When we think of the word provision, certain thoughts come readily to mind.
A provision has been made. A need met. Something provided.
And these thoughts lend themselves to a useful understanding of the word. But if we dissect it, just for fun, and inspect its parts, we may find a subtle richness at its core that can feed us in new ways, especially as the word relates to the One known as our provider.
The word provision actually means, by its strictest definition, “to see beforehand.” Dissected: vision meaning “to see,” and pro, as a prefix, meaning “prior to, earlier, or before.” So to make a provision is not just providing for a need. It’s seeing the need in advance and providing for it ahead of time.
An example from the trenches of real life bears this out. When I had kids at home, I knew they would be ravenously hungry when they came home from school. I could meet that need by popping tacquitos in the oven when they arrived, and they would not-so-patiently wait for the tasty treats. However, I could "forsee" with incredible accuracy that they would be hungry when they got home, and so if I popped the goods in the oven so that the tacquitos were ready when various strains of “I’m starving” filled my home, I would have truly made provision for their hunger. I saw the need coming in advance and met it on arrival.
Tacquitos aside, a surely more dramatic example of this is found when Abraham took his son Isaac to Mount Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice to his God. As God didn’t intend for Abraham to actually kill his son, He saw in advance the need for an alternate sacrifice and so had the ram ready and waiting in the thicket. When the dust settled and the smoke cleared that day, “Abraham called that place Yahweh Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of Yahweh provision will be made” (Genesis 22:14).
This was a special mountain. It was here centuries later, that King Solomon would build a magnificent temple, which would become the center of Jewish life and worship. Here the Law would be taught, offerings would be given, and praises lifted up. Here, God’s people would bring their sacrifices year after year to seek atonement for their sins.
But Abraham could have had no idea he was speaking prophetically when he spoke of Yahweh making provision on that mountain. He could not have known that what had happened on Mount Moriah with Isaac that day was a picture of what God would do centuries later for all of us, on that same mountain: The sacrifice of His own Son, providing Him as the substitute that was needed to redeem a creation long in bondage to sin and death.
Abraham could not have seen it, but God saw that the greatest need we would ever have is the need for a solution to our sin problem. Even at the top of the food chain, even as the highest and most intelligent expression of creation, alone we cannot bring ourselves back from the spiritual death that resulted from our first ancestors’ act of rebellion. This remains perhaps the only problem for which we, the crown jewel of creation, have no solution. The only need for which we, in all our cleverness, cannot provide. The only crisis for which we we can make provision.
He provided a way. He provided a substitute to die in our place on Mount Moriah. Not far beyond the gates of that magnificent temple. On the mountain of Yahweh provision was made.
Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah give us not just a picture of our salvation. They give us a picture of God’s character: the one who foresees a need, steps up and steps in, making a way long before we even knew we had a need. That’s the provision of Abraham’s God. And in our case, He not only saw to the provision, He was the provision.
On the mountain of Yahweh, the ram was provided for Abraham. And centuries later, on that same mountain, the Lamb was provided… for us.