IMAGINE THE SCENE

Philip PowellThe setting is at night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus, surrounded by a crowd of enemies with swords and staves, and some friends, has just been betrayed with a kiss from Judas. Impetuous, courageous Peter (cf. John 18:10), one of only two of the disciples of Jesus who were armed (cf. Luke 22:38) unsheathed and wielded his sword and severed the ear of the high priest's servant, Malchus (John 18:10). Calmly and quietly Jesus replaced the severed ear, healed Malchus, gave a mild rebuke to Peter (Luke 22:51 cf. John 18:11) and then made one of the most dramatic claims of scripture.

Do you think that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall ... give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? – Matthew 26: 53-54.

In 2 Kings 19:35 we read how just one solitary “angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians” a hundred and eighty five thousand Assyrians in one night. After the event and somewhat humorously we read “and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”

Think of what 72,000 angels would do. The entire Roman and Israeli nations wouldn't have stood a chance.

So why didn't Jesus exert a bit of force in His own defence?

The answer is very simple “how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” The scriptures will always be fulfilled both in Christ's first coming and in His second advent and when we submit to God's Will and Word in our lives also. This remains the greatest test to which we can appeal in respect of the unfolding of history in the trying times in which we live. Theologically, Christologically and eschatologically these things are a certainty but there is another practical lesson that we are so slow to learn. It's a principle of Christian Living - before triumph comes trial. The way of the cross i.e. surrender, always leads to the crown.

Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints (hagios=holy ones “angels”) – Jude 14.

In the final case scenario, Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, who now sits at the right hand of the Father, will arise and call from the ranks of “ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands” (Rev. 5:11) – that's more than 12 legions of angels - to join Him as He rides forth on a White Horse as described in chapter 19 of the last book of the Bible:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He who sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written, that no one knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written, {THE} KING OF {THE} KINGS, AND {THE} LORD OF {THE} LORDS – Revelation 19:11-16.

The one who could have called more than twelve legions of angels and didn't, has given an assurance that all those who Love Him and remain faithful to Him will share His final victory – Praise the Lord. Lesser skirmishes are of no ultimate consequence.

“He could have called 10,000 angels” - The Hymn by Ray Overholt.

Ray's Hymn and his story as he related it:

I had left my television show 'Ray's roundup' and entered the nightclub scene. I was drinking pretty heavily. I began thinking there must be a better life than the nightclub, show business whirlwind. I was so intent on changing my lifestyle that I went home and told my wife that I was quitting all of the smoking, drinking and cursing. I wanted to clean up my own life.

One day I thought to myself: I've written secular songs, I'd like to write a song about Christ. I opened the Bible, which I knew very little about, and began to read the portion of Scripture that describes Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane telling Peter to put away his sword. I read where Jesus told Peter that He could ask His Father and He would send twelve legions of angels. I didn't know at the time that would have been more than 72,000 angels.

I thought a good title for a song would be “He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels”. I didn't know what happened during the life of Christ, so I began doing a little research. The more I read about Jesus, the more I admired him for what He had done. I then remembered that He did this all for me.

I was playing in a nightclub in Battle Creek, Michigan, when the Lord impressed me to write the song. I wrote the first verse and put it in my guitar case. I then gave the club my notice that I was quitting. As I opened my guitar case to put my instrument away, one of the other musicians saw the music written out and he asked, 'What are you doing there?' I told him I was writing a song about Jesus. He asked the title and I told him. He said, 'It will never go.' I asked, “Why?” He said, 'I don't even like the title.' But I finished the song and sent it to a publishing house, which reluctantly agreed to publish it.

Sometime later I found myself singing at a small church. I sang 'He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels.' Following my singing, the preacher spoke a message that gripped my heart. I knew I needed Christ, so I knelt there and accepted, Jesus as my Saviour, the One whom I had been singing and writing about.

Ray Overholt became a travelling singer and preacher. He has written a number of other songs, but none so moving as 'Ten Thousand Angels' -

http://www.hymnalaccompanist.com/Story/Ten%20Thousand%20Angels.html

They bound the hands of Jesus in the garden where He prayed;
They led Him thro' the streets in shame.
They spat upon the Saviour so pure and free from sin;
They said, "Crucify Him; He's to blame."

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.

Upon His precious head they placed a crown of thorns;
They laughed and said, "Behold the King!"
They struck Him and they cursed Him and mocked His holy name
All alone He suffered everything.

When they nailed Him to the cross, His mother stood nearby,
He said, "Woman, behold thy son!"
He cried, "I thirst for water," but they gave Him none to drink.
Then the sinful work of man was done.

To the howling mob He yielded; He did not for mercy cry.
The cross of shame He took alone.
And when He cried, "It's finished," He gave Himself to die;
Salvation's wondrous plan was done.

All error and heresy focuses ultimately on the person of the Lord Jesus Christ – His TRUE DEITY i.e. that He was truly God and His REAL HUMANITY i.e. that He was God manifest in the flesh. On these issues the Bible is absolutely clear so much so that Christ says if we do not believe them we will die in our sins viz. we will be eternally lost – cf. John 8:24. These things are very dear to me and I will fight to the death to maintain them and I am always very careful about the use of words in respect of these things - inspite of some having misquoted me. I am NOT "docetic" and have never been, nor was my statement in anyway docetic.

At Christian Witness Ministries Fellowship here in Brisbane, Australia, I have commenced a series of teaching based on Titus 2:13:

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

As we go to press the plan is that our future 9:30am to 11:30am Brisbane, Australia (GMT +10 hours) Sunday morning services will be Live Video Streamed so that interested people around the world can listen and watch by clicking on http://cwmf.sermon.tv. The message itself will be from approx. 10:30am to 11:30am Brisbane time (GMT +10 hours). Eventually the series will be published, God willing, on our CWM YouTube Channel to be viewed anytime - http://www.youtube.com/user/CWMFellowship

I do not intend to avoid controversy but will endeavour to be dogmatic only where the Bible is clear and FLEXIBLE where the Bible is not clear. We are not told to look for the ANTICHRIST but for CHRIST who may come at anytime. For me the doctrine of IMMINENCE (i.e. Christ may RETURN at anytime) is a vital part of the Bible. This is one reason why I am convinced the correct view about Christ's Return is what is known as the “Pre-Tribulation Return of Christ”. I think other views such as “Post-Tribulation”, “Mid- Tribulation”, “Pre-Wrath” etc are wrong but I do not classify those who hold to those particular views as false teachers, and have never done so.

Only the pre-tribulation return of Christ fits in with the doctrine of Imminence – Christ may return at anytime. It views the RETURN OF CHRIST in two stages –

  1. The RAPTURE or “catching away” [Greek “harpazo”] of the saints which may occur at any time (1 Thess. 4: 16-18);
  2. THE SECOND COMING when Christ will return with His saints (cf. 1 Thess. 4:15) and every eye shall see Him (Rev. 1:7 cf. 2 Thess. Chapter 2). The event of the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST is interchangeably called the “Day of Christ”, “The Day of the Lord” etc and it relates to judgment. At the 2nd Coming Christ will return as King and Judge.

The events of the antichrist or the Beast of Revelation chapters 11 and 13 have particular reference to the Great Tribulation and not to the RAPTURE per se. It is false to claim that Christ cannot return until the faithful have identified the antichrist. In my opinion the faithful will never identify the ANTICHRIST simply because they will have been raptured prior to His appearance.

We have started to look systematically at these truths and will continue in the weeks and months that lie ahead. Some of the material may be published in CETF and/or on one or more of our websites – www.cwm.org.au and/or www.cwmfellowship.org and/or on my new blog - http://philiplpowell.wordpress.com

In the meantime once more we commend to you the following articles in this issue of our CWM magazine – CETF # 65. Our authors have covered a wide range of topics from Discernment to Devotional to Doctrinal to Anecdotal. May the Lord bless you as you read. Please help us to spread the word by passing this CETF to someone else when you have read it. Once more we acknowledge the Lord's provision through His people to maintain the printing and postage costs this quarter which is the last issue of CETF in 2013.

Have a happy Christmas and a wonderful God blessed New Year.

Philip L. Powell – Editor.

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