Earth: Arena of War

By Roger Patzer, Pastor

(Roger was my old Church Pastor and this is just one of his articles that really makes sense)

If you think life on this planet is at best a mixture of pleasures with pain, happiness with sorrow, health with sickness you are not imagining things. Though earth was initially created as a paradisiacal playground where we were to enjoy personal fellowship with God, that was all changed when the struggle of two wills took place. It is on this stage that the major issues affecting our very lives takes place:

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angel waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world; he was thrown down to earth, and his angels were thrown down with him ---- Revelation 12:7--9

This passage explains that following the initial flare-up in heaven Satan was cast to the earth. What began as one created being’s attempt to usurp God’s throne has now spread and evolved into a major holocaust. It is not, however, a war limited to any one place. Rather, it is universal in scope, and that includes earth itself. This earth has become an arena of war.

Stage 1. Heaven. the above quoted passage from revelation 12:7-9 presents the picture. Heaven became the very first battleground as Lucifer took his attempt to rule this universe to the very throne of God. If he could upset the government of God he could take over. And so he gave God a challenge right at the very heart of His government. There was an attempt to undermine; to seduce the allegiance of the innocent. Indeed, many of the angelic forces joined sides with him through his convincing arguments. He convinced them he was right, Why did he do this? Because of the very nature of God, sin and rebellion cannot exist in His presence. It was inevitable that there would be an expansion of the war following this first attempt at take-over. That is exactly what happened

Stage II. Earth. Luke 10:18 gives an important perspective to this drama. Here the expulsion of the rebel forces is spoken of.

And He said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightening.’

It is another angle on Revelation 12:7-9. The drama of all ages was now going to shift to a new arena. Stage 1 was heaven itself where the government of God was attacked. Stage II is the planet earth where Satan would be allowed to demonstrate his claims. That which we know as the Bible is the account of the struggle between God and Satan in this new arena of war. The beginning of the Bible portrays life in full harmony with God’s plan to restore that broken relationship and concludes with life restored to harmony with God. But even here on the battleground of earth there are several war zones:

(1) God’s perfect creation, Eden. Though this information in Scripture is not taken seriously by very many people it is significant in what it says about God. Satan’s attempt to destroy the creation of God and undermine His government here on earth began in Eden. This is the essence of Genesis 1 & 2. It is here he challenged God for the allegiance of earth’s inhabitants. It is here he watched as his purposes were to be realized. He succeeded in having the human will severed from full allegiance to God through his lies and deceptions. The perfect harmony between God and His creation was broken. The balance of nature shifted and it was not long before Satan and his troops were firmly entrenched on the planet earth. He became the prince of this world.

…now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. --- John 12:31

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. Of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. ---- Ephesians 2:1,2

God had designed that Adam, His very own creation, would be the prince of this world, Adam was to have dominion over everything. Adam was the steward of God’s creation. But along came Satan who used deception (Genesis 3) to undermine this relationship and bring about a tremendous change. Satan stole Adam’s right of dominion and therefore became the one who dominated the affairs of this world. But it was not just geographic capture. He did not simply capture Eden. He conquered the human will and it is here that the fiercest of all battles rages.

(2) The Battle of the Will. Genesis 3:15 indicates something about this battle zone. There is a struggle of the will.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. ----Genesis 3:15

There is a struggle of the will. This verse reveals several significant things. One, the announcement of victory for God. Two, an announcement of hope for mankind and three, an announcement of doom for the government of Satan. God told Satan that he had lied his way to power and that it would not always continue. He warned Satan that He would win back the right to rule and that it would be played out under fair conditions. The very thought that God would work through the defeated human race to accomplish is purposes infuriated Satan to such an extent that he concentrated his efforts on sabotaging this plan.

Think of it! God would bring a drama to the planet earth, involving mankind, which would re-establish His government of love. It became Satan’s studied effort to coerce the will of man and see that his cooperation was impossible. Satan has pulled out all the stops to see to it that God is made out to be arbitrary, malicious, greedy and unattractive. Satan makes every attempt to see to it that God does not command the respect of His subjects. He mounted a tremendous smear campaign which was a assault upon the very character of God. His usurped power as prince of this world was used to sabotage the rebuilding effort by God concerning a lost human race. The very thought that God would work through this conquered human race plunged Satan into frenzied activity.

Satan heard God’s announcement of a promised deliverer and his hatred for the human race increased. He heard God promise there would be a redeemer for this lost race. He hated the human race all the more. He did not know which baby might be the redeemer so he worked feverishly right from the start to see this redeemer plan was not a success. The very first child born on this planet became a murderer. No doubt his parents thought the promised redeemer had arrived but that hope was soon shattered. Imagine it. Cain, the first child born on this planet, murdered his brother, Abel. Satan was taking no chances that one of these children might be the Savior. He moved in with his tremendous power and succeeded in capturing the will of the one who turned unbridled jealousy and hatred into murder.

Not as Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. ----1 John 3:12

Satan was now on his way to implementing his plan of sabotage and destruction. He considered that he had killed the redeemer, the promised Savior. Sin, finding root in Cain’s heart, eliminated him from being the Redeemer. Death eliminated Abel. There would be no redeemer at this point in history. He would do it. Instead of a beautiful place where God’s love could be appreciated earth had become an arena of war.

But God’s plans are not so easily frustrated and He gave Adam and Eve other children, thus enabling the line of the Promised One to be established. It was set up through Seth, the third child. Luke’s genealogy records this fact in Luke 3:38. What is significant about all of this is that we are part of this drama. We can all testify to the fact that our wills are very much a part of this struggle. Certainly it is true that there is a tremendous battle within our own beings concerning one to whom we offer allegiance. Everyday we are confronted with the lies and deceptions of Satan and now, because of our sinful natures, the decisions we make are not always the ones we absolutely want to.

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. ---- Romans 7:14-21

If it not been for the promise God made that He would not allow Satan to dominate our wills we would be out of the race with no choice but to serve Satan.

When Satan was expelled from heaven and found fertile ground for his lies here on earth he knew it was his final opportunity to get it all. He needed proof that his plan was the best and he spared nothing to get it. Enslaving earth’s subjects was his first move.

All you have to do is go through the Bible only a short distance before you realize the near-success of Satan and his plan. In just a few short years Satan so totally dominated the course of history that the wickedness of man was at a saturation point.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. --- genesis 6:5

Had the course of history followed as it was going there would have been an impossibility for the redeemer to be born. All of mankind would have been lost. But God is not indifferent to our needs. He did not simply create a wonderful universe and then, like an absentee landlord, leave it to our ruling. Earth is not like a giant clock with a mainspring that is slowly winding down. God is personally involved with our needs. He is concerned. Knowing the course of events, and seeing what Satan was doing, He extended His grace. That which the Bible records as the flood is the historical way of revealing this love and grace of God. Had God not intervened mankind would have totally surrendered to the power of Satan and all hope of a restoration with God would have been lost. The promise of Genesis 3:15 would yet find fulfillment after the new beginning recorded in Genesis 6.

Not long after this God worked with one the bible calls Abraham to develop a people allegiant to the will of God. Genesis 12 begins this account. The special relationship with Israel came out of this. Satan watched as this new relationship developed. He stepped up his campaign against God and put even greater pressure upon the human race. That which he introduced at this point in history because he was nervous about this special relationship with Abraham and Israel, has not subsided to this very day. Anti-Semitism was born out of Satan’s fear that this promised Redeemer would soon arrive through the lineage of Abraham. Today’s feelings of anti-Semitism are not accidental as Satan concentrated upon destroying the purposes of God through destroying the people of God called to be His. It is important to understand that because God worked with this group of people in a special way does not mean they are better than or of greater value than any others.

The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. ---Deuteronomy 7:7,8

God chose Abraham and his descendents to be instruments of His grace. The people were ordinary but relationship was special. God needed a foothold in the human race from which He could operate. The descendents of Abraham became this foothold. Not better than, not greater than but unique because of the relationship with God. The course of Old testament history is the course of a gigantic struggle between the forces of good and evil and it is illustrated in the everyday lives of these people. If the Bible says anything it says the struggle between Christ and Satan over mankind’s allegiance is a real one. Repeatedly the nation of Israel is in a crisis situation because it refused to follow the will of God. The pages of Old Testament history are complete with the folly of human independence from God. Battle after battle, problem after problem, reveal this struggle. Satan worked feverishly to destroy our allegiance with God. Earth had indeed become an arena of war.

Somewhere in this line of people there would come a redeemer that would crush and destroy the power of Satan. He would vindicate and exonerate God. Because Satan did not know exactly when this Redeemer would arrive he intensified his charges against God and especially through Israel’s relationship with God. He worked from both the inside and outside bringing pressure points. He tried desperately to break the covenant relationship that God set up. Had tried to break them as a nation and a people as several times the were in subjection to other nations. He would do anything to sidetrack them from preparing for the Redeemer. He led the people to follow false gods, sparking one of the greatest tragedies for Israel -- the captivity of God’s people by an oppressive power. The book of Daniel reflects this tragedy. Idolatry and revolt including a dividing of the very nation of Israel itself were other problems with which the had to contend. The ten tribes of the north (Israel) and the two tribes of the south (Judah) became scattered and dispersed people. This would better serve Satan’s purposes for it would isolate them from their central purposes. They would no longer be one people with one objection. A fight for survival would occupy their attention and this hope-for redeemer would not be able to get that necessary foothold. Perhaps Satan had a chance. The Old testament is really the story of how Satan has infiltrated this nation which God has called to be in special relationship with Himself. Not because the nation is itself top-notch but because it was the nation through which God promised the Redeemer. That is the central focus of attention in reading the Bible.

At a couple points in history Satan was within almost a single person of exterminating this people through whom the restorer of fellowship and the redeemer of His people would come. The book of Esther should be read this light. His plan for wiping out this nation was so successful that it was only a miracle of God which saved this people at this time. And then Jesus the Christ was born and battle zone number 3 was created.

(3) An attack upon the Redeemer Himself. When Jesus was born Satan’s hatred reached a new zenith. His anger was white-heat. The entire human life of Christ is Satan’s attempt to murder him and keep Him from being the deliverer of His people. If the plan of Christ succeeds Satan fails. A lot was at stake in the life and ministry of Christ. King Herod became an instrument of Satan to murder all children two years of age an younger -- in an attempt to get Christ in this mass murder. This plan was foiled. At the first public manifestation of Jesus’ ministry Satan personally undertook the task of causing Jesus to fail. Matthew 4 is that account of this grueling ordeal for Jesus. The focal point of the temptations of Satan was to get Jesus to turn from the will of the Father an exercise independence -- the same cause of sin in the first place, both with Lucifer (Satan) in heaven an Adam and Eve on this planet. If Satan could get Jesus to exercise an independent will the covenant with God the Father would be broken and all hope for lost mankind would disappear. Simply stated, Jesus was a success and Satan a failure. Failing in this direct approach upon Jesus, Satan changed his guise. He worked through the self-centered religious leaders and infiltrated the church itself. So it wasn’t going to work to get rid of Christ, then he would make sure that church itself would be reduced to rituals, liturgy and rules. The heart and spirit of church would be crushed out . It would be okay for people to attend, as long as there was no gospel being taught there. The first four gospels of the Bible -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- reveal the struggle between Jesus and the church itself. Satan had indeed captured the minds of the church leaders, so that they themselves plotted the murder of Christ. But even Calvary, which they thought was the accomplishment of this devilish plot was a victory for God. Jesus was not killed, He gave His life as a ransom for the world.

Throughout the ministry of Christ Satan became increasingly desperate and increased his intensity. Finally, from his vantage point, his purposes were accomplished at Calvary. He was absolutely certain he had won the battle for this universe. The One who was the Redeemer, the Savior of His people, was now brutally murdered -- and by the church leaders themselves. What a twist of irony. But in that death, shock as it must have been to Satan, the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 came to pass. Calvary totally exposed Satan for who and what he was. Thanks to Calvary all doubts about the good intentions Lucifer-became-Satan were removed. There was no longer any question about his character and purposes. The allegiance of the angelic forces and the unfallen worlds was made secure thanks to Calvary. Satan tipped his hand at Calvary guaranteeing the triumph of the forces of God. Thanks to Calvary the allegiance of the human family towards the government of God would be a reality.

Today we are living in the middle of this controversy but thanks to Calvary the bottom line has been written. The final chapter has been added in life’s great book. Jesus Christ is the victor. Satan’s kingdom has already been destroyed. There still remains, however, the outplay of this struggle. This is where we live. This is why we have problems and difficulties. That’s why there is suffering, sickness, adversity and death. While all the evidence is indeed in there has not yet sounded the bell for the end of the contest. Until that bell sounds we will have struggles and conflicts. But if we understand the framework it will give us a perspective which provides our lives with meaningful answers.