the penultimate WORD

“But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Revelation 12.12

It’s not any easier for us than it was for our parents. Or their parents. It has never been easy.

The problem of evil has challenged every generation. In every age. And there have been no exceptions. Philosophers have wrestled with the problem of evil, and they have looked at it from a variety of perspectives. As a religious issue, faithful, reflective men and women have explored the character of evil, and, by implication, the character of the God who would permit evil.

An academic investigation doesn’t serve us well here. Our awareness of evil and its effects strike too close to home for that. We cannot be objective. Our question is personal. And as Christians, our perspective is coloured by our experience of Jesus.

In the Revelation we have a picture that has helped generations comprehend the source of evil as well as the presence of evil among us. A war broke out in heaven, we’re told. Imagine that some were wearing white hats, and the bad guys were wearing black hats. It is a simple story, with clear lines and it’s easy to see the winners and the losers. The guys wearing the black hats, lost. And the Devil, Satan, was cast out of heaven and his angels went with him.

The inherit nature of Satan is that he is deceptive.

And the deceit that prevails is that there really is no evil to deal with. The deceit is that we might think that the author of evil is elsewhere. And that we have nothing to worry about.

Know this: Satan is not in hell. Not yet.

Satan, Lucifer, the Devil, by whatever name we might make him understandable in our mind, is here, among us.

When Satan was cast out of heaven, he was sent to earth. Jesus reminded his followers that Satan is the Prince of this world.

Alerted to his presence and his deception, we are to be vigilant so that we might prevail.

Sickness, death, broken trust, betrayal, touch us in our vulnerability and the temptation is great for us to fail to recognize the wrath that is given voice, sometimes our voice, in unforgiving, unloving, and unaccepting ways. Beguiled by deceit, thinking ourselves better than others, more righteous than others, more acceptable than others, we become unwitting pawns in a war begun in heaven and continued here on earth. And we discover that we’re wearing black hats!

St Michael’s victory over Satan helps us understand a beginning. And it helps us understand how the battle continues.

Michaelmas daisies, blooming in such profusion at this time of year remind us of the host of angels that championed the cause of the Archangel. The clouds of familiar purple asters remind us that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses as we struggle with issues in our lives. St Michael’s triumph in heaven encourages us to endure the struggle and share in Jesus’ victory on earth.

Be assured of this: deceit is the character of the beguiling half-truth, and our vigilance engages us in leading authentic, faithful lives reflecting the character we see in Jesus. Lives that bring restorative healing Jesus introduced to the broken lives of countless saints, and continues yet today, gracefully through us: wounded healers all.

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