One of my high school textbook had a map of the Assyrian Kingdom during biblical times. I found it almost humorous that the Assyrians had conquered all the territory of the whole Middle East except for a barely visible little plot of land that had somehow resisted their assault. How could that be?
Years later I found the explanation in Scripture. In fact, it is recorded twice: 2Kings 19 and Isaiah 37. The story goes that Sennacherib conquered all that part of the country except Jerusalem. He sent a messenger to tell the Hezekiah, King of Judah, and the people of Jerusalem that they might as well give up because they had no chance militarily, and since the gods of all the other nations could not deliver those nations from him, it was obvious that the Lord their God would not stand a chance against him either.
It seems that the Lord did not take kindly to his insults and sent an angel to wipe out 185,000 of his troops in one night. This outcome clued Sennacherib into the possibility that the Lord just might be different than those other gods, and that trying to fight Him was a bad idea. In response he and his remaining soldiers hightailed it back to Nineveh, leaving that tiny territory unconquered by him.
This story leads to some encouraging calculations. They begin with a minor correction. Though all of the major translations of this event in both 2Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 indicate that these soldiers were exterminated by “the angel of the Lord,” in both passages the article is not in the Hebrew text. This work was done by “an angel of the Lord.” In other words, this job was not done by some special angel.
The scenario in heaven might have gone something like this. The angels Michael and Gabriel were sitting around the celestial command center when word came from the Lord that He wanted 185,000 Assyrian soldiers slaughtered. Michael commented that wiping out a mere 185,000 was hardly worth his time, and Gabriel concurred, concerned that doing that small of a job might ruin his reputation. Then Gabriel got an idea. “Hey, how about angel Private Johanni. He should be getting off KP about now. He has a couple hours before going off duty. Let’s send him.” And they did, and he handled the job with no problem. The point is that the biblical account suggests that any ordinary angel can take care of 185,000 enemy soldiers.
Have you ever wondered why when Jesus was being arrested He informed Peter that He could ask His Father for 12 legions of angels? Why twelve legions? The math is quite interesting.
A legion was comprised of about 5,000 soldiers. Therefore, 12 legions would be 60,000 soldiers.
In the case of 12 legions of angels totaling 60,000 angels, if each one had the capacity to decimate 185,000 enemy troops, they would have the combined capability of killing off 11,100,000,000 (11 billion, 100 million) enemies. The current world population is about 7.5 billion people. Therefore, 12 legions of angels could easily deal with the entire world population, with considerable cushion for further population growth.
Whether that’s what Jesus had in mind in stipulating the 12 legion number, that calculation nonetheless provides assurance that the Lord has everything under control.
On those days when Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer become especially irksome, or George Soros rolls out another scheme for using his money to make our lives miserable, it is good to remember that they are merely pawns in God’s plan of history. Just like Col. Hogan was always several steps ahead of Sgt, Schultz and Col. Klink, so the Lord is in control of every situation, only at a much higher level.
And if they get too rowdy, He might send Private Johanni to deal with them. If at times you are wondering why the Lord isn’t moving faster in dealing with some of these people, maybe He is waiting for Private Johanni to get off of KP duty.