How Is God the Lord of Hosts?

Although the title “Lord of Hosts” does include control over various forms of armies, the title is also used in Scripture to demonstrate God’s rule over every aspect of life. God’s title as Lord of Hosts is based on His power and sovereignty.

Contributing Writer
Feb 04, 2021
How Is God the Lord of Hosts?

There are many different celestial bodies, which can be observed in the night sky. With the right equipment, humans can view stars, nebulae, planets, moons, and galaxies.

In the Milky Way galaxy alone, astronomers estimate there are around 300 billion stars, which does not include the stars found in the rest of the universe.

Such a vast number of stars, and other heavenly bodies, can be too great for the human mind to grasp. Even more amazing is the God who controls these heavenly bodies.

In the Bible, God is described as the “Lord of Hosts.” He not only commands and controls the entire universe and its many celestial bodies (Isaiah 40:26), but He also has a myriad of angel armies (Joshua 5:14-15; Psalm 103:21) and is described as controlling human armies as well (1 Samuel 17:45).

As Ruler and Controller of all, His command far exceeds any human military commander or governmental power. Although such power is astounding, God is the “Lord of Hosts” or “Yahweh Sabaoth” because of His very character and being as the all-powerful Creator and King of all.

The Importance of God's Sovereign Character

In chapter eight of C. S. Lewis’ work, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver tells the Pevensie children that Aslan is “the King. The Lord of the whole wood.”

What Mr. Beaver means is there is no area in all Narnia where Aslan’s rule does not apply. In the same way, God is the King of the entire universe, exercising His power as the Creator and Ruler.

God created all things and therefore His territory of rule extends to all areas of the universe (Genesis 1:1; Revelation 4:11). In the Old Testament, Nehemiah recognized that God had power over all because He created everything (Nehemiah 9:6).

The Prophet Isaiah connected the title, “Lord of Hosts,” to God’s sovereignty as the one and only God (Isaiah 44:6). Because of this, the Lord has authority to rule over the heavenly bodies, angels, and Israel’s army. No area of life is out of the Lord of Hosts’ control.

God’s Power Over All

When young David went to fight against the Philistine Goliath, he did not place trust in his ability to fight, his own skill, or even in his armor (1 Samuel 17:32-36). Instead, David found strength and courage in the fact that God, the Lord of Hosts, was with him (1 Samuel 17:37,45).

The battle was not specifically David’s, but rather belonged to the great Commander, Yahweh (1 Samuel 17:47).

1 Samuel 17:45 specifically states how the Lord commanded the armies of Israel when David told Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a saber, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (NASB).

Significantly, God continued to give David success over His enemies as the Lord of Hosts (1 Chronicles 11:9).

Similarly, Elisha also displayed trust in the Lord of Hosts. Elisha personally witnessed the extent of God’s Heavenly armies when he was surrounded by the Arameans (2 Kings 6:12-14). Unlike Elisha, his servant did not have much hope in the face of such a vast army of enemies (2 Kings 6:15).

Praying that his servant’s eyes would be opened to the truth of the Lord’s armies surrounding them, Elisha’s servant was able to see the fiery multitude protecting them (2 Kings 6:17).

Elisha understood the truth that since God was with them as the powerful Commander of armies, they did not need to be afraid, since “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16, ESV).

Although the title “Lord of Hosts” does include control over various forms of armies, the title is also used in Scripture to demonstrate God’s rule over every aspect of life.

One of the first uses of this title in the Bible is when Hannah prayed to God because of her deep sorrow of being unable to bear children (1 Samuel 1:11, HCSB).

Hannah knew that God had power and could help her conceive a son. As a result of her heartfelt prayer, God granted Hannah a son, Samuel, whom she presented to the tabernacle as a servant of the Lord, set apart for His work (1 Samuel 1:20; 26-28).

The same Lord who controls armies, calls multitudes of angels to do His work, and who is the Master of the Universe, also cares tenderly for His people.

The King of All the World

Connected to His identity as Lord of Hosts is His glory. In Psalm 24, God is described as the King of glory: “Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah” (Psalm 24:10, ESV).

Israel found hope in the fact that God was King overall as the Lord of Hosts (Israel 46:7,11). They recognized that God is not just a ruler over a territory like so many false idols were depicted as, but rather His rule extends over all countries and kings (1 Kings 20:23, 28).

Ultimately, the Lord of Hosts will reign as King over all in His future Kingdom. Multiple prophets of the Old Testament prophesied of the future rule of the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem.

Both Isaiah and Zechariah favored using God’s special title as Lord of Hosts to convey His protection and strength as the One who cared for Israel.

Isaiah specifically speaks of the day when God will reign: “Then the moon will be ashamed and the sun be put to shame, For the LORD of armies will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, And His glory will be before His elders” (Isaiah 24:23, NASB).

Although there are different views within Christian thought about the fulfillment of this prophecy, one view is that this verse relates to Jesus’ millennial reign (Revelation 20:4), thus referring to Him as the Lord of Hosts.

Specifically, the prophet Zechariah describes Jesus’ return on the Mount of Olives and then goes on to describe His rule as King over all the earth (Zechariah 14:3-4, 9). This truth is reflected in Revelation, where Jesus returns victorious over His enemies (Revelation 19:11-21).

During His rule, all people will be required to worship Jesus as the Lord of Hosts, and those who do not will be punished with drought in the land (Zechariah 14:16-19). His rule will be final and authoritative.

The Lord of Hosts

Clearly, God’s title as Lord of Hosts is based on His power and sovereignty. “Lord of Hosts” is not just another title for the Lord but is one of His names, which display His mightiness as Leader of angels and human armies, as well as the Commander of stars and planets.

This title also demonstrates God’s all-encompassing power as King of all, which will ultimately be revealed in Jesus’ Second Coming, where He will rule over the world.

Not only is God the omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, but He is also the Protector of His people, who can be trusted in times of difficulty and hardship.

Like Hannah, believers today can find courage and strength in the fact that the Lord of Hosts, mighty in power, cares and protects those who are His.

As the Psalmist stated, refuge can be found in Him for the Lord of Hosts is always present (Psalm 46:11).

For further reading:     

What Does it Mean That Jesus Is Prophet, Priest, and King?

Who Is the Archangel Michael?

Who Was Hannah in the Bible?

What Is God Really Like?

What Is Sovereign Grace?

What Are All the Names of God?

What Does it Mean That God Is the King of Glory?

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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening. 

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