Saint Nicholas of Serbia personally experienced the horrors of war. Together with the Serbian Patriarch Gabriel, he was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp in 1944. The dismay that he experienced led him to deep reflections on the nature, causes, and logic of war. The main results of this work were compiled in a book titled War and the Bible.
How Can One Sense an Approaching War?
According to St Nikolaj, the inception of a war always takes place before its actual start: “Judge for yourselves, how short-sighted are the scribes and Pharisees of our time! Pathologies of a newborn child are diagnosed at least nine months before his birth. At the same time, we try to explain a pathology as terrible as a World War by a bloody incident happening a month before the war.
The telltale signs that the world is preparing for can be conventionally divided into direct and indirect.
- military spending by states significantly exceeds any other spending
- accelerated production of weapons
- increase in military personnel
- encouragement of military development
- emergence of informal and covert alliances between states
- military espionage
- peace propaganda (“…saying “peace, peace,” when there is no peace” (Jer. 8:11), “When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)).
- growing mistrust between states
- racial and national discrimination or other hatred
- increased anxiety around the world
Among all the signs, the saint especially singles out the propaganda of peace: “There is so much talk about peace now, not because we live in peace, but because it is in danger. In the same way, we do not talk about honesty if it is present, or discuss health if it lasts. I am sure that you can see, general that the world often talks about peace to cover up military tactics.
What is the Reason behind Wars?
The main point that the saint is getting across is that sin is the cause of all troubles of mankind. Adam separated the world from God by sin. In a world without God, sin acts inexorably, exciting hostility and hatred. If the world wants war, it will happen: “When people desire war, there will always be incidents to serve as an overture.”
The war between people is a continuation of the war fought by man against God. The saint cites the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Would a brother have been able to kill a brother if not for the sin of Adam and Eve? Eve and Adam sinned with envy, and so did Cain. Our forefathers rebelled against God; then a brother rebelled against brother. Our sins against our neighbor are the consequence of original sin against God.
According to St Nikolaj, if the Lord had not intervened in wars, humanity would have been destroyed in the first generation. It was through His mercy that God forbade revenge on the fratricide Cain. At the same time, God justly condemned him, making him a wanderer, so that he would not hurt his parents with his presence. He also sent consolation to Adam and Eve, giving them their third son named Seth. Through this, the Lord shows that regardless of the troubles that a person has to face in this world, He will not leave him. God will comfort those who suffer and punish the guilty.
Who are the Winners and Losers in Wars?
Continuing the above thought, the saint wrote, “All military stories are superficial and incoherent if the third factor, namely the Creator and His Providence, is not taken into account in a clash between peoples.” The holy hierarch deeply studied the historical books of the Old Testament in order to determine the patterns of all past wars and even to predict what awaits the world in the future.
Saint Nikolaj concludes that the Lord Himself always determines the outcome of wars. Even if the forces are unequal, the last words of Joshua will always remain true: “One of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, as he promised you.” (Josh. 23:10). In any circumstances, the righteous will be accompanied by courage and the unrighteous by fear.
If a war is unleashed for the sake of robbery, the invaders will succeed at first. The reason for this success is not the strength of the raiders, but the sinfulness (and hence the weakness) of the defenders. But in the end, the victory will always be won by the more righteous.
Who will Win the Next War?
The saint answers this question very precisely: “The will of God gives victory to those who have the clearest and strongest faith in God and who fulfil His law. An apostate and wicked people will be defeated, even if they were as many as leaves in the forest. Unrighteous and apostate leaders will not benefit from their wit, prudence, army, culture, weapons, diplomacy, eloquence, or anything else of a material nature. The people, who, together with their leaders, remain faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, will either be spared from the war, or will emerge victorious from it, regardless of their numbers, culture and weapons.
At the same time, vladyka notes that today it is difficult to find a country that could rightly be called Christian. However, if a people who once turned away from the true faith repent, they will be forgiven. At the same time, if no nation repents and returns to Christ, then God will give the victory to non-Christian nations.
Today all people are going through a difficult time of anxiety. However, we must not panic or lose heart. More importantly, we must not be sowing hatred, in which the world is already drowning. This is especially true for those who call themselves Christians. Pray for peace. Do what is in your power. Above all, remember: everything is in the hands of God; He will take care of everything.