The Host of Heaven

Nature PhotographyThe phrase “the host of heaven” occurs often in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament. You will find this phrase used to denote the following:1

  1. The stars and other heavenly bodies. There truly is a host of stars, given that humans have never accurately numbered them (Jeremiah 33:22). Isaiah writes that these heavenly bodies are temporary: “All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, like leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree” (34:4; cf. Daniel 8:10).
  2. The heavenly bodies as objects of idolatrous worship. When the children of Israel went into the Promised Land, they evidently were tempted almost immediately to worship the stars and planets, so God warned them about this: “And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19; cf. ibid., 17:3; Amos 5:26). So prominent was star worship amongst God’s people that Stephen mentioned it in his great defense speech (Acts 7:42).
  3. The heavenly bodies as signs pointing to the majesty and power of the true God. The stars taught Isaiah this lesson. In a discussion of God’s control over the physical world and earthly events, Isaiah wrote: “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing” (40:26).
  4. The Lord’s heavenly army, the angels. The Lord’s hosts worship Him (Nehemiah 9:6), and are said to stand on the right and left side of His throne (2 Chronicles 18:18). The psalmist writes, “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!” (103:20-21). The Lord’s host is powerful indeed; just one angel destroyed 185,000 Assyrians in one night (2 Kings 19:35).

Few sights inspire awe and reverence as the starry night sky. Our response to God’s creation is not to worship and serve it, as many do these days (in the “pantheistic” religions and in environmentalist circles where Earth is respected and valued above all else), but rather to bow the knee before the Creator (Philippians 2:9-11).


  1. Adapted from James Orr, “Host of Heaven,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Orr, 4 vols. [Peabody: Hendrickson, 1939], 3:1433-34 

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- 2017