November 2021 GPS
In the August GPS, we saw that one purpose for names in the Bible was to identify the origin/nature of the subject under consideration. In the September GPS, we looked at how two names of God revealed aspects of His nature or character: “I am” and “God Almighty.” This month we will look at two other names of God. The first of these is “Lord [or God] of Hosts.” Either one form or the other of that phrase is used 242 times in the Bible. An example is: “For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!” (Amos 4:13, ESV) The noun behind the word “host” is used of great numbers of various beings or things. It is used to refer to inanimate heavenly bodies: “And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” (Deuteronomy 4:19, ESV) In some cases it refers to humans: “And I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army [in Hebrew “host”], to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?”” (Judges 4:7, ESV) It may refer to great numbers of heavenly beings, which I think is the idea behind its use in this name for God: “And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;” (1 Kings 22:19, ESV) “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a 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.” (1 Samuel 17:45, ESV) “The Lord GOD of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn, and all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt; who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth— the LORD is his name.” (Amos 9:5–6, ESV) This name is usually understood to refer to God as the leader of the armies of heaven. Obviously, the omnipotent Creator of the heavens and the earth does not need the support of anyone else to accomplish His purposes. When He is depicted as the commander of a vast number of heavenly beings, the effect is to dramatize His mighty power in a way that human beings can begin to grasp it. We can see an example of this at work in 2 Kings 6, when the army of the king of Syria had surrounded the city of Dothan where Elisha “the man of God” was staying. “When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15–17, ESV) The LORD of hosts, our God, is invincible.
The next name for God that we will consider reveals a completely different attribute of our God. It is “the God who sees me.” When Hagar fled from her mistress, Sarai, who was treating her harshly, we read: “The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.” (Genesis 16:7–14, ESV) Although she was only a servant, all alone in the wilderness, fleeing from her mistress, Sarai, God saw her and comforted her. In Psalm 139, David sings of God’s comprehensive knowledge of us as well. He is not only mighty, but He is also attentive to each one of us. He is the God who lives and sees us.