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Posted by: jakinnan | November 19, 2013

The Religious Spirit

Lake Lillian

I was reading the prophet Jeremiah a few weeks ago when I ran across a passage that referred to God as “the Lord Almighty.” To be honest, it didn’t resonate. There’s something too religious about the phrase; it sounds churchy, sanctimonious. The Lawd Almiiiighty. It sounds like something your grandmother would say when you came into her kitchen covered in mud. I found myself curious about what the actual phrase means in Hebrew. Might we have lost something in the translation? So I turned to the front of the version I was using for an explanation. Here is what the editors said:

Because for most readers today the phrases “the Lord of hosts” and “God of hosts” have little meaning, this version renders them “the Lord Almighty” and “God Almighty.” These renderings convey the sense of the Hebrew, namely, “he who is sovereign over all the ‘hosts’ (powers) in heaven and on earth, especially over the ‘hosts’ (armies) of Israel.”

No, they don’t. They don’t even come close. The Hebrew means “the God of angel armies,” “the God of the armies who fight for his people.” The God who is at war. Does “Lord Almighty” convey “the God who is at war”? Not to me, it doesn’t. Not to anyone I’ve asked. It sounds like “the God who is up there but still in charge.” Powerful, in control. The God of angel armies sounds like the one who would roll up his sleeves, take up sword and shield to break down gates of bronze, and cut through bars of iron to rescue me.

– John Eldredge, Waking the Dead

Photo: Hailey Romero

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