What Are Heavenly Hosts? (What Does the Lord of Hosts Mean?)

Angeology was one of my favorite subjects in theology school. Once, I heard a priest talk about the Heavenly ranks. Curious, I approached him to learn more about the Heavenly Hosts. He explained to me what the Bible meant by Heavenly Hosts and shared what Catholicism had to say on the subject. When I returned to school, I poured over several books to corroborate what he told me. The information I gained proved helpful a few days ago. One of my theology students working on her term paper wanted to know more about the Heavenly Hosts. I shared with her the information I got from the priest. I also addressed some prevailing misconceptions and suggested reading materials. I bet you’re also wondering, what are the Heavenly Hosts?

The Heavenly Hosts are the company of Angels dwelling in Heaven. They’re under God’s command and are dispatched to serve His purpose. The Heavenly Hosts exist in ranks. The most known are Archangels, Cherubim, and Seraphim. Each serves a specific function and even differs in appearance.

I’ll explore what the Bible says about Heavenly Hosts in this article. I’ll also address their purpose and existing Church tradition on the matter, so keep reading.

What does the Bible say about Heavenly Hosts?

The Bible uses Heavenly Hosts in two ways. The first refers to the entire company of angels as seen in Psalms 148:2; the second refers to the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 2:1-2) . When talking about angels, the Bible uses Heavenly Hosts to refer to the armies of Heaven under God’s command. It calls Him the Lord of hosts (1 Sam 1:3).

The Bible also uses Heavenly Hosts when referring to the stars and other Heavenly bodies. This is usually in the context of creation or idolatry. For instance, in 2 Kings 17:16, the Bible recounts that idolatry in Israel attracted God’s judgment. Their idolatry is described as bowing to the host of Heaven.

Where do Heavenly Hosts appear in the Bible?

What Does the Lord of Hosts Mean?
Where do Heavenly Hosts appear in the Bible? Image source: Pixabay
  1. In Luke 2:13, the Heavenly Hosts appear in the night sky during the birth of Jesus. They praised God after the angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds.
  2. Nehemiah 9:6 records a prayer by the Levites. Here, they declare that the Heavenly Host worships God.
  3. 1 Kings 22:19 tells us about Micaiah’s vision. He saw God surrounded by the host of Heaven.

What does Lord of Hosts mean?

The Lord of Hosts is a title given to God emphasizing his dominion and authority over the Heavenly armies. This title appears over 200 times in the Bible, usually in the context of battle. We first see it in 1 Samuel 1:3, where Elkanah took his wives to Shiloh to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts. At the time, the Philistines threatened Israel, making this title appropriate.

Additionally, this term extends to God’s authority over earthly kingdoms. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Amos, and Malachi used this title, especially when declaring God’s judgment on Israel and the nations surrounding her.

Finally, we mentioned that the Heavenly Hosts include celestial bodies. As such, the Lord of Hosts could refer to God’s power in creating the sun, moon, and stars. Jeremiah 31:35 tells us that God fixed the moon in its place, created the sun to give light, and stirred up the sea. This verse emphasizes God’s power over creation, especially the celestial bodies.

What is the purpose of Heavenly Hosts?

Praising God

Isaiah, the prophet, and John, the Apostle, saw visions of God’s throne room. In their visions, they saw angels surrounding the throne and continually worship God. Their visions, recorded in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4, give us an insight into one of the primary functions of the Heavenly Hosts- to worship God. The Bible calls this group of angels Cherubim and Seraphim. Interestingly, Satan was one of them before he rebelled (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

Announce major events

Another function of the Heavenly Host is to announce events. The most notable event was the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:13. An angel appeared to some shepherds and told them about the birth of Jesus. Once he delivered this message, a host of angels praised God for fulfilling his promise to humanity. We also see angels in Revelation 16. They appear to announce God’s judgment over the Earth and accompany Jesus on his return (Matthew 16:27).

Protect God’s people

God dispatches the Heavenly Host to protect his people. We see this in 2 Kings 6:16, where the Syrian king sent soldiers to arrest Elisha. Gehazi, his servant, was understandably worried, but Elisha asked God to open his eyes. Gehazi saw God’s army surrounding the Syrians in Dothan. God sent his angels to protect Elisha from the Syrians.

What are the words of the Heavenly Host?

What Are Heavenly Hosts? 
What are the words of the Heavenly Host? Image source: Pixabay

As mentioned, one of the functions of the Heavenly Host is to worship God. The Bible records some of the words the Angels use in their worship. Here are a few:

Revelation 4:8 and Isaiah 6:3 record the Angels declaring God’s holiness. They do this night and day, and it’s a recurrent theme in their worship.

Revelation 5:9-13 records the Heavenly Host worshipping Jesus, declaring that he is worthy to receive power and dominion. They did so after Jesus broke the seal to claim ownership of the Earth.

Finally, Revelation 19:1-5 has the Heavenly Host celebrating the fall of Babylon. They praise God for executing righteous judgment over the sinful city of Babylon. They use words like “Hallelujah.”

Who is the Prince of Heavenly Host according to the Catholic Church?

According to the Catholic Church, Michael is the Prince of the Heavenly Host. He received this honor after opposing the devil’s resistance in Heaven. The Church ascribes four functions to Archangel Michael:

  1. Fighting Satan in the last battle recorded in Revelation 12:7-12.
  2. Rescue the souls of the righteous from Satan after death, as seen in Jude 1:9.
  3. He is the patron of the Church and order of knights in the middle ages.
  4. He brings souls to judgment.

The Catholic Church also has a prayer to St. Michael used for exorcisms.

Leave a Comment