Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”—Genesis 22:13-14
Calling God El Shaddai recognizes that He provides our daily, basic needs and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, while the name Jehovah-Jireh emphasizes His strength, answers and provision for specific challenges and trials when we are tested. The process of testing is the refiner’s fire that dries the riverbed so we can cross over the Jordan River into our land of promise—His personalized plan for me.
When we follow the Lord, we can be assured we will be tested, just as Abraham was tested.
In the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, we experience God as Jehovah Jireh—our Teacher with His answers. This story gives every principle we need to know in how to get through our trial of faith and pass His test.
DISCIPLES OF JESUS WILL BE TESTED
Before the events in Genesis, Chapter 22, Abraham learned to make right choices as a stranger in the land of the Philistines in Canaan. Through the problems with Hagar and Ishmael, he learned to look to the Lord rather than his wife (see Gen. 16:2). He risked his own life to save his own flesh and blood (see Isa. 58:7) when his nephew, Lot, chose to align himself with the godless people of Sodom.
Abraham first rescued Lot from four kings who took him and all his possessions in a battle. Next, when God tired of the evil, unrepentant people in Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham learned God would heed his intercession for others—Lot and his family. Through all this, he learned the second greatest commandment, to love his neighbors as himself (see Mark 12:31). Still, there came a time for the big test, the final—in the area of his most priced possession—Isaac, for whom he had waited twenty-five years.
After all these things, “God tested Abraham” (Gen. 22:1). He was about to relearn the most important of all commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
The Hebrew word for test is “to prove; this verb carries with it the idea of testing the quality of someone or something through a demonstration of stress. God was testing (refining) the character of Abraham in this instance.”
WE ARE TESTED THROUGH THE REFINER’S FIRE
A good teacher will always give tests; the best teachers give them when least expected. He will lay the test before the student, then leave them alone with it, as God did with Abraham: “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about” (Gen. 2:1-2). He was then silent.
The burnt offering was significant, for it meant a “bull, ram, or male bird; wholly consumed; no defect. It was a voluntary act of worship; atonement for unintentional sin in general; expression of devotion, commitment and complete surrender to God (Lev. 1; 6:8-13; 8:18-21; 16:24).” This root Hebrew word signifies the total surrender of a worshipper’s heart and life to God. The teacher gives a test to see what is in the heart and mind. It is not just a silly time waster. It is the only way for the student to know the condition of his own heart.
The burnt offering meant the complete animal was wholly consumed by fire—the refiner’s fire. A group of women were studying Malachi 3:3, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver . . . .” They wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back with the group.
She made an appointment with a silversmith to watch him work. She did not mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched, the silversmith held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat.
“In refining silver,” he explained, “One needs to hold it in the middle of the fire where the flames are the hottest in order to burn away all the impurities.”
The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought about the verse, He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.
“Is it true you have to sit in front of the fire the whole time the silver is being refined?” she asked.
“Yes, I not only have to sit here holding the silver, but I have to keep my eyes on it the entire time it is in the fire. If silver is left one moment too long in the flames, it will be destroyed,” he replied.
The lady was silent for a moment, then asked, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”
The silversmith smiled, “Oh, that’s easy, when I see my image in it.”
OUR TEACHER – JEHOVAH JIREH – IS WATCHING WHEN WE ARE TESTED
Like the teacher, our Master is there, watching us, not yet revealing Himself, not until He can see His image in us—for He is a consuming fire—a jealous God (see Deut. 4:24).
The Bible discloses that the next morning Abraham got up early, took two servants, gathered wood, and with Isaac set out for Moriah. We can be assured it was not this easy for Abraham. He was up early probably because he could not sleep. He possibly went out a distance from the camp so no one could hear him, and there, he bitterly wept and wailed from within the depths of his very being. It was here Abraham put Isaac on the altar. It was here he let go, through suffering, and gave him back to God. It was here Abraham settled the matter in his heart—making total surrender of his worshipper’s heart and life to God.
He thought about the covenant promises the Almighty had continually confirmed with him: you will be the father of many nations; your offspring will be as numerous as the stars. He thought about the time God came to him nine months before Isaac was born and he laughed at the prospect of his one-hundred-year-old body producing a child with his ninety-year-old wife. He told God, “If only Ishmael might live before Thee!”
But God said,
“No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold I will bless him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.”—Genesis 17:19-20 NASB
Abraham consoled himself with these words, considering in his heart that God was able to raise his son from death to fulfill these promises (see Heb. 11:19). He also knew that God is not a man and speaks only truth (see Num. 23:19). He roused himself early and acted promptly.
 Spiros Zodiates, Th.D., Executive Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, 1990) p. 1750.
 Point made by Linda Scammell in her testimony, “Will You be Ready for the Test?” on April 13, 2002, at Women with a Passion for Jesus group, Fort Scott, KS.
 Henry Hampton Halley, Halley’s Bible Handbook, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000) p. 157.
 Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1758.
 Story received via email, November 3, 2004.