The War of the Worlds


"We interrupt this program for a special news bulletin. Large gaseous explosions have been witnessed on the planet Mars." It was 8:02 P.M., October 30th, 1938. An estimated 6 million people all over the United States had been listening to music and weather on the CBS radio network when the " newscaster" cut in with the breaking story. Very quickly, the situation described on the radio deteriorated. It was soon reported that large canister-like objects impacted in Grover’s Mills, New Jersey. Huge, hostile intergalactic war machines were described by the newscaster as they emerged, and started firing "ray guns" at townsfolk and state militias. The public reaction to the "news" report was beyond comprehension. All over the country, citizens began arming themselves, and the courageous were organizing to help stave off the reported Martian attack. Police departments all over the country were flooded with calls of alleged sightings, and requests for aid in defending the country. The CBS switchboard was overloaded in the first few minutes from terrified people, trying to get more information. Tens of thousands fled to churches to pray for God’s protection and mercy. The highways from Philadelphia and New York were quickly jammed with citizens fleeing those cities before the reported invaders would get there. People were running through the streets of every town shouting that it was the end of the world as we know it. The "newscaster" reported how the alien ships were unscathed by rounds from the military and untold numbers of people had been annihilated by poison gas. Then, nearly as quickly as it began, it was over. Orson Welles, the producer of Mercury Theater, cut in remind his audience that this was indeed his weekly scheduled drama program, and "America has not fallen". By 8:48, his dramatized version of H.G. Well’s "War of the Worlds" had caused so much commotion that much of America was bordering on anarchy. For a few minutes, one of the most powerful countries on the earth had been overrun by an imaginary enemy.

To many people, Orson Welles’ infamous broadcast is an illustration of the gullibility of the common man. It would be more accurate to say, however, that the whole event actually betrays our susceptibility to fear and panic. After all, if the newscast had reported that Jesus had come again and was flying around the earth, do you think that anyone would have so readily accepted the news? Many of us seem more prone to accept idea of disaster and catastrophe or some other overwhelming evil than anything else. In this respect, there is a parallel to this incident in mainstream Christianity today. It involves to what extent we believe that the devil influences the people and events around us. Let me first say, however, that I am not advancing the idea that there is not a devil. Rather, what I would like to revisit is some of the common thoughts about the devil’s authority on this earth during this present age.

In popular culture there is the expression "the devil made me do it" that is bantered around, supposedly to exonerate the speaker from personal indiscretions. Although, to most of us, that sounds silly, we frequently credit the devil with many things that more properly, ought to be assigned to our own free agency. Sometimes Christians will end authentic communication with another, because they are convinced that the other has a "spirit of such- and-such", which conveniently is whatever character trait we find annoying. There are many Christians who are paralyzed in fear because they see demons scheming against them, demons in others, and sometimes, even demons in themselves. Many other Christians see any trying or challenging circumstance as being "an attack" from the devil. Under such conditions, it would be next to impossible to see God as ruling the universe, in Sovereignty and Power.

Ultimately, there can be only be ONE God. Why should we be so quick to give such authority to the devil? Christianity is not Dualistic, with good and evil being equal and opposite powers. It is true that there is indeed a devil, and that he seeks evil for us, but we can't ascribe to him more power than he really has. We are told consistently throughout the New Testament that the evil powers were "disarmed" and Christ triumphed over them (Col 2:15), we have victory in Christ (1 Cor.15:57), and that we have overcome the evil one (I John 4:4). If we had God’s perspective, we might find that there are many things in our lives that God either actively initiated or at least "allowed" for His ultimate glory, that we have been resisting and cursing, ascribing them to the devil. We sometimes have our Good/Evil binoculars inverted, and we mistakenly see the devil bigger than he really is, and God smaller than He is. The fact is, all of the power of the devil and every demon combined is minuscule next to the that which is resident in the very least in the Kingdom of God. The devil, "The deceiver", is trying to keep that fact from going public.

When we begin to see circumstances in light of God’s Providence, rather than attacks of the devil, the world begins to look different. There can be an assurance that all things are going to work out to our good (Romans 8:28). The devil is a little imp, and his days are numbered. We are told to "Magnify the Lord" (Psalm 34:3; 69:30; Ezekiel 38:23; Luke 1:46; Acts: 10:46 KJV). That is, to make something appear great in our eyes. Interestingly enough, the same word "magnify" is used to describe what the antichrist does for himself (Daniel 8:25; 11:36,37 KJV). The question is, do we go with the devil’s portrayals of himself, or do we magnify God and His works? The devil has, in many respects, overstated his position. He has got many of us to magnify him, and acknowledge him as the director and controller of the events around us. In Isaiah 14:16, a section traditionally utilized to explain the devil’s origin and fall, describes the reactions of the souls of departed individuals in the grave who see Lucifer as he really is. They stare and say "Is this the man, who shook the earth and made the nations tremble?". They are shocked at how weak and pathetic he really is. Don’t get hoodwinked by a sensationalist portrayal of the devil. He isn’t overrunning God’s Kingdom. On the contrary. We (the church) are to storm and take the gates of his dominion. Look for evidences of the hand of God in your life, instead of magnifying the devil’s alleged works. When we stop tuning in to the devil’s "Mercury Theater" program, and realize that God is still on the throne, the fear and the panic ends. Don’t get fooled by the devil’s hoax. He isn’t what he pretends to be. Instead, remember who is Lord and God and Sovereign. Christ Jesus, Lord of all, isn’t moved by either devil or demon, poison gas or ray gun. As we abide in him, neither are we.

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