The LORD of Hosts

holy-angelic-hostsThe title LORD of Hosts in English invokes the idea of a Being that commands both the cosmos and spiritual beings.  All creation is ordered and marshaled by Him.  It is a title of the LORD which indicates His supreme creative omnipotence.

In Hebrew YHWH Seva’ot, is always plural, which in Hebrew does not necessarily mean more than two, but can indicate great, large or important.

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory”.  Isa 6:3

 Common misunderstanding

There are some people who think and/or teach that the hosts of God are angelic forces.  They use Rev 12 as their proof text.

His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; Rev. 12:4

They reason that throughout the Old Testament the word “host” is used of stars and/or planets.  And that here in the Revelation stars are metaphors for spiritual being.  Therefore they conclude the LORD of Hosts is the commander of armies of spiritual beings or angels.  We are often taught by popular culture and through religious paintings to picture the LORD with large armies of angelic beings.  While this may be true, this passage is not to be used in this manner.

There are some real problems with the consistency of this interpretation. While stars are identified in Rev 1: 20 by the Lord as angels of the seven churches,  the stars can not simply be angels in every passage of the Revelation where they are found.

Even though the context of the symbolic use of stars in Rev 12:4 might suggest angels,  a preceding verse, Rev. 12:1, should suggest a correlation to angels. However, most scholars agree that the reference to the twelve stars in the woman’s crown, are to the twelve tribes of Israel.

 “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;” Rev 12:1

To be consistent, the tail of the red dragon would sweep four stars to earth. That would mean that the Lord lost a third of His angels!

Interpretation of the Book of The Revelation is the culmination of scripture.  For the words, similes and metaphors to have meaning, they must be consistent with the usage found in the preceding 1500 years of scriptures.  Scholars do not take the end language and apply it backwards. The Revelation is not to be used as a proof text for scripture that has come before.  It is properly on the receiving end of all that a word can mean, scripture interprets scripture.

The word or wording of hosts, host of heaven, and LORD of Hosts are not synonymous.  When host, or host of heaven is in the singular it is the entire material universe of stars and planets, however in the plural, the hosts are God’s people.  Throughout scripture, the wording of The LORD of Hosts is used of His people.

Host, Host of Heaven (in the singular)

When the word “host” is used in combination with ‘of heaven’, it is often used in the same context of the material universe or heavens, earth, sun, moon, stars and/or planets.  The word is always in the singular, it can mean stars or pagan deities [Deut 17:3].  Often the use of these armies as a metaphor, the sun is put for the “king”, the moon for the “vice regent” and the stars for the “army”.   All paganism including that which developed in Israel involved the worshipping of the host of heaven: the sun and the moon etc. [Deut 4:19, 2 Kings 17:16, 23:5; Neh. 9:6; Ps 33:6; Jer 33:22; Zeph 1:5] .

Micaiah

And then there is Micaiah, who when using the singular word “host” is ambiguous as to whether he talking about angels, stars, or pagan deities. Standing is often used as a metaphor for ministering, thus giving purpose to the “host”; on His left and right may indicate a position of power or authority.  he may not mean anything at all, as his entire little speech is meant to mock the other prophets and the king.

And Micaiah said,  “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left 1 Kings 22:19 

The LORD of Hosts (always in the plural)

mount-sinaiOne of the “titles” or names of the LORD is The LORD of Hosts.  It is an indication of His ultimate creation and glory, His making of the entire universe and all the beings in it. It is also a title indicating He is the commander of armies.

When the Scriptures define the word in the plural, the “hosts or armies” the hosts are His people.  The first time the term is used, clearly the Israelites are the “hosts” or “armies”.  He is their founder and protector, the captain and defender.

And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. Ex. 12:41

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 Sam. 17:45 [c.f. 1 Sam. 1:3; 2 Sam. 7:26; Psa. 46:7, 48:8;  Is. 8:18; Amos 5:27]

Paul and James used the same word in the New Testament, so to include the Gentile believers into the host of the LORD.

And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.” Rom. 9:29

James explains that as the religious “rich” continue to persecute the true believers, their cries have reached the LORD of hosts.  (here James is referencing the Law of the oppressed Exodus 22:21-23)

Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.  James 5:4 

We are His host, we are His armies, we are a motley crew of escaped slaves, widows, orphans and redeemed sinners, and we fight our battles on our knees.

the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt. 16:18b

Ps 148

Psa. 80:0   To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. 

A Testimony of Asaph. 

A Psalm.  

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 

thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! 

Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth 

2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh! 

Stir up thy might, and come to save us!  

3 Restore us, O God; 

let thy face shine, that we may be saved!  

4 O LORD God of hosts, 

how long wilt thou be angry with thy people’s prayers?  

5 Thou hast fed them with the bread of tears, 

and given them tears to drink in full measure.  

6 Thou dost make us the scorn of our neighbors; 

and our enemies laugh among themselves.  

7 Restore us, O God of hosts; 

let thy face shine, that we may be saved!  

8 Thou didst bring a vine out of Egypt; 

thou didst drive out the nations and plant it.  

9 Thou didst clear the ground for it; 

it took deep root and filled the land.  

10 The mountains were covered with its shade, 

the mighty cedars with its branches;  

11 it sent out its branches to the sea, 

and its shoots to the River.  

12 Why then hast thou broken down its walls, 

so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?  

13 The boar from the forest ravages it, 

and all that move in the field feed on it.  

14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, 

and see; have regard for this vine,  

15 the stock which thy right hand planted.  

16 They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;

 may they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance!  

17 But let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, 

the son of man whom thou hast made strong for thyself!  

18 Then we will never turn back from thee; 

give us life, and we will call on thy name!  

19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! 

let thy face shine, that we may be saved! 

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