What Does Jehovah Jireh Mean?
“Jehovahjireh” appears only once in the entire Bible—in Genesis 22:14 (KJV). It means “God provides.” Genesis 22 tells a well-known story involving Abraham, his son, Isaac, and God.
Abraham and Isaac
One day God tells Abraham: “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2).
The Bible says this was a test of Abraham’s faith. Abraham does as God says. He puts wood for the fire on a donkey and sets off with Isaac for the mountain God will show him. Isaac, apparently, is unaware that he is to be the offering. On the way, he asks his father,
“ ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering’ ” (verses 7, 8).
When they reach the spot God has designated, “Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order: and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” (verses 9, 10).
At that point, God calls out for him to stop. Abraham has passed the test. Abraham sees a ram caught in a thicket nearby and offers it for a burnt offering instead of his son (verses 11-13).
“And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide” (verse 14) or “Jehovahjireh” (KJV).
The God who provides
Jehovah Jireh thus becomes one of the names for God in the Old Testament—one that emphasizes how He provides for our needs. The Hebrew word, jireh, means not only “to provide;” it also means “to perceive,” “to experience.”
Our Lord is the “God Who Provides,” because He is also the “God Who Perceives” our needs—the “God Who Experiences” what we are experiencing and who can therefore provide exactly what we need.
Our greatest need, as humans, is for salvation—forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. The story of Abraham offering Isaac in Genesis 22 is more than just a dramatic illustration of faith and obedience. It is a preview of the salvation God has provided us in the great sacrifice of His Son on the cross.
Jesus as Jehovah Jireh
On Calvary, the “God Who Provides” did what He asked Abraham to do—only more so.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
God asked Abraham to give his beloved son, Isaac. But God could ask this only because He would give His own beloved Son, Jesus, to be offered up as a sacrifice for sin. Isaac’s life was spared; God provided a ram as a substitute who died in Isaac’s place. But on Calvary, there was no substitute provided. Jesus, the Lamb of God, died there for our sins.
When Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb?” Abraham replied, “God will provide the lamb for a burnt offering.” That faith-filled statement is echoed in the New Testament by John the Baptist’s exclamation, “Behold! The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Jehovah Jireh and You
The apostle Paul says, “He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
God has provided for our eternal salvation by giving the greatest gift He could give—His Son—to die for our sins. And so, Paul says, having given the greatest possible gift, God will surely also freely provide for all our needs—even our smaller, daily needs. He knows what we need, and He will provide. He is Jehovah Jireh.