STUDY 5: THE LORD ALMIGHTY

© Rosemary Bardsley 2017

When we looked at Isaiah’s vision of God we saw that both the seraphs and Isaiah referred to God as ‘the LORD Almighty’.

The title the LORD Almighty (‘the LORD of Hosts’ – in some English translations, and sometimes referenced in English writings as ‘Jehovah Sabaoth’) is used repeatedly throughout Isaiah, and also by most of the other prophets.

 

A. ‘THE LORD’

‘LORD’, when translated in English with all letters in the upper case, translates the Hebrew YHWH – I AM. It is a personal name, not a title. As noted in Study 3, ‘I AM’ - ‘LORD’ – is the name by which God identified himself to Moses in Exodus 3. [If ever we see or hear reference to God as ‘Jehovah’ or ‘Yahweh’ it is this name that is being used.]

Read Exodus 3:1-15. Answer these questions:
[1] List all the names and titles used to identify God.

 

 

 

[2] Suggest the significance of ‘the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’.

 

 

[3] Suggest why this extended self-identification of God generated fear in Moses.

 

[4] Suggest what it was that made the ground ‘holy’.

 

[5] Suggest the connection between the extended self-identification of God as God of the ancestors and the personal name ‘I AM’.

 

 

[6] When you read the name ‘I AM’ what did you think was meant by this name?

 

 

A.1 The significance of the name ‘I AM’.
[1] ‘I AM’ signifies that God is eternal. He is without beginning and without ending.
This is evident in the narrative of Exodus 3:1-15:

It is symbolized in the burning bush: though it ‘was on fire it did not burn up’ [verse 2].

It is expressed in the extended title in verses 6 and 15. God does not say that he ‘was’ the God of the fathers, but that ‘I am’ the God of your fathers. God is not locked in earth’s physical time – which we define by the verbs was, is and will be. He exists in an eternal present: he simply, but powerfully, is.

Note that the three synoptic gospels record Jesus’ quoting this to affirm the resurrection of the dead [Matthew 22:29-32; Mark 12:24-27; Luke 20:34-38].

It is stated specifically in verse 15: ‘this is my name forever’ which will be ‘remembered from generation to generation’. What God was in Exodus 3 he still is today. [While we use time-bound words to refer to him, because our experience of him occurs in time, he himself is neither bound nor changed by time.]

[2] This eternality of God thus instructs us that the name ‘I AM’ reveals that he is also changeless, he does not vary, he is therefore infinitely dependable. He who proved himself faithful to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will also prove himself faithful to Moses and the Israelites.

Check these Scriptures. What do they say about this changelessness of God?
Lamentations 3:22

Malachi 3:6 [note the use of the personal name, ‘the LORD’]

James 1:17

Hebrews 13:8

The fickleness and unpredictictability that characterizes many of the ‘gods’ of human religion and mythology is not part of this ‘I AM’: he is totally consistent. Neither is he susceptible to human manipulation – he is never untrue to himself.

[3] The NIV footnote indicates that ‘I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE’ is an alternative translation of ‘I AM WHO I AM’ in verse 14. So immense is the LORD, so omnipotent (all powerful), so omniscient (all knowing), so omnipresent (present everywhere), that he can be and do whatever is necessary to be or to do. There is no situation or condition that renders it impossible for the LORD to act in a way consistent with his nature, his being and his eternal purpose. He will always be true to himself because there is nothing more powerful than him that can prevent him being true to himself. Whatever is needed, he can be, he can do.

As you study Isaiah, keep alert for references to this limitlessness and unrestrictedness – this total freedom – of God to be and to do whatever he pleases.


[4] A fourth significance of ‘I AM’ is that God is self-existent. God is not created. God is not derived. God is not caused. God is not dependent. Everything else, and every other being, is created, derived, caused and dependent. God alone is self-existent. Embedded in this truth are two secondary truths: (1) that God is not accountable or answerable to anyone or anything else; and (2) that God does not need anyone or anything else.

 

B. ‘ALMIGHTY’

‘Almighty’ translates the Hebrew tsebaah. Older English translations read ‘the LORD of hosts’. The word is used in the combination titles ‘the LORD Almighty’ and ‘the LORD God Almighty’ 62 times in Isaiah. This title draws our attention to the unsurpassed and unsurpassable power and authority of God. If you could imagine all the multitudes of angels in heaven, if you could imagine all the armies of all the nations, and all their combined power; and then if you could imagine one being in unlimited control and unlimited authority over them all, then you might be coming somewhere near to understanding the utter, sovereign, power and authority of God that is contained in this title – ‘the LORD Almighty’ – the LORD of the armies.

It is this supreme power and authority which Jesus had in mind when he said:

‘Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?’ [Matthew 16:53] and

‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above’ [John 19:11].

It is this supreme power and authority to which Isaiah referred when he wrote:

‘Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket ... all the nations are as nothing’ [40:15,17] and
‘He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth
and its people are like grasshoppers...
He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing’ [40:22,23].

[When God is referred to simply as ‘the Almighty’, or sometimes as ‘God Almighty’, another word is used – shaddai – but this occurs in Isaiah only once. God is also called ‘the mighty One’ of Jacob or of Israel, where another word – abyr – is used (three times in Isaiah.]

Under the five headings below study the verses from Isaiah to gain some understanding of God as ‘the LORD Almighty’. List the truths you discover.

B.1The LORD Almighty is the One who acts in judgement and justice
1:24ff


2:12ff


3:1ff


5:9-30


9:7,19


10:23


22:12-25

 

B.2 The LORD Almighty is the One who has the power to save.
1:9,26


25:6


31:4-5


47:4   

 

B.3 The LORD Almighty is the One who stands in stark contrast to the idols.
37:9-20


44:6-23
 

B.4 The LORD Almighty is holy, majestic and exalted.
6:3


8:13


24:23

 

B.5 The LORD Almighty is the ruler of the nations.
10:24-34


13:4-6,13


14:22-27


18:7


19:12,16-18


23:9


29:5-8



For deeper thought:
[1] What are your personal thoughts and feelings as you begin to understand the absolute power and authority of God revealed by this title ‘the LORD Almighty’?

 

 

[2] Define the incongruity of the people of Israel replacing this God with the gods of the nations.

 

 

[3] Think about the patience of this God in putting up with human rebellion ever since Genesis 3. What does this reveal about his mercy and grace?

 


[4] Think again of Isaiah’s immediate reaction in Isaiah 6:5. How much of that reaction was because of his understanding of the absolute power and authority of God?