The “angels of nations” described in Scripture remind us that cosmic evil shapes the politics of earthly warfare. Let’s pray accordingly.
War is terrible. My wife and her family were in her home country of Congo-Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo) for 18 months, and the sociopolitical forces that took tens of thousands of lives there can only be described as evil. The Great Lakes War that claimed millions of lives in neighboring Congo-Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) enlarges the evil to another scale. The darkness of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich dwarfs comprehension.
Now in 2022, the war in Ukraine brings violent evil to the fore once again and threatens to reshape our global future in ways we can only imagine.
Human selfishness and greed are among the sins that spawn wars: “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?” (James 4:1, NAB). Collectively, however, the scale of human suffering at the hands of others also seems to presume a dimension of cosmic evil that defies even our recognition of human depravity.
There are reasons for that. The Book of Daniel speaks not just of a succession of world empires but of the spiritual forces behind them. The angelic prince of Persia delayed an answer to Daniel’s prayers until Michael, Israel’s prince, intervened; the angelic prince of Alexander’s empire would follow (Dan. 10:13, 20–21; 12:1). God had sovereignly allotted times in history for various angels and their empires, but his angelic and human servants continued to work for his purposes until he caused them to prevail.
The Greek translation of Deuteronomy mentions that God appointed angels over the various nations, and Jewish thought increasingly recognized such heavenly rulers and authorities—what …