Rev. Deacon Allen J. Batchelder
September 28, 2014, Pentecost XVI
Daniel 10:10-14, 12:1-3; Psalm 103:19-22, Revelations 12:7-12, Luke 10:17-20
From the book of the Prophet Daniel:
The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia and came to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.
From The Revelation to St. John:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
And from the Gospel of St. Luke:
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.
Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.
“We’re at war!” Those are horrible words. But for millions of people around the world they are true. Jesus warned us about these wars! He told us that there would be wars and rumors of wars until He comes again. And so it is. We live in a world that seems to be at war all the time, at least somewhere in the world.
There was World War I, which was called the war to end all wars; that had over 37 million casualties. Then twenty years later, World War II made WWI look like child’s play; over 60 million people perished. Since then, we have witnessed wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, just to name a few. And that’s just the recent wars that the United States was involved with.
And who could forget September 11, 2001, that forced us to realize that we are at war with Muslim extremists – Terrorists. They are known by many names: Al-Qaida, ISIS, Khorasan, Taliban, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, and Hezbollah, just to name a few. War is no stranger to our world.
“We’re at war!” We see war, not only in our world, but also in our personal relationships. Jesus warned us about these wars too! We have marriages ending in divorce; children rebelling against their parents; and neighbors not always neighborly.
“We’re at war!” Sometimes we are at war with ourselves: a battle rages within our hearts and souls; some people battle addictions, depression, doubts and fears. These wars are perhaps the scariest, because they often stay with you your entire life, and no one knows about them except you.
Behind every one of these wars, stands Satan. His long war against God plays itself out in our world, in our homes, and in our hearts. World War II pales in comparison to the cosmic battle between the devil’s forces of darkness and the Angelic Army of Light – led, Scriptures teaches, by the archangel Michael. Human hatred at its vilest is child’s play compared to the devilish disgust that Satan has for the Lord and His church. The darkness in our hearts that fights against saving faith is child’s play compared to the devilish darkness of hell!
Do I have your attention? Good. Because God wants you to know something: We’re at war and the enemies are awful; we’re at war, and our allies are awesome; we’re at war, but fear not, because our victory it total!
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev. 12:7-9)
Every war has an enemy. Who is our enemy today? Is it Muslim extremists? Is it poverty or global hunger? Is it global warming? Is it addiction or divorce? The Bible pulls no punches and names who is responsible: The devil is the great enemy who stands behind evil thought, word, and deed.
Do we think of the devil that way? Often the devil is pictured in some cartoon, dressed in red holding a pitch fork. Who would take that man seriously? Well-meaning people may scoff at the idea of demonic forces and good and evil angels, but the fact remains that this is biblical. The Holy Scriptures depict him as a dragon, a serpent and even a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. When Satan rebelled against God and was judged, some of the angels fell with him and became the demonic evil angels that oppose Christ and obey Satan (Matt. 25:41). One thing is certain, he wants you; and he wants your soul. The devil and his demons are enemy number one and he is awfully good at what he does!
But God is even better at what He does! The devil is an awful enemy. But we have the Lord and His protecting angels as our allies. Who is our ally? God himself is in our corner. God Himself went toe to toe with the devil and He won! Salvation, power, and authority are ours in the name of Jesus Christ. The devil may be good at pointing out our sins, but the Lord is even better at forgiving our sin and soothing our hearts with the Lamb’s precious blood. That’s God’s SALVATION.
The devil may be good at stirring up trouble in this sinful world as the prince of darkness, but the Lord is even better at ruling heaven and earth for the good of His people, for the good of His church. That’s God’s POWER.
The devil may be good at pushing people around to get his dirty work done, but the Lord is even better at equipping and sending His people out with His Good News to accomplish His saving work. That’s God’s AUTHORITY.
Jesus says in Matthew: “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matt. 28:18:20)
How did Jesus win the battle? He won big – through what seemed like a big loss. Jesus came to us as a simple infant boy; grew up and spent 40 days in the wilderness, where He was tempted by Satan. Jesus didn’t waver. The people rejected Him, and when Jesus hung on the cross, the devil must have thought that he had won. But the cross and empty tomb became the final two Holy-nails in the devil’s coffin. Through Jesus, the Lamb, our sin has been paid for; our death has been defeated, and the devil’s power has been destroyed.
We’ve got other allies too. The Bible calls them the angels! And their leader is the archangel Michael. And what humorous caricature do you picture when you think of angels? You probably think of a cute pudgy smiling baby-faced creature with wings. Michael’s warrior angels are holy, spiritual creatures of God that shout His praises in heaven’s throne room. At times, angels have served as the Lord’s messengers at key points in salvation’s history. Do you remember an angel called Gabriel, who brought the good news that Mary was going to have a son named Jesus? Angels are powerful spiritual creatures that the Lord created to assist Him in protecting mankind. And God used His warrior angels to defeat Satan for good!
We’re at war, but the future is looking bright, because we have awesome allies – Christ and the whole company of heaven – in our corner!
I am not sure who said it first, but you need to identify your enemy, before you can defeat him. Satan is the terrorist; Satan is the home-wreaker; Satan destroys people’s lives.
The Bibles says: And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:11-12)
The devil’s power is broken through the blood of the Lamb. No one doubts that we have lost our battles with temptation and have plenty of sin stored away. If it came to winning the crown of life by ourselves, we would have burned up in the fires of hell long ago. But because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, that’s not going to happen. We aren’t going to share in the devil’s destruction, because our victory in Jesus Christ is total. Total forgiveness. Full forgiveness. Free forgiveness. A forgiveness that is poured out upon each and every one of us through the blood of the Lamb.
John says it well: “My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
Christ’s shed blood gives us our perfect standing before God (1 John1:5-2:2). But our witness to God’s Word and our willingness to lay down our lives for Christ defeats Satan as well. Satan is not equal to God; he is not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient. His power is limited and his tactics must fail when God’s people trust the power of the blood and of the Word. Nothing Satan does can rob us of “salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ’ (Rev. 12:10), if we are yielded to Him. God’s great purposes will be fulfilled!
The devil’s power is broken. And his pitiful little kingdom takes a pounding, each and every time God’s Word is put to use. Let no one say that the Good News of Jesus Christ isn’t powerful. Faith comes from hearing the message of Jesus Christ – the word of their testimony. And where faith is, the devil must retreat. Every time a child is baptized, Satan looses a slave. Every time a sermon is preached, the devil’s lies are exposed. Every time a Bible is read, doubts are subdued. Every time a “Glory be to God on High” is sung, the devil is exposed to be a pitiful creature of darkness – a cowardly, weak, sniveling terrorist. Hang onto the Word of God, because when you hang onto that true Word of testimony, the devil must let go!
We’re at war. Sin and temptation is still around us. Don’t let the devil fool you! He’s the one who is suffering, not ruling. The war has already been won! Jesus sits securely on His throne. The Lord’s angels protect us. The Lord’s testimony is proclaimed to you – right here, right now.
Believers in any age or situation can rejoice in this victory, no matter how difficult their experiences may be. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of the wicked one; and these have been defeated by our Saviour (Eph. 6:10ff).
May Jesus Christ bless you on this St. Michael’s and all angels Day, as together we join Michael and all the hosts of heaven in celebrating Jesus’ victory! Hosanna in the Highest!
Let us pray:
Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of
angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship
you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and forever. Amen. †