THE GOD OF JACOB KNOWN AS OUR GOD
Mr. H. Dawson
Union Chapel, Bethersden
“The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalm 46. 11).
This is a great word for a sinner born again to contemplate. Some of you are sinners born again, and in contemplation of it you would, maybe, tremble to take up the language that dropped from the Psalmist’s lips. As yet you cannot enter into the truth of it, and feel in uttering the words out of the abundance of the heart the mouth is speaking.
“The Lord of Hosts IS with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
As the Lord shall help me, look at the subject from two or three viewpoints of it, and I hope it will be a seasonable word. The Psalm is very familiar to you all. God alone knows who the Psalmist was that penned the Psalm, and, as He has not recorded the Psalmist’s name, we must not speculate as to who it might have been, although you can sometimes judge by internal evidence who is the writer of some Psalms. The opening word is very familiar, and often quoted. I wonder how many people who quote the words realise the sweet blessed experience of what they mean: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” Now, that beautiful word picture presents to us trouble world-wide; wherever you look there is chaos and confusion, and yet, a sinner born again, in looking upon it, feels the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, possessing his heart and mind. Did you ever feel like that at any time in journeying on through life:Â—
“When trouble like a gloomy cloud,
Gathered thick and thundered loud?” (Medley)
I want you, as the Lord shall help you, to search out what you know of one viewpoint of truth, a very sure viewpoint to contemplate, and it might help you to search out whereabouts you stand in things divine. The thing I want you to lay to heart is thisÂ—as a rule, when our circumstances are at their worst, our religion should then give the surest evidence that God is the Author of it, and be
at its best in the eyes of our faith. Prayerfully ponder that line of thought, and it might be helpful to you. You will not only find that line of things in the Word of God set forth very clearly throughout the sacred pages, but you will find it in many a hymnwriter’s language. This is the line of things I mean:Â—
” When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my help and stay.”
If you have the mercy to be taught of God you will be led into truth like that, and find God is indeed “a very present help in trouble,” you will rise above your fears and faintings, and that will bring you to feel like the Psalmist did in the word before us: “The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” Think upon it, mark well, ponder it in your heart. In the context there is a command which I judge is the hardest thing, if you and I are taught of God, that we shall be called upon to do. You will not find many people even though they are well taught of God know much about doing it often; only here a little, and there a little, do they come into the truth of it: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Be still. As soon as trouble comes, whatever its nature, often our immediate reaction is to be doing something in regard to it. You may use a little common sense, you may view the trouble from reason’s viewpoint, and there may be this which you think might be helpful to alleviate it, or that; but in the ultimate dealings of God with you, you will have to come to thisÂ—”My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.”
“Thy whole dependence on Me fix
Nor entertain a thought,
Thy worthless schemes with mine to mix
But venture to be nought.”
“Be still, and know that I am God.” There is another interpretation of that word, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Think of if from the viewpoint of the enemies of God and godliness being apparently, for the time being, triumphant in what they are doing in the world at large. You may survey it, and think of the Saviour’s words: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth,” but that refers to people who are just worldlings, not people taught of God. People taught of God are favoured to learn when the cause of God and godliness for a while seems as though it may be overwhelmed; “Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth”; and that “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16, 18).
Now, to come to this subject “The Lord of Hosts is with us.” The reference is to the Trinity, The Father. The Son, and The Holy Spirit, The Lord of Hosts is with US. A great statement, a wonderful confession, a blessed experience, and every sinner born again will enter into it, sooner or later.
“All true Christians this may boast
A truth from nature never learned
That Father, Son and Holy Ghost
To save our souls were all concerned.”
The Father is with us; yes, the dear Saviour said to His disciples Â—”Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of.” “The Father Himself loveth you”; and He taught them to appeal to HimÂ—”Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed by Thy Name”; and ere The Saviour returned to the skies triumphant over sin, and death and hell. He said to His disciples, and that also is said to you: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Then The Holy Spirit is with us. It is His great prerogative to lead poor sinners into the truth, and He delights to do it. I think that is one of the most outstanding words in the word of God; “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.” (Luke 11, 13). Do think on these things, dear friends, that you may, by the grace of God, go deeper down into our most holy faith, and feel you have got a sure footing to stand on. ” The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” This will be the Hall-mark of our religion being evidenced to be that which is of God; we shall know something about the presence of God attending us, and I would look at that viewpoint of the subject “The Lord of Hosts is with us.” You may well say “Happy is the people that is in such a case; yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.Â” (Psa. 144.15). There are some things to search out as to how it is to be known: “The Lord of hosts is with us.” It is not just a truth that you can generalise about, but it is a truth of which every pilgrim to Canaan bound knows the sweet reality. Every one knows something about the presence of God, and can echo the hymwriter’s lines:
“In Thy presence I am happy;
In Thy presence I’m secure;
In Thy presence all affliction,
I can easily endure.”
It is a wonderful consideration that the Lord of Hosts can make His presence known to poor sinners as they journey on through life and bring them into this experience: ” The Lord of Hosts is with us.” US individually. The subject is so vast that our minds cannot begin to think what we ought to think about it. Our minds are too limited, and our thoughts are so contracted that we can only grasp a faint outline of such a subject as this. When you think that on this earth at this hour there are some millions of sinners born again, and that the eye of Him, Who is declared to be the Lord of Hosts, is upon each one individually, Â“I will set Mine Eyes upon them to do them good.” (Jer. 24, 6). “Thou God seest me.” (Gen. 16, 13). “The eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, and upon them that hope in His mercy.”
(Psa. 33, 18). So that you, whatever your troubles may be, when you draw near to God to tell him all the truth, and humble yourself under His mighty hand in His dealings with you. His eye, yea, His fatherly eye is upon you. He will make you to understand as you cast your care upon Him, “He careth for you “Â—individually. Remember that.
You may say. Will you tell us some evidences whereby we may know “The Lord of Hosts is with us” for we want to have that knowledge in our own soul’s experience. I will give you one or two evidences, and do weigh these things up before God, with Whom you have to do. “The Lord of Hosts is with us.”
When the presence of God is with a sinner that is born again one thing will be outstanding; the things of God will be very attractive to that sinner. God will be first in his life while he is realising “The Lord of Hosts is with us.” In all that he desires to put his hand to, or set afoot in his journeying in life, he will want it to be “In the beginning God” (Gen. 1,1): feeling “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” (Psa. 124,7). As it was with Israel of old, the truth of it is illustrated, as you all know. Israel as a host were not allowed to move in their wilderness wanderings until the Cloud lifted off the tabernacle, and moved onward. Then they struck their tents, and followed the Cloud to another resting place. When you make a move in everyday life, whether it be to go from one situation to another, do not make a move, only as you do it before God with whom you have to do. “If now, I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now THY way.” (Ex. 33, 13). You will want to realise the Cloud is moving, then where that leads you, you will find a resting place. Aye, you will rest in the Lord there, and wait patiently for Him to work out whatever His will is for you in that place where the Cloud has moved. “The Lord of Hosts is with us.” Another consideration about the presence of God being known is that, whenever you are the subject of it, you will feel “Jesus is the one thing needful.” Jesus Christ will be in your soul’s esteem:Â—”All your salvation and all your desire” (2 Samuel 23, 5), and you will have a feeling like this:Â—
“Compared with Christ, in all beside,
No comeliness I see ;
The one thing needful, dearest Lord,
Is to be one with Thee.”
“The Lord of Hosts is with us.”
Another thing will help you to realise it, and I want you to weigh this up because it may be preacher and people alike will have to plead guilty in regard to it at times. When the Lord of Hosts is with us the Word of God will be very real to us, and it will confirm that the way we are going along is the right way. We shall find in the Word of God that which will feed our souls, and be as “bread which strengtheneth a man’s heart.” (Psa. 104, 15). We
shall understand the Psalmist when he said “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path” (Psa. 119, 105); “I rejoice in Thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.” (Psa. 119, 162). You will get this truth opened up to you then:Â—
“The Scriptures and the Lord,
Bear one tremendous Name;
The written and the Incarnate Word,
In all things are the same.”
O, it is good when the word of God is made to you a sweet reality, maybe day by day you look into it and read a chapter here, a chapter there, but there is an experience like this: “The meek shall eat, and be satisfied, and increase their joy in the Lord.” (Psa. 22, 26). Remember good Jeremiah when he said: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them, and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” (Jer. 15, 16). “The Lord of Hosts is with us.” If He is, it is a wonderful mercy to prize. If He is, as you journey on realising it, you will be able to look on the dealings of God with you and see His dealings are “Infinite in wisdom, excellent in counsel, and wonderful in working.” You will understand this word: “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” (Psa. 107, 43). Not only so, it may be you have an unlooked-for trial come into your life, a providence you little dreamed you would ever contemplate to do with you, or with yours, but it has come, and now you want to understand the why and wherefore of it. Think of Job, when he said: “Show me wherefore thou contendest with me.” (Job 10, 2).
“Deal gently with thy servant. Lord,
And if the rod should needful be,
Thy seasonable aid afford,
My soul in trouble flies to Thee.”
It is good to be exercised unto godliness. I wish I knew more about it. I wish you did too, for I should get the benefit of it in the pulpit more often than I feel to do. (Suffer that word of exhortation.) It is a great scripture: “Bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4, 8). The Apostle Paul counselled his son Timothy: “Exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” (1 Timothy 4, 7). That will be one evidence that the Lord of Hosts is with us, when you can feel that solemn, painful soul-travail that the Lord will be with you in the way you go, and make His goodness pass before you, hear your petitions for this matter, and that, as you lay them at Jesus’s feet, and over rule all for His glory and your good. There was an occasion in Jacob’s life when he journeyed from a place where he ought never to have been found, even at Shechem; but the Lord made known His presence
and, as He is the Lord of Hosts, He kept all the Shechemites quiet, and all others round about, as they journeyed back to Bethel where matters were to be put right between Jacob’s soul and God. “The terror of God was on all the cities that were round about.” There you see the providential presence of God from that viewpoint, and those who get the benefit of it can say “The Lord of Hosts is with us.” It still is a great truth, the hearts of all are in the hand of God to dispose, and He can still shut the gates of hell, and close enemies’ mouths, and make His mercy known to you in doing so.
Then, the presence of God is known from another viewpoint, and that is in the worship of God. In the epistle to the church at Ephesus, as you read of it in the Revelation, that in the introduction it speaks about Him that “walketh in the midst of the golden candlesticks,” (Rev. 2, 1) and that is a thing that should concern you whenever you are in the attitude of worship. You do need to watch your spirit whenever you come up to worship God with whom you have to do. “I the Lord Thy God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20, 5).
“Partial service is His loathing,
He requires, pure desires;
All the heart, or nothing.”
There is this word to encourage you: “Where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18, 20). You must not read that word I have just quoted concerning the golden candlesticks as a piece of history. It states a truth, as you may read in the book of Revelation: “To the angel of the church at Ephesus write. These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh (present tense) in the midst of the golden candlesticks.” The church at Ephesus is no more, but this truth remains a reality. Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and today, and forever. Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. This truth should give us some searchings of heart, because whenever Pastor and people are gathered together, Jesus Christ is walking in the midst of our candlestick which sets forth a church. What is He doing? He does not walk in any church unmindful of what is going on, because in those epistles to the seven churches it says to each one “I know thy works,” then He is examining those who worship, and from whence their worship springs. Is it “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh”? (Matthew 12, 34). Is it that I have just alluded to: “Bodily exercise which profiteth little”? Is it just “chapel going”? Or is there something deep down which says:Â—
“Jesus, we come to meet
With Thee, our Lord and King;
To sit at Thy dear feet,
And here Thy praises sing;
Compassion have on us we pray,
And empty send us not away.”
I wish you dear people, young and old, would ponder that word:Â—”Who walketh in the midst of the golden candlesticks.” Remember, whenever you are here, you are here before God. Remember what Cornelius said to PeterÂ—Cornelius was a wonderfully well-taught man,Â—”We are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” (Acts 10, 33). You may not always like to hear what a preacher has to say, and you may question it, you might even resent it; but you might, first of all, remember that the preacher might be commanded of God to say what was said. Then, it is for you to heed it. I am not fitting any caps on, I had no intention of preaching like this, but there it is:
“Who walketh in the midst of the golden candlesticks.” He knows if a pew is empty, and He knows who usually sits in that pew. He knows their accustomed seats. He knows if they are on the potato patch, when they could be at the Prayer Meeting. He knows why they are absent, whether it is a legitimate reason, or if it is half-heartedness and being slack in following on to know the Lord. It is a great word to contemplate, dear friends. “Who walketh in the midst of the golden candlesticks.”
Now, the presence of God is known like that. Sometimes in the attitude of worship you get help; you feel as you like to feel, and get good for your soul; the gospel is made a help to you, and you feel it to be “The power of God unto salvation.” (Romans 1, 16). Then you feel: “Lord it is good for us to be here”; (Matthew 19, 4) and why? He, Whose you are, and Whom you serve, is here; the presence of God is being known, and you can say “The Lord of Hosts is with us” in our worship. Lo, the house of prayer is become to us the house of God, and the gate of heaven. It is good to remember that He is the Lord of Hosts. I like that viewpoint of it. There are the angelic hosts, elect angels, myriads of them, altogether beyond man’s reckoning; “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1, 14). Remember the young man in Elisha’s day when he saw the enemies of Israel surrounding the city:Â—”Alas, my Master, how shall we do?” (2 Kings 6, 15). Elisha said: “O Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see,” and his eyes were opened, and he saw the heavens were filled with horses and chariots of fire all round about Elisha to guard him. “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them;” (Psa. 34, 7) and in that viewpoint: Â“The Lord of Hosts is with us:Â—
“Christ is the keeper of His saints,
He guards them by His power;
Subdues their numerous complaints
In every gloomy hour.
What though they fear each dread alarm,
Tried and severely tossed;
Upheld by His almighty arm,
None, none can ere be lost.”
Yes, and when you look round the world, wherein it seems hell itself is let loose, the Lord of Hosts has it all under His control. “The Lord reigneth.”
“In heaven, and earth, and air, and seas,
He executes His firm decrees;
But though His methods are unknown,
Judgment and truth support His throne.”
Men may rise up against us, and they do, and in doing so, they rise up against God with whom they have to do; but, even as you look round the world at the present juncture in its very solemn history, the war is on between Truth and error, good and evil, right and wrong. What does the Word of God say to help us to view the world aright? “Why do the heathen rage” (marginÂ—Tumultuously assemble) “and the people imagine (marginÂ—meditate) a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together” (and you know how very much they have been doing that lately). All these commissions and conferences, and so-called United Nations Assembly, which is just a helpless delusion. The rulers take counsel together, but in their deliberations the Lord of Hosts is left out. Therefore what they deliberate is against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying: “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” What language is this? It is put like it is to come down to our understanding: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” And the Spirit of God sums it up: “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.” (Psa. 2, 1-6). Whatever you may do against Me, and my Truth, nothing shall overturn what it is My purpose to fulfil: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6, 10). You see what flows from this great truth when it is known aright, “The Lord of Hosts is with us”; and you might not think of this viewpoint of it, but even the hosts of heaven. Sun, Moon and stars, if need arise. Did not the stars in their courses fight against Sisera, as you read in the Old Testament record of a battle then? Did not the Sun and the Moon stand still on one occasion for Joshua to gain a victory for Israel? It can still be. “The Lord of Hosts is with us.” Whether it be the hosts of hellÂ—the Lord of Hosts can deal with hell. I will re-word that. The Lord of Hosts HAS dealt with hell. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3, 8). When Jesus Christ declared on the cross “It is finished,” hell was defeated, never at any time to gain any semblance of victory over the Church of Christ on the earth; it was a sure guarantee hell is vanquished. Remember that.
Another viewpoint of this great truth it will be well to think on is this: there is a lovely scripture, not yet fulfilled, but it is fulfilling, and there is a day in heaven’s own calendar when it will
be fulfilled in every jot and tittle, but you can now see it is fulfilling. Speaking of the enemies of God this Scripture says: “These shall make war with the Lamb.” I have just read to you “They take counsel together against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying: Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” Now, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings.” (Rev. 19, 14). Listen. “And they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” You see, if you and I have this pleasure, this privilege, and honour to realise in our soul’s experience: “The Lord of Hosts is with us,” then there must be more evidence still in our lips and lives that you and I are with “The Lord of Hosts.” They that are “with Him,” as they journey through life are “called.” Called by grace; called to be separated from the world; called to be set apart for God: called to serve Him wherever He ordains a sphere for them to labour in; called, chosen, and faithful. I like that word “faithful.” “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land that they may dwell with me,” you will read in Psalm 106, 6. Faithful. You will find that the Spirit of God uses that word to describe the religion of some people in the word of God. “He was a faithful man, and feared God above many.” (Nehemiah 9. 2). Faithful. What is it to be faithful? It is not so much that you are in the public eye. It may be that you do not fill an office where the eyes of many may be upon you; but it means wherever you are you desire to: “Let your Yea, be yea, and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5, 12). Called, chosen, faithful.
“The Lord of Hosts is with us.” O, to know this great truth more as we journey on through life. When you are favoured to know just a little of it you will feel exactly like those two disciples did on the Emmaus road, when Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. Beautiful picture. The dear Saviour, He, who is the Incarnate Word, opened up to them the written word, and unfolded to their wondering view the things concerning Himself; and they said: “Did not our heart bum within us, while he talked with us by the way?” What else did they say? “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” (Luke 32, 29). Now, when you have the Lord of Hosts with you, and you realise His presence, you do not want Him ever to leave you, but to be with Him where He is, and that He will always be where you are. You can say as the hymnwriter did:
“Thou on my head in early youth did smile,
And though rebellious, and perverse meanwhile;
Thou hast not left me, oft as I’ve left thee;
Unto life’s close, O Lord, abide with me.”
(H. F. Lyte).
The Lord of Hosts is with us. And you will say “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” (Psa. 146, 5). In our text the psalmist sums it up:
“The God of Jacob is our refuge.” I want you to register it in your mind that concerning Jacob, in all that is recorded of him, it is not so much to set forth every detail of his life for us to read, as it is to be a representative of what will be the character of everyone taught of God like Jacob was. See in the life of Jacob, as you read it, some very unlovable kinks in Jacob’s character, and if the truth was told about you, and the preacher too, it might make people open their eyes a little with surprise, because there is this and that kink which brings no glory to God, or any good to you. When Oliver Cromwell was asked that his portrait might be painted to be hung up in some prominent place he said it could be done on one condition only, and that was that it told the truth, and showed an ugly wart which he had on his face. It was not to be erased by any painter’s art, but to be the truth. It is like that when you read Jacob’s life, and you see how good the God of Jacob was to overrule all that he was by nature. You see “Sovereign Grace o’er sin abounding.” You will see Jacob often reaping in accordance with the seed he had sown, especially in his being a deceiver, but in the midst of it all Jacob had received some wonderfully outstanding tokens for good: some spots in his life that he looked back upon when he could say “The Lord of Hosts is with us.” He could say: “Almighty God. Who blessed me at Bethel:” (Genesis 48, 3) and some of you can say “Almighty God, Who blessed me here, and blessed me there”; maybe, in between times your behaviour was not all it ought to have been; you became entangled again in the things of this life, and very much of the earth, earthy, but the God of Jacob still made His goodness known, and brought you back to own Him as your Lord, your God. I say again: “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, and whose hope is in the Lord his God.”
There is one more thought here and that is, when you and I, as we survey the dealings of God with us, and remember the way God has led us along; when we see the way-marks and high heaps he has enabled us to set up, and you can say, “The God of Jacob is our refuge,” it brings you into a wonderful, yea, an indescribable relationship. Sometimes you sing a hymn that begins like thisÂ—but none of you know how big is the meaning of itÂ—
“There is a family on earth,
Whose Father fills the throne.”
When you realise “The Lord of Hosts is with us,” and His presence is known and felt, and you look on, and see the Angel of the Lord doing wondrously for you, it links you up to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all those who have journeyed home to God before you; and you can also look forward along the way that you hope still to be going, and you can enter a little into the hymnwriter’s feelings:
” Ye are travelling home to God,
In the way our Fathers trod;
They are happy now, and ye
Hope their happiness to see.”
What is their happiness? “For ever with the Lord.” Found at length at the Fountain Head, from whence all their mercies have come down to them as they have journeyed along life’s way. “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there also shall My servant be.” (John 12, 26). “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16, 11).
“Let the sweet hope that Thou are mine,
My life and death attend;
Thy presence on my journey shine,
And crown my journey’s end.”