Friday, March 20, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 26: Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Jehovah Sabaoth

(This is the last of the names of God, but tomorrow I will post a summary of all the names for our review.)

Sabaoth is used more than 285 times, most frequently in the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah. Sabaoth means "armies" or "hosts", so the name can also be translated "The Lord of Armies". The book of 1 Samuel uses this name for God first, and it is a surprising place. It seemingly has nothing to do with armies. 

You probably remember the story of Hannah. She was married to Elkanah, a man who had two wives. Every year, Elkanah took his wives and went to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to Jehovah Sabaoth. Hannah was much loved, but barren. She desperately wanted children and, on one particular trip, she was praying with such fervor that Eli the priest thought she might be drunk. He spoke to her, she told him her need, and he spoke a word of prophecy that God might fulfill her request.

It seems odd that the story of a barren woman unfolds around worship to the Lord of Armies, until I realize that the Lord of Armies is sovereign and rules over every power in heaven and in earth. He is the Supreme Commander who has ultimate power over everything, from powers and principalities to the youngest fetus in the womb. Everything. 

Sabaoth is one of the names used to describe God in the vision of Isaiah described in Isaiah 6. The seraphim cried to one another, saying "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts (Jehovah Sabaoth.) (Is 6:3) As I was pondering this today, I realized that the seraphim are honoring God for being in charge of everything, Lord of All, and I was reminded of something I had written back in 2013 about "the Boss of the World". You can click on the link to read it. 

I mean this in the most worshipful, respectful way when I say that Jehovah Sabaoth is the Boss and we are not. He is, in fact, the boss of everything and is literally the Boss of the world, including everything and everyone in it. 

I don't really have a point of reference for hosts of armies, but bosses are something I do understand. When I can begin to see God as the Boss of all Bosses, it helps me to understand that he is the Lord of Armies. He is the One in Charge. Of everything. Of everyone.

The truly amazing truth about Jehovah Sabaoth is that, even though He is commanding everything in heaven and earth, He still cares about one woman with a need that is breaking her heart, and He cares enough to meet her need. Hannah found that to be true, and I have found that to be true, as well. He knows my name. He knows my needs, and He cares. He provides. Nothing is so small that it escapes His notice. No need is so trivial that it escapes His care. Whether I need a name for a character, a plot twist for a novel, or food for my table, He cares and provides.

It is true for me, and it is true for you, as well. He knows your name. He knows your need. He cares, and He will provide.

How do we hallow the name of One so powerful, so personal? We recognize our sinfulness in comparison to the righteousness of His presence, allow His cleansing, and answer His call. Here am I, Lord. Send me.