Intimacy with God involves knowing Him deeply and personally. Such intimacy begins in knowing about the character and nature of God in his Word, in creation and in our life experience with God.
Reading the scriptures will help us grow in knowing God, understanding his character and interactions with man. How we take those truths into our heart and use them in our daily interactions with God helps us to develop intimacy with God.
I have found in my studies that the names God gives himself are an important way God reveals himself to us.
Names Make Intimate Connections
In John 10:3, we read that Jesus knows his sheep by name.
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
Jesus knows the sheep, so he calls each one by a name. They listen and follow him. There is a trusting relationship between them. A little further on in verse 10, Jesus explains the deeper nature of this relationship with his sheep. It is akin to Jesus’ relationship with the Father. They are so close and intimate that they are one (John 10:30).
Jesus has plans for us to get even closer to Him. In John 17:21-23, Jesus prays that we will be one with each other and one in him, as he and the Father are one.
I love the fact that Jesus does not treat me in a generic way, or just as part of a group, but he knows me by name. Jesus calls each of us by name, not only that but he has made plans to draw us closer to Him. These truths bring a sense of intimacy into the relationship.
If God knows our names and we feel a sense of closeness, we can grow even more in our intimacy with God by knowing His names. In sharing his names with us God is opening up knowledge of himself to us. In reality, God is inviting us into intimacy with him.
In revealing his names, God is revealing deep truths about his nature and character, and who he is in relation to us. We respond to God’s intimate overture to us by believing the truths he reveals about his self, and then we use those truths as we meet the circumstances in our live. In a sense, we live out the character of God in our lives.
The LORD of Hosts
One of the names God reveals to us is, LORD Sabaoth translated LORD of hosts,
“You show steadfast love to thousands … O great and mighty God, whose name is the
Lord of hosts …” Jeremiah 32:18
The word “tsaba” is translated several ways. It means army, or host (as in a large organized army). It refers to the angelic armies of God. It is a war term and is often used in association with various battles and struggles. The prophets use this name of God often in their writings.
A clear reference to spiritual/physical warfare and the LORD of hosts is found in Isaiah 13:4b-5.
“The Lord of hosts (tsaba) is mustering a host/army (tsaba) for battle. They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land.”
It is used to indicate God’s supreme and unlimited power, authority and judgment. (On occasion it is used to refer to the actual physical heavenly bodies of the sun, moon and stars).
Here are a few of the passages using the word “tsaba.” (The name LORD Sabaoth is used 261 in the Old Testament).
- “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army (tsaba) of the Lord. Now I have come.” Joshua 5:13-14
- “Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host (tsaba) of heaven standing on his right and on his left…”
2 Chronicles 18:18
- “Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts (tsaba)!” Psalm 148:2
- “Our Redeemer—the LORD of hosts (tsaba) is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 47:4
Intimacy in Real Life – A Shepherd Boy and the LORD of Hosts
David knew God’s name – LORD Sabaoth. This name revealed to David that God is almighty and sovereign over all. Armed with this knowledge about God, David was confident that God was with him as he approached Goliath.
David refers to God as the Lord of Hosts as he faces off with Goliath. As David moves towards Goliath He says that he is coming to Goliath in the name of the Lord of hosts.
“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45
Goliath could not see any “hosts” of God, so he laughed at and scorned David. All he saw was an army hiding in fear, but David knew who God is, David knew God’s name –LORD/Yahweh Sabaoth.
David believes that God truly has an army of angels. David calls upon LORD Sabaoth, and claims His power to help him in the battle.
David incorporated the truth he learned in intimate times with God and from his past experience with God, therefore, he was able to depend on God’s all mighty power as he stepped up to face Goliath. This is an example of how intimate knowledge of God became a part of real life. As a result of fighting Goliath with God, David grew in faith and intimacy with God.
A Woman in Conflict and the Lord of Hosts
As I read about the word “tsaba” in scriptures I came across the story of Hannah. The scriptures describe Hannah as a woman sorely troubled.
In 1 Samuel 1:1-20, we read of this struggle within Hannah’s heart and in her relationship with Peninnah, the other wife of Hannah’s husband. Hannah was grieved because she was barren; and she was grieved, even vexed, by the taunting of Peninnah (Elkanah’s other wife) who had children.
- “And her (Hannah’s) rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her.” 1 Samuel 1:6-7
In her struggles regarding both barrenness and the taunts of this other woman, we read that Hannah prays to God. In her prayers, Hannah does not address God as Merciful Father, or Compassionate God as one might think, but rather because of her struggles she uses the war reference to God. Hannah addresses God as “LORD Sabaoth” in her prayer.
“After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…”1 Sam.1:7-11
This is amazing. Hannah knew God’s name “LORD of hosts.” She understood the meaning and believed the truth of it. From this knowledge and belief Hannah intimately pours out her heart about her conflict, her battle, to the LORD of Hosts.
The LORD of Hosts and You
Knowing God as “LORD Sabaoth or Lord of hosts” gives me confidence and security.
I can call upon my Father who is Yahweh/LORD of the angel armies, and feel secure as I battle against sin and darkness in my life. With this knowledge of God born of intimacy I lean on LORD Sabaoth in conflicts with others. As He helps me conquer fearsome and intimidating circumstances, or darkness in my life, I grow deeper in my closeness with God.
The truths that are revealed by God in His Word to me are truths that cause me to have a deeper connection to Him, a deeper intimacy with Him as I engage in life.
Intimacy with God is not an ethereal experience, or a continuous run of warm fuzzy feelings. It involves knowing truths about God, believing them, and living out your daily life.
Intimacy with God is a truth: it is a feeling; but also it is an action we take as we depend on God. David did this as he approached Goliath in the name of LORD Sabaoth. Hannah did this as she cried out to LORD Sabaoth for help in her struggle.
What about you and LORD Sabaoth? What will He do in your life?