Who Is Like God?
Rev. 12:6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.
Rev. 12:7 ¶ And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back,
Rev. 12:8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The Church is the Bride of Christ and in the first century she was facing incredible persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire. Christians had two choices when it came to responding to the secular powers against them. Either they would become martyrs and be killed for their faith, or they would have to flee into the wildernesses. It was during this period of time that the eremitic (hermits) types of monasticism developed. These are the monks who went and lived out in the deserts to learn more from God. Not only were they learning more from God, but they were surviving. It was not uncommon for entire communities of believers to have to live in remote deserted areas of the world. But the war of good and evil waged on during this time. The Bride was not left without her protectors and Michael who has, throughout the Scriptures, represented the Angel who protected God's people continues to protect the Church. Wesley reminds us that the name Michael means, "Who is like God?" And it is this angel who goes to battle against Satan who had challenged God and wanted to believe that he was like God. But Michael, who knows his place, who recognizes that there is none who can be like God, fights to protect the very people of God. The battle rages on with Michael and his angels battling the dragon and his angels. The Church is the prey which the dragon wants to devour and the battle is waged even in the heavenly realms. We know that the persecutions of Christians eventually ended. Those who had abandoned all to live in the wilderness were able to return home. The Roman Empire succumbed to Christianity and even the mighty rulers were brought low by a humble and rather disorganized Church. What a difference a few years can make. Some of the worst persecutions came in the early 4th century, but by 318 the first council meeting was held -- sponsored by the Emperor, Constantine. How did a rag-tag group of spiritual people bring about the turn-around of the Holy Roman Empire? By trusting in God and remembering that the battle belonged to him who fought for them in the spiritual realms.
The root of Satan's problem was his jealousy. He wanted to be like God and as a result he would do everything in his power to try to be like God. But there is only one true God and no matter how powerful and witty, no one, can be like God. This included the powerful Emperors of Rome! This is very important to understand for the major religion of Rome was Emperor worship with the people believing in the deification of their Emperors. They believed that the Emperors actually became gods. They built temples to the Emperors and worshiped them in outlandish ceremonies. If one thinks that Satan had an ego -- put that in perspective with the Roman Emperors! Here we have a human who has come to believe that they are a god. All the more then we understand the presence of Michael within John's Revelation.
The reminder is that there is no one who is like God. Not Satan and all of his army of fallen angels, nor the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and all of his minions of soldiers. While the nations of the world might be subdued by them, those who were a part of God's kingdom were not. The Church, advancing as the kingdom of God in the world, could not be stopped by those who thought they were like God. Not Satan and all of his forces, nor the mightiest nation in the world had any authority over the Kingdom of God.
Now, let us fast-forward to today. We are invited into the Church and the kingdom that has overthrown the mightiest kingdoms in this world. In my own lifetime I have been witness to this happening with the end of the Cold War. How many Christians had prayed fervently that the Iron Curtain would come down -- and when it did we were all stunned. There was no war. And yet hundreds of thousands were gathered in churches praying.
Now my concern is that we have slipped into complacency. For a number of years, at least in the West, we have not had to deal with much persecution of those who call themselves Christians. That may be changing as Christianity seems to be on the outs with many of the worlds' governments these days. But is that really such a bad thing? It has always been during the darkest days of Christianity that we have been able to experience the hand of God moving and protecting his Church.
There is none like God but God himself. It is this God, not the ones who want to be like him, who will continue to protect his Bride, the Church until the day of Christ's return. May we avoid the temptation to believe that we can be like God. Instead, we must humble ourselves in service to God, living out a life of faith in his Church, and allow him to fight the battles for us. We are called to a life of trust in the midst of struggles.
Lord, thank you for fighting the battle for us. Amen.