God has sent the Babylonian army to conquer Jerusalem in the 6th century BC because of Jerusalem's sin and idolatry. While the city was under siege, God was telling Jeremiah to prophesy against Jerusalem and tell them they would be conquered and they shouldn't resist the Babylonians, but needed to repent of their sin. The leaders of Jerusalem were plotting to murder Jeremiah to silence him. Jeremiah felt overwhelmed, outnumbered, and personally under siege. His cry to God for help reveals one of God's names.
20 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, you make righteous judgments,
and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets.
Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you.
We are studying the names of God. Every name reveals part of God infinite character. God reveals the names His people need to hear. It may not be a name people want to hear; but it is a name people need to hear. Today, the name of God we consider is Yahweh-Sabaoth – the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
My little nephew has grown up and become a soldier. I could definitely tell a difference in him. There’s something about the way he carries himself. He’s a young man now and a soldier. I’m proud of him and glad there are well-trained soldiers like Ben Owens protecting our country. It was neat to walk the infantry museum with him at Fort Benning and have him show me the weapons in the exhibit and have him talk to me about how he learned to use them.
Ben also talked about his infantry division and how it was organized. There are 10 soldiers in his squad. 2 or more squads makes up a platoon. 3-5 platoons makes up a company. 4-6 companies makes a battalion. 2-5 Battalions makes a brigade. 3 or more brigades makes a Division. Ben is in the 25th Infantry Division, which is somewhere between 10,000-15,000 soldiers. Can you imagine how intimidating it would be to be in the presence of a 10-15 thousand soldiers?
Note: Yahweh is not just the Lord of Heaven’s Army (singular). He is Lord of heaven’s Armies (plural). Look up at the stars in the night sky. Can you count them? Neither can you can’t the hosts of Heaven’s armies at God’s disposal; and each soldier in God’s army is a mighty angel.
Now, with that in mind, let us consider the familiar passage we read at Christmas time.
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
You Want To Be On The Winning Side
It’s no wonder the Angel had to reassure the shepherds saying, “Fear not!” If you saw the angelic armies of heaven appear in the skies with the radiance of God surrounding them, you would be afraid too. Especially when you realize you are a sinner and the world all around you is full of sin and has rebelled against God. These shepherds were probably thinking: “This is it—the day of reckoning where God finally comes to hold us all accountable! We're doomed!”
And so Jesus came preaching: “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It’s right here. It’s about to break in and take over. This is your last chance to get right with God and recognize Him as Yahweh—the true and eternal Lord of all!” And some did accept Jesus message. And some did not. Those who rejected him, crucified him. They figured, “If we kill God’s Son, we can take over this Kingdom and be our own lords and not have to answer to God anymore.” Do you think that will work? No. Of course not. Yahweh is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
As sweet as the Christmas story is, I don’t want you to
miss a very important theme. Heaven’s armies have us surrounded.
Think of this world as a walled city and Heaven’s Armies have us
surrounded. There’s no escape. God sent His Son, Jesus, as a peaceful emissary. Yahweh knows we’ve all been lied to. The evil rulers of this world don’t want us to know the Truth. They don’t want us to know God is Holy and
Just and True. They’ll tell you anything
to get you to turn away from the King of kings and Lord of lords. They want you to forget Him altogether so you
only trust them.
Even when the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is standing right outside the walls ready to knock them down and recapture this rebellious world, the rulers of this world will say, “There is no God! That’s just a bunch of outdated, superstitious nonsense! The Bible is full of lies and bigotry and racism and homophobia!” And the evil rulers of this world would have you believe that by denying the God who made you and turning your back on His way of living that you will end up on the right side of history.
A lot of people say they want to be on the right side of history. I’d rather be on the winning side that the right side of history. My mission in life is to draw people closer to God with every breath and step I take. Yahweh is my Lord. I want to live out His values—even if they are values that current or future generations mock as stupid, outdated, or even evil. The Truth is, wicked people will always call the pure, holy ways of a pure holy God evil or outdated. I don’t mind if I’m on the wrong side of history if history is written by ungodly people. What really matters to me is what God thinks. Yahweh is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. He is going to defeat the forces of evil. I want to be on God’s side—the winning side.
In the meantime, for a while at least, we might feel a lot like the prophet Jeremiah. Remember Jeremiah lived in Jerusalem. God told Jeremiah God was sending the Babylonian army to capture Jerusalem because Jerusalem had turned their back on Yahweh, their Lord. They had forsaken their vows to serve the Lord their God. God was coming to destroy Jerusalem and take the people into captivity to punish them. God sent Jeremiah to warn them and call them to repent, but the people didn’t want to hear it. It put Jeremiah in a very bad position: Speak God’s truth and live for God and have the people hate you and persecute you or go along with the people and be destroyed by God.
Today our choice is similar. It may feel like the world around us has already won, because everyone seems to reject God and His holy ways. That’s only because we live inside a besieged city. Outside these walls, the hosts of heaven’s armies have gathered to surround us. They are waiting for Yahweh-Sabaoth, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, to give them the word. The moment He gives the signal, the trumpets will sound and the walls that separate our corrupt world from the glory of Heaven will come crashing down. The Lord Jesus will come again just as He promised and this time Jesus won’t come as a baby in a manger. He will come as a conquering King and those He finds who have been faithful will be rewarded. Those who lived in rebellion will be punished. The Bible tells us there will be a new heaven and a new earth. There will be a new history written too—a history written in the Lamb’s Book of Life that records those who were faithful and followed Jesus as Lord. Those who followed the ways of the evil world will be cast away into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus's consistent message was Matthew 3:2 - “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” So I want you to think and pray really hard and decided today: who's side are you on? I pray you will repent of your sin and turn to Yahweh-Sabaoth through Jesus Christ His Son.