Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 22:14

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.

A small verse, but a significant one. It is a verse that introduces the significance of special holy places, such as mountains, the tabernacle, and the temple. Remember that Abraham wasn’t commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac just anywhere, he was told to go to this very place. It was up in a mountain, and several mountains will be the site of sacred visitations from God, such as the Mount of Transfiguration and Mount Sinai. Mountains were seen as God’s home, a place where one might find and visit with Him.

The meaning of the name Jehovah-jireh is also very significant. Jehovah is, of course, the name of God, and jireh is often translated as “provides.” So “the Lord provides” is the name of the place, which certainly fits, given the lamb caught in the thicket.

However there is a second definition for the word jireh, which is “to see,” such as when it is used in 1 Samuel 16:7: “but the LORD looketh on the heart.” This explains the second part of our verse: “in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” Exactly what it was Abraham saw, we do not know. For us looking back we can see in it a clear analogy of God giving up His son as a sacrifice for the world to save our lives. Was Abraham instructed in some of these matters at this time as well? We can’t be sure, the text does not specify.

This name might also be referring to how God saw that Abraham would obey Him in all things. In either case, the name reinforces the notion of mountains, tabernacles, and temples being sacred sites. These were special places to come and see God and be seen by Him.

And I’m sure that both of these interpretations, “to provide” and “to see,” were intended. Abraham had been both provided for in the form of a ram in the thicket, and he been made to see the heart and workings of God, and so he named this place accordingly.

Dealing With Failure- 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, Ephesians 5:14

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

COMMENTARY

Therefore let us not sleep, but let us watch and be sober
Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light
Recognizing your flaws, making efforts to improve on them, failing to do so perfectly, and picking yourself up to try again can be a hard and wearying process. But…it also means that you are spiritually awake and your discipleship is alive!
Of course it is possible to not feel the pain of trying, all it requires is that you give up. I was there once. I used to be oblivious to the areas of my life that needed improvement. I was asleep to the gospel and content with mediocrity.
As I found out, though, ignorance was not bliss. Sleeping through my own great story only meant that I was dissatisfied without understanding why.
Now I feel agitated to become the best version of myself that I can. Yes, at times it can feel overwhelming, but it is a genuine privilege to shoulder that burden. It is far better than to remain asleep.

What Sort of Disciple Are You?- John 19:35 (NIV), John 3:11

The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

COMMENTARY

The man who saw it has given testimony, and he knows that he tells the truth
We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen
How did John know that his record of Jesus’s crucifixion was accurate? He saw it, and testified of that which he witnessed directly. Why was Jesus so bold in teaching new doctrine to Nicodemus? Because he was speaking that which he knew, testifying of things he had seen.
When one grows up in a faith-based community, it is easy to feel pressured to already know the realities of God and his gospel. We hear other people say that they know, and feel that something is wrong with us if we do not as well. We assume that because we have been taught about the gospel, we have a testimony of it. But to have been told something is not to know it.
I was told of God’s grace many times, and I believed in it. But that belief was nothing like the knowledge I obtained after I personally witnessed the power of Christ being used to forgive my sins and change my nature. So now I do not only believe, I even testify of its truth. At the same time, I honestly have not yet had any great spiritual awakening from fasting. I hear others say that it is a spiritually right thing to do, and so I have faith in it…but I cannot claim a testimony of it at this time.
Accepting that there are some aspects in which we lack a testimony is alright. We are, by our natures, born with the capacity for faith, but not with testimony. Testimony comes only by experience, and some things we just haven’t experienced yet. It is to be expected that we are still developing our direct knowledge, all that is required is that we foster the opportunities for it.

Trial Before Blessing, Pleasure Before Anguish- Ether 12:6-7, 12, 18

I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
For it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto our fathers, after he had risen from the dead; and he showed not himself unto them until after they had faith in him…
For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.
And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God.

COMMENTARY

Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith
Wherefore they first believed in the Son of God

The obvious reason for why this pattern of trial first and blessings afterwards is, of course, to promote faith. Although there are many different religions in the world, almost every one begins with a principle of faith: some notion of exercising belief in something first, and only later finding the reassurance of it.
This isn’t to suggest that God does nothing before we reach out in faith. After all, we need a catalyst to have faith in anything to begin with. If following God could only begin from a total vacuum, then following him would only occur as a random mistake, rather than as a directed path. And so the pattern that seems most accurate is: God partially discloses Himself, He then invites His child to do something on faith alone, and then God reveals Himself more fully after they do.
This is how he called Moses: first He appeared to Moses in the burning bush, then He called Moses to free the Israelites, then manifested His full power as Moses obeyed. He first promised Abraham a son, then He required Abraham to sacrifice that son, and then He intervened when Abraham obeyed.
The initial encouragement is never enough to make the following trial easy. It is still always a leap of faith. This one fact is enough to hide the journey in plain sight. The way is there for everyone, yet because it is gated by faith alone “few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14)

The Lord Sees You- Summary

As I suggested at the beginning of this series, our topic is one that is very near and dear to my heart. I feel that too often the notion of God seeing all is used to provoke fear in those that are doing wrong, leaving the far more beautiful side of that truth forgotten. A truth that God is never apart from the lonely, that He never misunderstands the misunderstood, that He does not fail to see the overlooked. He is the cure to what ails us.

Jesus Overlooks No One

Humans are finite beings with limited capacities. Even if you never meant to ignore someone, you most certainly have at some point or another. It’s not something we have to feel guilty about (unless it is done intentionally) because our reality is one of mortal limitations.
Anyone that has done any sort of ministry work where they strive for the souls of others knows the reality of this. Anyone who has been a parent knows this. There are simply too many people for you to be there for all of them at all times. There are too many problems that you don’t know the perfect answer to. Perhaps if you could be all things to all people you would, but you simply can’t. And that is why at the end of the day we always have to turn things over to God. He is the one that time and space do not limit, that hunger or stress do not distract. He will always see His children.
Luke 2:5- And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him.
Luke 21:2- And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.

Jesus Sees Correctly

I remember a time I went with my wife and son to a park. We played for a little while, had a good time, and then told our son it was time to go to an appointment. He was about two at the time, and seemed fine with the arrangement at first, but as we got back into our car, though, he started to cry and shout. I assumed he just didn’t want to stop playing, explained to him we really had to go, and proceeded to force him into his car seat.
As I got into the driver’s seat my wife was finally able to make out what he was saying: he had dropped his toy car in the grass as we left and didn’t want us to drive away without it. Thankfully we were able to find it, but I left feeling incredibly humbled.
I had been there the whole time, but I had entirely misread the situation. I was unknowingly signalling to my son that I didn’t care about his things. Again, we have finite limitations, and one of the most pronounced is we so often fail to communicate. We misjudge things all the time. I am so grateful to know that my son has another Father, too, one who will never misunderstand him. One who will see directly to the heart of every matter.
Luke 21:3-4- And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

When We Are Seen We Are Made Better

When finally we meet that Lord who always sees us and always sees us rightly, then all the good parts of our heart start to unlock. One of the most common trends in those that commit crimes, particularly violent ones, is that they have a history of isolation. When people are not a part of a community, when they don’t have loved ones at home, when there is no one to see them and understand them, then the worst parts tend to come out.
The opposite is true as well. When one feels acknowledged, understood, and validated they are most likely to seek their own self improvement, find meaningful work, and contribute back to their society.
Some of us may go through periods of loneliness, where we don’t have immediate family members or friends nearby to accompany us. And even if we did have them around us, there would still be those times that they misread us.
But there always remains a Savior who sees us, one who has promised His constant companionship. He sees us and He wants to tell us about all the wonderful things that He sees. Have you ever asked Him to share? I promise you that only good will come of it.
Matthew 28:20- Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

The Lord Sees You- Life Example

My dearest spiritual experiences have to do with the times that I felt the Lord was seeing me directly. Though I may try to appear as an entirely self-dependent adult to the world, in my heart I am still His child and I still crave His awareness of me.

Growing up I was the fourth child of nine. Though each one of us has always been a distinct individual, it was still hard to not feel labelled as “another one of the Austins.” In fact people still mistake me for one or another of my brothers even today. Any time I reached a milestone in life I had already seen brothers and sisters get there before me. Every accomplishment I achieved had already been exceeded by one sibling or another. I always felt that I was distinct, but I didn’t feel recognized as such.

If nine children seems like a lot, how about the billions of our Heavenly Father? And yet, remarkably, God has never treated me like a “one of.” In many interactions He has reiterated to me that I am “His only.” By which I mean that while He may have many children, I am the only me that He has. I am the only me that He will ever have. And He holds me precious because of that.

Though in the scriptures we hear Him promise blessings to all His children, in my experience He makes a point of delivering those blessings individually. You don’t receive His spirit because you are “one of” anything, you receive it because you are you. Never forget: though the rain may shower us all, the drops that fall on you are individual, they touch no one else.

The Lord Sees You- Mark 5:25, 27-34

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

COMMENTARY

And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
I’ve always been impressed how this story illustrates the Savior’s ability to tell the difference between those that brush by him and those that touch him. To the disciples it was impossible to distinguish between the multitude and the one, but to the Savior the distinction was entirely clear.
To this day many people throng around Jesus, but our desire is to be one of the ones that reach out and actually connect with him, and our hope is that he will recognize us when we do.
Personally I can attest that there is a real difference between the two. I’ve been the individual who meanders around Jesus, thoughtlessly going to church and saying my prayers only because it is “what I’m supposed to do.” But I’ve also been the one that desperately needed healing and reached out in hope that he was really there for me. Having felt the sweet reassurance of the latter, I never want to go back to the first.

The Lord Sees You- Luke 21:1-4

And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

COMMENTARY

And he saw also a certain poor widow
Yesterday we examined a rich and enthusiastic man who climbed a tree just to get a good look at Jesus. Jesus recognized and appreciated his efforts, which gives me confidence that he sees all of our silly attempts to catch his attention as well.
In the gospels we see many other bold individuals: brave Peter asking to walk on the water, the sinful woman washing the Savior’s feet with her own tears, brash Paul unapologetically butting heads with his fellow apostles.
But today we have a much more quiet example, one of a person that is not vying for attention at all. She is a poor widow casting her meager contribution into the temple treasury. Surrounded by others that are far better in worldly terms, she is nonetheless immediately recognized for her quiet faith by the Savior.
I’m sure each of us has done something nice for another and had it gone unnoticed. We have seen how society flocks around the drama or a repentant sinner while the quietly consistent disciple goes forgotten. We have wanted to be humble, but also wanted to be appreciated.
This story of the poor widow assures us that Jesus sees and validates all our efforts to follow. If all the world forget us, he at least never will.

The Lord Sees You- Luke 19:2-9

And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.
And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.
And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

COMMENTARY

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not…because he was little of stature.
And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
Zacchæus was a man “little of stature,” one easy to overlook. Yet Jesus saw him even so. He was also easily misjudged because of his background, yet Jesus saw the real him even so. Jesus saw the man, Jesus saw the heart.
I feel Zacchæus is a character that pretty much anyone can empathize with on one level or another. We all have our times of feeling like small people that the world has little value for. When we accomplish something, no one notices. When we speak, our words are misinterpreted. Most people don’t even see us, and if they do they don’t see us rightly.
Zacchæus may have “sought to see Jesus who he was,” but he was rewarded with a friend who would “see Zacchæus who he was.” Here at last was a person who would really get him. A person that would recognize and appreciate his faithful efforts. A person that would want to abide in his house and hear his sorrows. A person that would know him intimately, call him by name, and bless his home.

The Lord Sees You- Question

Some of the most heart-warming messages I’ve received from God are as simple as “I see you.” All of us have had periods feeling overlooked and underappreciated, like we are only supporting characters in someone else’s story.

I am convinced that it is in moments of isolation that people to develop their worst habits and dependencies. Being “seen” by God isn’t just something that’s nice, it’s something we need to be our healthiest, best selves.

In this study I’d like to examine the different ways God sees us, the positive effects that come about by being seen by Him, and what we can do to more fully feel His light around us.

In the meantime, what are ways that God has shown you that He sees and cares for you? What are the changes that have come about in your life because of this knowledge?