The Lord of Hosts...the God of Jacob
by David Dunlap
"The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah."
Dawn Robinson moved from the open spaces of rural Georgia to Bible college,
then on to California, and finally to the fast paced life in New York City.
She found a management position with the financial firm Morgan Stanley on the
61st floor of the World Trade Center. Soon, Dawn found opportunities to
witness to Cassie, her co-worker about her love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
This new friend would listen with interest and probe her with questions. Near
the end of their conversations together, as the subject would turn to spiritual
things, Dawn would point out the pressing issue of sin and urge Cassie to
trust Christ as her Savior. Each time Cassie would answer,
"You know I'm searching, but I don't think I'm ready to get on the bus."
But at 8:45AM on the morning of Tuesday, September 11th everything changed.
Both Dawn and her co-worker had just arrived to work at the south tower of the
World Trade Center, when suddenly a large fireball burst from the north tower
filling the air with smoke and debris. Over the inter-office loudspeaker came
"Do not leave the office, do not panic, everything is under control."
Despite the announcement, Dawn grabbed Cassie and they began to make their
way down the winding stairways to the bottom floor. As they entered the
stairwell, United Airlines flight 175 exploded into the south tower. Soon the
stairways were choked with people, thick dust and debris began to litter the
passageways, and water from the sprinkler systems soaked their clothes. After
about 30 minutes, the two found their way to the ground level exit, and joined
the thousands who were running franticly for safety before the towers
collapsed. Soaked, shaken, and exhausted, the two took refuge in an abandoned,
debris-covered bus. They huddled together as hot tears streamed down their
faces. They both realized that, except for the mercy of God, they would have
lost their lives along with the thousands of others. This realization gripped
Cassie powerfully. She now understood that if she had perished with the
others, she would have faced an eternity without Christ. But there in an
abandoned bus, amid the cries of terror and fear that filled the blackened sky
outside, peace and security began to fill the heart of Cassie who finally
"got on the bus"
and trusted Christ for her eternal salvation.
Amid all the confusion, terror, and conflict
that rages today, our God remains a refuge of grace and strength. He stoops
down to us in our need and misery to lift us up. Then, through acts of
omnipotence and power, He makes known to men that the sovereign God of the
universe is still on the throne. He is a God who is there in times of
tragedy, and crushing need, as well as in times of joy and triumph. He is a
gracious and strong God who is faithful and true. In these difficult days, the
families of victims of 9-11, all of New York City, and indeed the entire world
need the touch of a merciful and gracious God. It is He who asks us to
"cast all our care upon Him, for He cares for us";
and it is He who desires
"to show Himself strong on their behalf".
This is the kind of God that Psalm 46 tells us about. This God, the writer
says, is God strong and mighty--
"The Lord of Hosts is with us."
But He is also God tender and compassionate, never forgetting the needy--
"He is the God of Jacob, our refuge".
Lord of Hosts is With Us
Psalm 46, it is believed, was written on the
occasion of the invasion of Israel by the Assyrian King Sennacherib and his
185,000 veteran troops. The northern cities had already been ravaged, its
walled cities razed to the ground, and their crops burned in the army's wake.
Sennacherib now besieged Jerusalem, sending his envoy, Rabshakeh, to ask for
King Hezekiah's unconditional surrender. Rabshakeh mocked the God of the
Jews, and scoffed at His power. Hezekiah, encouraged by the word of Isaiah,
and buoyed by a season of sincere prayer, refused to surrender. Then one
night, God sent an angel to deal with the besieging Assyrian army. One
angel... One night... One God, and the Assyrian army was no more! The
powerful, arrogant invaders were now thoroughly defeated. The Lord of Hosts
had manifested Himself with glory. Truly there is much meaning is wrapped up
in the words
"Lord of Hosts"!
This divine title, although not used in the Bible until the book of 1
Samuel, is frequently used in the Psalms and by Isaiah. The term seems to
refer to God's sovereign power over all earthly and celestial rulers in the
"The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory"
"O Lord God of Hosts, who is a stong Lord like thee?"
(Ps. 89:8); and
"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is filled with His
glory...then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone, because I am a man of unclean
lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have
seen the king, the Lord of Hosts"
(Isa. 6:3,5). But here, in Psalm 46, the writer tells us that the Lord of
Hosts is with us (v. 11). The high King of Heaven's compassion, mercy, and
nearness to the needy and and downcast is emphasized. This universal power,
this unlimited sovereignty, this unbounded omnipotence is shown to be strong on
our behalf. In war, tragedy, calamity, natural disaster, and terrorist
attacks, the Lord of Hosts is not distant and far removed from our lives; but
very near, for He
"is with us",
showing Himself strong on our behalf. Although from our earthly vantage
point this world appears to be in chaos and confusion, we must acknowledge that
He is still in control.
Joseph Stalin and Jewish Nation
However, God's divine ordering and purposes
in the world cannot be discerned by simple observation. Providence is the work
of God that can only be truly appreciated and discerned by the eye of faith.
This is nowhere more clearly seen than in the history of the Jewish nation.
God preserved the Jews through the hands of Moses in Egypt, and later through
the bravery of Mordecai and Esther; but one of the most remarkable acts of
providence took place in the Soviet Union in 1953. On March 1, 1953, Josef
Stalin unveiled a proposal to liquidate the three million Jews then living in
the Soviet Union. Stalin, a paranoid Jew-hater, had put to death thousands of
Jews in the 1930's, including many loyal Jews who had supported the Communist
cause since the beginning of the Bolshevik revolution. Stalin's anger against
the Jew was rekindled after World War II, when Israel's first ambassador to
Moscow, Golda Meir, was invited to a reception held by Soviet Jews. Soon
afterwards, Stalin suddenly announced that a "plot" to kill him had been
discovered. He explained to the Soviet press that the clever and sinister plot
was arranged by Jewish medical doctors. Soon denunciations against all Jews
from leading Communists were broadcast on government-controlled radio and
television and circulated in the print media. On March 1, 1953, at 12:00 noon,
Stalin called a meeting of the Politburo in the Kremlin and read to the Soviet
leaders his plan for the extermination of the Jews. However, Stalin's evil
plan to exterminate the Jews never took place. On March 2, nearly 24 hours
after outlining his plans and exactly one week before the devastation would
begin, Josef Stalin died of a stroke. He lay in state for a week and was
buried on March 9, which was the Jewish holiday--Purim.
In the human mind,
the calendar dates of the week, month, and year often are forgotten, but the
mind of God remembers always. Purim is the Jewish holiday which remembers
God's deliverance of Jews from extermination by the hand of Haman in the book
of Esther. God is still in control. His sovereign hand is at times
imperceptible, yet His divine purposes and ordering are being worked out
"in the kingdoms of men".
"The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge".
The God of Jacob, Our Refuge
The heart of God is no better defined than by
"the God of Jacob is our refuge".
For the Bible records no greater example of deceit, selfishness, and
craftiness than Jacob, the supplanter. There is, perhaps, no one more unworthy
of God's grace than Jacob. Yet the words "God" and "Jacob" are now linked
together in grace to show us the heart of God. The sovereign Lord of the
universe, the Lord of Glory, is none other than the God of all grace, who bends
low to the lowly and undeserving.
"The Lord is high about all nations, and his glory above the heavens...He
humbles himself to behold things that are in heaven and in the earth. He raises
up the poor out of the dust, and lifts up the needy..."
(Ps. 113:4, 6,7). He has the individual on His heart as much as nations,
governments, and history. God's values and man's values are as distinct as
heaven is from earth.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith
the Lord. For as the heaven is higher than the earth, so are my ways higher
than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts"
(Isa. 55:8-9). Man values the mighty and strong-- governments, nations,
industry, and wealth are the focus of his eye; but the Lord's eye is upon the
weak, the hurting, and the needy. This grace is nowhere more vividly set
forth than at Calvary, when the Lord Jesus Christ was forsaken of God on the
cross so that God would never leave or forsake us. There our Lord was shown
divine wrath of God without mercy that we might enjoy divine mercy without
"God of Jacob"
is our refuge. What a high, strong tower it is which was purposed and
designed by the mind and heart of God for the Jacob's, the Dawn's, the
Cassie's, and the nations of the world. Unassailable. Impenetrable.
Impregnable. Eternal. Scottish expositor Alexander Maclaren declares,
"The God of Jacob is our refuge, and so we may say to the storms of life,
--blow winds and crack your cheeks, and do your worst, you cannot touch me in
the fortress where I dwell. The wind will hurtle around the stronghold, but
within all will be calm."
How rich are His promises, how strong is His love , how great is His grace,
and how secure is His refuge!
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will
be exalted in the earth! The Lord of Host is with us; the God of Jacob is our
(1) James Cymbala,
God's Grace from Ground Zero,
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002),(tape)
(2) Harold Willmington,
Willmington's Guide to the Bible,
(Wheaton, IL, Tyndale, 1981), p.253
(3) Alexander Maclaren,
Exposition of Holy Scripture, Psalms,
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), p. 350
"I am afraid that all the grace I have got out of my comfortable and easy times might almost lie on a penny. But the god that I have received from my sorrows and pains and griefs is altogether incalculable. What do I not owe to the hammer and the anvil, fire and the file. Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house."
C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1893)
"God's sovereignty is always to His people in wisdom and in love. We dread the sovereignty in man, because we have no security of its being exercised in mercy; we rejoice in the sovereignty of God, because we are sure it is always exercised for the good of His people."
"God's ways are behind the scenes, but He moves all the scenes which He is behind."
J. N. Darby (1800-1882)
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