianity, I will handle our text in a verse-by-verse fashion by way of introduction.

 

Verse 1: “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”

 

Four things to observe here: First, the entire chapter makes better sense when you understand that the phrase “And it came to pass after these things” refers farther back than to immediately past events. It at least refers back to Genesis 15.6, when Abram “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Next, concerning the statement “that God did tempt Abraham.” The Hebrew word translated “did tempt” literally means “test,”[1] which is consistent with James 1.15: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” In both Hebrew and Greek, the context in which the word used to translate tempt and test is crucial, with God never seeking to entice to do wrong, but testing to show strength and fortitude, as in this case. Third, notice something important about the phrase “and said unto him, Abraham.” This word did not come from his own heart.[2] What we read about is not the result of a notion welling up from inside Abraham. This is a communication that comes to Abraham from outside his mind and heart, that comes from God. Finally, it seems to have been at least several decades since God had spoken audibly to Abraham, if the Biblical record leaves no communiqués unrecorded. However, his response shows that Abraham has no doubt that it really is God who speaks to him now.

 

Verse 2: “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

 

God chose this event to use the term love for the first time in His Word. Here we see a type of God the Father offering up His Son, Jesus Christ, with Abraham being a type of God the Father and Isaac being a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is “the only type in the Old Testament which distinctly intimated that God required a human sacrifice.”[3] More than any other man’s experience, Abraham would from this come to understand the heart of God the Father toward His Son in sending Him to die for sin.

 

Verse 3: “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”

 

Notice Abraham’s prompt response the next morning. I am persuaded that parents who raise children to respond promptly to their directions are more likely to see grown children who swiftly comply with God’s commands. One commentator writes, “Here his faith looms up as positively heroic: God’s behests are not to be questioned but executed.”[4] We can also see that the use of means is clarified in our minds. A man of Abraham’s age and stature, clearly, would not have saddled his own ass or chopped his own wood, but would have directed his two young servants to perform such tasks. However, scripture clearly shows that Abraham effectively did what was done by Abraham’s direction. In like manner, what is done at God’s direction is frequently said in the Bible to be done by God.

 

Verse 4: “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.”

 

The venerable Baptist John Gill tells us that Jewish scholars take great notice of this third day, and compare the passage with Hosea 6.2, which reads, “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”

A contemporary Jewish scholar writes about this:

 

“In biblical consciousness, three days constitute a significant segment of time, particularly in connection with travel. The long interval is crucial to the trial of faith, for Abraham’s instantaneous assent to God’s request may have been impulsive and emotional and without proper consideration. The long trek enables him to regain his composure. It allows time for sober reflection; yet his resolve is not weakened. His decision to obey God is thus seen to be an undoubting act of free will.”[5]

 

“According to rabbinic legend, Abraham and Isaac, but not the attendants, saw a cloud hovering over one of the hills.”[6]

 

I would point out to the distinguished Jewish scholar I am quoting that what we have here is not a request by God to Abraham asking of him, but a directive from God to Abraham commanding him.

 

Verse 5: “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”

 

“Here we see in type that what took place on that mount of sacrifice was a transaction between the Father and the Son ONLY.[7] Though Isaac is referred to as a lad by Abraham, Joshua the son of Nun was referred to in Exodus 33.11 using the same word, though he was 56 years of age. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus writing shortly after the time of Christ was of the opinion that Isaac was 25 at this time, though many Jewish commentators are of the opinion he was 37 years of age.[8] Obviously, then, Abraham did not and could not have forced the fully-grown Isaac to do anything.

Significant here is this word “worship,” as well as Abraham’s assurance to the two servants that both he and Isaac would “come again to you.” Worship translates the Hebrew word for bow down or to prostrate yourself.[9] All real worship involves some sort of bowing of one’s self before God, if not physically then mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

Verse 6: “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.”

 

As the Lord Jesus Christ bore His own cross, so Isaac the type of Christ also bore the instrument of his judgment. The aged father carried “the fire in his hand, and a knife.” Can you imagine the father and his beloved son walking to the place where the old man would take his son’s life? In the mean time, however, they enjoyed a perfect harmony that was undisturbed by the intrusion of others.

 

Verse 7: “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

 

This is the only conversation between father and son recorded in our passage, and how poignant it is. Notice how God emphasizes their relationship: “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son.” The son then asks his father, “where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” A burnt offering for sin requires the death of an innocent sacrifice, so where is the lamb?

 

Verse 8: “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”

 

Is it not gratifying to notice that Abraham acknowledges that only God can provide that which God demands as a sacrifice for sin? “It is true, blessedly true, that Christ died for sinners, but He first died (and this is what we are in danger of forgetting) for God.”[10]

 

Verse 9: “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.”

 

John Gill writes that Jewish tradition holds that the location of the altar upon which Cain and Abel worshiped, is where Noah built his altar when he left the Ark, is where Abraham built this altar on which he laid his son Isaac, and is where the threshing floor was located that David purchased and at which site Solomon located the Temple.[11] Whether it is so or not, it is evident that Isaac trusts his father enough to allow him to bind his hands and feet and lay him on an altar of wood. Consider this word bound. “The Hebrew stem ‘-k-d is found nowhere else in the ritual vocabulary of the Bible. In postbiblical texts it is a technical term for the tying together of the forefoot and the hindfoot of an animal or of the two forefeet or two hindfeet.”[12] Two men had great faith on Mount Moriah that day, a man and his son.

 

Verse 10:   “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”

 

This old, old man must have set the knife down to build the altar and lay the wood in order. As well, his hands had to be free to gently caress his son as he bound his hands and feet. We are here plainly told that Abraham reached for the knife and grasped it for the purpose of taking his son’s life. As a burnt offering, Abraham would have intended to slit his son’s throat to bleed him out before setting the wood on fire.

 

Verse 11:   “And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.”

 

Three things to briefly note: First, “the angel of the LORD” in the Hebrew scriptures is not a created being, is not an angel like any other angel, but is in fact the preincarnate Christ. Second, He says “Abraham, Abraham” to convey urgency (Abraham would have slain his son but for this intervention), as well as showing the special relationship that exists between the one addressed and the One who calls.[13] Finally, Abraham’s response, “Here am I,” showing that the test he had been subjected to showed him to be a man yielded to the will of God.

 

Verse 12:   “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

 

Here we find a matter of confusion to Jewish scholars. The angel of the LORD is obviously who is speaking to Abraham. Yet he says, “for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” “Thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me”? The angel of the LORD is speaking as if He is God. Why so? Christians understand that the angel of the LORD actually is God, specifically the preincarnate Christ. Jewish scholars cannot admit to such a thing, however, since that would expose Judaism as erroneous and Christianity as true, so they have to write these kinds of comments: “In biblical angelology, God and His angels often interchange imperceptibly. . . . From several texts it is clear that the demarcation between God and His angel is often blurred.”[14] I respond by saying, on the contrary, the demarcation between Creator and His creatures is never blurred, though the demarcation between the First Person of the trinity and the Second Person of the trinity is perplexing to many unsaved people.

 

Verse 13:   “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”

 

This verse replaces one remarkable type of Jesus Christ with another remarkable type of Jesus Christ. Up to this point Isaac has been the type of Jesus Christ in view. However, with Isaac’s life now spared and the ram offered “up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son,” we now see another type of Jesus Christ presented. The ram serves to show us in type Jesus Christ as the innocent substitute for Isaac, the one dying in the place of the other. Substitution is a vital concept, as First Peter 3.18 clearly reveals: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

 

Verses 14-18:  14       And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

15       And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16       And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17       That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18       And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

 

Four brief observations to conclude my introductory remarks: First, Jehovahjireh. This is one of the names of God, using His proper name of Jehovah compounded with another word and in combination meaning “Jehovah will provide.”[15] The angel of the LORD is said to be speaking in verse 15, but He says in verse 16, “By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD.” Thus, the angel of the LORD is the LORD. The angel of Jehovah is Jehovah, Himself. Jesus is God. Third, verses 17-18 restate the Abrahamic Covenant, which is found first in Genesis chapter 12. Finally, the seed referred to in verse 18 (“And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”) is properly understood to be a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Apostle Paul clearly points out in Galatians 3.16.

In this passage, God reveals Himself to Abraham as Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah will provide. Review with me how He shows Himself to be the God Who provides:

 

First, GOD PROVIDES THE PROMISE

 

When God first appeared to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, He told him to depart to a place He would show him, Genesis 12.1, where He would make him a great nation. That, my friend, was a promise. When Abram arrived in the land God had brought him to, once again, “the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land,” Genesis 12.7. The promise was restated.

The seed, of course, was not all of Abraham’s physical descendants, but was a specific reference to one individual descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Next, GOD PROVIDES THE FAITH

 

We know from Hebrews 11.6 that it is not possible to please God without faith. We also know from Hebrews 11.1 that faith is not blind trust, but is the right conclusion resulting from circumstantial evidence. Let us also keep in mind that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, Romans 10.17. Thus, Christian faith is not weird or bizarre, but is the rational and reasonable response to reality.

God provided for Abram’s faith by speaking to him several times, and by intervening to protect him from harm on several occasions. He protected him from harm when he was in Egypt, and He protected him from retaliation when he rescued his nephew Lot from his kidnappers.

God then provided for the salvation of Abram’s soul when Abram “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness,” in Genesis 15.6.

 

Finally, GOD PROVIDES THE FULFILLMENT

 

The fulfillment that God provided for Abraham in the near term, of course, was the birth of his son Isaac, the heir who was needed to establish the line of ancestry that would eventually lead to the Seed, who is Jesus Christ. From our perspective, we see that the ultimate fulfillment God provided, His crucified and risen from the dead Son Jesus Christ, was provided for the salvation of untold millions.

By the time in Abraham’s life that his faith is tested, in Genesis 22, there is no doubt in his mind that God is worthy of his trust. Remember what the old man told his two servants when he and Isaac left them to go to Mount Moriah. “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”[16] And when Isaac asked, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? . . . Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”[17]

Does Abraham know precisely what God will do in his life and in his son’s life? No, for then no faith would have been required. Make no mistake about it; our text records the test of Abraham’s faith. Faith has to do with not knowing everything about the what, but having confidence in the One who.

How did it turn out? It turned out. Abraham obeyed, and God kept His promise. God rewarded the faith He had given to His servant. And at the last possible moment, He substituted a ram for Isaac and revealed Himself clearly to be Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah who provides.

 

Jehovah-Jireh. That is one of God’s personal names, a compound of the covenant name Jehovah, the personal name He used when dealing with His covenant people. However, more than just a name, His name shows us more than what God does; it shows us Who He is. Do you recognize that God provides? Have you grasped that Jehovah provides?

In our text, we saw two wonderful types of Jesus Christ. The first was Isaac as a type of Jesus Christ, offered up by his father. Then, when that type was taken as far as it could be taken, another type was set in place, the ram in the thicket being a type of Christ as our substitute, the Just dying for the unjust that He might bring us to God. Throughout, however, God showed Himself to be Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah who provides. He provided the promise. He provided the faith and the facts upon which faith is based. Then He provided fulfillment. Do you not see how the Old Testament types project into the future fulfillment provided by the Lord Jesus Christ?

Men are born into sin, but God provided the promise of salvation from sins. God also worked in history to provide for us the basis of the faith by which sinners can be saved from their sins. How did God do this? He provided His only begotten Son to be our Substitute, dying in our place to atone for our sins.

Can you not see it? God provides what is necessary to meet His own holy demands, that sins be punished, by sending His innocent Son to suffer the punishment that sinners rightly deserve. What He requires of you is an obedient response by faith, both to be saved and to be tested, as was Abraham’s experience.

So, how can you know whether or not you see God as Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah provides? Simple. Abraham showed greater allegiance to God who provided his son than to the son God provided. Do you do that? Are you more loyal to the God who gave you your spouse, your dad, your job, or are you more loyal to your spouse, to your dad, or to your job?

If you are more devoted to that which God has provided, over against the God who does the providing, then you flunk the test of faith. And if you flunk the test of faith, it is likely that you do not have faith . . . at least not the right kind of faith. My friends, God shows Himself to be reliable, to be trustworthy, and to be the God who provides. He provided His Son, Jesus, after all. Therefore, trust Him.



[1] John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, Volume 1, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), page 85.

[2] C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT, Vol I, (Peabody, MA: reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996), page 158.

[3] Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings In Genesis, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1950), page 221.

[4] H. C. Leupold, Exposition Of Genesis, Vol II, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1942), page 623.

[5] Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis - The JPS Torah Commentary, (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), pages 151-152.

[6] Ibid., page 152.

[7] Pink, page 223.

[8] See comment on Genesis 22.1 in Gill, page 152.

[9] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 1005.

[10] Pink, page 224.

[11] Gill, page 155.

[12] Sarna, page 153.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid., pages 153. 383

[15] Owens, page 87.

[16] Genesis 22.5

[17] Genesis 22.7-8



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