Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on December 26, 1976
“The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
- Psalm 46:7 & 46:11
Take your Bible please, and turn to Psalm 46. When God repeats Himself, pay attention: it must be a point he wants to emphasize. In verse 7, it says, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” And again in verse 11, it says, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” You can read that 100 times, and if you don’t pause, it will have no significance. Today I want to hone in on this passage and pull it apart, with the hope that you will be moved by the profoundness of this truth, and its meaning to us during this Christmas season.
“The LORD of hosts” is one of the many names of the Lord linked with the name Jehovah. Every time you encounter that word LORD spelled with capital letters, know that the King James Version is translating Yahweh, normally pronounced Jehovah. That name of God, four letters in the Hebrew alphabet, came to be so revered by the Jewish people that they would not even say it aloud when they read from their Scriptures. Literally, those verses are saying, “Jehovah of hosts is with us.”
When the Bible opens, it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Here, the word for God is Elohim, the plural form of the name El, which speaks of God Almighty. The name Jehovah begins to appear later in the revelation. Some critics of Scripture, in what is called “higher criticism,” would separate God’s revelation into two parts: the revelation where God’s name flows out of “God Almighty,” and another revelation, as they would have it, where the name Jehovah is used. They are wrong. The revelation of God’s name is all part of one stream that was flowing. Although God is referred to as Jehovah earlier in Scripture, God said to Moses, “I have been known by My other names, but through you I will be known, I will reveal Myself as JEHOVAH.” (Exodus 6:3)
The translators find it difficult to translate what this name means. One translation is “I AM THAT I AM.” (Exodus 3:14) That is a poetic way of saying, “I don’t really know how to say it.” It is a self-revelatory designation. It encompasses in its meaning all of these things: what I am, what I want to be, and what I am becoming. If you could visualize a pressure of water that only needs to be released, you will come close to what God is saying about Himself in this name Jehovah. It is as though with this name God makes available a spigot that can be turned, to let Himself become what He always wanted to be. God is saying to His people, “This is what I will release Myself to thee in becoming.”
It is a name that carries with itself a pressure of revelation. Some philosophers, as they have
come to know that God is personal, say that it is the nature of a person to reveal himself. They then make that a justification for this whole Bible, from the speaking forth of prophets to the revelation of His Son. By nature, we want to express ourselves to others; and that is why solitary confinement is an especially terrible kind of imprisonment. The ultimate Personality gives Himself the name Jehovah to characterize that desire to reveal Himself, if His terms can only be met.
Any time a name of God appears in Scripture this is an attachment to the name Jehovah, that name reveals something He wants to be and do; and you don’t have to talk Him into doing it. These names encompass what the Bible calls “the ways of God.” Have you ever said about someone you know, “That is the way he is?” You’ve come to know his ways; he is predictable because you know his ways. God lamented of the children of Israel that they only saw His actions; but Moses came to know the ways of God. (Psalm 103:7)
When a name is attached to Jehovah, it is as though you have had an experience with God, and all of a sudden it finally comes home to you: that’s the way He is. God is no longer a stranger; you are putting “meat and potatoes” on the table that is God. Jehovah-jireh, Jehovah-shammah and Jehovah-tsidkenu, all those names attach themselves to Jehovah and express the way He is. Let Him have the opportunity, that’s the way He will become: He will flow in that direction. You never have to twist His arm or shake a stick at Him. Jehovah encompasses the way-ness of God. When this verse says “Jehovah of hosts,” that’s the way He is: he can bring to His disposal everything encompassed in that one word, hosts.
Please turn to Genesis 2:1: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” We all know this galaxy and the universe of which we are a part are awfully big compared to this Earth, and there are countless numbers of galaxies on top of galaxies. God’s Word is saying that those are included in the hosts that He put together.
Again in Isaiah 40, the stars in Heaven are referred to as hosts. You can read the story of Deborah in the book of Judges, where Barak fought the battle for the Lord against scythe-wheeled chariots that threatened to overcome them. The stars in the heavens began to fight for them. (Judges 5:20) For Joshua, the Lord stopped the sun. (Joshua 10:13) To the scientist who wants to criticize the Bible for this, I say that the Bible is not a scientific document. It is an inspired communicative document written from the frame of reference of sensory experience. It describes the happening through the eyes of the onlooker. To those people, the sun appeared to have stopped. All Joshua wanted was a long day; God could work out the details. Whatever He did, the hosts in the heavens marshaled themselves to lengthen the day for the battle to be won for God. The Scripture says the world was formed from nothing by His Word. The Scripture says this world and this universe are held together by His Word. The Scripture says this world will be melted down and restored again by His Word. He controls it all.
Angelic beings are also included among the hosts. In the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha and his servant were ringed about with the enemies of God’s people. The poor servant was quaking with fear, and Elisha asked the Lord to open the servant’s eyes. The Scripture says the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw the hosts of heavenly armies on every hill outnumbering all those enemies; and he suddenly knew who the victor was going to be. (2 Kings 6:17) Sleepy-eyed Peter, waking up when they took Jesus, grabbed his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus calmly healed him and said, “I could call 12 legions of angels to help me.” (Matthew 26:53)
Angels are the promised protectors sent from the Lord. Daniel prayed, and God sent an angel. When the angel arrived, he said that he had heard Daniel pray three weeks earlier. He had been resisted, but he got there. (Daniel 10:13) There is a strange passage in the book of Jude. When Moses died, there was a superhuman wrestling match as the devil wrested with God’s agent over the body of Moses. (Jude 9) But we know God’s angel won that wrestling match, because Moses showed up on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matthew 17:3) When God turns loose His host of angels, they always win.
Jesus demonstrated His authority over demons. He came upon that demoniac on the east shore of Galilee. They said, “Why do you torment us before our time?” Jesus commanded them to “Get out!” and they got out! The church is waking up to the fact that demons exist, but will you quit running scared? Our God is the Lord of hosts! He controls all mankind, both those who serve Him and the evil ones who do not, as He did with Pharaoh when He hardened his heart. However you want to explain it, God is the Boss.
Ezekiel says, “Say to that prince of Meschech and Tubal . . . I am against thee . . . and I will put hooks in thy jaw, and bring thee forth, and turn thee back.” (Ezekiel 38: 3-4) God handles a nation like it has a noose around its neck. God is in charge; the Lord of hosts!
Jonah found out God was in charge. Jonah was a hardhead. God calls him to preach; he seeks out a ship going as far from that place as he can get. What a fool he was! A prophet of God takes a ship and flees, as if he didn’t know that God would find him. Jonah goes to sleep during a storm. The ship’s crew woke him up and threw him overboard. Try to figure out the probability of a fish being there at just the right place. You might say, “I don’t believe that.” Well, tell Jonah when you get up there. Jonah is spewed out on sand bar, and he goes to Nineveh. He preaches that if they don’t repent, God will destroy them.
God forgives the Ninevites when they repent. Jonah’s pride was hurt and he gets mad at God. Nothing makes you feel more Godlike than being prophetic. When you become the voice of God, what you prophesy had better come to pass. He sits out on a hill madder than everything. God plants a little gourd tree and when it grows up, Jonah likes its shade. God shrivels it up, and Jonah gets mad at God again. God was teaching Jonah: “I am the Boss. Your job was to
speak and then shut up. I will do what I want to do.” He is the Lord of hosts: whales, gourd trees, stars, wind, fire, human nature, evil countries, demons and angels. They are all His.
That is enough to scare you to death. You might say, “Wow! What chance have I got to get any attention from somebody like that? What have I to do with such a God who is the Lord of hosts? What does He want with me, miserable creature that I am?” That is what makes this verse stand out: “The God of Jacob is our refuge.” He is not only the Lord of hosts, He is the God of Jacob. Notice the psalmist did not say, “The God of Israel is our refuge.”
“Well, what difference does it make?” you might say. It makes a big difference, because Jacob was the heel-catcher.” God changed Jacob’s name to Israel when He finally broke him after wrestling with him all night. (Genesis 32: 24-28) Israel was the changed man. I might justify the Lord of hosts paying attention to the changed man, Israel, but not to conniving Jacob.
We can identify with Jacob. The only thing that stands out about him is that he was a worse scoundrel than Laban, who was the champion until Jacob came along. Lying, cheating and grabbing for himself, his first act when he was born was to grab his brother’s heel, because his brother was born first. And he was given his name: Jacob. (Genesis 25:26) Literally, it means “heel-catcher.” Jacob’s nature was “I want what I want, give me mine!”
The conniving rascal saw his poor famished brother hunting. Have you ever been hungry when you’re hunting? Esau comes in famished, and Jacob had made himself a bowl of lentil soup. The smell of it was enough to drive Esau out of his mind. Esau said, “Give me some of that soup!” Jacob said, “You can have my soup it you give me your birthright.” Isn’t that a brother for you? He goes on to cheat his blind dad with the help of his mother. Then he dashes off to his uncle to escape. He works seven years to marry a woman; but his uncle Laban cheats him, and gives him the wrong woman. That’s poetic justice!
Finally to the end, when he is coming back to meet his brother, conniving Jacob says, “God help me,” but just in case God lets him down, he divides his camp into two parts: “One of you go this way and one go that way, so if Esau gets one of them, at least I have something left.” (Genesis 32: 7-8) That’s the heel-catcher. Anybody recognize themselves?
Do you know what speaks to me out of this verse? “The LORD of hosts is the God of Jacob.” That means that with all of your problems, if you will turn toward God in your hour of need, He will be your God and bring to your problem all the strength encompassed in the name “the Lord of hosts.” What does this have to do with Christmas? Jesus came to all of us Jacobs. That’s it!
Reprinted with permission of Pastor Melissa Scott
JOHN HARPER - True hero of the Titanic
John Harper was born to a pair of solid Christian parents on May 29th, 1872. It was on the last Sunday of March 1886, when he was thirteen years old that he received Jesus as the Lord of his life. He never knew what it was to "sow his wild oats." He began to preach about four years later at the ripe old age of 17 years old by going down to the streets of his village and pouring out his soul in earnest entreaty for men to be reconciled to God.
As John Harper's life unfolded, one thing was apparent . . . he was consumed by the Word of God. When asked by various ministers what his doctrine consisted of, he was known to reply "The Word of God!" After five or six years of toiling on street corners preaching the gospel and working in the mill during the day, Harper was taken in by Rev. E. A. Carter of Baptist Pioneer Mission in London, England. This set Harper free to devote his whole time of energy to the work so dear to his heart. Soon, John Harper started his own church in September of 1896 (Now known as the Harper Memorial Church). This church which John Harper had started with just 25 members, had grown to over 500 members when he left 13 years later. During this time he had gotten married, but was shortly thereafter widowed. However brief the marriage, God did bless John Harper with a beautiful little girl named Nana.
Ironically, John Harper almost drowned several times during his life. When he was two and a half years of age, he almost drowned when he fell into a well but was resuscitated by his mother. At the age of twenty-six, he was swept out to sea by a reverse current and barely survived, and at thirty-two he faced death on a leaking ship in the Mediterranean. Perhaps, God used these experiences to prepare this servant for what he faced next.
It was the night of April 14, 1912. The RMS Titanic sailed swiftly on the bitterly cold ocean waters heading unknowingly into the pages of history. On board this luxurious ocean liner were many rich and famous people. At the time of the ship's launch, it was the world's largest man-made moveable object. At 11:40 p.m. on that fateful night, an iceberg scraped the ship's starboard side, showering the decks with ice and ripping open six watertight compartments. The sea poured in.
On board the ship that night was John Harper and his much-beloved six-year-old daughter Nana. According to documented reports, as soon as it was apparent that the ship was going to sink, John Harper immediately took his daughter to a lifeboat. It is reasonable to assume that this widowed preacher could have easily gotten on board this boat to safety; however, it never
seems to have crossed his mind. He bent down and kissed his precious little girl; looking into her eyes he told her that she would see him again someday. The flares going off in the dark sky above reflected the tears on his face as he turned and headed towards the crowd of desperate humanity on the sinking ocean liner.
As the rear of the huge ship began to lurch upwards, it was reported that Harper was seen making his way up the deck yelling, "Women, children and unsaved into the lifeboats!" It was only minutes later that the Titanic began to rumble deep within. Most people thought it was an explosion; actually the gargantuan ship was literally breaking in half. At this point, many people jumped off the decks and into the icy, dark waters below. John Harper was one of these people.
That night 1528 people went into the frigid waters. John Harper was seen swimming frantically to people in the water leading them to Jesus before the hypothermia became fatal. Mr. Harper swam up to one young man who had climbed up on a piece of debris. Rev. Harper asked him between breaths, "Are you saved?" The young man replied that he was not.
Harper then tried to lead him to Christ only to have the young man who was near shock, reply no. John Harper then took off his life jacket and threw it to the man and said, "Here then, you need this more than I do..." and swam away to other people. A few minutes later Harper swam back to the young man and succeeded in leading him to salvation. Of the 1528 people that went into the water that night, six were rescued by the lifeboats. One of them was this young man on the debris.
Four years later, at a survivors meeting, this young man stood up and in tears recounted how that after John Harper had led him to Christ. Mr. Harper had tried to swim back to help other people, yet because of the intense cold, had grown too weak to swim. His last words before going under in the frigid waters were, "Believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." Does Hollywood remember this man? No. Oh well, no matter. This servant of God did what he had to do. While other people were trying to buy their way onto the lifeboats and selfishly trying to save their own lives, John Harper gave up his life so that others could be saved.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends..." John Harper was truly the hero of the Titanic!
Author Unknown. Sources for this article: "The Titanic's Last Hero" by Moody Press 1997," John Climie, George Harper, & Bill Guthrie from "Jesus Our Jubilee Ministries" in Dallas, Oregon
Prayer Requests for December, 2010
For James Montilla’s Mother in law, Ava, and her friend, Gary, for their health, and for finances to improve. James is at Florence, Arizona.
For Ed Ewing, Visalia, California, who just got out of the hospital again. Ed recently celebrated his 90th birthday.
For Mike Long, at Larned, Kansas, for health.
For Ken Hogan, Death Row at McAlester, Oklahoma, for his shoulder to completely heal. It is much better but still bothers him when he sleeps.
For Cleveland Cook, Buckeye, Arizona, that he can be baptized soon.
For Johnny Carruthers, Florence, Arizona, who will be having hernia surgery any day now (We keep saying that, because the prison officials won‘t tell him what day he‘s scheduled).
For Willie Davis at the Cook County jail in Chicago, who is being retried after an appeal.
For Anthony Grayson, Comstock, New York, who just filed his appeal.
For Roger Best at Holdenville, Oklahoma, who has Somnambulism (sleep-walking).
For Willie Scott at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for his health
For Jimmy Huff, Colorado City, Texas, for his health. He also needs transportation.
For Willie Clark, Iowa Park, Texas, who has glaucoma and may be having surgery soon.
For Michael Small’s step Mother, Suzanne, for health, and that her cancer will stay in remission. Michael is at Menard, Illinois.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr., Death Row, Grady, Arkansas.
For Freddie Lee Lott, Galesburg, Illinois, for his health and that he stays “cancer free.”
For Willie Harper, Joliet, Illinois, that he stays “cancer free.”
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, for health.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.
Why study the Bible?
*Because God in His Word tells us to - 2nd Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Also, 2nd Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
*Studying the Bible develops an appetite for God’s word and allows for spiritual growth - Matthew 4:4: But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
*Studying the Bible gives us the opportunity to know God and to reveal His character - Ephesians 3:19: “ . . . to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
* Studying the Bible helps us know the truth - Acts 17:11: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
The word of God will set you free - John 8:32: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
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