"Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! The strife is o'er, the battle done; Now is the victor's triumph won; Now be the song of praise begun. Alleluia!
"The pow'rs of death have done their worst, But Christ their legions hath dispersed. Let shouts of holy joy outburst. Alleluia!"
To all outward appearances, it was not much of a battle. The powers of sin, death, and hell were arrayed against a weak and helpless victim nailed to a cross. It was a battle that had been foretold long before in Eden. Satan, the ancient serpent, sought to destroy the work of God and tempted Eve to sin. Eve, together with Adam, ate the fruit God had forbidden to them. They tried to hide, but God confronted them in their sin and shame and announced the broken relationships brought about by their sin. Yet God also gave our first parents a promise of hope. One day an Offspring of the woman would be born. God would put enmity between the serpent's offspring and the Offspring of the woman, enmity that would—according to God's definite plan and foreknowledge—lead to triumph over the tempting serpent.
When the right time came, Jesus, the woman's Offspring, was born in Bethlehem. During His earthly ministry, many rejoiced in Jesus' coming and believed in Him. Others rejected Him and denied that He was the Messiah and Savior. They responded to Him with hatred and accused Him of having a demon, Speaking of these hostile unbelievers, Jesus said, "You are of your father the devil" (John 8:44a). Through betrayal and lies, the offspring of the serpent arranged for Jesus' arrest and unjust condemnation. Jesus was beaten, crowned with thorns, and crucified. He died and was sealed in a guarded tomb. The "pow'rs of death" under the serpent's command had "done their worst" to the promised woman's Offspring. The Son of God was dead and buried, and it appeared that the serpent had won. But appearances can be deceiving. By His death, according to the promise of God given so long before, Jesus destroyed "the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14b).
The serpent and the woman's Offspring both fell in bruising battle. Only One arose in triumph. On the third day after Jesus' death, the stone was rolled back to reveal His empty tomb. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead! In His victory over death, He dispersed the legions of hell. "The strife is o'er, the battle won!" The Gospel promise made in Eden was fulfilled. The enmity set in place between the serpent's offspring and the woman's Offspring resulted in the defeat of that ancient, tempting serpent. Through faith in Christ Jesus, our sins are forgiven and our relationships—with God, with one another, and with creation—are restored according to God's design. For all of these blessings and so much more, "Let shouts of holy joy outburst. Alleluia!"
WE PRAY: Lord, strengthen me in times of temptation with the good news of Your victory over sin, death, and Satan. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn "The Strife Is O'er, the Battle Done," which is number 464 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. How has Jesus' pain and strife on the cross resulted in our victory over sin and death?
2. In what way did God fulfill His Genesis 3:15 promise through Jesus?
3. God is all about the business of relationships. How have you seen Him at work in yours?
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