5 minutes with the general director Feb/Mar 1976
Dear Heir of the King,
If Shakespeare is right, a name cannot change the natural quality of an object. He wrote, “A rose by any other name smells just as sweet.” Whatever one chooses to call a rose, the fragrance remains. But while a name cannot change the quality of an object, it can describe a particular characteristic of that object.
God, in His sovereignty and wisdom, chose to reveal some of His characteristics to His creation through a series of divine names. One of these names is “Jehovah Sabaoth,” translated in the Authorized Version “The Lord of Hosts.” The name occurs more than two hundred and fifty times and always at strategic moments when Israel is beset by enemies and has need of deliverance. “Sabaoth” literally means “to assemble or gather together.” Jehovah Sabaoth is the captain of an unseen host, the angelic beings, and He can assemble them together to do His bidding.
AN UNEVEN BATTLE
There came a day when the army of Israel and the army of the Philistines pitched for battle in the valley of Elah. The Philistines had a champion warrior named Goliath. Daily he had challenged the army of Israel, “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid” (1 Sam. 17:24). There was on this occasion a youth present by the name of David of the royal tribe of Judah. He inquired, “. . . Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Sam. 17:26b).
Granted his request by King Saul, David descended the valley of Elah to meet Goliath in mortal combat. Never was a battle more uneven – the outcome more predictable.
And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of (JEHOVAH SABAOTH) – the Lord of Hosts (the Lord who fights our battles) (1 Sam. 17:42-45).
The battle was uneven, the outcome certain. GOLIATH didn’t stand a chance!
AN UNFAIR CONTEST
Rising majestically from the Mediterranean Sea at present-day Haifa is the Mt. Carmel mountain range. It was here more than nine hundred years before Christ that a courageous prophet of God threw down the gauntlet of challenge to the apostatizing Jewish nation. “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him . . .” (1 Kings 18:21).
“Then said Elijah unto the people. I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men” (1 Kings 18:22). A truly dramatic spectacle was to follow. An altar and sacrifice were prepared, and it was agreed that the God who could consume the sacrifice would indeed be the true God. Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “. . . Call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken” (1 Kings 18:24). Elijah, in a day of apostasy, was a solitary prophet. The prophets of Baal, by contrast, were four hundred and fifty. At the very outset of this encounter “Elijah said, As (JEHOVAH SABAOTH) the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him today” (1 Kings 18:15). Elijah appeared before wicked King Ahab and his false prophets in the name of JEHOVAH SABAOTH – the Lord of Hosts – the Lord who would fight his battles. The contest was unfair, the outcome certain. The PROPHETS OF BAAL didn’t stand a chance!
AN URGENT REMINDER
The seventy years of Babylonian captivity had ended. From among the Jews a small and feeble remnant had returned to the land now lying desolate and waste. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua this small group began to rebuild the foundation of the Temple which had more than seventy years before been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. They had not proceeded very far in their venture before adversaries arose to hinder and ultimately stop the work.
Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus Ring of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia (Ezra 4:4-5).
For 14 years the rebuilding of the Temple lay dormant, in total abandonment. How could this feeble Jewish remnant resume their work surrounded by opposition on every hand? It was at this critical juncture that God raised up the Prophet Haggai to stir this little band of Jews to rebuild their Temple. In the two short chapters of Haggai no less than 13 times the people were reminded that JEHOVAH SABAOTH – the Lord who would fight their battles – would be with them.
Zechariah, the contemporary of Haggai, reminded the people concerning the rebuilding of the Temple, that it was “. . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith (JEHOVAH SABAOTH) the Lord of Hosts” (Zech. 4:6b). No adversary could withstand the God of Israel who could gather together the myriad of angelic beings to fight for His people when her cause was just. Within four years the exilic Temple, whose building had been delayed 14 years, was completed. The Lord had to remind His people that the outcome was never in doubt – the ADVERSARIES didn’t stand a chance!
AN ULTIMATE VICTORY
It’s never pleasant being “on the short end of the stick.” No one knows that better than the Jew. Roman soldiers, “Christian” crusaders, Spanish inquisitors, Russian cossacks, Nazi SS troops, and other antagonists too numerous to mention have killed, plundered, raped, imprisoned, degraded, and exiled Jews for 4,000 years. No nation, no people, have ever suffered the abuse that my people have known. It hasn’t stopped yet. Today tiny Israel with less than 3 million souls is surrounded by more than 120 million Arabs. As if that were not enough, most of the nations of the world have found it politically expedient to side with the Arab nations realizing on what side their “bread is buttered,” or rather their “machinery is oiled.” The recent resolution by the United Nations condemning Zionism was nothing short of obscene – an unequalled travesty of justice by an organization committed to so-called world peace. Even the United States, which has stood resolutely behind Israel, appears to be making a subtle change in her Middle East policy – away from positive support of the Jewish State. How accurate the prophecy of Zechariah as he speaks of a still future day,
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city (Zech.14:2).
Will it never end? Is there no consummation to the suffering of the “elect” nation? Hear the prophet further:
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle (Zech. 14:3);
In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem (Zech. 12:8, 9).
JEHOVAH SABAOTH – the Lord of Hosts – is coming again; not as the Lamb of God to die for the world’s sin, but as the Lion of the tribe of Judah – as King David’s greater Son. The inspired penman wrote:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war . . . And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev. 19:11, 14-16).
When that event occurs, Israel will no longer hold the “short end of the stick” – she will be “the head (of the nations) and not the tail” (Deut. 28:13).
In the final analysis, it really doesn’t matter what the Arabs, the Russians, the United Nations, the United States, or anyone else says. What does matter is what the God of Israel will do. When the armies of the world march against little Israel, the battle will have been already decided – the outcome certain – the NATIONS won’t stand a chance, for JEHOVAH SABAOTH – the Lord of Hosts will fight for her. Ultimate victory is assured, for Israel’s greatest Son has promised that when Israel is ready to come to Him, He will come to her. It will take Armageddon to bring that long-awaited union to pass.
Martin Luther, the sixteenth century theologian, was not a friend of the Jew. However, the second stanza of his famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” will soon miraculously and most appropriately swell Jewish hearts and issue from Jewish lips:
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
LORD SABAOTH His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
Warmly yours on the VICTORY side,
Marvin J. Rosenthal