“The War to End All Wars”
Dear Members and Friends of our ELS:
This coming July marks one hundred years since the official start of World War I (WWI). The assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Bosnia in June 1914 led one month later to a profusely bloody conflict fought on European soil, but with global implications. The two sides were known as the Allies and the Central Powers. While it is difficult to assess the precise number of casualties, estimates for WWI are 10 million soldiers killed, not to mention the lives of civilians and the staggering number of the wounded. The United States entered the conflict with Germany on April 6, 1917. Interestingly, while the war often was pegged hopefully as “the war to end all wars,” only two decades after its close (1918) an even deadlier war would play out on the world theater.
A battle of cosmic proportions far surpassing those two world wars has occurred already. In this case, there is a divinely given guarantee of peace. The jubilant news of the successful defeat is for all people to hear and believe, and the fruits of the victory are enjoyed on a very personal level. We are referencing the battle and victory commemorated during the holy Lenten season, culminating with Easter Sunday!
Think of Jesus’ words right before He entered into His suffering, death, and resurrection to defeat the power of our intimidating foes—sin, death, Satan, and hell. The apostle John records our Lord saying, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out” (John 12:31). The same apostle also gave this summation: The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8).
WWI was won, in large part, by men willing to put their lives at risk while down in the trenches. For their sacrifice, we are truly grateful. As we consider the enormity of our own sins and the powers of the dark world beyond human strength, and then realize the victory of the battle at Golgotha by the One who put Himself in the trenches on our behalf, we sing with hymnwriter Isaac Watts:
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a tribute far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all. (ELH 308:4)
Blood shed in conflicts between nations may be viewed as blood poured out at or by the hand of the enemy. The shedding of blood by the Son of God in His substitute role for every sinner was not paid to the enemy. It was poured out to satisfy the Trinity’s holy justice against sin. There was no other way to win peace with God. Yet what a price our loving God did pay! His blood—and not that of another—provides full forgiveness of sins. His forgiveness is meant to be received individually by faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus’ forgiveness brings with it a peace for life everlasting! That indeed is the end of all wars!
Rev. John A. Moldstad, ELS President