Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Yahweh-Sabaoth

Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Yahweh-Sabaoth

Yahweh and Jesus – The Name of Yahweh-Sabaoth.

“Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh-sabaoth. His glory fills the whole earth.”  (Isaiah 6:1).

Yahweh-sabaoth = LORD of Hosts; LORD of the Angel Armies; Commander of Heaven’s Armies; Leader of Angelic Warriors; a host of angelic forces massing together for battle at the command of the LORD. This name of God is the most frequently used compound name for God in the Hebrew Bible. It is used over 280 times, most of them found in the biblical Prophets, especially JeremiahIsaiah, and in many of the Psalms.

“In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to Yahweh with many tears, and she made this vow, ‘Yahweh-sabaoth! Should you condescend to notice the humiliation of your servant and keep her in mind instead of disregarding your servant, and give her a boy, I will give him to Yahweh for the whole of his life.’”  (1 Samuel 1:10-11, NJB).

This is the first time this name is used in Scripture. A distraught Hannah introduces us to this name in the midst of her forlorn prayer to God over her barrenness. If you can command an innumerable force of angelic warriors, Yahweh, certainly you can answer my desperate need for a child! You are the King of the Heavenly Forces, Yahweh, please summon your angels and come to my aid!

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him, grasping a naked sword. Joshua walked towards him and said to him, ‘Are you on our side or on that of our enemies?’ He replied, ‘On neither side. I  have come now as the captain of the army of Yahweh.’ Joshua fell on his face to the ground, worshipping him, and said, “What has my Lord to say to his servant?’ The captain of the army of Yahweh answered Joshua, ‘Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.”  (Joshua 5:13-15, NJB).

This was a hint of God’s angelic forces when Joshua was about to attack Jericho. An angel appeared before Joshua with a sword in hand, claiming to be the “captain” or “commander” of Yahweh’s army. Joshua bowed low to the ground out of respect to a superior, and he took off his sandals on that holy ground. Some say this was a mysterious appearance of Yahweh Himself, since He is the Commander of the Host. Ohers say this was actually Jesus before His incarnation. Still others claim this is one of the high-ranking angelic captains appearing in front of Joshua. For the first time, Bible readers are introduced to the idea that there are angel armies fighting battles, whether earthly or spiritual. This angel then gave Joshua his battle strategies, which Joshua followed carefully. And Jericho was defeated.

“… The Philistine, preceded by his shield-bearer, came nearer and nearer to David. When the Philistine looked David up and down, what he saw filled him with scorn, because David was only a lad, with ruddy cheeks and an attractive appearance. The Philistine said to David, ‘Am I a dog for you to come after me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. David retorted to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword, spear and scimitar, but I come to you in the name of Yahweh-sabaoth, the LORD of the Angel Armies, and the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have challenged. Today, Yahweh will deliver you into my hand; and the whole assembly shall know that Yahweh does not give victory by means of sword and spear – for Yahweh is Lord of the battle and He will deliver you into our power.’”  (1 Samuel 17:41-47, NJB).

Young David was outraged that a pagan Philistine would challenge the troops of Israel. Goliath was taunting Israel, he was strutting his impudence to Israel and to Israel’s God. David couldn’t understand why this heathen was allowed to defy “the armies of the living God.” When David confronted the almost ten feet tall Goliath, the giant sneered and cursed David by calling on the names of his pagan gods. Goliath called on those demonic spirits they worshiped. David confidently challenged Goliath in the Name of Israel’s God, Yahweh-sabaoth, the LORD of the Angel Warriors. The spiritual war has begun! And in the strength of Yahweh, David was victorious. Above the human battle between giant and boy was a spiritual battle, and Yahweh-sabaoth defeated the enemy.

“So the foreign king sent horses and chariots, and a large force; and these, arriving during the night, surrounded the town.  Next day, Elisha got up early and went out, and there surrounding the town was an armed force with horses and chariots. ‘Oh my lord,’ his servant said, ‘what are we to do?” ‘Do not be afraid,’ Elisha replied, ‘for there are more on our side than on theirs.’ And Elisha prayed, “Yahweh,’ he said, ‘open his eyes and make him see.’ Yahweh opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw the mountain covered in fiery horses and chariots surrounding Elisha… So at dusk they set out and made for the Aramaean camp, but when they reached the confines of the camp there was not a soul there. For Yahweh had caused the Aramaeans in their camp to hear a noise of chariots and horses, the noise of a great army.” (2 Kings 6:15-17 and 7:5-6, NJB).

Elisha the prophet was chased into a hopeless corner by the king of Syria and the king’s huge army. The king wanted to punish Elisha for being a roadblock to the king’s military success. Every time the king put his battle plans together to attack Israel, Elisha would somehow discover those plans and alert the king of Israel to the impending attack. The frustrated king’s plans were thwarted time and again by this troublesome prophet Elisha. The king finally had enough of this, and he sent his huge army to surround the town where Elisha and his servant were staying. It was two against an army that had horses and chariots. It was hopeless. Elisha’s servant panicked and asked Elisha what they could possibly do to avoid catastrophe. Elisha reassured the servant, told him not to fear, and asked God to open his servant’s eyes to the spiritual world. Elisha told his dumfounded servant that, despite appearances, there were more on Elisha’s side than on the enemy’s side. And sure enough, that turned out to be true. In the spiritual world, the servant saw that the hills surrounding the town were completely covered by angelic troops and their fiery chariots and horses. Yahweh had indeed mustered His troops, the heavenly forces of the unseen world. A little later, Yahweh opened up the ears of the Syrian troops to actually hear what this enormous angelic army sounded like. And the enemy all ran away.

“Now the prophet Micaiah told them, ‘Now listen to the word of Yahweh. I saw Yahweh seated on his throne with the whole array of heaven standing on his right and on his left… And the prophet Jahaziel said, ‘Listen, all Judah and you citizens of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat! Yahweh says this to you, ‘Do not be afraid, do not be daunted by this vast horde, for the war is not your affair but God’s. Go down against them tomorrow. You will not need to fight in this battle. Take up your position, stand firm, and see what salvation Yahweh has in store for you. Judah and Jerusalem! Be fearless, be dauntless; march out against them tomorrow and Yahweh will be with you.’ Then, having conferred with the people, Jehoshaphat appointed singers who were to praise Yahweh and go out ahead of the army in sacred vestments, singing, ‘Praise Yahweh, for his faithful love endures for ever!’ The moment they began their shouts of praise, Yahweh sprang ambushes on all who were invading Judah, and that was the end of them.”  (2 Chronicles 18:18 and 20:15-17, 22, NJB).

Jehoshaphat, the righteous ruler of Judah and Jerusalem found himself in a desperate situation. His nation was about to be attacked by an enormously powerful alliance of foreign armies. He didn’t know what to do but ask God for divine intervention. They were helpless against “this vast horde.” The noble and faithful Jehoshaphat said, “Because we do not know what to do, we look to you, Yahweh.” A prophet of God then tells them that this battle is the LORD’s. So the king and all his people bowed down, worshiped Yahweh, and praised Him “at the top of their voices.” The wise king then appointed a huge company of singers to go ahead of his troops, singing about God’s eternal mercy. Yahweh then gathered his angelic troops and set up ambushes against the armies, and the rout was on. In this case, God’s people didn’t need to fight this battle. They simply praised God and watched Him work.

“On a bare hill hoist a signal, shout for them, beckon them to come to the Nobles’ Gate. I have issued orders to my sacred warriors. I have summoned my heroes to serve my anger, my proud champions. The noise of a great crowd in the mountains, like an immense people, the tumultuous sound of kingdoms, of nations mustering. It is Yahweh-sabaoth marshaling the troops for battle. They come from the far horizons. Yahweh and the instruments of his fury, to lay the whole country to waste. Howl! For the Day of Yahweh is near!” (Isaiah 13:1-5, NJB).

This is a message from Yahweh concerning Babylon. Judgment Day is a-coming, says Yahweh-sabaoth. The verses provide a sneak peek at the Commander of the Angel Armies and how He gathers His heavenly troops. In this message, Yahweh parts the veil a little bit and reveals how He goes about judging a wicked nation like Babylon. He calls His sacred warriors from the vast spaces in heaven. And the enemies of God don’t stand a chance when Yahweh orders His warriors into action. This is a spiritual look at the Day of the Lord so often shouted by His prophets.

Gospel Fulfillment. One can easily understand why Jesus can be considered the incarnation of Yahweh-sabaoth, since He was accompanied by angels throughout His time on earth. Jesus had a host of angels at His disposal throughout His ministry and beyond:

(1.) A joyful multitude of angels worshipped Jesus and rejoiced at his birth (Luke 1:9-16);

(2.) Mary and Joseph both received angelic messages about Jesus’ birth (Luke 1:28-38; Matt. 1:18);

(3.) Angels ministered to Jesus after the Temptation (Matt 4:11);

(4.) Angels once again cared for Jesus during His turmoil in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43);

(5.) At His arrest, Jesus declared that He had twelve legions of angels at His beck and call if He wanted their help (Matt. 26:53)

(6.) Jesus declared in John 1:51 that there would be a time when His disciples would see “angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” In OT prophecy (Gen. 28), Jacob dreamed of a ladder connecting earth and heaven, upon which angels were going up and down. Jesus is saying that He is the fulfillment of that prophecy. He is Jacob’s ladder, the only access to God in Heaven. His Cross was lifted up like Jacob’s ladder, and reconciled humanity with God. Heaven and earth are joined in the Person of Christ, because Jesus is both in heaven and on earth.

“Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power. Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens. That is why you must take up all God’s armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full.” (Ephesians 6:10-13, NJB).

Believers in Christ are asked to join an angelic army. We are called to put on God’s armor, the spiritual armor of Yahweh, to engage in battle with the spiritual forces of wickedness. In the Hebrew Bible, we often see Yahweh gather His angelic warriors to serve Him in warfare against the enemies. It seems that sometimes the warfare was more spiritual, and other times the battles were with physical enemies. Sometimes there is a mysterious interplay between the unseen and seen worlds. Oftentimes Yahweh fought along with the believers in the battle, like with David and Goliath. Other times Yahweh and His army fought instead of the believers, asking the believers to simply watch the battle as Yahweh and his warriors do all the fighting. Who knows what spiritual warfare looks like now. Who knows what role the LORD’s host plays in everyday life. I have a feeling we have no idea the battles that are waged that we know nothing about. The fact is we can’t be aware of what is happening in the unseen world. What would we see if Yahweh opened our eyes to see like Elisha’s servant? We can certainly thank Yahweh-sabaoth that He fights our battles for us when we are blissfully unaware. One thing we do know… When we put on God’s armor, we are joining Jesus and His angel army in some meaningful way, to an extent that we can’t be sure of. Are the spiritual qualities we put on like armor a tangible reflection of what the angelic warriors wear? Do the heavenly troops wear the same armor as the Christian believers? What do their battle clothes and weaponry look like, in order for them to be effective soldiers against the demonic forces? Thank you, Yahweh and Jesus, that you remain the valiant Commanders of the Angel Armies. Thank you that you still are the victorious Kings of the heavenly troops that continue to defend us in the unseen battles that occur around us.

“For Yahweh is the One who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals His thoughts to mankind. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads on the heights of the earth. Yahweh-sabaoth is His name!  (Amos 4:13).

A Prayer for Yahweh-sabaoth (ya’-way sab-ah-owth’), honoring Jesus, His Co-commander of the angels:

We honor and salute you, Yahweh-sabaoth, LORD of Hosts. For you go forth like a great warrior, and your voice rings out at the head of your troops. Your angels of protection encamp around those who fear you, Lord, and as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so you surround your people both now and forever. You are at our side like a mighty hero, and our opponents will stumble and be vanquished. For our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. No weapon forged against you will succeed, for you do not give victory by means of sword and spear, O LORD of the Angel Armies. You are the righteous King leading your heavenly warriors, O God of renown, and your deliverance will be forever, your salvation to all generations. We kneel before you, Yahweh-sabaoth, and gather together around your holy Name. Amen.