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The Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 24


His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:7

Do you ever feel like a kid waiting for Christmas, wondering if the big day will ever come? When I was little, it seemed like Christmas would take forever and ever and ever and ever to come. Long before I heard of someone named Einstein or his Special Theory of Relativity, I had contrived my own theory about time slowing down right before Christmas. Nowadays, many people are wanting Christmas to hurry up and come. We see Christmas lights, decorations, and trees going up so much earlier in the year.

But it is not only we who are eager for Christmas: God is more than eager to complete His magnificent plan for His new heavens and earth! Christmas is, after all, about “the zeal of the LORD of Hosts”: God’s burning passion to present His new world to His children.

While Scripture accords Messiah Jesus many grand titles and names, seen earlier throughout our Advent text, “the LORD of Hosts” in today’s scripture is one of the grandest. This name, “the LORD of Hosts”, is found almost 300 times in the Old Testament. It is the name by which God instructs His people to remember Him. It is the name most frequently used by the prophets when wanting to encourage God’s people in their darkest hours. The word “LORD” in all capital letters translates God’s Hebrew name, Yahweh, meaning “I AM” (Exodus 3:13-14). It is a name signifying God’s self-existent, self-sufficient nature. The second part of “the LORD of Hosts” is Sabaoth, coming from a word meaning “armies”, as God is commander of all celestial hosts (Isaiah 40:26), angel hosts (Psalm 103:21) and human hosts or armies (1 Samuel 17:45). Yahweh Sabaoth, “the LORD of Hosts” is a name for God that “affirms His universal rulership that encompasses every force or army, heavenly, cosmic and earthly…Special attention is given to the majestic splendor of Yahweh’s rule in this title.” (John Hartley, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament) Isaiah sees Jesus, “The LORD of Hosts”, as “the holy God, the Lord over all the powers and forces which form and control the world, possesses the power to make his will prevail in the world.” (Walter Kaiser, Isaiah 1-12)

This Jesus in a lowly manger is Lord over all. He commands angelic and human armies and all the hosts of stars and planets. Even when scourged, humiliated, and rejected, Jesus is Yahweh Sabaoth, possessing authority to command legions of angels for His rescue (Matthew 26:53). Martin Luther drew on this majestic title for Jesus, urging worshippers to look to Him when in trouble: “Christ Jesus, it is he/ Lord Sabaoth his name/ from age to age the same/ and he must win the battle.” (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”)

Ancient translators of the Old Testament into Greek rendered Yahweh Sabaoth as Kyrios Pantokrator, “Lord Almighty”. This title for Jesus was carried over into the New Testament (2 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 19:6), and is the name by which He is even now adored and worshipped in heaven: “Day and night without ceasing they sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come’” (Revelation 4:8).

Christmas is the unfolding of God’s passion, “the zeal of the LORD of Hosts”, to bring peace to our troubled world. God’s zeal, His passion, was manifested at Jesus’ first coming and will be ultimately fulfilled in His return. Jesus’ coming again will be the apokalypsis, the “revelation” (Revelation 1:1) of Lord of lords in the radiance of His glory. This is God’s plan from eternity to eternity which He will zealously see through to completion. The “LORD of Hosts” will establish His kingdom of endless peace with justice and righteousness. The prophet Isaiah foretells the unfolding of God’s wondrous plan for our world in another vision recorded in Isaiah 14:26-27:

This is the plan that is planned
concerning the whole earth;
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations. For the LORD of hosts has planned,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back?

It will be the apokalypsis, the “revelation”, of whom the baby in the barnyard manger really is! The Light has shined!


Loving Savior, You have so many wonderful names by which we get to talk with You. Today, we bow before You and worship You as “The LORD of Hosts”. We praise You that You are Lord of all stars and galaxies, all angelic and celestial powers. You are the Sovereign before whom every Caesar, king, potentate or president, will bow and give account. And You are the One who so loved us that You gave Your very life for us. You did not want to be God without us. We praise You, “The LORD of Hosts!” To You be all glory to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

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