Today’s Bible readings can be found at this link: Psalm 32:1-11 and Revelation 12:7-17.
Revelation 12:7 Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (NIV)
I think we all have this image of Heaven being a place of love, harmony, and peace. We picture beautiful landscapes and wonderful buildings, streets paved with gold, and angels on every corner. We look forward to being there eternally with Jesus, to look upon His face, to hear His voice, and listen to His stories. We create these wonderful pictures of Heaven in our minds because we want it to be a perfect paradise, where all our hopes are fulfilled and our fears are set aside. We want it to be a place like no other where we can joyfully spend the rest of Eternity with our Creator, Savior, and loved ones.
And then, when we are reading the Book of Revelation, we come across today’s verse, so we wonder if our images are naïve and largely unreal. How could there be a war in heaven? How could the most beautiful and peaceful place in existence be plagued with division and violence, separation and conflict? Surely there must be something wrong here. We can sadly see all those things going on in our sinful world, but Heaven? How could Heaven be penetrated by war?
According to the scriptures, Satan tried to overthrow God and ruin both Heaven and Earth. A third of the angels in Heaven was on his side, so Satan almost conquered the invincible God. The greatest angel of them all, Michael, fought against Satan and prevailed, hurling the devil and his demonic cohorts to Earth, where the war continues, which is why our world is so full of violence, hatred, racism, and injustice. Satan wants to spoil the Earth because God loves it. He wants to separate us from one another because Christ redeems us. He wants to destroy humanity, the environment, and this beautiful planet simply because the Holy Spirit sustains Christ’s Church here.
Like the worm He is, Satan will do everything to contaminate our congregations, communities, politics, and nations in order to divide and conquer us because Satan is full of embittered grudges and seeks vengeance for his downfall by creating havoc among us, especially with regard to what is good and true. If the devil can make us question, twist, or reject the Truth, then we will become his pawns which will harm our present days and cause us to forfeit our future. No wonder then that Jesus called Satan the ‘Father of lies.”
Perhaps you were expecting a different kind of devotional today. Maybe you were looking for something to comfort and sustain you, help and encourage you. I do write those kinds of devotionals, too, but today, I would be failing as a pastoral writer if I did not also write about the uncomfortable and inconvenient truth, or as the Apostle John reminds his readers at the end of today’s passage: Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)
Point to ponder: Where do I see conflict and division in today’s world? Is this affecting my church and family? What does this tell me about its origin?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Prince of Peace and the Teacher of Truth. Help us to see that the things which separate and divide us may be part of the war that Satan still wages among us. Grant us the ability to discern what is actually and factually true, instead of blindly accepting what we want to be true. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
Today’s image is one of John’s drawings for Lent called ‘Battle Beneath the Stars.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click here.