Think about when you were a kid. What was one of the ways you felt loved by the people that raised you? One common answer is, “They always provided for me.” Most of what we do as parents is trying to provide for our families. We do this because we love them.
I was recently asked to speak at a high school chapel. The theme of the year was ‘Names of God.’ My particular talk was to be on 1 John 4:16 ESV which reads, so we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.God is love. Sounds can sound cliché. However, it is true and one of the ways we know this is that God provides.
When I was in youth group, we sang a song, ‘Jehovah Jireh.’ The lyrics were: Jehovah Jireh, my provider, His grace is sufficient for me. My God shall provide all my needs according to His riches in glory…Jehovah Jireh cares for me. This song by Don Moen is referring to a name given to God in Genesis chapter 22. Here we find the story of Abraham being asked by God to take his son, Isaac, to be sacrificed on the altar. Abraham obeys and just as he is about to plunge the knife into his son, the angel of the Lord stops him. When Abraham looks up, he sees in the bushes a ram. God provided a substitute for Isaac.
I want to go back, however, as this is not the first time God has provided for Abraham. In Genesis 15 one of the most fascinating examples of provision is found. God has promised Abraham that he will possess the entire land that God has shown him. Abraham wants a contract.
God asks for Abraham to bring five sacrificial animals, cut the animals in half and sets up what is known as a blood path covenant. In this covenant each party would walk through the middle of the slaughtered animals wearing a white robe and splashing the blood up onto their clothes. The whole point is both parties agreeing that if they did not hold up their end of the bargain, that they would be killed just like the animals.
After Abraham sets this up, he would be the one to walk through first as the lesser party. But he doesn’t. God has Abraham fall into a deep sleep and God walks through the path twice. God knew Abraham couldn’t possible hold up his end of the bargain, so God did. God knows that we couldn’t save ourselves. He provided for us in the person of his only Son, Jesus. We deserve to be Isaac on the altar or the slaughtered animals, yet we are in right standing because God provided a savior for us.
If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.