Jehovah Sabaoth

In his book, A Table in the Presence, Lt. Carey Cash, U.S. Marine Corps chaplain for the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom, recounts how his battalion experienced God’s presence and power in an amazing way during Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait and Iraq. When they were up against the wall, God came through for them time and time again.

He writes: “During the long weeks in the Kuwaiti desert, we had often talked about God’s protection and had prayed for it in every service. We had asked God for courage and quiet resolve in the face of the enemy…for six weeks, many of us had looked to God for grace and help in our time of need, and God had graciously responded. He had calmed our fears, breathed hope and confidence into our souls, and readied us for the fight.”[1]

The name of God, Jehovah Sabaoth, at its root, refers to a captain or general who commands a mighty army. It’s used over 270 times in the Bible.  Jehovah Sabaoth, the LORD Almighty, has all the hosts of heaven ready to do His work. Psalm 24:10 asks the question: “Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty [Jehovah Sabaoth] — he is the King of glory.” God is the king and commander over armies, both spiritual and earthly, and He mobilizes them to accomplish His purposes.

Amos 4:13 describes this name of God in greater detail: “He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth--the LORD God Almighty [Jehovah Sabaoth] is his name.” When we truly understand this name for God, we will never view Him the same again. He has unlimited power, unbridled might and untarnished glory. He is impossible to describe and incredible to imagine.

Have you ever felt stuck? When you sense that you can’t fight or flee from your problems, when you feel alone against a multitude of people or problems, it’s easy to want to give up. Elisha’s shaky servant felt the same way. Here’s what happened.

God goes to battle when you feel outnumbered (2 Kings 6:16-17).

In 2 Kings 6 we read of an unforgettable encounter. The prophet Elisha had managed to enrage the King of Aram. When this king determined that Elisha was in a town called Dothan, he mobilized his army, complete with horses and chariots to surround the city and set up an ambush to annihilate Elisha.

When Elisha’s servant got up early the next morning, he looked up and saw a mighty army encircling the city. He panicked and woke Elisha up, exclaiming in verse 15: “O my lord, what shall we do?” This servant had some vision problems. His physical eyes worked fine but he was in need of some spiritual spectacles. He saw the danger but couldn’t see the deliverance.

In verse 16, Elisha says, “Don’t be afraid…Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” I picture the servant looking around and wondering what Elisha was talking about.

When words alone couldn’t calm his quaking heart, verse 17 tells us that Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” The servant’s fear had filleted his faith and so God had to give him spiritual eyes to see the invisible infantry: “Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 

The servant thought he and Elisha were greatly outnumbered but in actuality, the armies of the Almighty God were arrayed against the enemy. Friend, never forget that when you are standing next to Jehovah Sabaoth, you are in the majority, no matter who or what is against you.

Paul said in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The Commander of the Armies of Heaven has mobilized the angelic host to do battle in the heavenly realms.

We must learn to call Him by this name when we are at the end our ropes, affirming that the battle belongs to the Lord.

Let’s re-visit, “A Table in the Presence.” When Chaplain Carey Cash first met a young Marine named Jeff Guthrie, Jeff was without purpose and direction. Now he was in the Marines and was reeling from a very close call when his life could have easily ended. This tough guy was on the verge of tears, and sitting down on the grass in front of Guthrie, the Chaplain asked what was wrong.

“By now the tears are streaming down his face. He was overcome … He had just come through the most frightening experience of his life and perhaps one of the single worst firefights of the entire war. Like many others, he was uninjured, unscathed, and unharmed. And the only thing he could think about was his sinfulness…I was looking into the face of a man who, for the first time in life, was truly encountering the power of God. ‘Jeff,’ I said gently. ‘Do you realize that God sent his Son, Jesus, for no other purpose than for forgiving all those things you or I have ever done wrong in life?”

The chaplain and Jeff Guthrie then bowed in prayer as this Marine surrendered His life to the Commander of the Armies of Heaven and received the gift of forgiveness and the assurance of eternal life. Twenty watching Marines stared in disbelief as Lance Corporal Jeff Guthrie asked the Lord Jesus to come into his life, right on the lawn of Saddam Hussein’s Presidential Palace.

Lord Sabaoth fights your battles. He alone is powerful and victorious. How you answer Chaplain Cash’s question exposes what you may or may not believe about God: “If God can deliver an isolated, cut-off battalion of U.S. Marines surrounded by enemies in the belly of the beast, can He not deliver us from the enemies that assail us in our daily lives?”


[1] Carey Cash, A Table in the Presence. Presidio Press, 2005, p. 54.