From Praying the Names of God Week Thirteen, Day Four
The Lord of Hosts is a title that emphasizes God's rule over every other power in the material and spiritual universe. When Scripture speaks of "the host of heaven," it is usually speaking of celestial bodies, though the phrase can also refer to angelic beings. The word "host" can also refer to human beings and to nature itself. When you pray to Yahweh Tsebaoth, you are praying to a God so magnificent that all creation serves his purposes.
But David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand." (1 Samuel 17:45-46 NRSV)
PRAYING THE NAME
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us:
authority rests upon his shoulders. . .
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:6-7 NRSV)
Reflect On: Isaiah 9:6-7
Praise God: For his plan of salvation.
Offer Thanks: Because you belong to the Lord of Hosts.
Confess: Any complacency about your faith.
Ask God: To equip you for the spiritual battles that will surely come.
Recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have displayed in terrifying detail the power of high tech weaponry. Smart bombs, cluster bombs, bunker bombs—we've devised ingenious new ways to win battles. But even the most sophisticated weaponry in the history of the world is nothing next to God, who has at his disposal the entire created universe with which to accomplish his purposes. Consider a few of the memorable stories in Scripture that portray creation fighting on behalf of Yahweh Tsebaoth, the Lord of Hosts:
- Locusts swarming over Egypt (Exodus 10:12-15)
- The Red Sea parting (Exodus 14:15-31)
- The earth swallowing up the guilty (Numbers 16:28-35)
- The sun locked in its place until a battle is won (Joshua 10:12-14)
- Thunder routing an enemy (1 Samuel 7:10-12)
- Fire consuming God's enemies but preserving his friends (Daniel 3:19-30)
- Lions cozying up to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 6:16-23)
Isaiah tells the story of how a single angel slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Jesus, the night he was arrested, assured his disciples that he had more than six legions of such angels (72,000) at his beck and call!
With such clear evidence of God's power, couldn't the same man who cast out devils, walked on water, raised the dead, multiplied bread for thousands, and calmed a furious storm, have done something else to save himself, to save us?
We know the answer. It's a familiar story—hailed as both the high and low point of human history. It's the day God laid down his weapons and tied his hands behind his back—the day he let Satan have his way. His Son was whipped and mocked, stripped naked on a cross, cut with a crown of thorns pressed hard into his brow, and
then publicly displayed, as though the devil's own trophy. But not for long. For this was the costliest of struggles for the greatest of prizes. Jesus became the Savior of the world, not through a display of supernatural power but through a display of apparent weakness. He discarded every weapon but his own perfect submission to his Father's will, laying down his life in a display of perfect faith, lowliness, and love.
Paul reminds us that our own struggle is not against flesh and blood "but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." And he urges us to come dressed for battle, to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand in the day of evil (Ephesians 6:12-13). As we stand, we are also to remember, that, despite appearances, when the battle is at its worst, the Lord of Hosts is still with us, "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20).