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Today’s world is filled with war. It is a subject dominating headlines daily, with news programs continually reporting how many are killed and wounded in various wars and incidents. The increasing number of casualties is a topic of countless discussions in the media. However, no matter how hard mankind tries, it cannot find an end to war.
War is filled with scenes of terror, destruction, economic upheaval, orphaned children, population displacement, widespread devastation of the land, atrocities, hunger, disease, untold suffering, misery, despair, injuries, death and even genocide. All of this yields greater hatred and revenge, endless retaliation and more war, because nothing is ever permanently resolved through military conflict.
The horror of war has wracked the world for thousands of years. Ever since Cain killed Abel (Gen. 4), human history has been a chronicle of war. What began as family or tribal disagreements later developed into conflicts between nations. The conflict between Cain and Abel was motivated by jealousy and contempt, and so have been the agendas of nations throughout history.
Additionally, long-standing ethnic, tribal and religious differences, coupled with boundary disputes and outright aggression to seize the land or property of others, have always served to fuel the next war fought between the same peoples or nations.
War has affected all nations in every period of history. Many nations have made war their primary means of livelihood—not just a means of defense or protection. Generally, throughout history, those nations that chose not to actively pursue war had to at least expend much time, money and effort to protect themselves—sometimes having to “buy” peace by paying tribute to powers that could have dominated them.
In the mid-1960s, a Norwegian statistician programmed a computer to count all of the wars through the 6,000 years of mankind’s history. It concluded that 14,531 wars had been fought. But this was merely the number that were known and recorded. How many more were not? And consider that this was several decades ago. Countless more have been fought since then. Of course, this does not count the endless stream of individual terrorist acts, such as suicide bombings and other assaults, which occur in undeclared wars.
Incredible new weapons technology has forever altered the face of war. “Smart” bombs, which are laser-guided to bring precision and efficiency to the art of killing, have replaced many types of “dumb” bombs. Military scientists have now developed cluster bombs, called “daisy cutters” because they cut down large numbers of human beings, like a lawnmower cuts grass. Also, there are new bombs called “bunker-busters” that can penetrate deep into the earth in pursuit of enemies hiding in caves before detonating and killing the inhabitants.
Various highly lethal kinds of attack aircraft now exist—helicopters, jets, bombers, gunships—that have brought conventional warfare to a pinnacle of destructive capability never before known. A 2,000 pound, precision, satellite-guided bomb has a “kill zone” radius of 1,300 yards (almost three quarters of a mile). Because it kills and maims indiscriminately, this can sometimes involve “friendly fire” casualties, in which one’s own troops are hit.
Modern military thinkers and strategists are now forced to think and talk in terms of protection from, or delivery of, “weapons of mass destruction.” The killing capability of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and, now, radiological or “dirty bombs,” is almost indescribably horrible. Yet these weapons are now apparently in the hands of unstable countries and regimes, which may not be fully capable of controlling their use or safeguarding their inventory.
This is why the famous American General, Douglas MacArthur, stated, “Men since the beginning of time have sought peace…Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance.
“If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence, an improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh” (April 19, 1951, speech to Congress).
Bear in mind that this speech was given over fifty years ago! Since then, it seems the whole world has become a “killing field.” Men have sought to justify this state of affairs through rationalizing and moralizing about the “inevitability” and “necessity” of going to war.
How is this done?
Is it possible for human beings to come together to fight and kill each other and still be noble, just or righteous—even godly—in their cause? Of course not! But there is a greater question: Are human beings even innately capable of making correct judgments about war—or other fundamental matters in life? The answer to these questions has much to do with why the world is filled with turmoil, strife and war.
Let’s look at what God says regarding human nature and judgment. This is vital to understand.
Wise King Solomon recorded several proverbs that, when placed together, present a stunning picture. He wrote that “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the spirits” (Prov. 16:2) and that “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord ponders the hearts” (21:2). These similar scriptures make a profound statement. Anyone who has ever tried to correct someone who was wrong will have no difficulty believing them.
However, another proverb reveals that this natural tendency of human beings—to believe that all that they do is clean and right—carries an even greater implication: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes” (12:15).
When put together, these inspired passages reveal that all people are born naturally foolish! If all fools and all men see themselves as right, then human beings are, apart from God’s guidance, naturally one and the same.
Stop and ponder the impact of these verses—and then notice another twice-recorded Proverb: “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25).
War may seem right to puny, foolish men who do not consider that they have chosen a path that leads to death—both literally now, and eternally, if they do not ultimately repent of it. The natural human mind always deceives itself (Jer. 17:9) into thinking that its ways are clean and right. People do not naturally feel a need to seek God’s view on matters. They believe that they are inherently qualified to correctly make their own judgments.
Invariably, God is not consulted or included in men’s thoughts or plans, even on the most complicated social issues. The human reasoning of “experts” guides policy on abortion, the cloning of human beings, pornography, the definition of immorality, the definition of a family, the acceptability of “alternate lifestyles,” “mercy killing,” political correctness and many other social issues.
Yes, men have devised ways to justify whatever they do. The greatest of all “social” problems, war, is no exception! And man’s pattern of not asking God what He thinks is also no exception. When nations have already decided that it is in their best interest to go to war, all that remains is the task of spelling out the human rationale to justify what they have pre-determined to do. Enter the moralists, ethicists, philosophers, politicians and religionists.
Here is an example. Recently, when several soldiers were killed in combat by “friendly fire,” it was said that they died “for a noble and just cause.” This was said to soften the grief of the families they had left behind. But who decided that their deaths were “noble and just”? Certainly not God!
In the same conflict, one high-ranking government official offered his assessment of why that war was being fought in the way that it was. He spoke of the “infinite judgment of the world community” that stood behind the war. He stated that “thoughtful people believe…” such and such. He made other similar references to what world leaders, the United Nations, moralists and military strategists thought or felt.
But he neglected entirely to reference any opinion or instruction that God might hold in the matter!
During every war, endless television talk shows parade politicians, generals, colonels, war heroes and other “analysts” before the cameras. They offer non-stop “insight” into what it all means, what must be done and why. For instance, they speak of being “bold” and “innovative” in the world’s war on terror, which is deemed a “new kind of war.” Each “expert” seems to have a different opinion on what will, or will not, work. Where God is absent, disagreement abounds!
Again, not once have I heard a single one of these leaders, generals, war heroes or military planners ask what God thinks about war!
I have certainly heard a number of ministers, evangelists, religionists and theologians—usually representing a particular church denomination, ministry or organization—express their own personal view about particular wars. But their views are nothing more than what they think or feel! Without exception, such religious thinkers believe that war can be “just and noble” in purpose. Also, virtually without exception, these same churchmen were part of the country that was attacked. Is it surprising that they chose to agree with the opinion of the overwhelming majority surrounding them, which was already driving the course of the country? Modern religious leaders lack the moral and spiritual strength to reflect what God commands, so they cave to national peer pressure.
However, I have heard nearly all of these same churchmen ask God—after the fact—to bless what men had already decided to do through means of war. In their appalling weakness, they have the gall to ask God to bless their sin—war!
In reference to one particular war, a great conference of religious leaders said that this war was “regrettable but necessary,” and that they felt that military action was appropriate as long as “the principles of morality and human dignity” were followed. Another group of leaders stated the hope that a “wise, just and effective” military response could occur. All of these statements flow from human reasoning. None are based on the Bible—and I did not hear any of these groups or individuals make a pretense that they were.
Asking God to bless the horrific nature of war is like asking Him to work through a Frankenstein monster!
Mankind, in his rebellion against God (Rom. 8:7), likes to present his civilization in the best possible light. But, through the prophet Ezekiel, God states that the false prophets of the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel will declare, “Peace; and there [is] no peace” (Ezek. 13:10). The Bible shows that peace will remain elusive to those who forsake God’s ways.
Similarly, nations at war also see themselves, ultimately, as part of a “peace process.” They depict war as a temporary interlude to the peace that they feel they are working toward in the only way available to them. Yet, since peace is usually followed by more war, “peace processes” inevitably become “war processes.”
No wonder the famous French World War I statesman, Georges Clemenceau, said, “I don’t know whether war is an interlude during peace or peace is an interlude during war.”
God is calling people who are citizens of various nations on this earth. Most who are called in this age are privileged to live under the freedoms of a democracy. As such, they are taught that they have a special responsibility to “make the world safe for democracy.”
In free societies, where this belief is common (this is what so many were taught in school), suffering, injuries, untold atrocities, destruction and death are portrayed as “glorious.” But what is glorious—or just—about any of these things? Those who believe that war is glorious may be sincere, but they are sincerely wrong! Human beings are made in the image of God and are His potential spirit-born children. There is nothing glorious about fighting, maiming or killing them.
Therefore, we must ask some questions: Does God permit His servants to fight in the wars of men? The term “military service” comes from the idea that one who performs this duty is serving his country. Should Christians attack, kill and maim their fellow human beings on behalf of their country? May Christians go to war as long as the general consensus is that it is a “just and noble cause”? Are Christians permitted to bear arms and kill as long as they are “making the world safe for democracy”?
What does God say?
In one’s decision to either fight or not fight, both the individual and the Church of God have a direct responsibility to perform.
The Restored Church of God is determined to teach God’s laws and principles on all matters. God determines what is right and what is wrong—what is righteousness and what is sin. But the individual must decide whether or not he will obey God’s instruction.
This is the Bible’s clear teaching and, therefore, the official teaching and position of The Restored Church of God!
It has been said that all nations are either preparing for war, at war or recovering from war. This is partly because men often think they must go to war in search of peace. How ironic! The outcome of war usually involves a temporary truce, but always fails to yield permanent peace. This is because men cannot, and will never, find the way to peace on their own. They literally have no chance to solve the problem of achieving world peace.
As part of an extensive prophecy about world conditions in our time, the prophet Isaiah explains this: “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goes therein shall not know peace” (Isa. 59:8). Men’s solutions always lead to more wars, misery, death and destruction. The apostle Paul repeated, “And the way of peace have they not known” (Rom. 3:17). How true!
The governments of men simply do not work. They have never succeeded in finding permanent solutions to humanity’s problems. They lack the answers to mankind’s greatest questions. It has not yet been given to men to understand the path to peace—or, for that matter, the path to abundance, happiness, harmony, health and prosperity. No wonder the great thinkers, leaders, educators and scientists have failed miserably in their quest for world peace. God has not yet revealed to the vast majority of humanity the solution to its unending wars.
True Christians are not activists seeking to “make this world a better place”—thereby bringing the kingdom of God to earth. They have their “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). They walk through life having their feet covered with the knowledge of how the true gospel spells the only way to final world peace. They understand with certainty that the kingdom of God—bringing “government and peace” (Isa. 9:6-7)—is coming. They know what lies ahead for this world. They do not go off to serve and kill in the endless, futile wars of men and nations. They do not take matters into their own hands, and try to supposedly “spread the kingdom” now, thereby effectively seeking to neutralize God’s purpose, which is to show man that he is not capable of governing himself! (Take time to read our two free booklets War, Killing and the Military and Should Christians Vote? to understand why.)
Notice what Paul was inspired to write: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they [leaders and religionists] shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (I Thes. 5:2-4).
All who understand the truths of this subject need never again be “in the dark” about God’s Plan or their great potential role within it.
Citing Isaiah 52:7, Paul also wrote, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings [the good news of the gospel] of good things” (Rom. 10:15). In verse 16, he went on to cite another passage from Isaiah: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report?” (53:1).
Of course, most people will not believe “God’s report” of what lies ahead for civilization. They will not believe that they are unable to bring world peace through human effort. Many will shout “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14; 8:11; 14-15) and most will eagerly believe their false predictions.
The professing Christians of this world will continue desperately striving to bring about the kingdom of God and world peace through human effort. Deceived religious leaders will tell them that this is their “Christian duty.” Many will see this as the sole mission of their church. Millions are looking for happiness, abundance, peace and security around every corner—but will be terribly disappointed in the short term. This is because world conditions, leading into a final devastating period of calamity, will get far worse before they ultimately get better.
But in the end, the world will not be disappointed! Good news lies ahead.
The capital city of the modern-day Jewish nation of Israel is Jerusalem. Though this city has known nothing but war throughout its history, its name literally means “city of peace.” It carries this name because Christ—the prince of peace—will return there to establish His kingdom. The Prince of Peace will rule from the City of Peace. Beginning in this single city, peace will quickly spread around the world. Eventually, it will “break out” everywhere!
Final, true world peace will come in your lifetime. It is as certain as the Word of God!
“Thy Kingdom Come”
Most people are familiar with what is called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Many can recite it without effort, having practiced it without understanding that it is simply a model or guideline for how to pray. I learned it at age four. It begins, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth…” (Matt. 6:9-10). This short prayer continues for three more verses. But, of the millions who know and use this prayer, how many actually think about the phrase “Thy kingdom come”? For 2,000 years, people may have basically sought to follow Christ’s instruction, praying, “Thy kingdom come” without ever really pondering the staggering meaning behind this small phrase.
A few verses later, in the same chapter, Christ stated, “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (vs. 33). Christians must be continually seeking the kingdom of God FIRST—above everything else—in their lives! How can they do this if they do not know what it is—or when it will come—or how it affects their own salvation?
But now you do!
Will you pray, “Thy kingdom come”? Will you make your calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10)? Will you grow, qualify, and develop in spiritual character? Or will you ignore your opportunity to rule in God’s kingdom and teach others the right way of life?