Pastor Philip P. Sam M.Th (OT) Shimla
Engaged in pastoral and training ministry in Himachal Pradesh
What’s in a name? We may have asked this question many times considering our modern day trends in the random choice of names for our children, house or our organization. Most of us tend to choose names that sound good, are unique and also meaningful. However names in the Bible meant more than all those things that seem important for us today; names then meant the character, personality, nature, history and even destiny of the person, place or event.
As we study The Bible, we understand that God revealed Himself mostly through His names especially in the Old Testament. In the book of Genesis God reveals
Himself to Abraham as the Almighty God, El-Shaddai (Genesis 17:1). God declared His name “Yahweh-I am what I am” to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). Apart from this self declaration of God’s name we also see that, His servants understood the nature and character of God in their life experiences as we see the naming of Mount Moriah as “Yahweh-Yireh – The Lord shall provide”. So we see that the name of God is primarily the revelation of the nature, power, character and the personality of God.
What does the name Yahweh-Yireh signify? What was God revealing through the experience of Abraham, God’s friend? How is the name Yahweh-Yireh significant for us in our day today lives?
The Book of Genesis chapter 22 gives the detail of the test that God put before Abraham before revealing the name “Yahweh-Yireh”. Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his only son, whom he loved so much. The text gives us the details of how Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the mount leaving the servants at a distance. He was determined to obey God and sacrifice his dearest one. The three days journey up to the Mount Moriah must have been a harsh journey for Abraham, with his loved one walking beside him asking those curious questions. Finally Abraham on reaching the place built the altar, laid the wood, tied his son and laid him on the altar. As he picked up the knife to kill his son he heard the voice calling him and asking him not to lay his hands on his son. Then Abraham saw God’s provision of a ram to offer in the sacrifice in place of his son whom he loved dearly. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh which means that ‘The Lord shall provide’. A comment is also added in the text about it becoming a proverb that on the mountain of the Lord it will be provided (Genesis 22:14).
The name Yahweh-Yireh literally means ‘Yahweh will see’, which is interpreted as Yahweh will provide for. When Abraham named the place where God provided the ram to sacrifice in the place of his dear son as Yahweh-Yireh he was declaring or proclaiming his divine experience of knowing God as the provider for the sacrifice.
Abraham went up to the mountain to make an ultimate sacrifice, sacrifice of his dearest son. It is worthwhile to consider the journey of Abraham up to the mountain, and only then we can learn the significance of the name Yahweh-Yireh.
– It was a journey of faith
Abraham’s faith was real faith, faith that translated into actions. We claim that we have such a strong faith that we can even move mountains! But when it comes to making choices in our daily life, for example paying all our taxes, we say, “Yes I know that is what God says…but I have to be practical also. Otherwise people around will call me mad.” The reason we make compromises is because we lack faith.Is our faith real? Real enough to takes risk for God?
– It was a journey of obedience
Abraham’s obedience was complete. The details that Genesis 22 gives about his preparation for the sacrifice, shows his diligence to obey God. Do we obey God in all the things, big or small that he tells us to do? We may be good in our reputation of being spiritual people but what about our heart? Have we obeyed God from our heart? Jesus admonished the Pharisees for their hypocrisy of tithing even the smallest income from their herb gardens, but ignoring the more important aspects of the law-justice, mercy and faith. Jesus said that yes you must tithe, but do not neglect the more important things. Do we not neglect the more important things of the word of God? Do we love our neighbors, our enemies and those who are not loved in the world?
– It was a journey of sacrifice
What is a sacrifice? When we offer something which is deeply affectionate to us; that is counted as a sacrifice. Abraham was sacrificing what was dearest to him. What is that dearest thing that we hold close to us? Are we ready to forsake that dearest thing or person for God?The things that we hold close to our life will most definitely take us away from our God.
– It was a journey of hope
Hebrews 11:19 says that Abraham accounted that God was able to raise his son up, even from the dead. Abraham had the hope that his God was powerful and that God could raise his son from the dead. It was with this hope that Abraham told the servants that after worshipping God we (both Abraham and Isaac) will come back. Do we have such a hope? Do we have the hope that even if we sacrifice some opportunity or some position or our wealth for the sake of God’s kingdom, God has better plans for us?
After taking this harsh and most challenging journey he could really value the provision of God. He could really experience God as the provider. Have we taken such a journey of faith, obedience, sacrifice and hope?
What does Yahweh-Yireh mean for us today
1. Yahweh-Yireh means we can experience God as our provider as we go up to the mountain of commitment to our Lord. It is a commitment where we offer all our dearest things at the feet of Jesus, a commitment where we are ready to offer our dearest things as sacrifice before God, and a commitment where nothing comes between me and my God. It is at that mountain that we can experience God as Yahweh-Yireh. Do we have such a commitment with God? We often pray and remind God about Him being the Yahweh-Yireh. And our prayer is about our own ways, our own plans and ambitions. Is God committed to be Yahweh-Yireh for all our selfish-plans and prayers? Today we have made the name Yahweh-Yireh a mockery by invoking this name for fulfilling our selfish agendas and worldly passions.
2. Yahweh-Yireh means we can count on God, God is sufficient for us. He will not leave us in the middle of the sea- He is enough for us. As Abraham and his son were walking up to the place, where God had told Abraham to sacrifice his son, his son asked him a question. He asked, “Father, we have the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide.” And they continued walking (Genesis 22:6-8). Abraham’s reply was an affirmation of faith that he trusted in God for everything. He had believed against all hope to become the father of a son and had believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing (see Romans 4:17, 18). Do we trust in God in all our daily life situations? Do we not walk in our wisdom and trust in our own resources? No doubt when we are in some tough tests we fail and we don’t have the strength to climb the mountain…and we succumb to the devil’s trap and loose our spiritual blessings.
3. Yahweh-Yireh means God has provided the ultimate sacrifice for us. When Abraham proclaimed Yahweh-Yireh on that mountain, with his dearest son beside him and the ram burning on the altar in place of his son he was proclaiming that God Himself will provide what we are unable to accomplish. We were to die a sinner’s death, but in place of us God gave His dearest son Jesus. Let us not forget the great price that God paid and let us not take our Christian life lightly. God Himself has paid the price for our redemption a price we could never pay by our own. Do we really value that price God paid for us? Do we take our Christian life seriously? We need to take a three days walk with Abraham up to the mount Moriah to know the real value of the cross, the ultimate provision God made for us; we were to die a sinners’ death- but He died for us. Jesus walked up to the mountain of Golgotha with the wooden beams laid on His bruised body and died for us.
4. Yahweh-Yireh is portrayed vividly and tangibly in life and work of Jesus our Lord. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty again” John 6:35. The name Yahweh-Yireh is portrayed vividly and tangibly in the life and work of Jesus our Lord. He is all sufficient for us. He is our good shepherd who gives His life for us, He is the Light of the world, He is the way, the truth and the life, He is the resurrection and life and He is the vine in whom we can abide and be fruitful. If the name Yahweh-Yireh is ambiguous for us and difficult to understand, then just take a real look at Jesus and in Him you can see Yahweh-Yireh.
What does it mean for us to affirm our Lord as the Yahweh-Yireh?
Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:12, “I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” Paul was not ashamed and had no fear to suffer for Christ because he knew his Lord was trustworthy. His life in time and eternity had been given to his Lord. He lived with unwavering confidence and boldness because of the revealed truth about God’s power and faithfulness. He had such a confidence in the Lord because he had a vibrant relationship with the Lord. Paul knew what it meant to believe in the Lord as his provider, as his Yahweh-Yireh. He had offered his everything at his Lord’s feet and had counted it all as rubbish. Towards the end of his life as he was in the cold dungeon prison of Rome he was making his faith statement to young Timothy, “I know whom I have believed and I am not ashamed to suffer for Him”. Too believe in the Lord as Yahweh-Yireh means we are ready to offer our lives at his feet and not ashamed to suffer for his name. As we reach that mountain of commitment with the Lord, the Lord as Yahweh-Yireh will be more valuable and real for us.
May the name of The Lord- Yahweh-Yireh be more relevant for us in our day today life as we partake in the blessings of God’s character, nature and power as the God who provides.