Jehovah Jireh; God Has Revealed Himself!

“And Abraham called the name of the place, ‘Yahweh is Seen,’ that it may be said that day that on the mountain, Yahweh is seen.”

(Genesis 22:14)

 

The traditional rendering of the name of this place is “Jehovah Jireh” or “Yahweh (The Lord) will provide,” though this name is arrived at more through inference than it is through translation of the Hebrew. Literally, this name should be rendered, “Yahweh is seen,” and is a reference back to verse 8 of this chapter where Isaac is asking his father about the lamb to be sacrificed and God replies: “Yahweh will see to the lamb…”  Since verse 8 is understood in the context of God’s provision, verse 14 is rendered likewise.

The Hebrew verb in question in both verses is the word hDa∂r (ra’ah). Literally, the verb means to see, to know, or to be aware of something. In verse 14, though, the verb is in the Niphal stem (passive) and thus should be rendered with God being acted upon by the verb: “Yahweh is seen” or “Yahweh is revealed.”

In context, the name of the mountain is given not so much because of God’s provision of the ram to be sacrificed, but because the invisible God revealed himself to Abraham on that mountain. It is here on the mount of Moriah that God teaches Abraham about his plan to send a greater Lamb to sacrifice, it is here that God teaches Abraham about the nature of substitutionary atonement, and it is here that God teaches Abraham about faith and grace. God also reveals to Abraham the nature of a Father’s heart who would give the life of his Son to save a people from their sins … a lesson that does not remain only with Abraham, but continues to us today as well.

So what then do we do with all of the songs based on the mistranslation, songs like “Jehovah Jireh, My provider, His grace is sufficient for me, for me, for me…” or “Jehovah Jireh, My Provider, You’re more than enough for me…”? Do we throw them out? Do we rewrite them: “Jehovah Jireh, My Revealer, Your Grace is shown to me, to me, to me…”? Not quite as catchy, I suppose. The answer is no, though perhaps, in the right context, some explanation ought to be given. For indeed, God is not so much providing a ram for sacrifice as he is a revelation of his redemptive plan.

What perhaps is more interesting is in how we sometimes apply this name. God indeed is a provider, but notice what it is that God is providing. He is not providing food or clothing, he his not providing a comfortable place to live, and he is not providing rest from Abraham’s enemies. God is providing a sacrifice in the person of his Son to redeem us from our sins. Is this what we have in mind when we sing that Jehovah Jireh will “provide all my needs according to his richness and glory”? Indeed, God promises to care for our needs (see Matthew 6:25-34), but this verse in Genesis has nothing to do with that particular matter. Abraham did not come down the mountain rejoicing that God had provided food or wealth or even a substitute for Isaac; he came down the mountain rejoicing that God had revealed himself and his promise of a coming Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world. May we rejoice in the same as we read through this text.

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4 Comments

  1. Stephen

    Reblogged this on Studying Prayer and commented:
    Thanks for your insight on this Hebrew word Yahweh Yireh. It’s good to know there are people around who care to make the scriptures more clear. At a first reading this is something the average Joe wouldn’t see. Thanks.

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  2. Pastor Beverly Birchfield

    Provider means sees before… pro before – vid – vision – see – where we get the word video… our provision comes from the price paid at the cross…healing, forgiveness and yes prosperity. The provision of the sacrifice before the foundation of the world by God shown to Abraham.

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  3. preacherwin

    Beverly, thanks for your comment. To clarify even further, in English, “provision” comes from the Latin, “provisio,” which literally means to “foresee.” And yes, at times this can refer to things or items that have been foreseen and thus taken for provision. Yet, that definition does not fully flesh out the context of the passage, so I will stand behind my last paragraph above that the thing in Abraham’s mind is specifically a provision for sin…in the case of providing a sacrifice.

    And, while it is true, that in an absolute sense, all good things in a believer’s life are a result of the cross of Jesus Christ (were Jesus not to have agreed with the Father in eternity past to offer a substitutionary atonement for God’s elect, this world would have become hell immediately after the Fall of Adam and Eve. So, in that sense, yes, earthly provisions are a result of that sacrifice of Christ.

    Even so, again, in context, I go back both to my statement and to your last sentence as well, the provision in sight (pardon the pun) is Christ’s cross. Without that, all is lost.

    Thanks for the comment and the dialogue. Blessings in Christ!

    Win

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