Getting To Know God
Jehovah Sabaoth - The Fear Of God's Total Control
The LORD Of Hosts - The ANGEL Of The LORD - The Fear Of God - The Providential Sovereignty Of God
Armies Of The Universe
While there’s a lot of Milky Way photos out there, this one in particular has a great background story as it pertains to our daily devotional. The concept of God as the LORD of Hosts, doesn’t just refer to armies made up of people. The scriptures open up by referring to the universe, and the galaxies in them, as “hosts.” If God is the LORD of all “hosts,” then God has supreme control over all facets of the universe, and can use them as soldiers! So we wanted to show the Milky Way towering over something like a mountain to give perspective of the magnitude of God’s control. This was actually the very last photo we took for this series. We took this photo at Amboy Crater, which is just north of Joshua Tree National Park, which was actually a back-up plan on account of the terrible wildfires that were scattered all over California at that time. When we took this photo, it was Rosh Hashana. On our way there, we caught a ton of traffic, and so we weren’t able to get there as early as we wanted.
By the time we arrived at our location, it was pitch black, making our options limited. We didn’t have a lot of choices for foreground focal points because we couldn’t see anything well enough to focus on it properly. All we had was the silhouette of the crater. Yet, we noticed that the Milky Way was stretched clear above us, from horizon to horizon, ending right at the tip of the crater. Having the concepts of Rosh Hashana in our minds, we were so excited to capture an image that really mimicked the scene that scripture describes at Mount Sinai, when God commanded the children of Israel about Rosh Hashana and the rest of the Jewish feast days. We felt like God was providing great encouragement to us. When we started this project, we didn’t have the means, the resources, or the skill set to do what we felt the LORD was commanding.
When we took this last photo, which reminded us so much of God’s glory on Mount Sinai, we were reminded about the extent of God’s control over heaven and earth. He commands all those stars you see there, and our ability to finish this phase of our ministry work, was proof that He controls all factors under those stars too!
That All The Earth May Know
The manner in which God makes His name known sometimes, is pretty compelling. It must have been something to watch King David venture out to the battlefield to face Goliath. It likely looked ridiculous from both sides to see a small boy confidently approach Goliath, the great giant and champion, with nothing but a sling and a few stones. No wonder Goliath seemed so insulted that the children of Israel sent David out to fight. Yet, we all know how the story ends. Before David swung that sling, he let Goliath know the manner in which victory would come. God would guide the stone from David’s sling to ensure David’s compelling victory, in order that the world would know, the One who controls the stars of the universe, and the nations of the world, also controls the stone in the sling in order to ensure His purposes are accomplished. Though David grabbed five stones, the LORD only needed one, to show the extent of control He has to accomplish any purpose He desires, thereby enabling His purposes for His people to be fulfilled.
When we thought about an idea for this photo, we first thought it would be compelling to show some birds eating a carcass. Though the photo we got of that was compelling, it didn’t quite communicate the awesomeness of God’s control. So we set up a sling such as David would have had, and found our own stones that would have been what David used. We wanted to show the emphasis on the one stone in front, while putting the other four in the background as an afterthought. Sure, David might have felt like he needed five stones, but the LORD’s control is such that He never fails in hitting His target. The One who controls the massive factors that keep our universe intact, also controls the small details with the same care and precision.
It Shall Be Done
One of the issues people have with God is the extent of control the Bible states that He has. When people hear about God’s supreme sovereignty, people often criticize a literal interpretation of that truth. You start to hear things like, “So we’re just a bunch of robots doing what God wants?” Another common criticism is, “So, we’re just a bunch of pawns?” While this concept seems insulting in one sense to the human race, for those who understand the need of God’s power, control, mercy, and grace, this isn’t such an offensive or negative thought. In Obadiah 1:5, the Bible describes how God will judge “all the nations.” This is important to understand. If God doesn’t judge ALL of the sin in the world, then the world remains corrupt, and His blessings are cheap and flawed. God’s blessings and rewards won’t be distributed until the world is cleansed of sin and rebellion. Therefore, if God doesn’t have total control over all factors, and all people in this world, His declarations about the judgment that cleans this world up, remains unsure. That would be a big problem!
The truth is, God IS supremely in control over all things in heaven and earth. Therefore, His judgments are true and guaranteed. This means that God’s blessings and rewards are also true and guaranteed, since it’s only a matter of time until God cleans this place up. So while many people don’t like the idea of God being like a hand that controls a pawn, that would only be a bad situation if you were on the losing side of the game. According to the Bible, God absolutely controls all things, at all times, in all places, so that as easily as a hand is able to knock over a chess piece, God is able to knock off those who rebel against Him, deny Him, and reject His offer of salvation. So, that’s the picture we took. Like it or not, we’re the game pieces in this illustration, and those who rebel against this truth, will be knocked down brutally. Thankfully, God has promised to use that same authority to preserve those who repent and believe from the destruction He brings on those who deny Him.
Authority Equips Righteousness
While a lot of people freak out about the supreme control of God, there’s nothing to be afraid of as a child of God. It’s good that He’s in supreme control of all things. Since God has supreme authority, He’s able to guarantee certain promises to His people. The scriptures teach that saving-faith produces certain effects in our lives. When we’re saved, we are declared righteous, not made righteous. However, this doesn’t mean that our faith doesn’t provide benefits now, before we get to heaven where we’re actually made righteous. The Bible teaches that the LORD will use the faith He provides to produce strength that keeps us from the controlling influence of sin, enabling us to live in the likeness of Jesus’ righteousness, with a quality of hope and confidence that transcends our life circumstances.
If God isn’t in control over all factors of life in the physical and spiritual realm, then He can’t make these guarantees. But He is in charge, so He can make these guarantees! To illustrate this point, we thought that the idea of “the domino effect” was fitting. The first domino would be saving-faith, and when that one is tipped over by the sovereign hand of God, it causes all of the others to fall into place, producing all of the good benefits that God promised to His children. If God doesn’t have supreme control, no one is there to tip the first domino, or ensure the others are set in the right place. It’s because God IS in control of all things, that we can be confident and assured that our faith is legit, just as the Bible says!
Control Of The Devil
Though the extent of God’s control in our lives can be unnerving to those who are still learning about God, or don’t know anything about Him, the testimony of the Book of Revelation explains the goodness of God’s supreme control. The Book of Genesis shows that all the problems we face in life can be traced back to the temptation of the devil, who appeared as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. In the Book of Revelation, the Bible explains that Jesus will exercise the full extent of His authority to destroy the one who inspired sin, pain, suffering, and death. If not for God’s supreme control over all things in heaven and earth, God can’t make the promise of all promises – to destroy the devil and all of the miserable effects of his influence. It’s darkness, corruption, decay, and evil that keeps God’s people from enjoying the full benefit of God’s glory and goodness. Yet, God has declared that the devil’s time is ending. Having control over the devil since the beginning, God has already judged him, and is simply waiting to execute that judgment. The devil might be a crafty serpent to us, but he’s just a cheap little garden snake to our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ!
To picture Jesus’ control of the devil, we wanted to show someone holding a snake like they were choking it. Though the snake could move a little, we wanted the hand to be holding the snake in the midst of fire, implying that the hand only has to let go, and that snake is dead! When we took this photo, the idea was easier to explain, than to execute. First, we had the challenge of the fire. We weren’t sure how big of a fire we were going to need, and so didn’t really know where to take the photo. Because of high winds, we decided the safest thing to do would be to first experiment in the backyard with a fire in our fire pit. When we framed the photo, we realized that a fire from that fire pit would be big enough. The next problem was starting a fire of an appropriate size. We had some old, petrified wood, some tiki-torch fluid, and some old fabric to get the fire started. When we lit the fabric to start the fire, the thing lit up like CRAZY! We figured we would only need a small flame, but ended up with a four-foot flame in a hurry, that threatened to get out of control in a hurry. Thankfully, the winds died down, and so we rushed to take the photo in front of the towering inferno we had created by accident. The photo you see, it what we got, providing a compelling image of God’s control. The lake of fire that the devil will be cast into is real, and it is hot! It’s only a matter of time until Jesus takes the hold He currently has on the devil, and lets him go into the place reserved and designed especially for him. Praise the LORD!