Take a look at a typical history book of any nation. In most cases you will find that the nation’s history is often defined by wars which a nation’s military forces fought in order to “liberate” the nation from the rule of an adversary power.
Such is the history of this world’s empires. First, King Nebuchadnezzar went conquering nations to establish what historians recognize as the Babylonian Empire. After this, the Medes and Persians subdued the nations under the Babylonian rule, to establish the Medo-Persian Empire. Before long, Alexander the Great went conquering, and defeated the Medes and Persians, to establish the Greek Empire. In time, a more powerful force arose that took over the Greek or Macedonian Empire to form the Roman Empire.
This succession of power is described in the prophetic book of Daniel, chapters 7 through 12. Secular history corroborates this sequence of events.
In recent times, our world’s history has been defined by World Wars I and II, and the ensuing “Cold War” between the communist world and the democratic nations. Many other wars have been fought in various corners of the world – and will continue to be fought until the end of this present age.
In a similar manner, we may also look at the history of our universe and the heavenly realm, in terms of the battles which the Almighty God has waged with His adversaries or enemies. Revelation 12, which we could well take as a “look-back” at events that took place way, way back in the past but are couched in prophetic language – as though they are yet to happen at some future time.
Verses 1 through 6 of this chapter describe the birth of the Christ-child—a past, historic fact recorded in the “gospel” accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and corroborated by honest secular history. Historians place this event at 4 B.C.
Verses 7 through 9 of this same chapter describe a “war” that “broke out in heaven, between the angels of God,” led by the archangel Michael, and Satan’s angels, comprising a third of all angels. Many Bible students connect this war with the “coup” that the angel Lucifer staged to try to unseat God from His heavenly throne, as recorded in Isaiah 14, eons ago. [See: Where Did the Devil Come From? The Sin of Rebellion and The Comings of Christ.]
We might consider this war as the first which God fought against any power that opposes His rule or government. God has since fought many wars to subdue His adversaries. And God has used various “weapons” in His “arsenal!”
Water, and some, for war
Because of mankind’s gross evil and corruption, God sent a worldwide flood that destroyed all creatures that drew breath, except for Noah and his family and the animals protected in the ark. The story is recorded in Genesis 6 through 10. We may consider this as God’s first “war” against evil mankind.
What we might consider God’s next war versus rebellious mankind, took place soon after that flood, when men built the “Tower of Babel” in defiance of God’s command for them to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). They decided to remain together in one place (Babel) so they would not “be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).
In those days humankind spoke one language, so that it was easy for them to work together to achieve their aim or purpose, contrary to God’s will (Verse 1). In order to frustrate their plans, God caused their language to be “confused” [or “confounded,” KJV], so that they could no longer understand each other and were thus forced to separate and be scattered all over the earth (Verses 8-9). That’s how today’s many different languages originated. We speak about different languages as a “Babel” of tongues.
The next “war” God waged with defiant mankind was against the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose sin was “very grave” (Genesis 18:20). The “depravity” of the people of Sodom is described in Genesis 19. Here we find that just about all the men of Sodom wanted to commit perverse sexual acts with the angels, in the guise of men, who were guests of the righteous man Lot. This is where the word “sodomy” is derived from. 2 Peter 2:8 tells about how the “filthy conduct of the wicked [people of Sodom] tormented [Lot’s] soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds.” For their wickedness, which God considers an “abomination” [a detestable or hateful thing to God (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13-14); and see: The Rainbow Connection], God rained down fire and brimstone, which completely destroyed their cities (Verse 6; Genesis 12:24-25, 27-29), to serve as a warning and example for others not to commit the same error and ungodly conduct (2 Peter 2:6).
The next battle God waged was that against the power of Egypt, which placed God’s people Israel, in cruel bondage for some 400 years (Exodus 1). To free them from that bondage, God sent His servant Moses, who was His instrument to cause ten plagues to fall upon Egypt (Exodus 2-11). After the last of these plagues, Egypt’s king Pharoah finally let the children of Israel go to serve their God in the place He had promised to bring them to.
Interestingly, although God has promised never to send again a worldwide flood as in Noah’s day, He has hail and snow – forms of water – as a part of His arsenal (Job 38:22-23). In fact, one of the plagues which God poured out on Egypt in His act to free His people Israel from Pharoah’s cruel oppression, was hail from heaven (Exodus 9:13-33). After Pharoah had let the Israelites go, he wanted to bring them back to Egypt. Thus he sent all his armies to run after the Israelites, who merely traveled on foot.
Exodus 13-14 describes how God saved His people by letting them cross dry-shod over the Red Sea. While Pharoah’s armies chased the people, who had just safely crossed to the other shore, God caused the parted waters of the sea to clap back and drown all of Egypt’s armies. Exodus 15, as well as Psalm 106 and 136, celebrates this miraculous event as an act of God as “a man of war” (Exodus 15:3).
God’s wars to prepare Israel’s way to the Promised Land
Despite the Israelites’ rebellious, complaining ways which God dealt with by a show of His power, in His mercy God enabled them to vanquish the nations (whose lands God promised to give to the Israelites as His divine prerogative). Numbers 10 through 14, 16-17, 21, 31 detail God’s interventions.
God used Israel’s men of war to conquer nations along their way. God had promised that, if the Israelites obeyed God, He would cause their enemies to be defeated, to fall by the sword before them; five of them would chase a hundred of their enemies, and a hundred of them would put ten thousand of their enemies to flight (Leviticus 26:7-8; Deuteronomy 28:7).
In some instances, God used hornets to drive away the heathen in order to give place to the Israelites in the former’s lands (Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20; Joshua 34:12).
Joshua 6 describes God’s miraculous act to destroy the formidable walled city of Jericho. Joshua 8 is about the conquest of Ai by the armies of Israel. Joshua 10 describes how God used large hailstones to conquer Jerusalem for His people. Joshua 11 through 19 lists the other conquests of heathen lands by Israel’s sword.
The book of Judges describes the continuing conquest of the rest of Canaan by the armies of Israel led by deliverers or judges whom God raised up. Judges 7-8 describes the spectacular defeat of the Midianites by God’s intervention through Gideon.
God’s battles against Israel’s enemies
After the tribes of Israel had settled in their respective designated places, and the original confederacy had split into the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, God allowed them to be besieged now and again by surrounding hostile nations. Every time this happened, and the people cried out to their God for help, God intervened in various ways to save them.
The lad David at first singly defeated the Philistine giant and champion Goliath through his faith in God to guide him as he used a sling to slay the giant. The famous story is recorded in 1 Samuel 17.
When he eventually became Israel’s king, David fought many victorious wars against his and the nation’s enemies, with God’s divine help. [See 1 Samuel 30; 2 Samuel 5, 8, 10, 12-18, 20-22; 1 Chronicles 18-21.] God helped kings who succeeded David in their turn, as they sought God and trusted in Him for deliverance.
One notable example was that in the case of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat. He didn’t have to fight his enemies – the armies of Ammon, Moab and Mt. Seir. God Himself fought the war for Judah. God discomfited the enemies while the temple choir sang praises to the LORD. The story is told in 2 Chronicles 20.
God’s battle against sin and death
No less dramatic and spectacular is God’s continuing war against sin and death. This began to take place when God sent the second Person in the Godhead, Whom John 1:1 calls “the Word,” to be born of a virgin as the God-man Jesus Christ. God prepared Him as the “Lamb of God” who would take away the sin of all humanity and give everlasting life to those who would believe in Him (John 3:16; 1:29, 14), in His own time. Through His sacrifice of Himself upon the cross at Calvary, Jesus has ransomed all who believe in Him from sin and its penalty, death (Romans 6:23). [See: The Ransomed of the LORD, Mary Worship, The True Christ, Freed From Bondage, and This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]
God’s last “Great Battle”
Revelation 16:14 speaks about “the battle of that great day of God Almighty,” to which He will gather the kings of the whole world and their armies. Verses 7-21 tell about how God will pour out the seventh and last plague of His wrath – an ultimate earthquake and hail stones – on these armies. Revelation 17-19 describes how God will destroy Babylon, Satan’s instrument of deceit, and people swayed by him, and how Christ will take-over rule of all the earth.
Revelation 20 speaks about God imprisoning Satan and his demonic angels in an abyss, thereby disabling them from influencing mankind to sin, until he is released for a short time after Christ’s 1000-year rule. [See: Two Goats Together.]
Early in Christ’s reign and towards the end of that reign, rebellious nations led by Gog and Magog will be quickly destroyed by fire from God (Ezekiel 38-39; Revelation 20:7-10).
The last enemy destroyed
After God will have eliminated Satan and all of rebellious, unrepentant, incorrigibly wicked men – all of whom will have been given their fair chance to believe and obey the gospel (Revelation 21-22), there is yet one last enemy to be dealt with by God [see: Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable? and Predestination]. The apostle Paul names that “last enemy” — death (1 Corinthians 15:26). God will give His saints or elect everlasting life at Christ’s return (Verses 50-57). They will then no longer be subject to death.
To them, and not to unrepentant sinners, pertains God’s promise and reward: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:4).
And final of all finality, God will destroy even the “second death” in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). That means that, after all unrepentant sinners will have been destroyed in the lake of fire, God will do away with that lake of fire, and no one will ever be subject to the “second death” anymore – for all who are saved will have everlasting life for all eternity.
Then, and only then will God have no more enemies to fight. Thus all wars will cease. God, who alone is worthy to command total obedience of His creation, will reign supreme and victorious for all eternity. As Isaiah 45:2 quotes God as saying, “…There is no other God besides Me, a just God and Savior;There is none besides Me.” He will not tolerate any one who would claim to be another “god” — who would thus be His enemy.
May we be counted worthy to see that victorious day!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.