“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
It is right for us to fear God, but the way in which we fear Him is out of respect for Who He is. He is our Creator, after all; and what He has created, He could choose to destroy. Yet, He does not.
Time and time again, He has shown us in the Old Testament record that bringing fear of death and destruction to the people does not work. The people will continue to sin. They will walk away as soon as the fear has passed and go right back to what it was they were doing that brought them into that position in the first place. This is why it is wrong of us to utilize fear tactics in our attempts at getting people to accept Jesus.
Yes, Hell is just as real as Heaven, but we need to notice that Jesus was never focused on Hell. He spoke of it matter of factly, but His focus was always on Heaven. He remained steadfastly attentive to the Will of the Father operating in the Love of God and the Truth of the Spirit. He showed us in what He spoke and in what He did. In fact, Jesus said something that gives us a very quantitative measurement of what the Love of God entails.
Though we understand that God’s Love is limitless, we do not truly understand what limitless means. Our omnipotent Lord knows this, so there is a measurement we can obtain mathematically, that we can identify with in a very real way. So, let’s break it down.
On the night before His death, Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, and was about to be hauled off to face His destiny. Peter had just cut off the ear of one of the guards who came for Jesus with a sword, when Jesus says:
“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
That is significant! Here’s why:
A legion in the Roman Army (knowledge with which Peter would have been familiar) could contain up to 6,000 soldiers. Historians debate the actual numbers, but the fact that they could have had up to this many speaks more of what God could have done anyway. Therefore, we shall use this figure. Now, Jesus said He could pray for and receive more than this total, but, whether He meant more whole legions or some sum less than one more legion, we cannot say. So, let’s just start with a base of 12 legions.
6,000 soldiers multiplied by 12 (legions) gives us 72,000 soldiers.
Except, Jesus didn’t say soldiers. He said angels. These were angelic soldiers which is significantly different. Beside the fact that angels are spiritual beings and men are fleshly, angels are much more powerful. In the Old Testament, we are given another quantitative number, showing their might, which is quite precise. One angel, and only one, killed 5,180 Assyrian soldiers in a single night. (2 Kings 19:35, Isaiah 37:36) Presuming, then, that the angels of whom Jesus spoke were of the same sort as this one, then we have the following scenario which could have played out, had Jesus prayed His way out of being brought to trial.
72,000 angelic soldiers multiplied by 5,180 kills gives a total of 372,960,000 deaths.
Considering estimates for the timeframe in which Jesus spoke these words as to the world population, it appears that most experts would say it was somewhere between 170M and 400M people. Since, our total falls right inside these parameters and that to add only 5,221 (less than a whole legion) more angels brings the total just above the upper limit estimate, one can easily conclude that Christ may have been saying to Peter that, if He really wanted to, He could have called for the destruction of the human race (not just the men, but women and children, too) right then and there. Yet, He did not. He chose to love us instead by going to the Cross. This is probably the best quantitative way to try and see how great is God’s Love for us.
I’m sure there are enough angels to do the job even today, yet He does not. He loves us too much. He loves every man, every woman, and every child. Yes, that day will come. The rapture will come. The Great Tribulation will come. But, for now, He continues to extend grace and Love, because fear didn’t work. Love did.
The Love of God, which is far greater than our mathematical calculating, is the only way anyone will ever truly come to Christ and have changed lives. Fear mongering by pointing to dates and times causes reactionary, almost reflexive, responses made solely out of self preservation. When the fear passes as the dates and times come and go, those people will return to their sins, as people always do, most likely never having truly accepted Christ.
Christ never possessed a spirit of fear, and He certainly never gave us one. He gave us the Spirit of God, Who resides within us and works in power, in love, and in truth.
Don’t spread fear. Share the gospel. Show them some love. Abide in Christ and let Him have His way in you and watch those around you begin to see Him loving them through you.