“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:41 KJV)
Hosts? The word used for hosts, whether singular or plural, is used well over 300 times throughout the old testament. While it is a common term that we usually think of in terms of an army, a campaign, a specific director of a party, the master of a house, etc…; I am intrigued as to why this term is used rather than separate terms which are more descriptive. Perhaps it has something to do with the variances of the beings being described, the variances within the types of individuals, or even the focus on the role that is being played with little attention to that person’s specific characteristics. The idea of commodities or generalizations are not uncommon. For instance, when speaking of a train’s cargo, we are not necessarily concerned with the contents of each container. For general discussions we can simply use the term “containers”. Only if the discussion requires the disclosure of the type of cargo do we delve into the specifics. Yet, why call them “hosts” instead of people, angels, or forces? Host has a specific connotation to it of someone who has control over a set of resources. You could call someone who has control of over a microphone, a good time slot, and radio broadcast capability a talk show “host”. The host of a party is considered the host because he or she is in charge of the arrangements. The master of the Inn that the good Samaritan brings his patient to is referred to as a host because he runs the Inn. “And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” (Luke 10:35 KJV) Yet, no matter how many “hosts” there are, i.e. in reference to a large population as in Exodus 12:41 above, or an army like the army of angels that announce the birth of Jesus, it is the term host(s) that is used. While terms like cluster, array, and body are used; they are used in a separate context. Grapes are harvested by the cluster and we certainly tend to cluster close together. An array is formed in battle lines like in Judges 20:20. We learn a lot about being a body from Paul, but yet we are distinct parts.
The idea of a host can relay to us special understandings of how God works. In the technology world, a host can be either a physical or virtual machine. The machine from inception, before it is even setup, is spec’ed for a specific application. Once the machine is built and the operating system is loaded care is given to only load or start what is really necessary so that it’s maximum available resources are available for the application or service that it is going to provide. The power in the new host is usually it’s ability to facilitate the operation of the application or service. Similar to the person giving the party in that his or her momentary glory is how the guests are feeling the machine’s momentary purpose is to provide for the resources necessary for the application or service. To be filled in this sense is to be running at capacity providing for the service of someone or something else. A host by design is not to be filled like a jelly jar is full, but is to be full like a garden hose in that it can supply no more water because that is all it can transport.
Like the “hosts of the LORD” that went out of Egypt, these hosts need a new conditioning. In the world, we manage so that we may be full. In Christ, the idea that all is His is important because what we obtain is not to fill us so much as it is to be distributed to those around us that He might multiply enough for all (and then some). Some may claim that we need filling because we are leaky containers. To a point that may be true. The real reality is that we need filling because we are being emptied in the service of God. We are not given food merely to be full, but to become a food distribution network.
“And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.” (Matthew 14:20 KJV)