Therefore the Lord, Yahweh of Hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: ‘Ah, I will get relief from my foes and avenge myself on my enemies (Isaiah 1:24).
The Lord, Yahweh of Hosts, will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land. Therefore, this is what the Lord, Yahweh of Hosts says; O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with the rod and life up a club against you as Egypt did. Very soon, my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction. (Isaiah 10:23-25)
This is what the Lord Yahweh says… (Ezek. 2:4 and many times following). Then you will know that I am the Lord Yahweh…. (Ezek. 23:49 and many times following).
The Lord, Yahweh of Hosts, He who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn…. (Amos 9:5ff).
A. The Divine Warrior……………..298
B. Yahweh of Hosts……………….299
5. Zechariah and Malachi
C. The Lord…………………………304
1. Prediction: Isaiah
2. The Crisis—Exile
3. Response: Ezekiel
D. Elyon – Daniel…………………..312
E. Our Response……………………314
1. How does Yahweh relate himself to the rest of the world?
2. Describe Yahweh of Hosts in his work of conquering the land.
3. Describe the work of Yahweh of Hosts in the major prophets.
4. Describe the problem Israel faced in the exile.
5. How does God introduce himself to the world in Israel’s exile.
6. How do we respond to Yahweh of Hosts in our theology and life?
The Divine Warrior
God as Warrior is a relatively new concept in theology. It has been treated by some of the biblical theologians. Not many Systematic Theologians have integrated it into their books. Tremper Longman1 has brought this theme into Evangelical theology. Gregory Boyd 2 and others have continued this project. Longman writes:
We may conceive of the development of the theme following roughly a chronological order by describing the process taking place in five stages. The first stage is God’s appearance as a warrior who fights on behalf of his people Israel against their flesh and blood enemies. The second stage overlaps with the first, yet culminates Israel’s independent political history as God fights in judgment against Israel itself. The Old Testament period ends during the third stage as Israel’s prophets look to the future and proclaim the advent of a powerful divine warrior. While many studies of the divine warrior are restricted to the Old Testament, we will show its development into the New Testament. The Gospels and letters reflect on the fourth stage, Christ’s earthly ministry as the work of the conqueror, though they also look forward to the next stage. The fifth and final stage is anticipated by the church as it awaits the return of the divine warrior who will judge the spiritual and human enemies of God.3
Yahweh of Hosts is the divine Warrior, the Commander of armies, who comes down to do battle with Satan, the demons and the human enemies of God. He is concerned with the entire world, but normally fights the kingdom of darkness from within the people of God. He is introduced when Israel is ready to conquer the promised land. This title flourishes when he becomes the enemy of his rebellious people and they are exiled from that same promised land.
The Lord (Adonai) is also the divine Warrior. But now he is pictured as the Mighty God who has the authority and the power to rule over all of the nations and all of the cosmos throughout all of history no matter how great and many his enemies. This title, like Yahweh of Hosts, becomes a serious part of God’s self-revelation in the context of the exile of the covenant people. Discouraged people need to know that the exile is not his defeat by other gods. It is rather his judgment upon his own people because they have continually broken the covenant with their God. They also need
to know that God is more than the God of the promised land. He is the Lord of the whole earth and all of the nations are totally and completely under his control.
The Lord, Yahweh of Hosts fights for his name and reputation in Israel and in the whole world. He stands against all who blaspheme his name and his purposes. He stands against Satan’s kingdom of darkness and people who have committed themselves to that kingdom. Our God is a Warrior!
Yahweh Of Hosts
God uses this title for himself some 285 times in the Old Testament.4 As the Commander of the armies of heaven and of Israel, God is enthroned on the mercy seat in the holy of holies. After a chapter of dialogue with Habakkuk, Yahweh tells him:
“But Yahweh is in his holy temple, let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). This is powerfully explained in the following theophany as Yahweh appears leading the armies of the Chaldeans against his covenant-breaking people (3:1-15).
Habakkuk responds with fear and faith. He fears the day of calamity. He trusts in the Warrior God who brings the day of calamity. He even rejoices in this great God: Yahweh, my Savior, Yahweh, the Lord (3:16-19).
When Israel was organized and ready for travel from Mount Sinai to the promised land, they were led by Yahweh who had taken up residence in the Holy of holies of the tabernacle.
So they set out from the mountain of Yahweh and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of Yahweh went before them during those three days to find them a place of rest. The cloud of Yahweh was over them by day when they set our from the camp.
Whenever the ark set out, Moses said: ‘Rise up, O Yahweh! May your
enemies be scattered, may your foes flee before you.’ Whenever it came to rest, he said; ‘Return, O Yahweh, to the countless thousands of Israel (Numbers 10:33-36).
When Yahweh was with them, He fought for them along with the hosts of Israel. When they broke the covenant over a long period of time he left the Holy of holies and his people. That occurred at two times of crisis. The first was the capture of the ark by the Philistines in the judgship of Eli. When the news of the capture came, the daughter-in-law of Eli was in the process of dying in delivery of a child. In the moment of her death, God spoke a prophetic word through her:
She named the boy Ichabod, saying: ‘The glory has departed from Israel’ —because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. She said; ‘The glory has departed from Israel for the ark of Yahweh has been captured (I Samuel 4:21).
In the first five chapters of Joshua, Israel has crossed the Jordan, the ark has been set up, obviously installed in the tabernacle, erected for the first time in the land, the people have been circumcised and now were ready to begin the conquest of the promised land. But before they could take Jericho, God met Joshua in a highly significant theophany.
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and say a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’
‘Neither’, he replied, ‘but as commander of the army of Yahweh I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord have for his servant?
The Commander of Yahweh’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so (Joshua 5:13-15).
This theophany is disturbing. There seems to be little point to the encounter. It seems to be thrown into the middle of this narrative without making any advance in the story. Its message; “This is holy ground” leaves us wondering. At this point, was not there more that God could say to Joshua? If we read Joshua alone we could perhaps skip past this theophany without any significant loss.
But we are reading Joshua in the light of the five books of Moses. The message which seems so irrelevant is exactly the way Yahweh started his message to Moses at the burning bush. God continued that message with a new name: I AM all that you need to accomplish this impossible task that I have given you. Yahweh does not have to say that again here. The first part of the message reminds him of the rest. Joshua was wise enough to recognize that Yahweh was giving him the same promise as he begins this impossible task of conquering the promised land. Joshua had been commissioned by Moses (Deuteronomy 31:1-8) and by Yahweh (Joshua 1:1-18). This
theophany is not something totally new. It is rather a repetition at a key moment of Yahweh’s call and commission.
This theophany then completes Yahweh’s call and empowerment of Joshua. But it also introduces Yahweh in a new way that is of great significance for Joshua and for all the rest of the Story of God and his people. Yahweh introduces himself
as “The Commander of the army (hosts) of Yahweh.” God creates a new title for himself that will be prominent in the future. He is Yahweh of Hosts. This title will not become common until the latter part of the eighth century with Isaiah (62 times) and Jeremiah (82 times), Haggai (14 times), Zechariah (53 times) and Malachi (21 times).
Altogether, the epithet is used 285 times in the Old Testament. 5 But the reality is there from this moment and on to the end of the Hebrew canon.
God reveals himself as a mighty warrior, conquering the promised land and protecting it from all enemies. His armies are usually assumed from the context. Sometimes it is the armies of Israel. Sometimes it is an army of angels. Sometimes it is both. Yahweh is the commander of powerful armies as he enters history in this powerful way. He is presented here as an Actor in history as well as the One who planned and micro-manages all history. He carries out this program through Joshua, the Judges, and the kings of united Israel and Judah after the division. Many Psalms praise God for his powerful rule. See Psalms 2, 95, 96-100 especially.
The title “Yahweh of Hosts” reaches its fullest meaning in the invasion of history with his angels and glorified humans to inaugurate his Messianic Kingdom:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16).
Mettinger has given an impressive treatment of the title “Yahweh of Hosts” I will quote some of his conclusions.
The Sabaoth designation had its home in the temple of Jerusalem. Its immediate reference is to the God who was held to sit enthroned invisibly upon the cherubim in the Holy of Holies of the temple. This explains the royal associations that a wide variety of texts associate with the designation, YHWH Sabaoth.6
When God is described as “King” (melek), the subject is God in confrontation with the chaotic power of the ultimate evil. And this confrontation is not once-and-for-all; rather, it stretches from the creation to the completion of all things. The warring King is the world’s Creator and Judge.
When God is characterized as “YHWH Sabaoth,” it is the enthroned God who reigns and determines the destiny of God, as in the book of Isaiah. The monarchical understanding of God comes repeatedly to expression in texts whose background is political oppression and in which God appears as Liberator (e.g., Exod. 15:17; Isa. 52:7; Micah 2:13, 4:6; Zeph. 3:14-20)…. Under the designation “the King” and “YHWH Sabaoth” the God of Israel has manifested himself in a way never previously seen. Israel came to see the God is ubiquitious with respect to both time and space.7
Two biblical passages beautifully summarize the meaning of this title for the Living God. The first passage is from Isaiah.
Yahweh Sabaoth has sworn:
“As I have planned, so shall it be,
and as I have purposed…so shall it stand”….
This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth;
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
For YHWH Sabaoth has purposed…
and who will annul it?
His had is stretched out
and who can turn it back? (Isaiah 14:24, 26-27) (Mettinger’s trans).
The second passage is the whole of Psalm forty-six.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
Yahweh of Hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of Yahweh,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.
Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted on the earth.
Yahweh of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (My revision of the NIV).
In close connection with these titles is Adonai (Lord). It describes the Living God as “The One having sovereign authority” 8 or universal master of all of creation, especially over the human race and angels. In a world of many nations, cultures and gods, this title demands that the Living God of the Bible be recognized as absolute Master of all men and nations.
The title “Lord” is often a synonym of Yahweh of Hosts. When it is distinguished from “Yahweh of Hosts,” it points to his divine rule over history without any reference to people and angels used as his “hosts”. It describes him as the author and director of the drama while the “Yahweh of Hosts” pictures him as an actor in the drama/Story.
Foerster describes “kurios” as the Greek translation of “adonai” as follows:
Historically the concept of lordship combines the two elements of power and authority. A true realization of the unity of the two arises only in encounter
with God, who creates us with absolute power, but is also the absolute authority before which it is freedom rather than bondage to bow.9
These two characteristics are commonly included in the meaning of Adonai: Absolute authority and absolute power.
While the title “Yahweh of Hosts” is born in the presence of Yahweh in the Holy of holies and in the commissioning theophany to Joshua, Adonai is born in the Exodus from Egypt, the conquest of the promised land and the kingdom of David and Solomon. Moses’ Song is worship of Yahweh who has revealed himself to Israel, Egypt and all the nations as a powerful and successful Warrior.
I will sing to Yahweh, for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.
Yahweh is my strength and song and has become my salvation.
He is my God and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.
Yahweh is a Warrior, Yahweh is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army, he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red sea.
The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Yahweh was majestic in power.
Your right hand, O Yahweh shattered the enemy (Exodus 15:1-6).
Though “Adonai” is not used in this song, Yahweh is pictured as exercising absolute power and authority. The foundation is laid for the use of the name.
Again, without using this name, David lays more foundation for its use by developing Yahweh’s total authority and sovereignty in establishing his kingdom.
I love you, O Yahweh, my strength.
Yahweh is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to Yahweh who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
the torments of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me,
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to Yahweh, I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
Then the earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook
and trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils,
consuming fire came from his mouth
burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down, dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew, he soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
Yahweh thundered from heaven
the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies
great bolts of lightning routed them….
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but Yahweh was my support (Psalm 18:1-14 & 16-18; II S. 22).
This is powerful, poetic language! Compared to the historical record of II Samuel and I Chronicles, this sounds like hyperbole. But David knew the records of the theophanies of the Living God. He know that behind the victories of his armies was the powerful Lord, Yahweh of Hosts, fighting for him. This poetic description of his victories is as true as any record of events could ever be.
Isaiah begins the extensive use of “Lord” as a title for Yahweh. He was certainly aware of the Song of Moses and the Psalm of David. But he experienced Yahweh’s lordship in his great vision of chapter six of his prophecy.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple…. And I heard the voice of the Lord saying; ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’…. Then I said, ‘For
how long, O Lord? (Isaiah 6:1, 8, and 11).
Though Isaiah learns of the holiness of Yahweh in a powerful new way, he is just as powerfully influenced by the authority, power and sovereignty of Yahweh as the Lord. He will continue to use this title some 64 times.
Ezekiel uses the title “Lord” 222 times. The theophany behind this use is his great vision of the chariot with the living wheels as the new throne of Yahweh in the world. Yahweh has left the Holy of holies in the temple and now rules the whole world from this living chariot on which he rides to exercise his lordship. He has unlimited power, total authority and exercises both in his sovereign rule over all of the nations.
The Crisis Of The Exile
One of the greatest crises in God’s lordship and as commander of his armies is in the destruction of David’s kingdom and the exile of his people from the promised land. The only crisis that was greater was those dark days of the cross and the grave of our Lord Jesus Christ. The exile of Israel, begun in the Assyrian defeat of the northern kingdom in the third quarter of the eighth century B.C. continued in the Babylonian defeat of Judah between 605 and 586 B.C. and continues to the present day.
This exile seemed to the world, and to most of Israel, as the total defeat of Yahweh. He had a great reputation in the exodus from Egypt under Moses, the conquest of Canaan under Joshua and the establishment of the kingdom under David and Solomon. But the God who made them great seems to have lost his power or interest or perhaps he has died. His people are defeated and embarrassed at every point and his reputation suffers with theirs.
Yahweh sent the writing prophets to explain this situation to his people and he sent Isaiah and Daniel to give some examples of his total control as the Lord Yahweh of Hosts. These titles, born in theophanies, become a central self-revelation for God in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi and some Psalms. They are used only occasionally before the latter half of the eighth century and the captivity begins with the Northern kingdom being exiled by Assyria.
Though there were returns to the land after seventy years in Babylon and another in the twentieth century, Israel still remained and remains a nation in exile. Her population of some six million (not all Jews) is only a part of a world population of some seventeen million Jews. This exile will continue until the coming Day of the Lord and their restoration in the Messianic Kingdom. It is no wonder that the prophets spend so much time interpreting the decline and fall of the Davidic kingdom. It is no wonder that he gave them (and us) two new titles especially for this test of faith.
We see these new titles interpreted from four different perspectives by Isaiah who predicts the exile of Judah; by Jeremiah who interprets these titles from Jerusalem and Egypt; by Ezekiel who interprets them from among the people in Babylon; and from Daniel who interprets them from the emperor’s court.
Isaiah witnessed the exile of the northern kingdom in the first two decades of his ministry. This exile was a serious blow to God’s people, but they had separated themselves from God’s chosen royal family and from the temple. Isaiah warned Judah that they would follow if they continued to break their covenant promises. He told them that their God was still in control and demonstrated it in a miraculous deliverance from an unstoppable Assyrian army. 185,000 soldiers were destroyed in a single night by an angel from Yahweh (Isaiah 36-37).
But the people persisted in unbelief and disobedience. And Isaiah predicted their destruction by Babylon (Isaiah 39). But he reminded them that they were going to be defeated in a dozen decades not because their God was incompetent. He was the Lord Yahweh of Hosts, the Holy One of Israel. He was and remains in total control of all of the nations. Isaiah begins the second half of his book with words of comfort because of the greatness of their God, even in the face of the destruction of the king, the kingdom, the city and the temple.
See, Yahweh of Hosts comes with power and his arm rules for him….
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?….
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as the dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as thought they were fine dust….
To whom, then will you compare God?
what image will you compare him to?….
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Have you not been told from the beginning?….
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught,
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing…..
To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal? says the Holy One.
Lift you eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls them all by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob and complain, O Israel.
‘My way is hidden from Yahweh; my cause is disregarded by my God.’
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and no one can fathom his understanding.
He gives strength to the weary and increases power to the weak
Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in Yahweh will renew their strength
They will soar on wings like eagles,
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:10, 12-13, 15-18, 21-23, 25-31)
This is a long quotation, but my greatest concern is that I did not quote the entire chapter. It needs to be read whole and along with all of the rest of this marvelous book. No one can read this and believe that Yahweh has lost control. Isaiah gave this message to his people so that, a century later, they would have these words to encourage their faith.
Isaiah, in a daring move, describes all of the gods of the surrounding nations as nothing more than wooden or metal images made by the people who worship them. Many believed that these images were merely places where real gods met with their worshipers. But Isaiah will not let them rest in this foolishness. The images are all that there is. Their gods are nothing beyond these human creations.
A series of passages (primarily 40:19-20; 44:6-20 and 46:1-13) make a strong contrast between these man-made gods and Yahweh. Our God creates us, feeds us, cares for us and protects us. All of the other gods are made, fed, cared for and protected by their worshipers. There are no other Gods, only material idols:
This is what Yahweh says—
Israel’s king and redeemer, Yahweh of Hosts.
I am the first and I am the last,
apart from me there is no God (Isaiah 44:6).
Isaiah’s third challenge to these so-called gods is one of power. Isaiah demands that they give some proof, some clear evidence that they can do something.
‘Present your case,’ says Yahweh.
‘Set forth your arguments,’ says Jacob’s King.
‘Bring in your idols to tell us what is going to happen
Tell us what the former things were so that we can consider them,
and know their final outcome.
Or declare to us the things to come, so that we may consider them,
tell us what the future holds
so that we may know that you are gods.
Do something, whether good or bad
so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless;
he who chooses you is detestable. (Isaiah 41:21-24).
All of the gods fail. They are totally unable to proclaim publically and before the event occurs what is going to happen in the future. But Yahweh is competent to do what they cannot. He will tell what he is going to do it and he will carry out his prediction.
This is what Yahweh says—
your Redeemer who formed you in the womb:
I am Yahweh, who has made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself.
Who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners.
Who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense.
Who carries out the words of his servants
and fulfills the predictions of his messengers.,
Who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be built,’
of their ruins, ‘I will restore them.’….
Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
and will accomplish all that I please.
He will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt.’
and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid.’
This is what Yahweh says to his anointed,
to Cyrus, who right hand I take hold of
To subdue nations before him and stip kings of their armor
to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut….
I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor
though you do not acknowledge me,
So that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting
men may know that there is none besides me.
I am Yahweh and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, Yahweh, do all these things (Isaiah 44:24-45:7).
Cyrus is not going to be born yet. The Assyrians are presently in power. The Babylonian empire will follow them for seventy years. Only then will a man named Cyrus conquer the fertile crescent and carry out the will of Yahweh. That will be over one hundred and sixty years in the future. Yahweh is able to predict that because he rules all of the nations and will bring his prophecies to pass. He has done what he had challenged the idols to do, and has demonstrated that even in the affairs of the greatest nations and in opposition to all of their gods, Yahweh is the Lord.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel live in the time of exile predicted by Isaiah (chapter 39). They interpret the exile in the same way as Isaiah has. Yahweh is in control now and in the same way as when his people were having great victories. In fact, his rule over all of the nations of the world is even more striking than ever before.
Since the tabernacle was built, Yahweh of Hosts has ruled the world from his throne in the Holy of holies. In chapters eight through eleven, Ezekiel sees the Glory of Yahweh departing from the temple before its destruction. As long as Yahweh was there, the king, the kingdom, the city and the temple were safe from all enemies. But now, as in the days of Eli, the “Glory has departed”.
The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain (8:3-4).
Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple (9:3).
Then the glory of Yahweh departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. While I watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground, and as they went the wheels went with them. They stopped at the entrance to the east gate of Yahweh’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them (10:18-19)
Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, spread their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. The glory of Yahweh went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it. The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God (11:22-24).
This vision of Yahweh of Hosts leaving the temple is closely related to the vision accompanying the call of Ezekiel (8:4). Yahweh rides upon this living chariot accompanied by the storm to remind this exiled prophet that he is still in control. He has not retired from his rule of the earth. Rather, he is ruling from this living chariot rather than from his old throne in the Holy of holies. The rule is the same. The throne has changed.
This is not God’s pattern for the future. He will build a new temple and will again rule the world from that Holy of holies.
Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. The vision I saw was like the vision I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown. The glory of Yahweh entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of Yahweh fill the temple. (43:1-5).
The book closes with the summary: “Yahweh is there.” He will be with his people and he will be ruling the earth from within his people.
The immense amount of uses of Adonai by Ezekiel flow out of this rule of the world in the times of the exile. When it looks as though Yahweh has lost his power, exactly at that time, he manifests the exercise of his authority and dominion from this living chariot, both now and for all of the future.
Daniel’s Response – The Most High
Daniel gave the exiled peoples a further foundation for their faith and hope. After describing the beginning of the exile of Judah in chapter one, Daniel turns to a series of encounters with the emperors of Babylon and Persia that fulfill the prophecies made by Isaiah and encourage Yahweh’s exiles. Chapters two through seven form a unit which drives home these truths.
I. Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the five kingdoms (2)
J. An example of Yahweh’s deliverance (3)
K. An example of Yahweh’s judgment (4)
L. An example of Yahweh’s judgment (5)
M. An example of Yahweh’s deliverance (6)
N. Daniel’s Vision of the five kingdoms (7)
Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar use a synonym for Lord and Yahweh of Hosts — the Most High or the Most High God. This title is used in Daniel 3:26; 4:2, 17, 24, 25, 32, 34; 5:18, 21; 7:18, 22, 25, and 27). Daniel 2:4-7:28 was written in Aramaic. This title is used only in that part of the book. When Nebuchadnezzar speaks or Daniel speaks to Babylonians, they use: “Elay”. Normally, when Daniel is describing is own visions, he uses; “Elyon” (except 7:25).
In Babylon, where many gods are worshiped, Yahweh, the God of Israel is confessed as the Supreme God, the Most High among the gods. When Daniel uses the title, he is speaking of the absolute power and authority of the God of Israel. The whole structure of the book of Daniel drives home the meaning and significance of this title. He exhibits that sovereignty in chapters two through seven as outlined above, and as summarized in the various confessions. He exhibits it again in God’s prophecies of what he has decided to do in the future in chapters 8-12.
Isaiah had predicted both the exile by Babylon and the return under Cyrus. Daniel describes the fulfillment of both. Jeremiah had described seventy years of exile, and Daniel bases his prayer in chapter nine on that promise of permission to return from exile when the Persians come to power.
The exiles have a man in the palace. Daniel is raised to a place of authority and influence in the emperor’s court. He does not lose his testimony, but is the occasion for the humiliation of the gods of Babylon and Persia and the glorification of the God of Heaven. Only He can interpret the king’s dream. Not only that but the dream is a prediction of what the God of Heaven is going to do in the entire “times of the Gentiles”. Four pagan kingdoms will exist to be conquered by God’s future kingdom.
Nebuchadnezzar is impressed with Daniel’s God. “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries….” (2:47). Daniel and his friends are raised to high governmental positions and the word got out to the people. They had been embarrassed by their God and impressed with the gods of Babylon. But now Yahweh had shown himself superior to all of them.
Nebuchadnezzar was impressed with the statue of his dream, but wanted to be more than the head. He made his own statue—all of gold and demanded worship. But Daniel’s friends refused to worship him and so were cast into a blazing furnace. But Yahweh delivered them and everyone was impressed. Nebuchadnezzar confessed:
Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the kings’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation, or language who say anything against the god of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way (3:28-29).
In the next chapter Nebuchadnezzar’ pride is humbled with seven years of insanity. When Yahweh restores this greatest man in the world, he confesses again the greatness of the God of Daniel.
Then I praised the Most High: I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’…. Now, I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble (4:34-35 and 37).
At the end of the seventy years of the Babylonian empire, Yahweh again humbles an emperor with the handwriting on the wall. There is no response of praise by Belshazzar, but Yahweh’s prophecy is fulfilled that very night and he is exalted again.
At the beginning of the Persian empire, Daniel again stands fast in his convictions and pays by being thrown into a den of lions. But God delivers him. And now Darius issues a decree in this new Persian empire:
I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel, for he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions (6:26-27).
Then Daniel sees a vision of the same five kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, only with a whole different evaluation of the four pagan kingdoms and a far greater emphasis upon the coming Kingdom of Yahweh.
These deliverances, judgments, confessions and decrees are a powerful proclamation that Yahweh is the God of gods and the King of kings, the Lord of the earth, the Master of the Universe. Yahweh of Hosts wins in the judgment on Israel just as he had in their victories. This declaration of the Lord, Yahweh of Hosts is a powerful revelation of the character of God, especially for the time of exile, for now.
Though each of these names and titles of God have its own unique revelations of his nature and character, they are never to be separated from each other. God, the Creator of all things is also El-Shaddai, the God of promises. He adds to this his personal name, Yahweh, and reminds us that he is holy. This holy God of the covenant who delights to make and keep promises is the Creator of all things and is Lord of all of the earth as Yahweh of Hosts.
When these revelations have been completed by the end of the canon of the Old Testament, each one of these names is filled with all of this meaning. It will be alright to use Kurios to translate Yahweh because everyone who reads the first will remember all of the theophanies that inform our reading of the latter. When we read the immense number of times that Paul uses “Theos”, we remind ourselves that he is filling that name/title with all of the revelation of the entire Old Testament. When Jesus comes as Immanuel and is named Jesus we will recognize that all of the above revelation is packed into those words. We cannot understand the New Testament apart from this wonderful self-revelation of God in the canon of the Old Testament.
We can rejoice in the confessions that Yahweh is the Most High by the rulers of Babylon and Persia. We can thrill with Ezekiel to the glory of Yahweh on his living chariot. We can sing with the psalmist about our joy in our God’s sovereign rule over all things:
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
Great is Yahweh in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity,
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
Exalt Yahweh our god
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy.
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on Yahweh
and he answered them.
He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
O Yahweh our god,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.
Exalt Yahweh our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for Yahweh our God is holy. (Psalm 99)