Series: “The Names of God” (post #1)
The Bible provides a long list of names for God. The reason most of us miss this fact is because we don’t read the Old Testament in its original Hebrew. For example, if someone asks us, “Where in the Old Testament is God called a shepherd?” we’ll be quick to quote Psalm 23:1, where David writes, “The Lord is my shepherd….” However, what we don’t realize is that the Hebrew words behind those translated English words “The Lord is my shepherd” are “Jehovah Roi.” That makes “Jehovah Roi” a name for God. He is “The Lord My Shepherd.”
In his pamphlet Knowing God By Name, David Jeremiah lists no less than 85 Old Testament names for God, each name being listed with its corresponding passage. He categorizes these 85 names under four major headings:
- Heading #1 is “The Primary Names of God.” There are three of these: Elohim, Jehovah, and Adonai.
- Heading #2 is “The Compound Names of the Lord God.” A few of these are Jehovah El Elohim, Jehovah El Elyon, and Jehovah El Emeth.
- Heading #3 is “The Compound Names of God.” Some of these are El Bethel, El Elyon, and El Mauzi.
- Heading #4 is “The Compound Names of Jehovah.” A few of these are Jehovah Goelekh, Jehovah Magen, and Jehovah Makkeh.
Along the same lines, Tony Evans, in his book The Power of God’s Names, lists over 80 of the Old Testament’s names for God. Like David Jeremiah, he breaks the list down into those same four categories, with the only exception being that he labels the first heading “The Foundational Names of God” rather than the “The Primary Names of God.” For the purposes of his book, however, Evans pulls out 14 of the Old Testament names and devotes a chapter to each one.
What I’d like to do for the next handful of blog posts is take the Evans approach and cite a few of God’s name for special emphasis. For this first post in the series I’ll go with the name Jehovah Sabaoth. “What does that name mean?” you ask. It means “The Lord of Hosts.” This name for God is used over 250 times in the Old Testament. The first usage is found in 1 Samuel 1:3, which says of Elkanah, who would soon father the prophet Samuel:
This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh… (N.K.J.V.)
Even though the Hebrew noun for “host” — saba — has a varied list of meanings, it most frequently refers to either some type of military service or some type of army. Similarly, when the word is used as a verb it means “to muster an army” or “to wage war.” In light of all this, the name “The Lord of Hosts” speaks of God as being a mighty General. He is the Commander in Chief of the unbeatable army of heaven’s angels. The name is similar to another Old Testament name, Jehovah Elohim Tsebaoth, which means “The Lord God of Hosts.” That name is used in Psalm 59:5, where David (who was a great leader of armies himself) writes:
You therefore, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, Awake to punish all the nations; Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors… (N.K.J.V.)
The takeaway from all this for you, Christian, is that God is the leader of a mighty army that can come to your aid if your situation requires it. This is why you would do well to learn to call Him by His name Jehovah Sabatoh in prayer. If you can’t remember the Hebrew, or if you worry that you aren’t pronouncing it correctly, just go with the English “The Lord of Hosts.” That will work just fine.
What we are talking about here is you evoking God’s military name when you sense that a group of demons from Satan’s demonic army is coming against you in the spiritual realm. You are no match for such an opposing force, and God knows it. This is why He is willing to dispatch some of His angelic army to help you overcome your battles with spiritual warfare. What you must learn to do, though, is talk to Him in the most effective manner to accomplish that specific purpose. And what we’ve learned from today’s post is that those prayers evoke the name Jehovah Sabatoh (The Lord of Hosts).