War broke out in heaven. St. Michael and his angels fought against satan and his demons. Good stood against evil. Light against darkness. Angel legions with power to level cities clashing against the fallen hoard with swords of fire. When the angels sing, people fall to the ground in terror. Their battle cries, I suspect, would kill by sheer terror. Cool story. It’s just hard to imagine it as anything other than a fairytale because you get bored in church.
It isn’t because you don’t believe in a spiritual world that exists beyond this physical world. It’s that you don’t think the two can touch. One day you’ll go to heaven and see some angels. There’s such thing as the dragon and his demon hoard come down to earth in great wrath, even though we can’t see them. They’re just not nearly as scary as germs. Which is why we, as Christian parents, have done a great deal to teach our kids how to wash their hands and cough like vampires, but neglected to teach them to remember their baptisms.
So St. Michael and his war in heaven become, at best, cool stories that might teach us to be brave and not scared, selfless and not selfish, honorable and not wicked. The problem is, we need heroes to do more than inspire us. The religious and agnostics agree things are getting worse, even though we’ve all been watching marvel movies for years. When heroes can only inspire, it’s because you don’t think they’ll actually change anything in your real life. You’ll have to do that yourself. Mix that with a world that tears down what heroes we do have for their flaws so that they would be brought to our level and we’d never have to feel bad about not arising to theirs. Do you think maybe, just maybe, there’s a spiritual sickness too? Do you think, just maybe, the spiritual and the physical are connected?
St. Michael’s war happened, not just in heaven, but also in time and space. War arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. Before the war, satan stood before the throne of the LORD, earning his name. Accuser. He had already rebelled against God in the fall. He was not welcome in that holy place, but stood there by right. Before the throne of the LORD, he accused Job. He only loves you because he thinks you want him to be happy all the time. Let me change that and he’ll curse you like I do. For thousands of years, the devil insisted the throne of God be a seat of judgment, not a place of comfort. The spiritual world brought plagues and captivities and times of trouble into the physical world. After all, those sinners deserved it.
Then something changed. The judgment seat was found on earth. Pilate sat in it and gave the Son of God over to be crucified. The sins of the world were punished. On the cross, Jesus bore the wrath of God for each sin satan would accuse us of. He used His last breath to lead the battle cry. It is finished. That was the battle cry that began the war. There were no sins left to accuse us of, and so satan no longer had the right to stand before the throne. Michael and his angels arose to do battle against the dragon and his hoard. Fiery swords. Epic battle scenes. Moving music. Endgame style. But it was the power of the cross in this world that cast the devil out of heaven. No longer able to accuse you of sins Jesus was punished for, the deceiver only has one move left. Cast down to earth, his time short, he works to keep you from true faith.
It’s the deceiver who whispers that heroes can’t save you. You have to do it yourself. It’s a little lie that weaves itself into all you see. We listened and invented comic books that kept the true heroes outside of the physical world. We love their stories, but never found the motivation to live up to their legacies. Then we tore down the real heroes because they aren’t allowed to get help either. They must be known by their sins, just like the accuser wanted. It’s the same deceiver who lies and says Jesus didn’t atone for your sins, but only taught you to love one another. How’s that going? There’s no real rescue for you in that religion, Any inspiration it gives clearly hasn’t been sufficient. And that changes this place too. Without the atonement, His house isn’t a place of rest, but of judgment. Church is where sinners have come to believe they have no right to kneel. They don’t see the truth, that this is the place God is desperate to give them pardon and call them saints, as holy as Michael the archangel.
Do you see the pattern? That which is demonic pushes you from good godly gifts. That which is godly pulls you to receive them. Look around. See it happening. When you’re told it’s not popular. When you’re told it’s backward. When you’re told it’s not safe. See the spirits do battle. The stuff going wrong in this world has a spiritual component. There’s a war still being fought. I don’t tell you this to scare you, but to show you where the shelter is.
Jesus sent sinful preachers to to cast out demons. The 72 couldn’t believe it actually worked. The words they used had spiritual power. The preachers, flawed though they were, had been sent by God to promise the victory. It was knit together and made real even as they spoke. They preached the same thing Jesus did. The Son of Man will go in to Jerusalem, be killed, and on the third day be raised. Repent. Believe. For the kingdom of God is at hand. Even as their words were preached, Jesus looks ahead and sees satan fall like lightning from heaven. By simple words of absolution, the dragon is robbed of all his power to accuse and deceive. In the stead and by the command of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins. Angels still go to war by these words. Miracles happen when preachers utter them. They tie you to the cross where the Lord forgives you your sins. They tie you to heaven where your names are penned in the ink of blood from the savior. They place you in a spiritual home so firmly you get called saint like the archangel. God joins the spiritual to the physical so that you can rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
There is a spiritual war still going on. See it in burdened consciences, despair, and hate. The Lord still fights it for you. That’s what heroes do. They don’t inspire. They save. So receive His words, His victory, and His peace. This isn’t your war to fight. It was fought to win you. In the stead and by the command of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins. Rejoice and be glad, your names are written in heaven.