October 16, 2017 • Life for Leaders
Our Redeemer—the LORD Almighty is his name—
is the Holy One of Israel.
The bulk of Isaiah 47 consists of God’s taunting condemnation of Babylon. But verse 4 is an interjection by the prophet, speaking on behalf of Israel: “Our Redeemer—the LORD Almighty is his name—is the Holy One of Israel.”
The phrase translated here as “Lord Almighty” is also translated as “Lord of hosts” (NRSV, ESV, KJV). It renders the Hebrew phrase yhwh tzeva’ot. Yhwh is the name of God (Yahweh). Tzeva’ot means “armies.” We know the phrase yhwh tzeva’ot in the second verse of Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress”:
Did we in our 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.
“Lord Sabaoth” is a traditional transliteration of yhwh tzeva’ot. If you say tzeva’ot out loud, it will sound rather like “Sabaoth.”
What does it mean for God to be the Lord of armies? First of all, in the Old Testament, he is the commander in chief of Israel’s armies. Beyond this, he is also the Lord of the armies of heaven, the angelic forces that do his bidding on earth. The name yhwh tzeva’ot conveys God’s authority and might. He is stronger than any other power on earth and has authority to command the very forces of heaven to do his bidding.
The phrase yhwh tzeva’ot reminds us of God’s authority and power. And this can be a great encouragement when we feel weak or defeated. Martin Luther was so right when he wrote, “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.” But when we trust in God’s superlative strength, our striving is not in vain. Whether we’re on an exhausting mission trip, working through a difficult family issue, or dealing with a tricky HR situation at work, the Lord Almighty, the Lord of armies, Lord Sabaoth is with us. We can confide in his strength. We can share in his victory.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you live as if God is truly yhwh tzeva’ot?
Do you have confidence in God’s power? Why or why not?
How have you experienced God’s strength and authority in your life?
Gracious God, you are indeed yhwh tzeva’ot. Lord Sabaoth is your name. You command the forces of the universe, even the hosts of heaven. You are the Lord Almighty! All praise, glory, and honor be to you.
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are filled with your glory. Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed are you, Lord Jesus, because you have redeemed us by your strength. Blessed are you, Lord Jesus, because you became weak for our sake. Blessed are you, Lord Jesus, because all authority in heaven and on earth is yours. Amen.
Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: What About All Those Demons? Part 2
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.