Seven Active Names: 2. Yahweh Tseva’ot (יהוה צבאות) The LORD OF HOSTS

The population of the world is currently estimated at 7.9 billion people.

In a 1995 paper (C Haub. Popul Today: National Library of Medicine, National Centre for Biotechnology Information), acknowledging assumptions as to when humankind came to be and birth rates over the passing millennia etc., it was estimated that 105 billion people have lived on earth, of whom some 5.5% per cent were then still alive. In 2020, the World Atlas updated this estimate to 108 billion, with those who have lived outnumbering those who are alive by some 15 to 1.

That’s a lot of people – and we haven’t even started to account for angels.

The LORD our God is Lord of everything, and of everyone. Yahweh tseva’ot means ‘LORD of Hosts’ and hosts means hordes – lots and lots of people, both angels and human beings. God is LORD of all the hosts of heaven and earth. Christian, Jewish, no faith; powerful, weak; able, requiring support: He is LORD of all.

And it is more than a simple statistic. God is more than ruler of the most people; the biggest number. Yahweh tseva’ot, the Lord of Hosts, gives us an insight into the type of lord He is, of His majesty, power and authority. Sometimes this is translated as the “LORD Almighty” – that certainly speaks of His power and authority, and the Message translation emphasises this by translating the name as “God-of-Angel-Armies.”

This invites us to consider the power of an ‘Angel Army’ and then the fact that He is not just the commander in chief of that army – He is GOD of that army. The Hebrew word tseva’ot references God in dedication; of Holy things, set aside reverently.

The Greek Old Testament uses the Greek equivalent – Kyrios sabaōth, but with Greek linguistic precision, it also references Kyrios pantokratōr which has more of an emphasis of ‘all-powerful.’ So in many modern English translations of the Bible we find simply “LORD Almighty.” It is actually a good way to settle with both, because it supports the emphasis in the Hebrew of the resources available to God (God of His hosts) and it also supports the emphasis in Greek of the Lord’s own might (His godly strength). So we are looking at two aspects of God in this one name.

We do well to remember God’s almighty power, even as we shelter in God’s arms for safety, for He is indeed the LORD of Hosts. Treasure the feeling, the tingle of power reaching out for you (and only for you in that instant); the frisson of this mightiness that is an outpouring of God’s love for you. 

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3)

David knew. When he encountered Goliath at the head of the army of the Philistines, David expressed both the mighty power of the holiness and reverence of God on the one hand and also the mighty power of the resources and armies available to God on the other. David was not afraid for he knew the LORD was almighty, LORD of Hosts:

David told the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Yahweh tseva’ot, the LORD of the Army of Israel, whom you have insulted.” (1 Samuel 17:45)

[from Timothy Pitt]

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