“And Abraham called the name of that place 'The Lord provides.'” – Genesis 22:14
Throughout scripture, God reveals several names for Himself to be used by His people. This could be Yahweh, the name He gives when He establishes Moses as leader for the Israelites. It could be more of a title, such as “Alpha and Omega” or the ‘first and the last.’ But one name is significant throughout scripture and for our lives today: Jehovah Jireh – the Lord provides.
The word 'provide' has a pretty specific meaning to us these days. As soon as you hear the word, you probably think of financial provision. Someone stepping up to the plate to pay for someone else. However, this is actually a reduced view of what provision means. The actual history of the word comes from two latin phrases although the idea goes back farther than that. Pro-videre literally means “to see before.”
So what kind of impact does this have on our view of God? Here are least two signifcant thoughts.
It’s the foundation of His fatherhood.
He sees ahead of you. The God of all creation sees you and sees ahead of you, personally. He knows your past, your present, and your future. The pain and hardship of tomorrow is not a surprise to the God who sees ahead. The worrying about how bills will get paid is not a surprise to him. And not only does he see ahead in a passive way, but he goes ahead in an active way.
“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Matthew 6:30
God doesn’t just know tomorrow, but he exercises control over it, actively. He actively meets our needs, especially our biggest need: the eternal, spiritual need of salvation. So it doesn’t matter where we are in life, God sees where we are, He knows where He is leading us, and He knows how to provide for us along the way.
Special note for pastors: he sees ahead of you in ministry. You may be worrying about your local church, the people you shepherd, the budget, the future, the bills – all of which I understand. However, God sees ahead. He knows where your local church will be 10 and 100 years from now. Trust in Him in ministry like you have learned to trust Him personally.
It’s the foundation of His rule.
God does not merely see the future ahead, He decrees it and brings it to pass. This truth may make us uncomfortable, as God will often do things that are decidedly uncomfortable in the short term, i.e. sickness, healing, war, peace, hurricanes, calm, etc. But either God has a perfect complete reign over the universe or you are left with a god that is “trying His best with the cards he is dealt.” And a god that is dealt cards is not one who is in control.
In that case you’re left with open-theism, which means God has no sovereign plan. He responds to what happens in the world. This is not the preferred option and here's why.
First, open theism is decidedly not what the Bible teaches. Secondly, this version of God might fit into our human categories better, but a God that is trying His best is not one you can ultimately trust.
If he’s trying His best, how can you be sure He is strong enough to follow through on His promises? How can you be sure there is a purpose in suffering if God never saw it coming? How can you have hope that salvation is truly an eternal, perfect, and complete work if God has to wake up every morning and re-assess the state of the Earth?
“[The Lord] declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’…” – Isaiah 46:10
Our God’s foresight and full control over the future is the part of the very cornerstone of His character. It means that nothing surprises Him. It means that nothing can overcome Him or His purposes.
In suffering, it means He has an eternally good purpose in store for His people. In joy, it means He has brought it along as a blessing. In dark times, it means that He sees more than the past and present, but He sees the future He is working towards. Our God sees ahead, and because of that, we can live in the present. Our God provides.