And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
As much as peace is to be sought for and war to be avoided, we cannot avoid the reality that war dominates the landscape of human existence.
We would like to mark the highlights of good times and progress as we view history. We prefer to point to incidents like the discovery of electricity or the development of the Salk vaccine that prevents polio.
Instead, we find ourselves noting the Battle of Gettysburg or the invasion on D-Day as the chapter headings of American history.
Readers of the Bible are not surprised by this. It reveals that human nature is prone to conflict. It warns that wars and rumors of war will continue to the end of time.
It informs us that the very first war was waged in heaven. It reports that, as a result, humans have been in a permanent state of war ever since. The threat of an enemy is always before our eyes.
We are either fighting against the holy God or against the enemy of the holy God. There is no third option. There is no room for neutrality.
A saying that came out of the Middle East declares: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
The flip side tells us: “The friend of my enemy is my enemy.”
There is more truth to this than we might at first realize. Jesus put it another way, “He who is not with me is against me…” (Matthew 12:30).
It is difficult for us who are still tied to earth to visualize holy angels fighting against angels that have followed Satan in going over to the dark side.
We ask, “How did they fight? What were their weapons?” We don’t know.
We ask, “Can an angel, even one turned rebel, be killed?” The answer is: “Yes.”
Not like a human whose spirit can separate from his body. The decree is: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). This death is a separation from God and his goodness.
This is the destiny of the demons thrown out of heaven to end up in hell. Jesus described that as being in a fiery furnace, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).
This warns us to be careful. God says, “The friend of my enemy is my enemy.”
But the opposite is also true: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Saint Peter IDs our prime enemy: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
The forces of darkness have no greater enemy than their Creator, the Lord Almighty. He deploys legions of angels to join battle on the side of his people.
He is our friend.
The famous hymn reminds us: “With might of ours can naught be done; soon were our loss effected. But for us fights the valiant one whom God himself elected.”
We know the name of that “valiant one.” We celebrate his partnership in our life when we sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”
To be able to call the Holy Eternal One our friend is beyond amazing.
“But wait! There’s more!”
“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend” (James 2:3).
He calls us, “Friend.”
No greater honor could we have.
“The enemy of our enemy is our friend.”
Prayer: Friend of sinners, continue to fight for us until our battles are over. Deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.