War is planned.

War is planned.

I was thinking about all the wars and rumors of wars in the news the other day. Then as I listened to Christmas carols and thought about the Bethlehem story, the Lord began talking to me.

Men speak peace but they plan war.

Don’t pray for world peace. The angels at Bethlehem didn’t declare peace on earth – they declared peace on earth to men of good will – i.e., men of God’s choosing.

Peace happens in pockets. As one individual at a time is offered terms of peace, he himself must accept those terms, must declare peace between himself and God. As the evidence and benefits of the obtained peace become obvious to others, they may seek peace with God also. On God’s terms, of course, not theirs.

The problem isn’t that God declared war on mankind. Mankind’s beautiful false friend planned war the moment Adam was created. Satan planned it, declared it, and conscripted humans into his ranks to wage it. But he cannot win; God is too skilled a warrior to lose this battle.

Winning the war isn’t the enemy’s only goal, however. It’s his ultimate goal, perhaps, but in the interim corrupting humanity will do, one man at a time. Weaken his faith, strengthen his doubt, neutralize his fighting ability and there’s one less warrior to worry about.

Oh yes, war is planned. It’s a major occupation of the tempter to plan it and plant it in the minds of susceptible human beings.

Whether in little skirmishes or horrific battles, men attempt to gain something by other than honorable means. What is it they want? Control. Power and authority. Godship of themselves and others.

A primary temptation from the beginning of time, this is the first of the ten commandments. Have no other gods before me, the Lord said. Being your own god, making your own rules, ruling your own life and that of other people is so attractive! That’s why war will exist for at least a thousand more years.

Daniel learned about warfare from the angel Gabriel, and he wrote about battles between nations that would happen far into the future from his own time.

He also learned about battles raging even then, fierce enough to delay delivery of a message from an angel (Daniel 10:12-13). The book of Daniel offers fascinating insights into what goes on around us unseen to the human eye, yet affecting us both personally and politically.

So, rather than praying the usual generic, seasonal prayer for world peace, let’s pray for peace between God and individuals; that kind is actually possible.

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A great risk

He risked a great deal coming to the earth as a human, Jesus. One-third of the Godhead was at risk. Jesus, God the Son, was “tempted in all points like we are.” He was tempted to quit.

He could have avoided execution. He could have walked away. Even at the point of death he could have called angels to rescue him, or revive him.

Jesus knew who he was. He had always existed. He knew about heaven, about himself and his mission. He had the authority and the ability to go through with it, or not.

The greatest punishment wasn’t physical, emotional or mental. How long is a few hours compared to millions of years? Jesus had seen other men crucified; the Romans were known for it and they were good at it.

No, the split of the Godhead was his greatest test. That critical, essential division away from the Father, becoming guilty, black with sin, an elementally flawed human – that was the greatest punishment possible – and the moment of God’s greatest risk. Jesus could say no.

Oh, surely God knew how it would all turn out in the end. It was all pre-planned, pre-determined, I’ve heard people say, so there really wasn’t any question about the outcome, was there?

If that was true, Jesus faced no real temptation. But he did. And the risk was very real.

God the Father was putting a great deal at risk, he himself, personally. Had Jesus chosen to abandon his mission, his allegiance would be changed.

If he chose to change his mind, who would he then become? Another rebel? Would he draw followers away from Father God, or followers away from Satan?

Or would he become a follower of Satan himself? The deceiver’s abilities were no doubt working in full force, right up to the end. “Save yourself. I’ll give you the earth and all its kingdoms…”

Had Jesus failed, what would that mean for the survival of creation? Spiritual warfare has always been for control of God’s creation, after all. Without a permanent solution for sin, human beings couldn’t be inhabited by God the Holy Spirit.

They couldn’t be enabled to enjoy the Father’s fellowship, to learn, invent, explore the vast reaches of time and space.

The warfare raging between God and Satan would become more vicious and widespread, with no guaranteed survival of the creation that humanity is part of.

As a human being Jesus was excruciatingly, painfully tempted to abandon his mission.  He couldn’t have completed it in any other form, but God risked so much in sending him on it!

That fact, more than anything else I’ve ever contemplated, graphically demonstrates  God the Father’s love towards his children; towards me.