Summary: The name of God that we are studying today is Jehovah Sabaoth, which at its root, refers to a captain or general who commands a mighty army.
I have never served in the service or gone off to war but I certainly got into skirmishes with my sisters when I was growing up! I celebrated a birthday milestone this past week and my siblings sent me cards that show the war is not over. Let me read three of them to you.
Happy Birthday to a brother who was always there to take me by the hand…and then bend my wrist backward until my fingers touched my arm. [Mary added: “Its okay, I’m over it now!”]
Even when someone irritates…you, you can still love them. Brothers teach us that.
Brother, celebrate your birthday like you’re a kid again. In your room. No supper. No TV. Just sitting and thinking about what you’ve done. [Jean added: “Explain this one to your girls.” Our girls asked me about this but I can’t remember a specific situation, because I was put in isolation all the time!]
Actually, one of my sisters sent me a nice card that was very meaningful. When I was telling one of my other sisters on the phone that my youngest sister sent me “a card from the heart,” she immediately said, “Don’t let it go to your head…It’s probably because she couldn’t find the other kind!”
It strikes me that a number of you have served in the armed forces, or have a family member serving right now. If so, would you please stand so we can extend our appreciation to you? Thank you for your service to our country, and to those who have family members serving, thank you for your sacrifice. I was reminded of your dedication this week at my Kiwanis meeting when the speaker, who is a National Guard recruiter, was asked to describe the benefits of joining the service. The person asking the question was wondering about the free tuition and other compensation. Without hesitation, he said that the best benefit is the chance to serve our country and spread freedom around the world.
I’ve been reading a book called, “A Table in the Presence” by Carey Cash, a chaplain for the U.S. Marines. In this dramatic account, his Battalion experienced God’s presence and power in an amazing way during the war in Iraq. When they were up against the wall, God came through for them time and time again. Listen to what he writes: “During the long weeks in the Kuwaiti desert, we had often talked about God’s protection and had prayed for it in every service. We had asked God for courage and quiet resolve in the face of the enemy…for six weeks, many of us had looked to God for grace and help in our time of need, and God had graciously responded. He had calmed our fears, breathed hope and confidence into our souls, and readied us for the fight” (W Publishing, 2004, Page 54).
The name of God that we are studying today is Jehovah Sabaoth, which at its root, refers to a captain or general who commands a mighty army. It’s used over 270 times in the Bible. By the way, the King James translates this name as “LORD of Hosts” while the NIV uses “LORD Almighty.” We’ve already described the name Jehovah as the self-existent one who is personal, present, powerful, and the ultimate promise-keeper. The word Sabaoth can refer to one of four large groups, or a large quantity of hosts:
A huge congregation
An immense army
Celestial bodies – stars (see Isaiah 34:4)
Innumerable angelic beings (see Luke 2:13)
The Lord Almighty has all the hosts of heaven ready to do His work. Psalm 24:10 asks the question: “Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty [Jehovah Sabaoth] — he is the King of glory.” God is the king and commander over every army, both spiritual and earthly, and He mobilizes them to accomplish His purposes. Amos 4:13 describes this name of God in greater detail: “He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth--the LORD God Almighty [Jehovah Sabaoth] is his name.” When we truly understand this name for God we will never view Him the same again. He has unlimited power, unbridled might and untarnished glory. He is impossible to describe and incredible to imagine.
Charles Spurgeon once preached: “The Lord of Hosts…is on our side as our August Ally; woe unto those who fight against Him, for they shall flee like smoke before the wind when He gives the word to scatter them.” The name Jehovah Sabaoth is used when God’s people are in deep weeds, or as my friend Ray likes to say, “When you’re hip-deep in alligators and there’s no way to drain the swamp.” Kay Arthur refers to this as God’s name for man’s extremity. We could say it this way: God goes to battle when our backs are up against the wall. Chaplain Carey Cash captures this idea when he quotes a prayer from a grandmother in Mississippi. She prayed three things for our troops as they moved across Iraq (Page 68).