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The God of Angel Armies

I was in our York church last Sunday and one of the lines from one of the songs they sang there has stuck in my head ever since. I'd never heard the song before, and can't remember any of the rest of it, but what has stuck with me is its description of God - 'the God of Angel Armies'! What a wonderful expression of a very biblical truth!

Although I've never heard it put in exactly that way before, this is actually one of the biblical names of God. We just tend to translate it a different way. So you might be more familiar with 'LORD God of Hosts' (as in the NKJV, KJV, or ESV) or 'LORD God Almighty' (as in the NIV). When I lived in Belgium, I was always struck when this particular name of God was read out in the Bible reading in church, as the French is literally 'Lord of Armies' (which is exactly what Lord of Hosts means, we just don't talk about Hosts that way anymore, so it's much less striking). So LORD God of Angel Armies is exactly what we mean when we call God the Lord of Hosts or Lord Almighty.

Anyway, as I said, this expression got stuck in my head after my trip to York. And that was quite good. You see, last week I had something on that looked like it might be dangerous. (And I don't mean "just sort of realise it after the fact" dangerous, but proper "be rather concerned about it before-hand" dangerous.) So, naturally enough, I was praying about it as it was coming up. Now, I know God is the LORD God Almighty, but thinking about this name in a different way rather encouraged me as I was praying about it. The God to whom I was looking for protection and help is the God of Angel Armies! Not only does He Himself go with me, but He brings His angel armies as well.

And, of course, that made me think of Elisha and his servant in Dothan in 2 Kings 6. Although Elisha's servant couldn't see it until Elisha prayed for his eyes to be opened, they were surrounded in protected by 'horses and chariots of fire' (2 Kings 6:17). The LORD was indeed on Elisha's side, with His angel armies.

Anyway, this got me thinking more. You see, I've never really understood angels. I know they exist, as the Bible says so, but I've never really understood why we need them. After all, our God is already the sovereign ruler of heaven and earth by Himself, without needing any angelic help. 'All authority in heaven and on earth' belongs to Jesus. So what's with angels? Generally my way of thinking about angels has just been not to think about angels. But this week, with thinking about God as the God of Angel Armies, and thinking about Elisha and the angel armies in 2 Kings 6, I just couldn't help thinking about angels.

And then, suddenly, a glorious truth struck me. We're not supposed to 'get' angels. We don't 'need' them. Our God is more than enough. But in His great love and grace He gives us much more than we ever need. We don't 'need' angels, but God sends them anyway - it's grace upon grace! The angel armies are another example of the superabundance of God's great grace towards us.

And if you're not sure about that, just think of 2 Kings 6 again. The angel armies don't fight the Syrians. No, it's the LORD who strikes them (2 Kings 6:18). The angel armies might inspire Elisha and his servant with great confidence in the God of Angel Armies, but yet the angel armies themselves aren't needed to win the victory, for the LORD fights and wins for them. Angel armies are part of His extravagant grace, but our confidence shouldn't be in the angel armies, but in their God. Ultimately the angel armies are surplus to requirements, but God gives them anyway, because the God of Grace doesn't stop giving when we got 'enough'; in His great love and boundless generosity He keeps on lavishly pouring out grace upon grace.

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