Grace Words

A Daily Bible Reader's Blog

Presented by Mike Tune and Amazing Grace International, Inc.

Sovereign Lord

I’ve been doing my Old Testament daily Bible readings in a new translation this year and one of the things that took me off guard was the appearance of “Lord of armies” as a name for God. It first appears in 1 Samuel 1:3. The NIV renders it “Lord Almighty.” The ESV translates it “Lord of hosts” – and I was used to those, but not “Lord of armies.” Notice that it is not “Lord of the Army,” as in Israel’s army, but Lord of “Armies.” God is the Lord of all armies. The title has special relevance in the prophets because Israel was looking to the army to rescue her; if not her own army, then the army of Egypt, or Syria.

Interestingly, the title, while ubiquitous in Isaiah and Jeremiah (half of all its uses are in those two books), does not occur at all in Ezekiel or Daniel. And why? Because in captivity, Israel had ceased to be a sovereign nation. She had no army, and lacked the political muscle to call on another nation to help her. The term was irrelevant for God.

Ezekiel however chronicles a vastly different situation for Israel. Some of them are living yet in Canaan, believing their brethren in captivity have gotten what they deserve. Those in captivity are hoping their brethren in Canaan will mount a force and come rescue them. The world of both groups has collapsed. Their times are unprecedented. Neither group is looking to God who is called in Ezekiel the “Sovereign Lord” (NIV) or “Lord God” (KJV, ESV). Ezekiel uses that name some 210 times for God out of 293 in the whole Old Testament.

By using that particular name for God, Ezekiel’s message to a bedraggled Israel was the same as it is for us. Whatever is going on, for whatever reason, God is in control. He rules. Only he rules. Put your hope in him because as sovereign, He is the only hope there is.

In Times of Trouble — Feed Your Soul

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

John William McGarvey was born in 1829 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He became a Christian at the end of his first year in college. Three years later, he became a preacher.

When the Civil war began McGarvey was preaching for a small congregation in Dover, Missouri. Every day people met to talk about little else but the war. The newspapers were, of course, full of war news. McGarvey, could have spent his time reading the reports and sitting in the general store pontificating with others on how the war ought to be fought – or whether it ought to be fought at all. Instead, he spent three years writing a commentary on the book of Acts. My point is this: When McGarvey found his world falling apart, and chaos all around him, he made sure to take some time to feed his soul.

We cannot ignore the present crisis. But might I suggest that while we practice “safe distancing” and conscientious hand washing, that we use some of the extra time we may have to feed our souls. If you have not begun a daily reading of the Bible, do that. You may not make it all the way through this year, but you might just develop a habit that will change your life. Set aside a time for prayer and mention by name all those in our family you know. Phone a friend – perhaps one you haven’t connected with in a while. Use your time for something good.

Watching TV, listening to the news (for hours on end) will not make you a better person, may make you feel anxious and rob you of faith and will certainly waste precious time.

By the way: McGarvey’s became one of the most widely used commentaries on the book of Acts in the 19th and early 20th centuries.