A Vision Of The Hosts
“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
These words you notice in reading the 46th Psalm, make up both the seventh and the eleventh verses and we could well call them the chorus of the psalm. I want to talk to you this morning about this beautiful chorus.
In this time in which we live, strange things are happening—things that men cannot understand and men cannot fathom; not very strange as far as war is concerned, for war is old, but there are stranger things happening in society, there are fine old standards flying to pieces; there is federation and there is separation that men and women do not understand. There are all sorts of evil omens; men are losing their faith and people are becoming blind, and stagger. It is the day when human foundations are being shaken.
Friends, in such an hour as this, in an hour of catastrophe, in an hour that is perilous, men must have a vision and follow that vision. Nothing but a vision will hold in the storm. All the truth you may throw into men’s ears, all the call that you might make to them above the noise and above the battle that is around them at the crisis hour will not hold them. A man must have had a vision from God when the blow strikes, or he cannot hold his feet.
I say to you, my friends, I covet for all Christians today such a vision of Almighty God and His plan for men through His Son, Jesus Christ, that although the hosts of hell should break forth, they will not be moved. This 46th Psalm is one of the great battle hymns of the Bible, and a hymn that belongs to our times and to the times that are to shortly come upon the earth. Hear a verse of it:
“Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved.”
Then comes the chorus to stir up our confidence:
“The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
A Vision Holds
Oh, I plead with you this morning to get such a vision of God that once and forever you will be dead to anything that a human being may do. Become solidly founded in the work and plans of Jesus Christ, because you are going to see good men and smart men and men who have professed a lot, go to pieces. There will be a falling away—and I call you to the standard of the vision of Jesus that will not fade though it is pressed by every storm. The program the devil is getting up is a fancy one, the taste he is putting in it is a delicious one, and the pottage that is being brewed by the learned men of our day is a mighty savory substance. Friends, unless you have tasted the honey of Canaan and drunk the wine that comes from the grapes of Eshcol, I pity you this morning, for the devil’s substitute is all about us. God help you to go to your closet until you have gotten the vision of the One who is Altogether Lovely, the Fairest of Ten Thousand, the Rose of Sharon!
You will find Job’s comforters by the thousands who will agree with you in your arguments, if you commence to doubt, but the Word of God is sure and there is nothing will hold you but the vision of Jesus which God’s book holds forth. When you have gotten the vision of Jesus as God’s Word reveals it, all these other things become mighty small, thank God!
Value of Vision
Now men that are in the world have found out that a material vision is a remarkable thing as far as success in life is concerned. There is many a young man here who is a failure because he has not had a vision; many a young woman here who is a failure because she has not had a vision. I am speaking from the natural standpoint. You have no goal toward which you are going. A vision would be to you what lighthouses are to a ship: the out-markings of a harbor.
Many times in my life I have talked to college students who have said, “Mr. Rader, I don’t know what I am going to be, or what I am going to do.” That is a pitiful place in life. You have a right to a vision, and meditation would bring you one. “Without a vision the people perish”—that is why people are perishing today. Standards are dropping everywhere around us, and without that vision that places your mark definitely somewhere the storms will make you a creature of luck.
Vision a Basket
If you have a vision before you, and are definitely following it, you will find that luck is nothing. Your vision becomes a basket and you can hold the things that harmonize with your vision. Thus everything you meet can be taken or left, as it harmonizes with your vision. A Christian life without a vision is as confused as a family living in one room. There is no place to put things.
The reason missionaries tell us such wonderful workings of God is not because their faith is any greater, but because they have had a vision and everything must relate itself to that vision. Thus their leadings are clear. They have a railroad track, let us say, in their lives, and God can deliver promises fulfilled at definite stations.
Your boat is slipping. You go east sometimes, and west others, and north the next time, but God wants to give you a vision of what He wants in your life, then you will find out that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” He has given you the purpose and the plan and the vision; then you see Him bring all things and make them work into the vision. Oh, go to Him, and ask Him His purpose for you!
Now I am not talking about preachers—I am talking about every man and woman; I care not how humble you may be, God will give you a vision of your place, and the little place you have in His watch will be just as important to God as the stem-winder workers.
A Great Hotel
While I was out in California it was my privilege to be invited to a certain famous hotel, one of the most wonderful hotels I have seen in all my life, and the thing that makes it so wonderful is that there is so much provided that you are apparently getting for nothing—but you are really paying for it and don’t know it. You wonder at it, and wonder how they can afford the outlay, and how they can put a million dollars’ worth of exhibits around for your inspection and delight.
But the man who built it had a vision, and because he had a vision, the thing has come to pass. The hotel is built around an open-air court. In this court all the year around the guests eat. Little umbrellas are put over them if the sun happens to come into the court. Looking out over this court from one of the corners is a lovely old-fashioned clock, hundreds of years old, which the man with a vision has brought from Spain, and underneath the clock he has the Scripture verse: “Without a vision the people perish.” His father had an old-fashioned inn on the same grounds, just a common boarding house, when the town was a little town, but his son in meditation got a different kind of an idea of a hotel, and the idea became a vision toward which he labored. He had a Quaker mother, and religion had surrounded him in the early days; somehow men born of Christian parents become susceptible to visions—not always spiritual visions. It seems these days they turn to business visions.
Have you ever noticed how the great businessmen of our times have Christian fathers and mothers, or grandparents, or have been taught about Christ in a Sunday school? Very many of them are professing Christians or church members, but, oh, so many of them come under the Bible heading: “Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.” Their souls have been awakened and stirred, but instead of the vision of the big things of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, they have turned their energies to the big things of Earth and man.
It is a sign of the apostasy of our day. They are using the church as a cloak to cover the great things they want to do, but they love their money better than they love life, and they only give enough to pacify the people round about them. Oh, if the men who belong to Christian churches this morning got the vision, we could get the gospel of Jesus Christ to every place in this world in ten years. Instead of the vision of Jesus Christ, the vision of a lost world, to give themselves and their money to it, they have taken the vision of world success. God doesn’t blame men for making money, but He does condemn them for the way they use it.
The man who built this great hotel had a vision of giving to the people in the hotel something besides a room to sleep in and food to eat. You register and go to your room and in about ten minutes a maid will knock at your door and bring you a basket of the biggest, sweetest oranges you ever saw. You begin to dig into your pocket to pay for them, but you are not allowed to pay for them—they are yours. And in the basket is a note, written in ink by the lady of the hotel herself and signed.
The man with the vision has been to Spain a dozen times, they tell me, and brought back old pictures and relics from the monasteries. He has been all through the missions of California, but has brought these things from Mexico and Spain—a million dollars’ worth of antiques. The whole place is built like a Catholic monastery, but there isn’t a Catholic on the place—not a one that I could find. There is a man there who can tell you all about Spanish history, and you can learn more about it in fifteen minutes with him than you could in a day’s reading from books. He has been in Mexico for years, and knows all about the country, and so I trailed him around all the time with my mouth open, getting the information cheap.
And you get all this for the same price you pay in any other hotel. Why? Because some fellow got a vision, that is all. People come, they admire, they are delighted, they tell their friends, their friends come, and their friends’ friends, and so the hotel is filled.
As It Happens
Many of you men are idly looking at life, just picking it up as it happens to come along. Many Christians treat their new life the same way. That is why, in talking about money in The Moody Church, I beg of people to tithe. Why? Because if you haven’t a definite way of doing business with God, don’t you see, you will never get anywhere. The men who haven’t a rudder of regularity and purpose they do not get the blessings God meant for them to have. They are cheating themselves and God. Jesus our Lord said, “Give and it shall be given unto you.” God wants you to see there is blessing in giving; there is a vision, catch it.
When Adam and Eve went out of the Garden, and their sons were born outside, and they began their toilsome work by the sweat of their brow, it was a task of life and death for them to discover with their own ingenuity and reasoning powers something for shelter and something that could handle the destructive forces around about them. They naturally tried to find one force to put against another force. They had to find materials that would protect them against hunger and the weather.
Now, because men toiled away to defeat their adversaries; were thrown out of a perfect existence, and step by step learned to defeat force after force, force after force, and get shelter for themselves, and food for themselves, and to protect themselves against the wild beasts, and later to distribute this work to different men, and because these men became expert in their separate tasks, because men saw that man had come up step by step, and their sweat had been turned into brick and mortar and machinery and the handling of forces by their own ingenuity, because of the discovery I say that man had come from the simple to the complex; immediately the big-brained men of our world began to talk about evolution.
But, my friends, there is not a single mark of evolution anywhere except in the progress of a man in handling his adversaries since he has been out of the garden. There is only one mark of evolution in the world, and that is in the steps that man has made by his own reasoning powers and ingenuity, to battle against the storms of life since his fall. And his present state, after all his battles, is a pig-pen compared to the state in which God created him.
It was not necessary for man ever to have fought his battles if he had obeyed God. Jesus Christ came to this world absolutely the king of every force, and walked the waves, and conquered death and hell, and as the last Adam offers free to all a new life—eternal life in Himself.
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Friends, we are more and more coming to worship the efforts of men, putting man at the top and worshipping him because of the mighty success he feels he has made out of a cursed condition. Men are not turning naturally to God’s offer in Jesus Christ, but are struggling on, confident that by their own efforts they will make a heaven of their own, and be God to themselves. Oh, how awful to live in days like these where men boast themselves against God.
Here is a young boy who comes and peeps in a window some day and says to himself, “My, that is a great-looking saw, there is a great hammer, and I see some nails.” So the next morning, very early, he breaks into the shed and comes into this place, the master carpenter’s shop; and he gets out the saw and saws himself a few boards; he gets out the hammer and the nails, and he makes himself a sled. He’s tired of tramping the snow; he wants to slip on it.
Then he shuts the door quietly behind him, and goes out and coasts down the hill and says to himself: “My, what a wonder-worker I am!”
The Master Carpenter
But towards evening he goes back and peeps in through a little crack in the shed, and he sees the carpenter there, as he handles the plane and the saw and turns out a bureau and a bed, with the other wonderful things about that the master carpenter’s hands have made; and the poor little fellow is humiliated, and says, “Well, I used those tools, but, oh, look what he can do with them!”
This is what I call a vision. Do you know what God can do through His Son, Jesus Christ, for your soul, and what He is planning to do for the world?
Friends, man has crept into God’s carpenter house, and I admit he has taken electricity and made himself a little sled so that we can slip around from San Francisco to New York; and man has taken God’s powers out of petroleum and used gasoline until we can go up in the air and fly around and fall down and die once in a while; we have used His gasoline to pull rubber tires and go around the track and kill each other; and we have taken God’s clay and molded it into houses, where we say we live, after an earthly fashion; and taken His iron and made it into steel; but, oh, my friends, we have not yet begun to know what the Master Carpenter can do.
For a Little While
He is away from our sight for a little while in the glory, and man has sneaked in to take His place; but, oh, He is coming back Himself to take charge of every force and to have power over every power in this world; to make it a blessing to men, and I am waiting for that, are you?
And before He comes, He shows us the vision of His power and coming and glory, and our test is being true to our vision by waiting on His working here and now and looking for the blessed hope of His return to perfect His Kingdom. Oh, how foolish man has been to think that because he could use a few of these forces he is master of them: he is king of the Earth. No, my friends, far from this, we are weak and undone and death is written across us. Jesus came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly. Thank God, I have dipped in for mine and taken it—dip in, my friends, by faith, this morning, and find that Jesus has the life more abundant.
Men have discovered some world powers and forces, but the man, Jacob, discovered the “other world” forces. He found that God was “The Lord of Hosts.”
The one word Jacob uses for his great discovery is Mahanaim. This word means “two hosts.” As you read in the 32nd chapter of Genesis, 1st verse, you see these words: “And the angels of God met him.” Jacob was coming up against the greatest trial in his life. His life had been such in the past that he could not meet his brother, Esau. He knew he had supplanted him. Here was the question: Was there any power outside of Jacob’s own power to aid him in this crisis hour? Yes, “The angels of God met him” and he called the place “Two Hosts.”
My friends, even after men have handled electricity and have handled brick, and have handled mortar, have handled money, have handled machinery, oh, how destitute we are if there is not something we can discover that will handle life’s real soul and heart problems. The soul can suffer under its enemies a thousand-fold more than the body nerves under their enemies. Money will not bring peace. Power in this world will not bring peace. Nothing will ever bring peace but something that can handle the enemies of the soul.
So poor old Jacob was there facing his adversary and now the angels of the Lord met him, and Jacob made his discovery and named the place of the discovery, “Two Hosts.” What was his great discovery? That his servants, and his household, and his little coterie—that is Jacob’s “host”—but, oh, he made the discovery that there was “another host” that was camping right with him—God’s host of mighty angels.
And the name of God in this text is this: “The Lord of Hosts.”That is the Earth crowd or “host” of believers and the heavenly hosts! Why does He put the plural? Because we are the host on this side that belongs to God, and there is another host on the heaven side that matches it, to meet the enemies of our soul. There is the upper host and the lower host, and the one who trusts this Lord of Hosts will see that He brings the victory to the little Earth host.
Here is another example of two hosts; let me read it:
Exodus 12:41: “And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”
See? Was there only one host, the host of the children of Israel, the children of Jacob, whom God had promised to bring out? No! There was another host, right on top of them, that they could not see—the angels of God, the great company of heaven, the heavenly host. So “all the hosts of the Lord went out.” I want to say to you that the world does not know what powers there are just above us today, the great company of witnesses and the host of God, the mighty angels. Talk about mighty angels and mighty men—if Gabriel were to come in here this morning, every man of us would fall like dead men in his presence. But God has them in multiplied thousands. Oh, get a vision of the Lord of Hosts, who is with us, and the God of Jacob, who is our refuge. There were 600,000 of those poor Jews, but they could not have walked out alone; there was another host just above them, led on by the Lord of Hosts—Jesus, Himself, who had met Moses at the burning bush and promised this very deliverance and exodus. The pillar of fire was over the Earth host by night and the pillar of cloud by day.
Here is the vision God wants you to catch this morning. Hear it: you are never alone. He swears, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” You are sitting here with your trouble and your trial that is nearly breaking your heart. I know what comfort you need. You feel like you are up against it; look to God, dear people, you are not up against it. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
We worship this morning the Lord of Hosts—the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. He saw Jacob through, and brought the children of Israel out from under the bondage of Pharoah and into Canaan Land; He will see us through, bless God, and be true to every one of His promises.
It is this upper host He wants you to see today. Jesus, who said, “All power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth.” This is what Jacob discovered—that he was not alone. He was going to take a few of his flock and try to pacify Esau, work it out on a worldly basis; but, oh, when he saw the host of God and had wrestled with one of them until the break of day he was willing to let the “Lord of Hosts” undertake for him. And those here who have caught the vision of the upper host can sing, “Once it was my working, His it hence shall be.”
If you are trusting in the Holy Spirit’s power this morning through the victory of Jesus the devil has been defeated, and death has been conquered, and you are seated this morning in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and the power of the Holy Ghost is in you. Yes, truly, “The Lord of Hosts is with us.”
Two Hosts Again
Now, to another vision of the “two Hosts” in 2 Kings 6:15 and part of the 17th verse:
“Behold an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots.” Here is a young believer going along with Elijah and stopping in the city of Dothan. They awoke early in the morning and there was the Syrian host surrounding the city. “A host compassed the city with horses and chariots.” Here was the great man, Elijah, in the middle of this surrounding host. The boy was frightened as he saw the enemy’s host—and here is his cry: “Alas, my master! How shall we do?”
Maybe that is your cry this morning. “Lord, the hosts of hell are round about us, things are popping in the world; amusements are running riot, fashion dress, worldliness, hell is popping and the world is whirling. Master, how shall we do? How shall we do, how shall we do?”
My friends, turn and see what Elijah saw. Did he drive the host back? No—look: What you need is the vision this young follower received: “And Elijah prayed, and he said: “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.”
Listen: “And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw, and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elijah.” Hallelujah! The upper host was there to protect the little host of two: Elijah and the boy. I tell you, that breaks the power of the devil, when you get the vision that God is for you, and heaven has sent Jesus to conquer death and the devil; Jesus, who is above every power, and every angel and every principality and every name that is named, what are you worrying about? God help you to get out of that hole and trust Jesus Christ, and get deliverance from the devil’s power and the canopy he is trying to draw over you. “How shall we do, my master?” Look, look, believe this morning, He is resurrected from the dead; He has appeared to Simon; He let Thomas put his fingers in the holes in His hands; five hundred of them saw Him; and He ascended into glory; He is sitting there this morning, at the right hand of God. “How shall we do?” Look up, look up, at the hosts of heaven up there, and Jesus at the right hand of God—and He is our Father! Only believe, “All things are possible to him that believeth.”
Don’t you dare fight—you get out your little sword and you will die in a minute. Stand still and believe and see the salvation of God—that is our business; trust Him. Ours is a warfare of faith in the “Lord of Hosts” and His is the battle.
Brother, have you caught the vision this morning of your mighty Savior? Above your trials and your hard work, your heart ache and your soul’s conflict, catch this vision this morning. Another host will fight for you. You see one host: your poor self. See the other. All victorious and Jesus at the head, the great victor. Let us read of the victor in Ephesians 1:19–21: “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power? Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come?”
Thank God, that is our Christ, our Heavenly Host, and that is God’s word for it. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Jesus is there, and He calls your attention to Himself. He took old crooked Jacob and straightened him out and named him Israel. The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. Our refuge is this, that he makes crooked men straight and calls Himself their God, and orders the Host for them.
Two Hosts Again
Let me read you another passage in closing, the 19th chapter of Revelation, for, oh, friends, the great hope of all our life is this: That Jesus, Himself, is to come back and take the reins, and rule “where’er the sun doth its transcendent journey run.” Friends, I know He is coming back: this is our hope. Listen: He is not coming back alone. He came the first time alone, despised, born in a manger, spit upon, slapped, beaten about the head with a reed until His blessed face did not even look like the face of a man—for me and for you. Cursed by men, scoffed by hypocrites and doubters and infidels; stripped and hung up between earth and heaven as a cursed thing before God for my sin—for your sin—and for our justification; and He died in the dark, with His poor, pitiful, swollen lips, asking for water—for me, for you, He died. Alone, yes, alone, even God had turned His back upon Him, because He became sin for us, and God had to put His wrath upon sin, and sin and His Son became the same thing those awful dark hours and sin’s penalty awful death Jesus took and paid all alone for you, for me. Oh, how much alone He was. His forsaken cry is heart-breaking.
But, praise God, He is not coming alone next time, but He comes with ten thousand of His saints to execute judgment upon all; and God is going to pull the bolt and open the door of Heaven and let Him out—let Him out forever! He is going to come out with His great hosts of redeemed ones; His body to rule and reign.
Revelation 19:11: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in Righteousness he doth judge and make war.”
Yes, friends, in a short time He will come into mid-air and catch us away; but when He comes back at the close of the Tribulation to Earth it will be with war and it will be Jesus, Himself, executing judgment on this earth and subduing it and putting it under His own rule. The conquering time is coming; this is God’s world. You infidel here today, hear me: I will stand in judgment and face you, as a witness against you, I have told you that Jesus was Lord of lords and King of kings and that He offers to make you a child of God now. Now by faith in the work of Jesus. It is God’s world, and the carpenter is out of the shop for a little while and has left his tools, and you think you are smart because you have used them and made a few things, but He will be back before long to show what He can do, and judgment is in His hand; righteous judgment, for He offers you His cross this morning, to come out from your sin and your death, and enter into His life and His Kingdom.
“The Word of God”
(Revelation 19:12–13): “His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written that no man knew but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called the Word of God.”
Oh, I love that name of His, “The Word of God.” He is coming to do everything He says in this book. He, Jesus, is the fulfillment of every promise that is here. All God’s promises and plans are rounded out and fulfilled in Him.
“And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations, and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
At that day, the day of His final victory, Israel will sing, and we who are with Him will sing also this great chorus of the 46th Psalm: “The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Right here on this Earth where sin has raged and Satan roared as a lion, Jesus will dwell among us at the Lord of Hosts.
Friends, we are going ahead in this Tabernacle this year under that Captain. What if sin and hell rage in Chicago—the Lord of Hosts is with us—the God of Jacob is our refuge! Men and women can be saved in the old-fashioned way. Crooked folks as Jacob can be made straight by the mighty power of this Lord of Hosts! We feel like the Earth host is small and we know there is a falling away, and the little flock will be tested, but He says: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.”
“Hold the fort for I am coming,
Jesus signals still:
Wave the answer back to Heaven,
By Thy grace we will.”
We have caught the vision, the “Lord of Hosts.” We will. Amen.