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Wednesday, December 7 2011
Legions Of Men And Angels
After being founded in about 700 BC, Rome grew from an ancient city into a republic (where people claim the right to rule their own nation; see The Politics Of Rome), and then into an empire (whereby people claim the right to rule other nations; see The Cleopatra Connection and Pax Romana: The Birth Of The Roman Empire). The map below shows the extent of the Roman Empire (note carefully that, unlike many present-day "politically correct" maps, the map correctly labels the Sinai Peninsula as a segment of geographic Arabia; see Paul's Geography Lesson; also What Does The Bible Say About Arabs?).
It was for that "Roman world" that the first Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, declared the famous "all the world should be taxed" census that caused the Messiah to fulfill the prophecy of being born in Bethlehem (see also Why Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth And Capernaum?).
"2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
"He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks"
The Roman Empire came into existence by means of its military power (the illustration below shows a Roman ballista that could fire a 30-pound long-range projectile). Roman legions and their commanders were the basis of each "nation." Many people not only gutlessly surrendered their sovereignty to the invaders, they became collaborators with them. As stated here, the chief priests and the Pharisees opposed the Messiah because they feared that He would lead a rebellion that would cause them to lose their place in the Roman occupation. Ironically, one of them used the twisted logic that killing Jesus of Nazareth would make Him the Savior of the nation by keeping the people under Roman rule i.e. "consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not." It was a foggy understanding of prophecy.
"11:46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. 11:47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 11:48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
It was the collaborators that arrested the Messiah. When Peter rightfully (the right thing to do, but in that case, the wrong time to do it) defended the Messiah, He in effect told Peter not yet. Although Peter didn't understand, until later, the Messiah plainly stated that it wasn't a surrender: "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 26:54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" He used the number "twelve" in reference to the number of his apostles; as we will read, the LORD has vastly more than just twelve legions of angels available to Him.
"26:47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas [see The Long Shadow Of Judas], one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people." (Matthew 26:47 KJV)
After a mock trial and torture, the religious council turned the Messiah over to the Roman military governor - Pontius Pilate. Jesus told Pilate the same that He told Peter: "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
"18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 18:34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? 18:35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." (John 18:33-36 KJV)
The Roman troops then Crucified the Messiah. As a final insult, they made a crown of thorns for the King.
"19:1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. 19:2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 19:3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands." (John 19:1-3 KJV)
Everything that Jesus Christ said was true. He is a King, not merely of a country or some rise and fall empire, but of all people on earth. The Messiah's statement about having "legions" of angels available to His Command is also true. All of that will be undeniably plain on the day of His return (see also Looking Up To The Messiah: How And When?), during which the sky will be filled with a mighty army of angels.
"19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 19:12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
On that day, all of the arrogant ones are going to find their humility - in the holes in the ground that they will run to in their attempts to hide from the "wrath of the Lamb."
"6:12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood [see The Blood Moon Prophecy]; 6:13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 6:14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
The result will be peace, forever, for everyone who chooses (see the series of ten studies beginning with The Way To Salvation: Step 1) to be in the Kingdom of God (see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin and The Eighth Day: What Does It Mean?).
"4:1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4:3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Micah 4:1-3 KJV)
Fact Finder: What did the Roman legions eventually do to Jerusalem?
This Day In History, December 7
43 BC: Marcus Tullius, known as Cicero, statesman and writer, remembered as Rome's greatest thinker and writer, had his head and right hand chopped off by Mark Antony's soldiers. Mark Antony and Cleopatra (see The Cleopatra Connection) were later defeated by Octavian, who, later known as Caesar Augustus, declared the census that caused the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.
1729: 3,000,000 acres of land in Ontario was surrendered by native Americans of the Mississauga tribe (the city of Mississauga, adjacent to Toronto, is named after the Mississauga people).
1815: Michel Ney, one of Napoleon's marshals, was executed by firing squad for alleged treason.
1817: British naval officer William Bligh died in London at age 63. He is best known as captain of the Bounty when its famous mutiny occurred in 1789.
1916: Herbert Asquith resigned as British Prime Minister and was replaced by David Lloyd George, the war secretary, with a commitment to wage all-out war on Germany (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).
1931: Adolf Hitler's Nazis announced that they would ensure "Nordic dominance" in Germany by sterilizing "mongrel" races (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1941: Japanese forces made a surprise attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 2,334 U.S. servicemen were killed, 4 battleships and 188 planes were destroyed. The attack on Pearl Harbor was only one of many near-simultaneous attacks carried out by the Japanese navy on British, Dutch, Australian and U.S. bases and colonies all across the Pacific.
1941: Canada declared war on Japan. The Canadian action came only hours after the Japanese attack on U.S. and British bases and colonies in the Pacific. The declaration made Canada the first of the western allies to officially enter a state of war with Japan (Canada was already at war with Germany, having entered the Second World War with Britain at the start of the conflict in September 1939). The U.S., Britain and the other allied countries declared war the next day.
1953: David Ben Gurion, who had been Prime Minister of Israel since its foundation in 1948, resigned to retire.
1965: Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I simultaneously lifted the excommunications on each other that caused the division of the Eastern and Western churches of Rome in 1054.
1970: West Germany and Poland signed a pact renouncing the use of force to settle disputes, recognizing the Oder-Neisse River as Poland's western frontier, and acknowledging the transfer to Poland of 40,000 square miles of former German territory.
1988: In Armenia, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale killed more than 25,000 people.
1993: The U.S. government said it had concealed 204 nuclear blasts at its Nevada test site, more than one-fifth of total tests, to keep the Soviet Union in the dark about the U.S. arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.