Sunday, November 24, 2013

The well, the ram, and Jehovah Jireh

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And then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.  – Genesis 21:19 (NIV)
Abraham looked up and . . . saw a ram. – Genesis 22:13

We first meet Hagar when barren Sarah decides the only way she’ll have children is to order her Egyptian maidservant to sleep with her husband, Abraham. Any child conceived as a result would then be considered Sarah’s. Legally.
Hagar obeys, but Sarah’s abuse of the pregnant maidservant is so harsh Hagar runs away. But God meets her in the wilderness, gives her a blessing, and sends her back. Fast forward about 15 years to the weaning celebration of Abraham and Sarah’s miracle baby, Isaac. Sarah spots half-brother Ishmael taunting the little guy and orders Abraham: “Get rid of that slave woman and her son!”
The next morning, Abraham gives Hagar some food and water and sends her off. When the water is gone, she puts Ishmael under a bush and goes off a short distance, where she sits sobbing, “I cannot watch him die.”
Once again God meets her in the wilderness. I love how the writer of Genesis describes what happens next: “God heard the boy crying” (Genesis 21:17) and “God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water” (v. 19). Ishmael becomes “a great nation,” as God promised Hagar.
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Fast forward to Abraham and Isaac on a mountain in the land of Moriah, where God has sent Abraham on a mission: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, and . . . sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2). On the way Isaac asks, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
I used to wonder if Abraham’s answer, “God himself will provide the lamb,” was a copout. Would he really tell Isaac HE was the offering? And I used to think Abraham lied when he told the servants to wait at the bottom of the mountain: “I and the boy will go over there. We will worship and then WE will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5, emphasis mine).
Then on the mountain, just after God stays Abraham’s hand from plunging the sacrificial knife into Isaac’s heart, “Abraham looked up and . . . saw a ram,” which he sacrificed in place of Isaac.

Did the ram just happen to be there? Or had it been there all along, making its way up the mountain and getting itself stuck in the thicket just as Abraham looked up?
Did the well that provided life-giving water to Hagar and Ishmael just happen to be there? Some commentators say it was there all along, but Hagar, in her physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual condition, just didn’t see it. Some say it was well hidden.
The answer to these questions lies in the name Abraham gave the mountain: “The-LORD-Will-Provide”(YHWH Yireh or Jehovah Jireh) (Genesis 22:14).
Interestingly, the Hebrew word used for “provide” also means “to see.”
God is still Jehovah Jireh today. Sometimes in life’s wildernesses, in our distress, we just don’t see His provision. We don’t think He hears our cries.
But He hears and He provides.
We just need a little help see what God put there just for us at the time we need it or what’s been there all along.
This Thanksgiving, Lord, open my eyes to see Your provision, and give me a heart of gratitude to thank You even if I don’t recognize it just yet. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Genesis 21:14–21; 22:1–19

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