This is the first in a series of articles under the theme Encountering God, with a sub-heading, When God shows up. It is based on the premise that life is a journey full of many challenges and tests; times when we are stretched beyond breaking point. It is at such times and in those places that God shows up, or, as some would say, reveals Himself.
It is in that place of need, suffering, helplessness and brokenness of life that we are not only open to God but are ready to receive his intervention and accept his help. In such places many do not even have a consciousness of or desire for God. Nevertheless, because we are so broken and helpless, God in His mercy reaches out and down to us to help. When God shows up, the person who encounters Him gets to experience and perceive a relevant aspect of the nature and character of God.
In Genesis 22, we see an incredible picture of a man who was pushed to the very edge in his walk with God. Abraham had been finally blessed by God with the son of promise; Isaac. Yet God put him to the ultimate test by telling him to sacrifice that very son of promise, Isaac, to Him. This was the ultimate step of faith. Up until then Abraham had encountered God in many different ways. Those encounters had not only revealed key aspects of the nature of God, but had served to reassure and strengthen his faith. For example, in Genesis 12: 1-3, he experienced God as the one who makes covenant promises. In Genesis 15, when his faith wavered, God came and met him, showing Himself as the God who causes faith to rise in us, and builds faith through the renewal and reaffirmation of covenant promises. In Genesis 17, he encountered God as Jehovah El Shaddai, the Almighty God who changes names and re-defines destiny.
Each of these encounters gave Abram (as he was called until Genesis 17) a new meaning and fresh understanding of the nature of God, and therefore he could call Him accordingly. God was showing aspects of Himself; as the one who makes promises, who keeps promises, and then as the one who has power to do all things and is therefore able to make everything possible.
In Genesis 21:33, Abraham encounters God and calls Him as the Everlasting God – the God whose life is endless.
Finally we come to the ultimate test. In obedience to God, Abraham was about to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. He is on mount Moriah. He raised his hand; knife in hand, to slay the boy. God stopped him, and asked him stop, turn and look around. There it was, a ram caught in the thicket, to be sacrificed in place of Isaac. God affirmed the faith of Abraham, who took the ram and slaughtered it. Abraham had passed the ultimate test of faith. In that context God showed up as the God who provides. The Hebrew expression is Jehovah Jireh. God showed up as the God of provision.
I don’t know what you are going through as you read this article. If you are in the place of brokenness and dire need, where there is lack, not enough, my prayer is that as you read these words, the same God who showed up and met Abraham at his point of need, will show up for you and prove to you that He is Jehovah Jireh – the God who is able to supply all your needs.
Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2013©
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