Notes below based on sermon preached at One Church Home on August 21, 2022
For the next several weeks, we’ll be looking at several of the compound covenant names of our great God. These are two-part names, each of which begins with Jehovah (one of the Biblical translations of YHWH, along with Yahweh and LORD), followed by a second name that describes some other unique aspect of who our God is.
This week, our focus is Jehovah-Jireh, “the LORD will provide.”
Before we dig into the meaning of Jireh, it’s so important that we first understand the richness of Jehovah—the God of covenant relationship with His people worthy of being our LORD. If you didn’t read last week’s blog, please go back and read it first to have that solid foundation going into today’s study.
He is not just Jireh, our provider; He is Jehovah-Jireh, the LORD our provider. Everything that God is to us as our provider flows from His covenant relationship with us as our LORD and Father.
At the very beginning of the created world, in Genesis 1, before God created Adam and Eve, He first made a place suitable for them to live—the conditions necessary to sustain human life: light (as energy), water, and food.
And if the created world perfectly suited for human life wasn’t enough, the Bible tells us in Genesis 2:8 that “Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.”
This wasn’t just any garden; it was a garden not only created but planted by God himself. A garden where God talked and walked with man…until the fall.
And it is then that we discover that providing for Adam and Eve’s physical needs was never the most important part of God’s plan. His most important provision has and always will be His provision for our spiritual needs.
So after the fall, God covered Adam and Eve with the skins of animals and set in motion in Genesis 3:15 the plan made before the world even began: the plan to provide for us a savior in Jesus Christ our Lord.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
The New Life Version puts it this way:
4 Even before the world was made, God chose us for Himself because of His love. He planned that we should be holy and without blame as He sees us. 5 God already planned to have us as His own children. This was done by Jesus Christ. In His plan God wanted this done.
When God plans for something to be accomplished, He also makes provision for it to be accomplished.
Bread is a staple food of Middle Eastern cultures and a powerful symbol in the Bible, mentioned nearly 500 times. And one of the things it represents most powerfully is provision: Jehovah Jireh providing for His people.
Bread in the Old Testament
During the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the desert, God provided them with manna (meaning in Hebrew, “What is it?”). In Exodus 16:15, Moses told them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.”
God’s provision came with instruction (a testing of sorts)—that, except for the eve of the Sabbath, they were only to gather what they could eat that day; they were not to keep any until the next morning. When they disobeyed (failed the test) and tried to do so anyway, “it bred worms and stank” (Exodus 16:20). But the day before the Sabbath, they were to gather enough manna for two days, and when they obeyed, it did not spoil, because God did not send any manna on the Sabbath.
Yes, the manna was provision for their physical needs, but it was for a much greater purpose. God revealed Himself to the Israelites as their covenant-keeping LORD, Jehovah Jireh.
Pharaoh had enslaved them in Egypt for 400 years. The Egyptians had been hard taskmasters, making their lives bitter, but God had delivered them. He had brought them into the desert not just to get them out of Egypt; there were undoubtedly shorter routes to Canaan, the Promised Land. They could have gotten there in eleven days. But if they had gone directly from Egypt to Canaan, they wouldn’t have been ready to receive all that God had for them there. Like Abram’s decades-long journey to becoming Abraham, the father of Isaac, and many nations to come, to be ready to receive His promises, the Israelites needed to know Him personally. They needed to be tested and learn to trust Him as their LORD and provider, Jehovah-Jireh.
Whitney Woolard explains for the Bible Project that “Land plays an important role in the Bible. Genesis begins with humans living in the Lord’s presence in a divinely gifted land. Revelation ends with redeemed humans living in the Lord’s presence in a fully renewed land. Everything in between is the development of God’s people in (and out) of God’s land…To live in the Lord’s land was to live with the Lord” (https://bibleproject.com/blog/land-thermometer-covenantal-faithfulness/).
While God had promised the Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey, God knew that what the Israelites needed most was Him. He wanted to be their God, for them to be His people…in covenant relationship. He wanted them to know and trust Him as a Father who would provide for them, to look to Him as their covenant protector and provider: their Jehovah-Jireh.
They would have no choice but to depend on Him in the desert. There was no ability to grow crops or to provide for themselves. The Hebrew word for the desert is MDBR (remember, there are no vowels in written Hebrew). As pronounced with vowels, it is midbar. Interestingly, there is another Hebrew word also spelled MDBR. As pronounced, this one is medaber which means “to speak.” God took His people into the desert (MDBR) to speak (MDBR) intimately with them, to reveal Himself and His heart for them, and to prepare them to dwell with Him in the Promised Land.
In the same way that God provided manna for the Israelites in the desert, we saw a few weeks ago how God worked through the life of Joseph and all that he endured to provide grain—the substance of bread—for His covenant people, Israel, and then for all the earth so that all the nations were blessed through Abraham’s seed as God had promised. And while the provision was powerful, here, too, God’s promise to Abraham, God’s plan for His people would bring far greater spiritual blessings yet to come.
When yet another famine threatened to destroy the covenant line of God’s chosen people, God used a young pagan widow, a Moabite named Ruth, not just to provide for her mother-in-law Naomi by gleaning grain in the fields but by providing a kinsman redeemer through Boaz to protect and preserve their family line. The great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth was King David, whose lineage would bring the Kinsman Redeemer of us all, King Jesus. In Jesus, God gave us the ultimate provision, the supreme sacrifice, to restore our relationship with Him.
Bread in the New Testament
When Jesus came, He continued to use bread to demonstrate God’s mighty hand of provision—both physically and spiritually.
After feeding 5,000 men (plus the women and children) with only two loaves of bread and five fish, Jesus taught them, saying:
“…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
The symbolism here is so important. If we do not eat, we become hungry, our bodies will become weak, and in a matter of days or at most a few weeks, our physical bodies will die.
Just as bread (representing food) is essential for physical life, Jesus, the Word, is vital for spiritual life. If we do not “eat” the Word of God regularly, our spiritual health will suffer, and we will become weaker and weaker spiritually.
As physical death is the separation of the body from the soul, spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God, the source of eternal life.
In Genesis 2:16-17, when God said to Adam, 16 “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.,” he was speaking about both physical and spiritual death. The literal translation is “dying you shall die”—spiritual death (separation from God) followed by a continuous and ongoing process of physical decay until physical death.
While we cannot (as Nicodemus asked Jesus) enter a second time into our mother’s womb, we can be spiritually reborn. This is called regeneration, which is accomplished only by the Holy Spirit through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Ezekiel 36:26-28, God spoke through the prophet:
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;… 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
This was the promise of regeneration that would come in the New Covenant.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth [or regeneration] and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
I Peter 1:3
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, God provided for our salvation.
And through the Holy Spirit, God continues to provide all that we need to work out our salvation and sanctification to be all He has called us to be.
2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
May we patiently endure the testing, trust His provision, and give Him thanks for all He has provided and will continue to provide for us as our great Jehovah Jireh.
Note: all scripture references are from the New International Version. (2011) BibleGateway.com
Questions for reflection or discussion:
How has God shown Himself to be your Jehovah-Jireh?
Take a moment and write down or say a prayer of thanksgiving for His provision.
Can you identify any testing that He brought as part of the provision? Were you able—either in that moment or looking back now—to see it as testing?
Have there been times in your life when you asked God for something, and He didn’t provide it that you now realize wasn’t His best for you or that you were not ready to receive?
How has your journey with God taught you to trust His perfect provision?
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