Names of God – part 42: The LORD God of hosts

YHWH Sabaoth

Names of God – part 42

The LORD God of hosts or the LORD God of hoards


YHWH is God’s actual name (usually translated as LORD) which he revealed to Moses from the burning bush, it implies the personal nature of God.

The second part of the name here is how God relates to us: God of hosts shows that he is the God of many, in heaven and earth.

The battlefield is not somewhere you would expect to see theology debated, but David made an important distinction when facing Goliath:

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 thought that the God of the armies of Israel was the God of a small insignificant state. David states that Israels God is the Lord of Hosts. It is designed to be intimidating, as is his tactic, by using a sling, a weapon used at that time like artillery, David was cheating, it was the equivalent of taking a gun to a knife fight. David used the LORD God of hosts in many of his psalms to speak of God’s protection.

By Isaiah’s time, things had changed.

Isaiah’s prophesies talk of the God of hosts or hoards as a threat to the people. If YHWH is the God of hosts, the God of all, then he is God of the poor as well as the weak, the God of the powerless as well as the powerful, the God of the foreigners as well as the people who use his name. The lack of justice for the poor, powerless and foreigners was the reason that God was going to judge the people of Israel by sending them to exile.

Therefore the Lord declares,
the LORD of hosts,
the Mighty One of Israel:
“Ah, I will get relief from my enemies
and avenge myself on my foes. Isaiah 1:24

See the whole of chapter one for background.

ten commandments are to protect the neighbour from us.

The last six of the ten commandments:
Honour your parents,
You shall not murder,
You shall not commit adultery,
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour,
You shall not covet,
These are normally taught as signs of God to us. But if God is the God of all, then they also apply to our relationship with others. Look at who they protect.

Honour your parents protects our parents from us.
You shall not murder protects others from us.
You shall not commit adultery protects your spouse from you.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour protects the neighbour
You shall not covet protects others from us.

It’s not just the Old Testament either. Jesus told a parable in Matthew 25:31-46 showing that those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked and visit the sick and imprisoned are those who enter heaven.

Asylum seekers need protection against Christians who would turn boats back or build a wall to keep them out. Poor workers need protection from Christian bosses and Christian shareholders who would take all the profits and leave them nothing. Yes, I am being political, but the Bible is political; showing God to be the God of all, even the poor, the dispossessed, the widow or the orphan. God is for anyone and his justice will be visited on any who are against any of those he is for.

He is Lord of the host of heaven and of the inhabitants of the earth, of Jews and Gentiles, of rich and poor, master and slave. The name is expressive of the majesty, power, and authority of God and shows that He is able to accomplish what He determines to do.

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