For a Christian, war is no surprise



Wim Kranendonk

A woman carries an infant as they cross the border into Poland from Ukraine at the border crossing in Medyka, eastern Poland. Photo AFP, Louisa Gouliamaki

Last week, a Ukrainian preacher from Charkov wrote: “The world cries, Ukraine suffers, but the King is alive.” That gave him something he could hold onto, even though bombings could be heard in his town continually. And the Christian in the West who is (still) free?

No European counted on a war on his continent. International cooperation shared treaties, and rational consultation should be sufficient to prevent a war from breaking out. That is what it seemed like.

Until Putin decided last month to invade Ukraine. The Russian bear has broken free and now roars furiously. The democratic world is bewildered. Now it is Ukraine, but will it stay that way? Will Putin step over the threshold of NATO and attack, for example, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia? No one can look into the head of the Russian president. But if he does not keep his composure, a conflagration is not unthinkable.

The images from Ukraine are flabbergasting, the destruction enormous, and the confusion among civilians indescribable. The vast stream of refugees causes feelings of pity and powerlessness. How is this possible in our civilised world, many people ask themselves.

“Constant in history”

The American apologist Gene Edward Veith writes in his booklet “Christianity in an age of terrorism”: “There is no more dramatic manifestation of our fallen state than war. We live in a world of conflicts, not only between individuals but also between nations, ideologies and religions. It is one of the dark secrets of history that most of the human race favours wars. It is an essential part of most cultures and civilisations. Tribal communities are often formed around warlords; wars rank the history of Western society. War is a constant in history.”

For a Christian, that should not be news. The Bible teaches that dissatisfaction, hate and envy mark history ever since our fall into sin. There is no rest or peace because of our sins.

Only that fact should already be sufficient to prevent Christians from being amazed by battles between nations. Moreover, the Lord Jesus Himself said that wars and other dramatic events would occur more frequently as the centuries come and go.

Satan terrorises the earth

After the Peaceful Revolution from the end of the 1980s, the world thought that a peaceful era had arrived. But that hope was misplaced. Just mind a few of the low points from Western history during the past 30 years.

In the 90s, wars raged in Iraq and former Yugoslavia. In 2001, the terroristic attack on the Twin Towers took place. In 2008, there was a financial crisis. In 2019, the Covid Pandemic broke out in China. And now, war rages in Ukraine. And then we do not even mention the wars and disasters in other parts of the world. The one woe has not yet passed, or the other arrives.

In 1915, the well-known Dutch preacher Prof. Gerard Wisse held one of his so-called sermons-on-current-affairs. At that moment, Europe was in the grip of the First World War. In his speech, Wisse says: “There have been wars and rumours of wars in all ages. But see now if a motion and process can be discovered in them. That will be a token. And don’t we see how year after year, and century after century, the word “war” is written in letters that are redder and redder on the page of history? How this drama increases and the whole “civilised” world is involved; and the horseman on the red horse (Revelation 6) becomes the image par excellence from what happens on the earth right now?”

Wisse explains this increasing intensity of war violence with by the growth of the power of Satan and the devils on earth. In his speech, he points out that since the ascension of Christ, the world seems to be the demons’ domain. At the glorious entrance of Christ, Satan and his henchmen have been banned out of the heavenly spaces forever.

“Before that, like Job 1: 1 teaches, Satan was able to appear in the meeting of the good angels (called the “children of God”).” But Revelation 12 teaches that with the ascension of Christ, the dragon fought with the angels. However, the evil one could not win and “their place is not found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him”, Wisse said.

The result of this definitive exile of Satan from the heavenly places, according to Wisse, is to dismay the earth. From now, Satan will, in a particular way, exercise his terror on earth. (…) Satan and his angels, who lost the battle in heaven, are now comparable with a defeated army retreating and murdering and plundering towns on its way back. That is what the hellish forces do on earth. The riper the time for Christ’s Second Coming, the less conscientious wars will become.”

A Christian has hope

Wisse’s warnings are severe. Yet he does not end negatively. A Christian who knows he is part of Christ has hope. “Hope is faith for the future. And that is the privilege of a Christian. The guarantee of that hope is the Lamb.”

In a sermon about Revelation 5, Gijsbertus Van Reenen, a Reformed preacher from the Netherlands, writes that it is a comforting thought that under all circumstances, the hands of Christ, which were nailed to the cross, are the hands that hold the sceptre of the global governance. “He is the Lion of Judah’s tribe, Whose might and majesty are endless.”

Does this give something to hold on to in times of war and threats? Van Reenen: “The answer to that question depends on the relationship between you and that Lion of Judah’s tribe.” Only if that relationship is right, then I call unto you: “Rejoice and be glad. Weep not. No evil will overcome thee. The Lord will shelter thee.”

This article was translated by CNE.news and published in Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad on March 12, 2022.



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