Genesis 22:14 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
JEHOVAH-JIREH, THE LORD WILL PROVIDE
Gen 22:14. 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.
THE Saints of old took special care to remember the mercies of their God. Hence they scarcely ever received any remarkable deliverance from evil, or communication of good from him, but they erected some memorial of it, and gave either to the place or to the memorial itself, some name, that should transmit to posterity a remembrance of the blessing vouchsafed unto them. Such was “Beth-el,” where Jacob was favoured with a special vision [Note: Gen 28:19.] ; and “Peniel,” where he wrestled with the angel [Note: Gen 32:30.] ; and “Eben-ezer,” the stone erected by Samuel in remembrance of Israel’s victory over the Philistines [Note: 1Sa 7:12.]. Frequently the name of Jehovah himself was annexed to some word expressive of the event commemorated; as, “Jehovah-nissi, meaning, The Lord my banner;” a name given to an altar raised by Moses, to commemorate the total discomfiture of the Amalekites [Note: Exo 17:15.] ; and “Jehovah-shalom, The Lord send peace;” being the name given to another altar, which Gideon erected in remembrance of a special visit which he had received from the Lord in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites [Note: Jdg 6:24.]. The Father of the Faithful set an example in this respect. He had been ordered by God to sacrifice his son Isaac; but in the very act of offering him up, God had arrested his uplifted arm, and directed him to offer in the stead of his son a ram caught in the thicket which was close at hand. This was in fact an accomplishment of what Abraham himself had a little before unwittingly predicted. For, in answer to Isaac’s question. “My father, behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” he replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering.” By this answer he merely intended to satisfy his son’s mind for the present, till the time should arrive for making known to him the command which he had received from God; in which command that provision was actually made: but through the miraculous intervention of Divine Providence and the substitution of the ram in Isaac’s place, it had now been literally verified in a way which he himself had never contemplated. And it was in reference to this expression which he had used, that he called the name of the place, “Jehovah-jireh,” which means, “The Lord will provide.”
This circumstance, occurring on Mount Moriah at the very instant when Abraham’s hand was lifted up to slay his son, passed immediately into a, proverb, and has been handed down as a proverb through all successive generations even to this very day: the proverb is, “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen;” or, as it should rather be translated, “In the mount the Lord shall be seen.” To enter fully into this most instructive proverb, it will be proper to shew,
What it supposes—
Much important truth lies concealed in it. It supposes,
That God is the same in all ages—
[It may be thought that this is a truth which no one will controvert. I grant that no one will controvert it in theory: but practically it is denied every day. The God who is revealed in the Scriptures is evidently a God of infinite condescension and grace; as appears in all his mercies to the children of men. He is also a God of inflexible justice and holiness; as appears by the awful judgments he has executed on account of sin. But, if we now hold him forth in either of these points of view, and inculcate the necessity of our regarding him with hopes and fears suited to these perfections, we are considered as either derogating from his Majesty on the one hand, or from his goodness on the other hand. The notion, that “the Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil,” though not openly avowed, is yet the secret persuasion of almost every heart. But if there were any foundation for this Epicurean sentiment, what room could there be for this proverb? But know assuredly, that “He changeth not;” “with Him is no variableness neither shadow of turning;” “He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”]
That the privileges of his people in all ages are the same—
[To imagine this, is thought by many to be the height of presumption. But what privilege had Enoch, or Noah, or Abraham, or Moses, or any other of the children of men, which we have not? No one of them enjoyed any thing which was not contained in the covenant of grace. And what was the great promise in that covenant? Was it not, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people?” Was there any thing that was not comprehended in that? or could any thing whatever be added to it? Yet behold, that covenant is as much in force at this day as it was at any period of the world: and those who lay hold on that covenant are as much entitled to its blessings, as any ever were from the foundation of the world. Were this not so, we should have been injured, rather than benefited, by the coming of Christ. But our interest in it is not only as great as theirs was in the days of old, but, I had almost said, greater: for in the mention of this part of the covenant in the New Testament there is this remarkable difference: in the Old Testament God says, “I will be their God;” but in the New Testament he says, “I will be a God unto them [Note: Heb 8:10.].” This seems to convey a stronger and more determinate idea to the mind. We all know what it is to be a friend or a father to any person: but oh! what is it to be a God unto him? This none but God can tell: but the least it means is this; that, whatever situation a believer may be in, all that infinite wisdom, unbounded love, and almighty power can effect, shall be effected for him. Of the believer therefore now, no less than in former days, it may be said, “All things are yours: whether: Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s [Note: 1Co 3:21-23.].”]
That whatsoever God at any time has done for the most favoured of his saints, may be expected by us now, as far as our necessities call for it—
[Of all the circumstances related in the Old Testament, scarcely any one was so particular and so exclusive as this which we are considering. Who besides him was ever called to sacrifice his own son? Who besides him was ever stopped by a voice from heaven in the execution of such a command, and directed to another offering which God himself had provided? Yet behold, this very event was made the foundation of the proverb before us; and from this, particular and exclusive as it was, all believers are taught to expect, that God will interpose for them in like manner, in the hour of necessity! If then we may expect such an interposition as this, what may we not expect?
But let us take some other events, to which nothing parallel exists. The passage of Israel through the Red Sea; the striking of the rock, in order to supply them with water in the wilderness; and the feeding of them with daily supplies of manna for forty years: can we expect any interpositions like these? Yes: and an express reference is made to these in the Holy Scriptures in order to raise our expectations to the highest, and to assure us that we shall receive from God every thing that our necessities may require. Were “the depths of the sea made a way for the ransomed to pass over?” With similar triumph may all the “redeemed of the Lord hope to return and come to Zion [Note: Isa 51:9-11. Cite the whole.].” What was done in the ancient days, in the generations of old,” is there made the very pattern of what shall be done for all the Lord’s people. A similar assurance is given in reference to the water that issued from the rock; and we are told “not even to remember or consider the former things,” since God will repeat them again and again, doing them “anew,” so that “every body shall know” and observe it: “I will give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen [Note: Isa 43:18-20. Cite the whole.].” As for the manna, you all are taught by our blessed Lord to pray, “Give us day by day our daily bread [Note: Luk 11:3. See the Greek.].” The matter then is plain: for, if such things as these are to be realized in our experience, there is nothing which was ever clone for mortal man, which we are not authorized to expect, as far as our necessities require it. Miracles indeed we are not to expect: but what was formerly done by visible exercises of a miraculous power, shall now, in effect, be done by the invisible agency of God’s providential care. The mode of effecting our deliverance shall be varied; but the deliverance itself shall be secured.]
Now we come to,
What it affirms—
The proverb is express: “In the mount the Lord shall be seen:” that is,
He will interpose for his people in the hour of necessity—
[This is its plain import: and to the same effect it is elsewhere promised, “The Lord will judge his people, and repent himself for his servants; when he seeth that their power is gone, and that there is none shut up or left [Note: Deu 32:36.].” If it be asked, ‘In what way will he interpose?’ I answer, ‘This must be left to him: he is not limited to any particular means: he can work by means, or without them, as he seeth fit: the whole creation is at his command: the wind shall divide the sea; and the sea shall stand up as a wall on either hand, when he is pleased to make a way through it for his people: and the waters shall resume their wonted state, when he gives them a commission to overwhelm his enemies: and both the one and the other shall be done at the precise moment of Israel’s necessity [Note: Exo 14:10-14.]. If confederate armies come against his people, his enemies shall defeat their own sanguinary purpose, and be the executioners of God’s vengeance on each other [Note: 2Ch 20:1; 2Ch 20:10-13; 2Ch 20:16-17; 2Ch 20:22-24.]. Is the destruction of a faithful servant menaced and expected by blood-thirsty persecutors? an angel becomes the willing agent of Jehovah for his deliverance [Note: Act 12:4-10.]. Sometimes he will defeat the enterprises of his enemies by the very means which they use to carry them into effect. This was the case with respect to Joseph, whose exaltation sprang from the very means used by various instruments for his destruction [Note: Gen 50:20.]. As for means, we may safely leave them to God. Two things we certainly know; namely, that he will interpose seasonably; and that he will interpose effectually: for he is, and ever will be, a very present help in trouble [Note: Psa 46:1.].’]
We may confidently trust in Him in seasons of the greatest darkness and distress—
[God may not come to our help at the moment that our impatient minds may desire. On the contrary, he may tarry, till we are ready to cry, like the Church of old, “The Lord hath forsaken us, and our God hath forgotten us [Note: Isa 49:14.].” But he has wise and gracious purposes to answer by such delays. He makes use of them to stir us up to more earnest importunity [Note: Mat 15:22-27.] ; to render us more simple and humble in our dependence upon him [Note: 2Co 1:8-10.] ; to display more gloriously before our eyes the riches of his power and grace [Note: Joh 11:6; Joh 11:15; Joh 11:40.], and to teach both us and others to wait his time [Note: Psa 40:1-3; Luk 18:1.]. Sometimes he suffers the enemy so far to prevail as that to all human appearance our case shall be irremediable: whilst yet those very enemies are instruments in his hands to accomplish unwittingly the very ends which they are labouring to defeat; disappointing thus the devices of the crafty, and taking the wise in their own craftiness [Note: Act 23:12-17.]. The history of Joseph will of necessity occur to every mind in illustration of this point [Note: Gen 50:20.] ; But what does all this say to us? Its language is precisely that of the prophet: “The vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry [Note: Hab 2:3.].”]
Those who have never yet been brought into deep waters—
[Do not imagine that because you have hitherto experienced but little trouble, your path shall always be smooth and easy. No: it is a thorny wilderness that you have to pass through, and a troubled ocean that you have to navigate, ere you can reach the desired haven. The mariner when scarcely launched upon the deep does not expect that the breeze shall be alike gentle to the end of his voyage: he prepares for storms, that he may be ready to meet them when they come. In like manner you also will do well to prepare for seasons of adversity and trial. The seaman takes with him his compass, his chart, his quadrant; and makes his daily observations, that he may know where he is, and not be driven from his course. So likewise do you take with you this proverb; which will ever be of use to you in the most trying hour, and enable you to steer your course with safety to the haven of rest.]
Those who are under any great and heavy calamity—
[The Lord’s people are no more exempt from trouble than others. When most in the path of duty, storms and tempests may overtake you, and menace your very existence: yea, and in the midst of all, your Lord and Saviour may seem regardless of your trouble. But remember, that, embarked as you are with him, you can never perish. In the fittest moment, he will arise and rebuke the storm; and both winds and waves shall obey him [Note: Mar 4:37-39.]. Go forward, as Abraham did, in the path of duty, and leave events to God. Do not be impatient because God does not appear for you so soon as you could wish. Perhaps you have not gone above one day’s journey yet in the path assigned you: if so, you have another and another day yet to go. Possibly you may have been long tried, and are got to the very mount: but you are not yet got to the top of that mount: much less have you bound your Isaac, and lifted up your hand to slay him. If not, the time for the Lord’s interposition is not yet come. See how it was with David. He fled from Saul—The Ziphites came and informed Said of the place where he was hid—Saul blessed them for the intelligence they had brought him: and set out immediately and encompassed with his army the very spot where David was. Alas! David, thy God hath forsaken thee! No: not so: in that critical moment, “a messenger comes to Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land.” And thus was the snare broken, and the persecuted saint delivered [Note: 1Sa 23:19; 1Sa 23:21; 1Sa 23:26-27.]. Thus also shall it be with you. Only stay till the critical moment has arrived, and you shall find the proverb true: “In the mount the Lord shall be found.” “Whatever you may imagine, the Lord is not an inattentive observer of your state. He may suffer you to be cast into the tempestuous ocean, and to be swallowed up by a whale, and yet bring you up again from the very depths of the sea, and advance his own glory the more in proportion to the greatness of your deliverance [Note: Jon 2:1-9.]. Trust then in the Lord, and let your mind be stayed on him.
This is the direction which he himself gives you: “Who is among you that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God [Note: Isa 50:10.].” And if the time for your deliverance seem to be utterly passed, go with the Hebrew youths into the fiery furnace, taking God’s express promise with you [Note: Isa 43:2-3.], and say with Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him [Note: Job 13:15. See the whole subject illustrated in Psa 30:1-12.].”]
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.