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He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels

Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

—Matthew 26:53

“He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.”

—Ray Overholt, 1959

Luke 2:13–14 — “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

During the annual Christmas season, we are often reminded of the angelic voices praising God while the shepherds stood in awe, after being told to “fear not”.

Pageants generally depict a heavenly choir, but what were these voices. This was a great multitude of the heavenly host — “ten thousand angels” — a number though maybe not numerically exact, but good number to depict this vast group.

The gospel song which this title references is actually a low-ball estimate, for the Lord said the number was greater than 12 legions. A legion is generally said to consist of 6000 soldiers, bringing that number to 72,000. Even in this case, one would hardly think that the Lord had an exact number in mind. Whether 10,000, 72,000, or 1, He could have asked the Father for an overwhelming force of the heavenly army to stop His enemies from apprehending Him. By Himself He was an overwhelming force, for when the soldiers said that they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth and He replied I AM, they fell to the ground1.

But Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners2, and He must fulfill the scriptures of the prophets. His restraint shows His great power as much as if He would have destroyed them.

Even now, the last 2000 years of human history have shown the great restraint of the Son of God in dealing with this world of sinful men. While the world seems more and more ripe for destruction, God is still reconciling men to Himself by the blood of that cross, where Jesus Christ our Savior died alone for you and for me.

Christ is now content to sit enthroned as Savior, at the right hand of the Father, waiting3. There will come a time when there will be no more delay, and we do not know when that time may be.

While we cry, “How long, O Lord”, His restraint speaks of His grace.

Christ died for the ungodly4, and while the ungodliness of the wicked waxes worse, we can speak and rejoice of His great grace toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us5.

While He could have called ten thousand angels, He instead calls all men to Himself, by that very cross to which He was delivered to be lifted up for our offences6, and He preaches through His word that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again7, telling all that all who believe are justified freely by His grace8.

This Christmas season, take God at His word and do not wait.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, today.

Merry Christmas!

End notes:

  1. John 18:5–6
  2. 1 Timothy 1:15
  3. Hebrews 10:13
  4. Romans 5:6
  5. Romans 5:8
  6. John 12:32–33, Romans 4:25
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:3–4
  8. Romans 3:24

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Romans Study

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Charles Miller View All

Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.

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