The manner and extent of God's provision is hard to understand. Explaining God's provision is simple; but its a whole different exercise in trying to digest the extent of His provision. The Old Testament teaches that one of God's "names" that defines His identity and essence is "Jehovah Jireh," which means "The Lord Will Provide." Many people have interpreted this type of provision to refer to basic human needs such as food, clothing, shelter, work, and so forth. While God's provision does include these things, the context of God's name as Jehovah Jireh is far greater than food and clothing! It is the context of God's identity as Jehovah Jireh that makes God so difficult to grasp and digest.
In Genesis 22:6-14 the scriptures document the actions of Abraham and Isaac as the set off to Mount Moriah in order to obey the command of God to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering. The Bible explains that Abraham and Isaac both set out with wood and knife in hand, prepared to execute the Lord's command. As they were on the way, Isaac asked a compelling question, and Abraham provided an even more compelling response. As the two men traveled, Isaac asked his father a reasonable question from his perspective. Isaac noticed that Abraham had prepared a knife for the slaughter of an animal, the wood to burn the animal as a burnt offering, but there was no animal. Isaac simply asked his dad, "Where is the animal for the sacrifice?" Clearly Isaac was not aware of the test that Abraham was undergoing. Clearly Isaac was not aware that God had commanded Abraham to offer him as the sacrifice. Clearly Isaac was not aware that his life was about to end.
Abraham's response is clever, compelling, and prophetic all at the same time. Abraham answered his son about the sacrifice by stating, "God will provide Himself a sacrifice." While it is difficult to know if Abraham understood what he was really saying, it is incredible to see his response nonetheless. Genesis chapter 22 had introduced the concepts of "love" and "worship" in the context of a father offering up his son as a sacrifice. The picture of God the Father and Jesus the Son is powerfully obvious in this testimony. The foreshadowing picture of the Father offering Jesus as the Son to die for the sins of the world is the objective of God's work in this portion of scripture. So when Abraham explained to Isaac that God would "offer Himself a sacrifice," one must consider that the true essence and meaning of Abraham's statement is that God would offer Himself as a sacrifice!
It is true that God would provide the sacrifice for Abraham. In Genesis 22:6-14 the scriptures explain that Abraham tied his son to the altar, raised the knife to slay his son, and at the last second, the Angel of the Lord called down from heaven to stop Abraham. The Angel of the Lord - Jesus Christ - confirmed Abraham's faith and his successful passing of the test that God had put him through. The identity of the Angel of the Lord is confirmed to be Jesus since the "Angel" is also translated and considered a "Messenger." The Angel tells Abraham that he did successfully in the test because he was not willing to withhold Isaac from Him. Though it was God who commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering, the Angel of the Lord makes Himself equal to God by stating that the sacrifice was to be unto Him! The only other "Messenger" in the Bible that maintains the same qualities of God and is made equal with God is Jesus Christ.
Genesis 22:6-14 explains that as Jesus stopped Abraham from killing his son, that Abraham looked up and in the distance, saw a ram caught up in some bushes that he was able to offer in place of his son as a burnt offering. Abraham then called God "Jehovah Jireh," which again means, "The Lord Will Provide." One must consider the extent of God's provision in this context. God provided a more suitable sacrifice than Isaac - the unique son who was the heir of God's promises. Though Isaac was critically important concerning God's plans, the blood of Isaac would not suffice to please God in terms of sacrifice. Though Isaac was valuable in terms of what God would do with him and his family in the future, such value was not sufficient to please God in sacrifice. No other son has ever been in the position of Isaac, yet his blood was not good enough for God. The scriptures showed that the only sacrifice that was truly going to please God was God's own sacrifice; and as Abraham prophesied, the only sacrifice that would please God, would be God's sacrifice of Himself as Jesus Christ!
It is not by coincidence that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham to stop Abraham from slaying his son. It is strategic that Yahweh spoke to God in Genesis 22:1, but Jesus stopped Abraham in Genesis 22:6-14. Jesus would be the provider. Jesus would be the One that gave a sacrifice that would please God. Since the greatest thing that Abraham had to offer in terms of sacrifice was "his only begotten son," was not sufficient to please God, it is the Angel of the Lord (Jesus Christ) that would do the necessary work to please God on behalf of Abraham. The Bible teaches an incredibly important lesson in this testimony. The Bible shows the true value of mankind's efforts in terms of "sacrifice" unto God. There is nothing that a human being can give that will please and satisfy God. As sinners, there isn't anything good that we have to give. Everything we do and offer is tainted with sin. God understood this. God understood the weakness of His creation. God understood the pitiful condition of His children. God understood what needed to be done. More importantly, God demonstrated that He was willing to do what needed to be done.
Knowing that the efforts of mankind are futile and worthless in His eyes, God provided Himself as a sacrifice. Knowing that the best a human being could give was absolutely weak in the eyes of God, He offered the sacrifice of Himself on our behalf in order to satisfy the need of sacrifice. The truth is that the wages of sin is death, and therefore, sacrifice is a necessity. Yet, because the sacrifices of people are not good enough to please God since they are corrupted with sin, God, who knew no sin, became a man to appear as that which sins, in order to offer Himself as a sacrifice. When the Bible teaches that Jesus was hung on a tree by crucifixion to become a curse on behalf of that which was cursed, the Bible teaches that the man named Jesus was truly the Living God! One must consider that in order for the death of Jesus to have any meaning and value, He had to be without sin, and God is the only being that is 100% sinless. Thus, just as Abraham prophesied, God offered Himself as a sacrifice.
The extent of patience, mercy, grace, compassion, care, and love that God demonstrates in this offering is mind boggling. It is one thing to try and understand how God became a man and still remained God at the same time. However, it is another thing to understand the extent of God's affection for people that He was willing to exercise His infinite power to do so. The Bible teaches that Jesus came down as God in the flesh specifically for the purpose of death (Hebrews 2:9). It's a difficult exercise to explain why God would do this. The Bible tells us that God was motivated by "love," but this is a brand of "love" that human beings are not accustomed to, nor familiar with. There are people who love others and are loved by others, but not like this. Thus, love becomes a difficult word to understand and define based on God's version of it. Certainly love can be simplified to God's revelation of Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah, but that doesn't really explain the full extent of God's motives and desires.
This foreshadowing picture that God paints in Genesis 22:6-14 is complicated. It is plain and simple to see what happened, and the connection to Christ. However, when one tries to understand the magnitude of God's provision it gets difficult. There was nothing that Abraham did to warrant this kind of favor. In fact, one could make the argument that Abraham's conduct should have disqualified him from such favor. Nevertheless, God proved Himself faithful to His unconditional and eternal promises. The provision of God is not dependent on the performance of His children. God gives because He wants to. Thus, God gave because He wanted to. It is true that God gives the things that are needed in this physical life, but the extent of God's provision goes far beyond this life. God, knowing the miserable condition of humanity, freely gave Himself in order to make eternal life available - because He wanted to. God made some incredible promises and He's sticking to them. God is not relying on the ability of any person or group of people to fulfill those promises. He just relied on His Son (Himself); and that work has been completed! In order to receive the benefits of God's provision, one simply has to trust that such work and promises comes through Jesus and only Jesus. This is who God is. He gives of Himself because it is His nature. There are no gifts that rival the gift of God to offer Himself as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Thus, one must simply humble one's self to acknowledge God's perfect work, trust in Jesus as the facilitator and executor of that work, and receive that which God has already freely given as Jehovah Jireh!