The Expository Files


Who is the Lord Sabaoth?

The Final Page

Notice with me a line from the famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. It is important that we have an understanding of the words we sing when we praise God and speak of Him in our hymns.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

Concerning the fourth line; “Lord Sabaoth his name!” What does that mean?

It is an old hymn from the Protestant Reformation. The words were written by Martin Luther. It was translated into English long enough ago that it contains the archaic language what is called "the King's English". Many might guess it means “the Lord of the Sabbath!” That was easy and not very complicated, but that is also be incorrect. While the English words "Sabbaoth" and "Sabbath" appear to be similar, they are completely different words with completely different meanings. The only thing that connects them is that the "Lord of Sabbaoth" is also the "Lord of the Sabbath".

Two hundred times in the Hebrew Bible the Hebrew term is used (It is pronounced in Hebrew “Tze-va-ot”). In this hymn it was transliterated into English as “Sabaoth”). There are also at least ten times in the New Testament where Old Testament passages are quoted that use this term. Usually this name accompanies one of God’s other names - (“God”,“Lord” and "YHWH”). In more modern translations it is often translated as “Lord of Hosts” or “Lord Almighty” instead of "Lord Sabbaoth".

It refers to God as one who has at His service the hosts, or armies, of heaven. It could mean an assembly of beings organized for battle, but also for other types of campaigns as well, including worship (as in the familiar Psalm 148:2; "Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts!")

God is the Lord of these heavenly beings (remember the chariots of fire protecting Elisha) but sometimes Lord Sabaoth assembles earthly armies to do His bidding as well, as He did with the Babylonians to defeat Assyria and then the Persians to defeat Babylon and save a remnant of Israel (Romans 9:29). The point Paul makes here: if God had not provided for a physical remnant of Israel to be restored out of captivity which would lead to a spiritual remnant from among both Jews and Gentiles by faith in Jesus, there would have been nothing left at all. But God provided what was needed because He is "Lord Sabbaoth" or the "Lord of Hosts".

We also should additionally reflect on the assurance we get from this in today's often topsey-turvey world. The Lord of Hosts, or Lord Sabaoth, will bring His people to eternal victory. The Psalmist declared "Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will." (Psalm 103:21).

May the Lord Sabaoth receive the glory due His Name! From His heavenly hosts, and from you and from me!

 King of kings and the Lord of lords” (vs. 15).  

By Jon W. Quinn
The Final Page
 Expository Files 23.11;  November 2016