“To Teach Them War”: Knowing War’s Origin: In God’s Declaration of War (11)

Previous article in this series: June 2016, p. 407.

Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America: Therefore be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the state of war between the United States and the Imperial Government of Japan, which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared, and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan, and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.

With these words of December 8, 1941, the Congress of the United States of America officially declared war against Japan. What the Congress did is an example of what man has done formally or informally throughout history. Whether it is deemed just or unjust from the human perspective, war is declared and war is waged—man against man, nation against nation. Rare are the national archives containing no declarations of war. As the youth are schooled in national military history and its many declarations of war, so they must be schooled in covenantal military history and God’s declaration of war.

We have already learned that the first declaration of war in history occurred in the obscurity of the heavenly realm and was issued by Satan against God. He foolishly assaulted God’s throne. We have also seen Satan acting on his declaration by coming to man in the garden in order to instigate man’s rebellion. Although Adam and Eve signed no formal document, they joined themselves in alliance with Satan and declared war against God through their disobedience in the Fall. Were any spectator standing in Eden during the Fall and possessing some spiritual understanding of what just occurred, it would have been clear that the trajectory of history had just been established as the perpetual waging of the war Adam declared. On one side of the battle stand Satan, all of his fellow fallen angels, Adam, Eve, and all of their future descendants united in the spiritual fellowship of darkness against God. On the other side stand the triune God and the unfallen, holy angels united in the spiritual fellowship of light against the darkness. Essentially, it was God against men and demons. Because God is God, victory and glory would be His everlastingly. Defeated, the devil, his demons, and all human beings would be drowned in everlasting destruction. It looked that way. It looked hopeless for all mankind.

But God, who is sovereign in all these developments and who eternally purposed to reveal His Christ, came to the garden and uttered this surprising and gracious declaration of war now located in the archives of heaven and written in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). This joint resolution of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the gospel promise of salvation and the explanation for all our spiritual warfare in and on behalf of God’s covenant. Understanding our daily warfare against sin and Satan is impossible without knowing the origin of our war in God’s declaration.

The War God Declared

The war God declared is “enmity.” It is ongoing, unrelenting, mutual hostility between two.

The war is between the serpent (“thee”) to whom God was speaking and “the woman.” The war continues between “the seed” of the serpent and “the seed” of the woman.

The war consists of “bruising” or smiting. In superiority, “It” (the seed of the woman) will come from above and with a painful and deadly blow bruise the head of the serpent (and thus the serpent’s seed). In inferiority, the serpent (and his seed) will come from behind and from below and with a painful but non-deadly strike bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. The head-bruiser will defeat the heel-bruiser.

That God was speaking directly to the serpent does not mean He was speaking only or even primarily to the serpent. Nevertheless, God surely had a word for that literal snake. God put enmity between that snake and the woman and between their seeds. Thus, the war God declared is carried out over the physical terrain of the earth between literal dust-eating, belly-going snakes and the children of Eve. While many snakes come from below and are able to inflict painful bites to our extremities, we often take our shovels to the heads of those snakes. The victories we have in cutting off snake heads are not as such fruits of grace, for even the reprobate bruise serpent heads in their yards, around their log piles, and on their hiking paths.

The serpent addressed in God’s declaration of war was the instrument of the rational, moral, tempting, speaking Satan (Rev. 12:9). God declared war between Satan and the woman. In this God was so gracious to Eve. Her earlier fellowship and conniving with Satan over the forbidden fruit of the garden was destructive to her wellbeing in the garden and thereafter. But in His declaration of war, God had declared that Eve and Satan would no longer be allied as partners in iniquity. They would fight. God would love Eve in His covenant of fellowship and Eve would love God. Loving God, Eve would despise and resist the devil all her days.

Yet the declaration would have far-reaching consequences through all of history, for God declared war between the seeds of the serpent and the woman. Unable to procreate as a spirit being, Satan would never produce the “seed” of infant devils that would grow up like him, their father. His new enemy Eve would have to produce seed for him. Satan’s “seed” refers to the totality of murderous, lying, reprobate mankind that ultimately gives birth to the Antichrist. Each reprobate person is a physical child of the woman but a spiritual child of Satan (John 8:44), belonging to the seed of the wicked world of condemned humanity. Cain belonged to that seed. The seed of the woman is the totality of the elect who would be born of mother Eve and by grace be made a new organism of the spiritual children of God. The seed of the woman is the church. Abel belonged to that seed. All through history there will be enmity between the world and the true church. If you are a child of God and live like one, you may never be surprised by opposition you face in the university, at work, in the neighborhood, from the false church, or perhaps even in your own family. God declared war. This war even comes to realization within you so that in your new man of humility you must always bruise that old man of pride that wants the praise of man.

In the highest sense, the Seed of the woman in whom all of the elect are united is Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:16; Rom. 16:20) who according to the flesh is born of Eve through her descendant Mary. Satan came at Christ’s heel again and again through king Herod and the slaughterer of babies, through the wilderness temptations, through the murderous synagogue worshippers in Nazareth; he came through the hatred and opposition of the Pharisees, through the betrayer Judas Iscariot, and through Pontius Pilate together with the Sanhedrin and the taunting Jewish mobs, who all united to kill Him by nailing Him to a tree.

He was bruised. But not defeated.

Sight saw the serpent bruise the head of the woman’s Seed. Faith saw otherwise.

For in that crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, faith beholds Jesus rising above the serpent and delivering the mortal blow to the devil whose dastardly head is now in principle crushed, accomplishing the once-for-all atonement for our sins in satisfaction of divine justice, and realizing the everlasting kingdom of righteousness. All so that He might enjoy a covenant of friendship with Jesus Christ and His church, God ordained war between Christ and Satan.

The Declaration of that War

God declared this war when He said, “I will put enmity between.” Because the Sovereign declared war, war is absolutely certain. If God says, “I will put enmity,” then there will be enmity. To the end of history there will never be any relenting of this war. Peace between the church and the world is impossible. Elect believers and their spiritual seed will never live and die in alliance with reprobate unbelievers and their seed. There will never be an apostasy so universal that the gospel is entirely forsaken on earth, but there will always be a remnant warring for the truth. There will never truly be one world kingdom in which all human beings are spiritually united in iniquity. There will always be a holy nation, ever so small, fighting to lay hold on eternal life and making a good profession. All the demonic forces of hell marshalled together under the Antichrist at the very end of history will never be able, by cunning deceit or by the force of fearsome torture, to pressure Christ’s own into apostasy and conformity with hell. Even when the hotly persecuted remnant, looking heavenward for Jesus, is so weary of persecution and in weakness of the flesh ready to throw in the white flag of surrender, gasping, “Now take from our mouths these gags and from our throats these knives, for we know not Jesus of Nazareth,” she never will. She will always fight. There will be enmity between the seeds forever. No matter how she cries in pain because her heel is bruised, the suffering church will carry on in the conflict.

What is true for the church is true for you also, believer. Through your last and dying breath you will never apostatize. You will never so weary of Satan’s attacks to your faith that you finally give up the Christian faith and fall away into perdition. You will never be overcome by your besetting sin so that you become an unholy castaway to whom the gates of the Father’s house are forever locked. You will always battle sin.

I did not ordain this enmity, nor did you. The church did not ordain this war. Neither Adam nor Eve declared this war. We do not continue in enmity against sin and Satan because the battle is ours. The battle is God’s. He said, “I will put enmity….” I will! He will bring forth the promised Seed through an impossible virgin birth. He will see to it that Satan bruises Jesus’ heel. He will see to it that Jesus bruises Satan’s head at Calvary, then rises from the dead and takes His royal scepter in heaven. He will see to it that the Spirit regenerates you and gives you hatred for sin. He will see to it that you want to become a member of His church and confess your faith, and that you live in prayer, study your Bible, make friends with His saints, and strive to be godly. He will give you words to speak before evil men. He will give you steel in your spiritual spine. He will give you love for the Lord Jesus in the midst of the alluring pleasures of mammon. He will do whatever it takes to keep you living in enmity with sin and Satan. For He said, “I will!” Victory always belongs to the church because her battle belongs to the Lord.

That “I will” is the revelation of God’s eternal love for His covenant. From all eternity He determined to realize a covenant of friendship between Himself as the triune God and the man Jesus Christ with all those who are in Jesus, including Adam and Eve. He is devoted to that covenant of peace. In love for His covenant He declared war between the serpent and the woman so that their alliance would be broken, and the woman and her seed after her could be taken into the everlasting covenant of friendship with Him.

In view of the opening verses of Genesis 3, where God tells of Adam and Eve’s sins—hiding, arrogance, blaming, self-justifying, and more—it is surprising that Genesis 3:15 does not read something like the document from the U.S. Congress of 1941:

Whereas Adam and Eve have committed unprovoked acts of war against their Creator and Friend: Therefore, be it resolved by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of the Godhead united that the state of war between God and man in alliance with Satan, which has thus been thrust upon God is hereby formally declared, and all the holy cherubim are hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire arsenal of the flaming swords of God and the resources of heaven to carry on war against Adam and Eve and their seed, and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of heaven are hereby pledged by God.

How unfathomably deep are God’s ways in ordaining the Fall of man! And how profoundly gracious is God in putting enmity between us and Satan through Jesus in order that we might live with Him in fellowship forever! Thank Him for His covenant and its war. He declared it for you.