“God Always Sees to It!”
“God will provide for Himself the Lamb for the burnt offering…” Genesis 22:8
Do you believe in God’s providence? Maybe a better starting point would be, do you know what God’s providence means? It is a powerful concept for the whole-hearted follower of Christ not only to understand, but embrace and live amid every day. It is a concept that has profound implications for our Gospel witness as well, because an unbelieving world will certainly struggle with it.
The word providence has its roots in Latin (as do many of our English words): (pro)—forward, on behalf of; (vide) to see. Now it would make perfect sense that we could put these two halves together and come up with the definition of to see forward. But that’s not exactly how it works. Instead, when the two halves come together it literally means to supply what is needed” or “to give sustenance or support.” Here I quote John Piper: “So in reference to God, the noun providence has come to mean ‘the act of purposefully providing for, or sustaining and governing the world.’” (These initial thoughts come Pipers newest book simply entitled Providence. It is a hefty book, but absolutely thorough and spot on. It’s worth a lingering read).
A perfect example of God’s providence is found in the events of Abraham and the offering of his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. We find it in Genesis 22—God commands Abraham to take his son, his only son (that phrase in itself is quite profound, but that’s for another day), the son he loves with all his heart and offer him as a burnt offering. Now we have no way of knowing Abraham’s thought life, his reasoning, his emotions, just simply 2D text. What we do know is that Abraham got right to it—gathering food, wood for the sacrifice, his animals, and a certain (unknown) number of servants.
Sarah, as far as we know, is none the wiser. It’s just dad and son on a camping trip together for some bonding and alone time. (Not a bad idea men—taking your children camping or something like it for extended alone time with them and a chance to build Christ in them). The band of travelers set off and on the third day of their journey Abraham sees the place where the offering is to take place—Mount Moriah, a desolate hill top, empty and alone. (I’ve mentioned before, but the ancient Mount Moriah was none other that the place later called “the Skull” or Golgotha where God offered his son, his only son, the son he loved with all his heart—Jesus—as an offering for the sin of the world)!
Abraham loads Isaac up with the wood, took the fire in his hand and headed off alone while the others waited behind. Isaac reveals what has been running through his mind—“Papa, we’ve got wood, we’ve got fire, but we are missing the lamb, where is the lamb? Many of you can quote what comes next: “Abraham said, God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” He built the altar, set the wood in place, tied Isaac up tight, picked him up and laid him on the altar, took out the knife…
…I’m a dad. This is excruciating. I’m looking up to heaven. My movement are slow and deliberate. Don’t let Hebrews 11 cloud your emotions here and simply say, yeah, but God would have raised him from the dead. Well absolutely he would. But He never stated that in the instructions! All of heaven is watching—“he’s really going to do it! He is really going to thrust that knife through his son!!!
STOP! Abraham don’t do it. The ram is over there, caught in the thicket. And you know the rest of the story. But here’s the point. Abraham knew that God would provide. God would purposefully provide! So, he renamed the place Jehovah-Jireh—”the Lord will provide”, or literally “the Lord sees.” But God is not simply a passive bystander; He is not merely a passive observer of the world (Piper, p 31). God doesn’t just see, He SEES. I love how Piper puts it—“Wherever God is looking, God is acting.” God’s providence is the outworking of his perfect, powerful plan. God does everything, literally EVERYTHING on purpose! (see Isaiah 46:10)
God is at work all the time, everywhere, all around. From miniscule to major, everything that happens is tied to His providence. That is why Paul could write “all things work together for God’s good purpose.” Because they do! And what is true of Abraham 4,000 years ago, is just as true for you today. I conclude by asking—do you believe in God’s providence? Do you believe that he is always working his plan for you and your journey every moment of every day? What a warm blanket this is!!!
Blessings on the Journey,