“Jehovah-Jireh”. So begins one of the most popular Christian songs in recent years. The song continues with words like these, “Jehovah Jireh, My provider, His grace is sufficient For me, for me, for me.” Other parts of the song have these words, “My God shall supply all my needs, According to His riches in glory, He will give His angels Charge over me, Jehovah Jireh cares for me, for me, for me, Jehovah Jireh cares for me.”
Not only is it a lovely song to sing but the words express important truths about God. He is seen as “Jehovah-Jireh” meaning He is Yahweh, the God who Provides. The word for “provides” is “raah” which means to see, to watch over and to provide. It speaks of the care Yahweh has for those who are His. The most well-known example is found in Gen 22:12 where God provides the lamb for the sacrifice just as Abraham was to offer up his son in sacrifice and He says, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” The story continues, Gen 22:1 “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.” The response by Abraham was to decide to remember that place as Jehovah Jireh, “The LORD will provide”.
God is creator and king. He also supplies human needs. Eg., Psalm 145:8-9 remind us of His grace, mercy and love. “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (9) The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” But it also spells out the practical aspect of that love in His provision for His creatures, (15) “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. (16) You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
God provides. Jesus also encouraged us to pray, “Give us each day our daily bread.” That is a prayer based on the faithfulness of God. We are asking our Heavenly Father to supply our needs for the coming day.
1). GOD KNOWS WHAT OUR REAL NEEDS ARE
What did Jesus mean by “bread”? It meant of course, the food known as bread, such as a loaf of bread. Most of the 300 plus references in the ESV Bible to “bread”, refer to bread of that sort. God provides the basic necessities of life such as the materials to make bread.
It can also mean our material needs in general. When we pray “Give us each day our daily bread”, we’re inviting the Lord to meet all the needs He knows we have. Jesus was to say a little later, regarding our basic needs in life for food and drink and clothing, Luke 12:30-31 “For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
If we allow the Lord to be the King, the Ruler, the Master of our lives, and if we set our minds on knowing and doing God’s will, then He tells us that we don’t need to be anxious about our material needs. He promises He will provide them for us. As Jesus also said, “If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will Your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?” Mat 7:11. (Lk 11:13 the Holy Spirit.) If human fathers (who are by no means perfect) provide for their children then how much more will the Perfect Father in heaven be motivated and be able to provide for His adopted children.
But “bread” in the Bible can also mean provision for our spiritual needs. Jesus said in John 6:32-33, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” And in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” God once gave the manna to fall from heaven to provide for the physical needs of the Israelites as they journeyed in the wilderness. Then He gave His Son Jesus to come from heaven to bring satisfaction to our spiritual hunger and thirst. God wants to meet our needs, not necessarily our wants. There can be a difference! Only God truly knows what that difference is!
2). GOD PROVIDES SUFFICIENT TO MEET OUR NEED
Jesus didn’t encourage us to pray, “Give us right now, enough resources to last for the next 12 months.” Nor was it to be prayer asking that God might fill our lives with all the luxuries imaginable. It was prayer for daily needs. We see that pattern in the Old Testament in God’s provision of daily manna. Exodus 16:4, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions’.” He provided for the day. (The only change would be on the sixth day when they were to gather twice as much to cater for the seventh day when they were not to go out to collect the food, but to rest. Any extra gathered on that day in disobedience would go bad by the next day.
God provided. They had to exercise their faith to go out to receive His provision for their daily need. When they longed for meat, He provided for their need by having quails land in the camp each evening. Here was a loving God’s provision for the needs of His people. He is still a loving God. He still cares for the needs of His children.
3). GETTING OUR NEEDS INTO PERSPECTIVE
One problem we have in bringing our needs to God, is that we too easily make them the focus of our attention. In fact we can do that in our prayer life so that praying for our needs or for those of our family, gets right out of proportion. Instead of focussing on the love and mercy and greatness of God, and becoming more and more people of praise, we can major on asking Him to do things or to supply things for us. (We need to remember that God is not our “Bell-boy” to respond immediately to every wish or whim that we might have.)
The right focus is seen in Proverbs 30. The writer didn’t want to become too materialistic. His prayer to God was a simple one, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.” The writer knew himself. He knew that too much or too little would cause a problem in his relationship with God. He explained it clearly, “I may have too much and disown You and say ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God”. He wanted only sufficient provision to enable him to live life every day in a good relationship to God, of whom he had already written in 30:5, “Every word of God is flawless, He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
Job also had the right perspective on life. Job 23:12, “I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” He was determined to live in obedience to God, to major on God’s commandments to him. He placed the importance in his life on knowing and fulfilling God’s words, treasuring them more than the food he needed every day.
4). WHAT IS OUR FOCUS? IS IT HEALTHY OR UNHEALTHY?
Notice where the petition comes in the Lord’s Prayer. It follows after “Father, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come.” (“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”) Our focus is not to be on what God can provide for us, but on the Provider Himself. One of the disadvantages in living in a prosperous nation like Australia is that most of us know where our next meal is coming from. In fact we may have all the ingredients for all the meals for the whole of the coming week in our pantry and refrigerator already. It is so easy to take God’s provision for us for granted.
Gratitude to God was a lesson the Israelites needed to learn as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. He warned them through Moses that when they eventually began to enjoy greater prosperity they were to remember that it was He who had been providing for them throughout their entire journey, Deuteronomy 8:11-16, “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, (12) lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, (13) and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, (14) then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,(15) who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock,(16) who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.”
It is so easy to forget that God has been at work in our lives during the hard times as well as the good times. It is so easy to begin to think that we are self-made people and owe any successes we have to our own wisdom, effort or skill. Moses warned in the following verses, (8:17) “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ (18) You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.” Praying “Give us this day our daily bread” is a reminder to us that every blessing we have comes ultimately from the hand of God Himself. That should keep us humble and always dependent on Him!
5). NOTICE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PLURAL “US” AND “OUR”
The Lord’s Prayer is the family prayer of all believers. It is not a “Gimme!” prayer. Rather we pray that the Lord would provide for all His children “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.” Christian love demands that we think of the needs of others as we pray for our own needs to be met. As the apostle John wrote in 1 John 3:17 “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
As we next pray these words “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” our empty hands should be extended towards Him to receive His provision for our needs. They should also be uplifted in gratitude and praise to Him for His gracious provision to us. Then we will be motivated to extend our hands to others sharing with them what God (as Jehovah Jireh the Provider) has shared with us. After all He enriches us for a purpose. To be generous with what He gives to us. As St Paul wrote, 2 Corinthians 9:10 “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”
“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.” These words are simultaneously a request for His provision and also a declaration of faith in Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides for His people.
QUESTIONS for individuals or groups to consider. (Added on Wed 29th June 2016)
Question 1. In Luke 12:30 Jesus spoke of the need to “seek first His kingdom”.What do you think that means for us today? In what practical ways can we show we are “seeking first” His kingdom?
Question 2. If God promises to provide for our needs, not our wants, how can we tell the difference between our wants and our needs?
Question 3. In Proverbs 30, what important truth is the writer bringing out regarding God’s provision to us?
Question 4. What warnings does Moses give in Deuteronomy 8 about “forgetting” God. How can we make sure that we don’t “forget” Him?
Question 5. If you were asked to show the truth in the last paragraph beginning “As we …” by using hand actions how would you attempt to do it? What truths would you be trying to express in this way?
Blog No.177. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 14th March 2016. (Revisited on Wed 29th June 2016)
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