The Declaration of the War

1st of 5 Messages on The War of Ages by Rev. Chris Coleborn at the 7th PCC Annual Conference, 6-10 Jun 2006

I was born at the end of WWII. Even as a ten year old boy, the war was still a fresh raw wound to most people. Many in our families and society were not long back from fighting in that war. It was a dreadful war with awful numbers of deaths, incredible suffering, bleak prisons, hellish concentration camps, all with unimaginable horrors. Many had lost loved ones. In those days, when still a boy that awful war was yet very real and graphic to all, including my mates and myself and most young people.

One memory, still vivid in my mind from those days, was hearing a replay of the then Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Menzies, addressing the nation on radio, and making an awesome public announcement of the declaration of war. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. He said something like,

"Fellow citizens of Australia, it is my melancholy duty to inform you that Germany has declared war on and invaded Poland, and because of Britain’s treaty with Poland, Britain has declared war on Germany. As a result Australia (as a member of the British Empire) is also now at war!"

Two great nations and peoples had declared war on one another.

Thus commenced, as most of you know, years of horror and an awful war of such intensity and magnitude that it involved practically all nations on earth. To many it seemed as if all civilization was on the brink of a great abyss of darkness. There was talk of the lights going out all over Europe and the world.

And you know this, don’t you, this war was real! It is living history still to many people worldwide. We can go to war cemeteries in such places as Singapore and see large numbers of graves – graves of very young men in the flower of their youth – to see the reality of that awful war.

Just as this war was real, so it is very, very important that we stop and consciously remind ourselves that the Bible makes it clear that there has been a declaration of another war, far, far greater than any the nations of the world have or yet will fight. It is the great War of all Ages.

I wish to speak with you on this profound Biblical theme – The War! The War of all wars. There is much that could be said on this war from Scripture, but our intention is to have an ‘overview’ of the subject; to raise the subject in our consciousness and to see that there are edifying reasons for being aware of this war.

During the course of our studies, we trust to deal with this War of the Ages in five studies or lectures. They will be:

(1) The Declaration of War; (2) The Progress of the War; (3) The War’s End; (4) Healing the Wounds of War in Men; and (3) Healing the Wounds of War in Creation

Today, in this our first lecture, let us consider our subject broadly and generally under three headings: (1) What is this War? (2) This War’s Reality; and (3) It’s Battlefields

1. What is this War?

In Genesis 3:15, at the very beginnings of the world, we read of the declaration of this war. The Lord declares war in these words:

"I will put enmity between thee (the serpent) and the woman (representing God’s people and cause), between thy seed and her seed; it (the woman’s seed - Jesus) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

Can you see that there are two parties, armies or camps mentioned? The army of the seed of the serpent and the army of the seed of the woman? Both these armies have two captains or leaders too. One is the serpent, called Satan – the Devil or Evil One, and the other is Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:16 makes it clear that the seed of the woman is Jesus of Nazareth, God come among us.

What is the state that the Lord says now exists between these two parties? The word that the Lord in Genesis 3:15 uses is enmity! This word can be variously translated, and means among other things, deadly hostility, always hostile strife, a perpetual quarrel, a continued struggle, and an implacable and irreconcilable hatred. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize, does it, that this is fighting language! It is the language of a declaration of a great, awful battle that has and will rage down through all the ages until a final finish is made of it.

Now this war has many times manifested itself, and will manifest itself in a physical, material way as with the wars of mankind in history. It has and will involve physical weapons of knife, spear, arrow, gun and bomb. People’s bodies would be and are hurt and broken and at times they were and will be killed. There has often been and will be, in this war, physical trauma, pain, hunger, nakedness, peril and sword. In a way, all wars of history are symptoms of this greatest of all wars.

You see, this is what we must remember about this greatest of all wars. While there is a physical element to this greatest of all wars, it essentially is a spiritual war. For while having a physical dimension, it essentially affects mankind as spiritual creatures. Its damage is greatest spiritually. Its worst weapons are spiritual. It above all else is a spiritual war. In Ephesians 6:11-12 we read for example:

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Another place where we may read of the essential spiritual nature of this war is in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) …

Further, this war of all ages encompasses the whole universe. Truly, it is cosmic, affecting all things in the cosmos or universe, from its farthest reaches down to the most personal matters affecting each individual and creature on earth. Not only is the whole mass of mankind affected, but innumerable spiritual beings or spirits too. Its awful blight reaches both the material and physical world as well as the spiritual dimensions of existence.

So it is that the whole creation is drawn into this war! This is the war! None has been or will be like it. It has the greatest significance and greatest consequences for you and me and the whole universe.

A terrible, awesome war has been declared!

2. This War’s Realities

It is striking, don’t you think, that mankind certainly has a sense of, and in different ways is aware of, this Great War and cosmic conflict. In a sense, the very light of nature shows us its reality. For it is simply a matter of historical record that down through the ages mankind and societies have been conscious of forces of good and evil, of light and darkness, of life and death – and of a struggle between them!

The awareness of this war, of which we are now considering, is reflected in the western culture too. I believe that one of the reasons that much Science Fiction & Fantasy novels and films are so popular is because they touch something in most of us that we sense is real. Thus the drama of a great spiritual war is played out in such books and films as "Star Wars" & "Lord of the Rings"and "The Chronicles of Narnia", and we sense they express something important and real.

A consciousness of the reality of the war is seen in Christian literature too. John Milton, a well-known Puritan poet of the 1600’s, in a famous poem called "Paradise Lost", relates the declaration of this great epic war long before we existed.

Some classic Christian books are famous for this theme. Think for example of "The Christian in Complete Armour", by William Gurnall; "Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices", by Thomas Brooks and John Bunyan’s "Pilgrim’s Progress".

C.S. Lewis, the somewhat maverick English Christian writer, takes up this theme too, not only in his "Screwtape Letters", but also his Trilogy, and especially in "The Chronicles of Narnia", which popularizes this war, its declaration, progress and end.

But the reason why we believe this war is indeed very real is because of the authority of God on the subject. On every page of the Bible almost, is the language of war! We find key words and concepts used that mean war! Such words and concepts as, armour, fortress, watchtower, stand fast, enemy and last enemy, fight, soldiers, casting down strongholds, war a good warfare, conquerors, captain, Lord of hosts (armies), victory etc.

Scripture uses too the concept of two seeds or parties. In Matthew 13:38 we read of the world being a field in which the good seed were the children of the kingdom, and in which the tares were the children of the wicked one.

The Psalms as our songs of faith and worship, also sing of war, enemy, wound, hands to fight, war & peace. Of course, there are also uninspired songs that Christians have written to express this reality too, such as "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".

Truly this is a major theme of God’s written revelation to mankind. I put it to you that we cannot properly understand the Bible, Christ Jesus’ work and the Christian life unless we appreciate its reality.

There is also this! There is an observable longing among mankind for peace! Mankind in different ways wishes war would stop and end. Much of mankind can be and are ‘weary’ and ‘heavy laden’ of wars within and wars without. Sadly though, mankind all too often wants the war to end and have a peace for the wrong reasons, the wrong time and the wrong place. The nations formed the League of Nations and then, when this failed, the United Nations to try to bring peace to the nations. They all have failed. Armies are sent to non-functioning nations to help them start ‘functioning’ again. We see in such man-seeking after peace an elusive peace. Yet there are just as many wars now, if not more, as at any time in history!

The governments of the land strive to deal with the symptoms of this great spiritual war in our societies. They make innumerable laws to stop social discord, discrimination, vilification and hatred. Billions of dollars are spent on education in attempts to stop bullying, ignorance, discord and conflict. So many go to counselors seeking personal peace and rest from the troubles and conflict in and around us. But … the bottom line is that there is no lasting peace and end to the war those ways.

Still, the reality of the war brings a yearning among many of mankind for a real peace and rest too – and it is not wrong to hunger and thirst for this peace and rest and end of conflict. The thing is, to understand the real nature of the war, and from where and when a true and lasting peace will come.

I will give you an example of this longing for peace in Aussie terms. This desire for rest and end of war, was expressed, I think, a couple of years ago in a public ceremony in Australia. Twentieth century warfare resulted in millions of unknown dead resting in unknown graves. (Many of these Australian graves have on their headstones, "Unknown Soldier" and poignantly also has written on them, "Known Unto God".) It must be remembered that of Australia's war dead from World War I and World War II, about 35 per cent of the casualties, (thousands upon thousands), have no known graves, though their names appear on memorials. This is even more true of other nations.

To mark the anniversary of the 1918 armistice, the Australian Government exhumed the remains of an unknown Australian soldier who died in a battle on the Western Front in France in WW I. His remains were to be entombed at the Australian War Memorial's Hall of Memory, Canberra. A State Funeral was held on 11 November - Remembrance Day. A

As Australia's Unknown Soldier was laid to rest in the Hall of Memory, an old World War I veteran, Robert Comb, who had served in battles on the Western Front, elderly, frail, shakily, for he was a very old man, assisted by a young soldier holding his arm, sprinkled soil from France over the coffin and said, "Now you're home, mate." The knowledge there is a great unrest in the world and a longing to be safe, at home and at peace is very real!

Yes truly, we and our fellow man sense and always have, this cosmic conflict – this war of all ages. It is so very real, and we are in it, and our life and happiness and peace is tied up in its consequences. It is important then that we learn of what our Maker has to say to us of it, and where one day, after the war is over and true peace and everlasting life has wonderfully arrived, we may hear One welcome us home at least, to be a true and lasting peace.

3. The Battlefields of this War

What and where are the battlefields of this war? We know of places and fields on earth where great battles of physical wars mentioned in the Bible, of the nations and men with men have been fought, such as the Plains of Megiddo in Scriptural history and Anzac Cove in general history.

Also we know on earth certain physical and actual places where profound spiritual battles or struggles were fought. Places where God’s dear children – the followers of the Seed of the Woman – have laid down their lives out of love and loyalty to the Saviour. For example, there are memorials in Britain and other parts of Europe where various reformers and fathers such as the Covenanters fought and some died. Think of Luther at the Diet of Worms, Calvin in Geneva, the brave English reformers and the Covenanters of Scotland such as the ‘two Margarets’.

But both the above are only physical, historical manifestations of where the war has at times been fought. To understand where the basic battlefields are, we need to go deeper. Where essentially have been, and still are, the battle places or battlefields of this deeply spiritual war?

Essentially these battle places are spiritual battlefields! While they may come to expression in historical, material, physical and social ways, essentially the battle is to be found being fought out in the fields of our hearts and minds – our souls and spirits. They involve spiritual principles and spiritual beings.

So, while this war of all ages, as noted, has a physical, outward manifestation, it is essentially an inward, spiritual war. It involves principles and concepts. It involves beings with essential spiritual natures. Practically this means that the war of light and darkness, the side of light and the dark side, go on in our attitudes, thinking, feelings and ideas. The fighting concerns our ideas and thinking about origins, purpose of life, the existence and knowability of God, what is right and wrong and what is good and evil, the Person and claims of Jesus of Nazareth, righteousness and righteous living, love, mercy, authority, solutions to the big questions and problems of life.

This war is fought out in the places of our personal weaknesses and as we struggle to find meaning to our lives and happiness. They involve our besetting sins and faults. The Spirit sent by the risen Christ caused Paul to write of this battlefield when in Ephesians 6: 10-18 in calling us to put on the whole armour of God.

The battlefields are in relationships, marriage and family. The idea and rationale that is at times behind having or not having children and how many. It has to do with the upbringing and education of our children. God’s covenant with regard to our marriages and our children is a most significant factor in this battle.

The war goes on in our work and play – our recreations. How we will or will not work. Where and on what will we spend our money. It is in what we see, and hear and do. It is in education, what we read, watch, listen to, where we go and what we eat and drink.

It is in our lifestyle. It involves such issues as hedonism, secularism and materialism.

Another major spiritual battlefield is in the Church and professing Churches of Christ Jesus, where there is a battle for beliefs and practices consistent with the Word of God. We see this battle in the NT letters and in the Message of Jesus to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation.

A battlefield is also in our society. The values and ideas and practices of a society, in which the Lord is ignored or ‘played down’ or even actively opposed, sets us at times at variance with our neighbour. We become a minority in the land. We become dissenters to the majority. In the area of value of life, we battle issues such as abortion, euthanasia, gambling, drug abuse etc. In these matters we see a battle for righteousness and life and truth. It is a battle to oppose things like the approximate 100,000 abortions that take place annually in Australia, and the push for euthanasia.

It is where there is increasing persecution if we would be true to the Captain we follow.

It is a battle in the field of education and knowledge.

Yes, if we would follow the Lord and His good ways, it will often put us out of step with our neighbour. That old saying is so true: "If a man does not keep in step with his neighbour, it is because he marches to the beat of a different drummer."

There is a battle in personal behaviour – such as expressed in our speech and use of words.

It is a battlefield in coming to terms with suffering, grief and the hardships of life.

So the battlefields of this war are many and various, but essentially they are spiritual battlefields involving our hearts, minds, characters and behaviour above all else.

So then, it is a battle where the issues of life and death for individuals, families, churches and nations as well as true knowledge, wisdom and reality are involved.

Thus something of the battlefields! The battle is over vital matters and essential issues. They involve matters of life and death – eternal life and death!


You really know that there is such a war going on, as we have described today, don’t you? It is not make-believe, but a reality of life.

This war began in the mists of the earliest days of mankind and the universe. It is a war at the heart of mankind and of the whole cosmos. It involves the greatest powers and forces in existence. At times it is a physical war with social manifestations but especially it is a spiritual war.

What are you doing about this war? There are two sides, and only two sides when all is said and done. There is the side of the Seed of the Woman – of whom Christ Jesus is the captain, and there is the Seed of the Serpent – of whom the greatest evil One is the leader. We know already how it is going to end. We know which side is the victory side. And please, remember this: we can be sure we are on it when our life is in the care and keeping of Christ Jesus, and we seek to soldier on in His faith, hope and love.

So, a Great War, The War of all Ages has been declared and has existed in all ages.

Next, we will consider something of the progress of this war. May God bless us in this and the following studies.

—Chris Coleborn