“And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
“And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh; as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.
“And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time.
“And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord; for because thou hast done this thing, and has not withheld thy son, thine only son;
“That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
“And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
At first God revealed Himself to his servant as Jehovah, a wonderful name full of meaning. We will not stop to discuss it only to say this, that on various subsequent occasions God made qualifying additions to that name, Jehovah-jireh, Jehovah-ropheka, Jehovah-nissi, Jehovah-shalom, Jehovah-rohi, and others.
You will find that each of these additions has a deep spiritual meaning, full of practical lessons for God’s people. You will find in every instance they meant a fuller vision of God. That the man to whom the revelation was made knew God from that day as he had never known him in the past.
You will find also that these visions came to God’s servants when they were passing through some trial, or meeting some great test in their life. We all have trials, difficulties and troubles. We have to meet them in our daily experience. But there is the trial which at some time comes to us all. It is a “Waterloo,” if you like.
It settles things on Earth and in Heaven as to what our attitude is going to be toward God and the world. God knows it. The devil knows it, and in your soul you know it.
It was on just such an occasion as this that there came to Abraham this vision of Jehovah. You will know that the last book of the Old Testament ends with the story of apostasy,—a falling away from the faith. In that book of Malachi, God makes seven charges against his people. Greed, graft, selfishness, and even robbery were charges made against them. The remarkable thing about it is that these people against whom these charges were made, were going through a form of worship and offering God a form of sacrifice, but it was counterfeit. Their hearts were not back of the offerings they were bringing.
You will find also in that story that there is a bright light. It is a circle of real true worshippers. There was a company that loved Him supremely. They gave Him first place. They were dear to the heart of God. “They met often one with another.” “They spake often one to another,” “and the Lord hearkened and heard them,” and I am mighty glad for that. No matter how many hypocrites there are in the world, God will hear those who put their trust in Him and believe His Word.
God Meets Every Need
The Lord heard them. You know that would mean they had a good time, no matter what the others had. They “thought on His name.” The name of Jehovah meant something to them in that day. The picture here is of a man calculating what he is worth. He is taking stock. Here is a little company standing for God, and their greatest asset in that hour was the name Jehovah with all these additions that had been made from time to time.
They looked back yonder to some place where some other fellow had met the same difficulty that they were passing through, and they found God had been enough for every need. The Lord that goes before. The Lord that protects. The Lord that is all and in all to the men who put their trust in Him.
Now, coming back to the text. Abraham stands for the exemplification of faith more than any other one saint. Other men represent different phases of the faith life, but possibly Abraham more than any other. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews gives us twenty-one different phases of the life of faith. Different characters representing different phases of a faith life. Shall I say some different trial, some difficulty different from the other fellow’s. God has put the list there that you might know there is no trial, there are no difficulties, there is no need that He cannot meet if you will only trust Him.
When we talk about faith I know some people begin to think about fanaticism. Nearly all the fanaticism of the present day is associated with that word faith. This is another evidence of the time in which we live. Paul tells us that the closing hours of this dispensation are going to be characterized by faith rather than infidelity, but for the most part it is going to be misplaced faith. Men are going to “believe a lie because they have not received the love of the truth.” When a man has been brought face to face with the statements of God and rejects them, he is in danger of believing the devil’s lie.
That is the word of God. I would not dare to say it if I did not see it in the Scriptures, but seeing it there and being an ambassador of Christ, I would not dare not to say it.
Let us look at this picture. There are three groups of seven each. The first group of seven, beginning with Abel and ending with Joseph. Who is the first one? Who stands in the gateway? Abel. And who is Abel? Abel is the man that tells us how to get into the kingdom of heaven. Abel is the man who opens the door for us, and says if you climb up any other way you will be a thief and a robber. You remember how Cain argued with God about it. How he offered his fruit and his bouquet. God said, “Cain, I have no particular preference for your brother. I accept your brother because of the offering he brings.” What was his offering? A lamb; the blood of a lamb. What was the offering that Cain brought that caused his rejection? The fruits of his own labor. You can offer the fruit of your labor if you want to, but the blood of the lamb is for me.
Walking with God
After Abel comes Enoch, who walked with God. How? By faith. When did he do it? When there was not many people around nor anybody to help him by their faith. He was about the only star in a terrible midnight. Have you noticed how the record reads? Born—Begat—Died, is the record, and history goes on until you come to Enoch. Enoch was born just like the others and lived like the others,—for so many years, begat a son, and then something happens in his life that did not happen to the others. “He begat a son and walked with God.”
As fathers and mothers, do you feel the necessity of walking with God? Fathers and mothers ought to when they look into the face of a newborn baby. Enoch begat sons and daughters, and this makes me know he had some trouble. If you have children they will see that you get a trial or two along the journey. If Enoch could walk with God by faith in his day, I can walk with God today.
After Enoch came Noah. He built an ark. The Holy Ghost tells us why he built it. He built it by faith. He had a specific purpose in building the ark. What was it? The “saving of his house.” Isn’t that worth while? Have you got a son or daughter? If that truth grips your heart there will be some confidence as you go out of this room. You will have some assurance even if the son and daughter are a long way off.
Noah prayed and worked all those years but there did not seem to be anything like the “saving of his house.” Nobody stood with him. At last when the work was done God said, “Come in!” And just when it looked like the whole thing was a failure, the eldest boy said: “Well, perhaps all this world doubts my old dad and his religion, but I believe in father, and I am going in.” And then another boy said, “I am going in, too.” And every one of those children came in out of that world, and when the last member of that household was in, God shut the door.
Then, I think when Noah looked around and counted them all, he wept for a good while. Christian fathers and mothers have the right to claim their children for God, by faith.
Discipline of Faith
After Noah came Abraham. After Abraham comes Isaac. After Isaac comes Sarah, all representing different phases of faith. After Sarah comes Jacob. We have just got to say something about Jacob because we are so much like him. They say Jacob was a Jew, and I know that there are some Gentiles that are Jews. Jacob stands for the discipline of faith. Jacob was not altogether despicable. Jacob could do something, which, if any other man will do, he will come out all right. Jacob could trust God and he could pray. His brother could not kill him because he could pray and trust God. He is a hard man to fight against, who knows how to pray and trust God. There came a day when God said, “It is no longer Jacob. It is no longer Supplanter. It is Israel. A Prince, having power with God and with men.” Oh, what the grace of God can do for crooked men if they will only trust Him! A Prince having power with God and men!
After Jacob comes Joseph. Sweet, lovely Joseph, suffering more even than Jacob. Jacob suffered because he was always doing wrong, always making mistakes, always having to go back over the road, going back where he failed. Joseph did not compromise with anybody or anything. They stole his coat but they did not get his character. They put him in prison. Joseph never got discouraged. What a victory that would be for some of us! Joseph always saw a way out. They put him in prison and he becomes chief turnkey. They put him in the kitchen to wash the pots and he becomes the chief butler, managing the whole affair. Joseph is a type of “Another” before whom every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
By faith Moses, or, shall I say, by faith, Moses’ mother. They were killing the boys in those days, and the devil is trying to kill them now. He is trying to kill the girls, too. It would look to me that he has on a special campaign for the destruction of children. The mother of Moses said, “Oh Jehovah-jireh! I look upon Thee to protect my boy.” And the Holy Ghost put it on record that the mother’s faith saved that boy. She took him down to the stream and put him in the ark and committed him to God. And forty years pass. Stephen tells us in the seventh chapter of the Acts that he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. One day, seemingly with no reason for it at all, he turned terribly homesick, and the whole of the glitter and gold and glory of the Egyptians became obnoxious to him and he said, “I must go home to my mother and my mother’s God, and suffer affliction with my mother’s people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Now the Holy Spirit wants you to see that his mother’s faith was back of that noble choice.
Abraham stands for the obedience of faith. The word that characterizes his faith is obedience. He obeyed God. I found out twenty-seven years ago that that was all I had to do. Before that I was trying something else. Twenty-seven years ago I had a vision of a new way of preaching the Gospel, and all I had to do was to obey God. I find His yoke is easy; His burden is light.
Isaac stands for another phase of faith. Submission. Patience. Resignation. I do not hear anybody talk much about Isaac’s faith. We do not know much about it. That is the trouble. We stand on our dignity. We assert our rights. Isaac never did that. If he had any rights he resigned them to God. He submitted everything to God. Even when they went to get his wife for him they sent another fellow out to do the courting, and he got a better wife than some of you did, even if you did your own courting.
Eliezer is a type of the Holy Ghost, and the great message to the young people is, Let the Holy Ghost have His way as to who will be your husband, and who will be your wife. That is one place where you want God to come in in a real way if you want to save yourself a lot of trouble in the future.
One day his enemies came down to Isaac and said, “These are our wells.” Isaac would not fight, so he said: “All right take them and I will dig some more wells.” And then everything was going nicely and they came and took them also. He permitted them to take his wells, and he moved on and digged other wells. They never fought him any more. They said, “He is an old well-digger. Might as well leave him alone.”
It is a great thing to have the spirit of Isaac. But there came a greater test. They led him to the altar. The boy said, “Father, you have the wood and the knife but you have not got the sacrifice.” Abraham said, “God will provide the lamb,” and so He did.
“He putteth forth his own sheep; he goeth before them.”
He goes before. Abraham explains the whole thing to Isaac, and waited. But it came vastly different from what they expected. God knows how to do a new thing. When the knife is about to be thrust in his heart, God says, “Do not touch him; lay not your knife upon this lamb. He is mine.”
He is the God that can provide a ram for Abraham, but He can protect Isaac, too. You may assert your rights and have your own way. God may let you do it, but there is a better way. It is here in this Book. I want you to see what a claim such a surrendered life makes upon the resources of God. When this thing transpired God stood by the side of Abraham, thrilled with emotion. “Oh, Abraham! I swear.” Think of God taking an oath. “I swear by myself because thou hast done this thing. Because thou has not withheld thy son.” “Because you have given me everything I will give you everything.” Some of God’s children have more blessings than others. There is a reason. Some of God’s children have more power manifested in their lives than others. There is a reason. “Because thou hast done this thing.” “Because thou hast not withheld.”
“God has the best things for the few
Who dare to stand the test
He has a second place for those
Who will not have the best.”