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Bible Lexicons

Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament

Host of Heaven

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In Deuteronomy 4:19 the people of Israel were specially warned lest they should lift up their eyes unto heaven, and when they saw the sun, and the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven (τὸν κόσμον του̂ οὐρανου̂), should be driven to worship them and serve them. Death by stoning was to be the punishment of any such departure from the true God (Deuteronomy 17:3; Deuteronomy 17:5). To what an extent the people failed in this matter, and how grievously they suffered in consequence, will be seen by referring to 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 21:5; 2 Chronicles 33:3; 2 Chronicles 33:5; Jeremiah 8:13; Jeremiah 19:12-13. Not only was the host of heaven worshipped, but altars were set up in honour of the stars even in the precincts of the Temple. What a contrast with this impiety is presented by the opening words of the prayer of the Levites recorded in Nehemiah 9:6, 'Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the sees, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.'

The folly of worshipping the host of. heaven is forcibly illustrated by the fact that as the heavenly bodies owe their structure and continuance to God, so will they perish when He withdraws his hand. 'All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig-tree' (Isaiah 34:4). this passage is taken up and adopted by our Lord, who says that 'After the tribulation the sun shall be darkened, and the mo on shall not give her light, and the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven (i.e. the host of heaven) shall be shaken' (Mark 13:25). Here the expression powers (δυνάμεις) is the usual rendering adopted by the LXX for host (ἡ δύναμις του̂ οὐρανου̂).

In 1 Kings 22:19 Micaiah says, 'I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven (ἡ στρατιὰ του̂ οὐρανου̂) standing by him on his right h and and on his left.' The context shows us that the prophet was speaking, not of the physical, but of the spiritual heaven; and that by the host of heaven he meant the intelligent beings who exist in that spiritual sphere in which God dwells, and whose business it is to carry out his purposes of mercy and of wrath. With this passage may be compared the sublime vision contained in Revelation 19:11-14, when the heavens are opened, and the seer beholds the Faithful and True One called the Word of God riding on a white horse, ' and the armies which were in heaven (τὰ στρατεύματα τὰ ἐν τῳ̂ οὐρανῳ̂) followed him up on white horses, clothed in fine linen.'

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Girdlestone, Robert Baker. Entry for 'Host of Heaven'. Synonyms of the Old Testament.
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