When Will There Be Peace On Earth?
IFthere is one common theme that marks the passage of mankind through history -- regardless of race, location, or age -- it is war and bloodshed. There is not a moment in human history where conflict is not to be found, whether it be at an individual level, or nation striving against nation. War is ever-present, always around the corner, always in the everyone’s thoughts. War, in fact, is the child of the thoughts and motives of men, generated by hatred, anger, envy, murder, greed and such like. It is painful; but in the natural state of things, we find that it something that cannot be avoided.
Humankind, applying the best of its wisdom, does make the attempt to prevent war. The search for peace is as old as recorded history. Motivated by religious, moral, and practical considerations, peace advocates have insisted that man has the ability, if only he would try hard enough, to eliminate war and violence. ‘There must be a better way to settle conflicts,’ they say, ‘let us be rational and intelligent, and reason out our differences.’ But the lesson is futile. Man, with the slightest provocation, falls prey to anger, and lashes out against his fellow.
When we look into the scriptures, we find something remarkable that few religious orders, if any, are willing to point out. We find there that the Divine order to the Gentiles -- the nations -- is "Beat your plowshares into swords" -- an expression indicating war, not peace. The churches who suppose that they are the kingdom of God on earth, are not able to annul this decree. They have tried. In the 10th century, in the countdown to the end of the first millenium, violence in Europe reached such proportions as to gravely endanger the stability of society. The Roman Catholic church sought to curb the daily violence through what they styled the "Peace of God," declaring certain seasons off limits for battle and trying to exclude certain groups -- clergy, peasants, merchants -- from the slaughter. This so-called "Peace of God" was a human attempt to bring about peace, but it did little else but protect the church’s wealth, its priests, and its membership. It could do nothing to extinguish warfare.
In modern history peace thinkers turned to the question of international violence -- and eventually came the idea of an international institution that could arbitrate peace between the nations. Such persons as ERASMUS (around 1530), VITORIA (1540), GROTIUS (1640), and SAINT-PIERRE (1740) suggesed institutions for the peaceful resolution of conflict. Following the Protestant Reformation, a number of small groups -- notably the Mennonites, Anabaptists, Unitarianists and Quakers -- forcefully restated their refusal to kill another human being. The Quaker William Penn attempted to create a pacifist community in a "holy experiment" in Pennsylvania, a settlement that was to be weaponless and defenseless, and able to peacefully exist with all men, without armed conflict. This experiment came to a typically frustrated end, when the French and Indians rose up against settlers in western Pennsylvania.
Beginning with small groups in Britain in 1815 -- after the Napoleonic Wars -- peace movements spread across the map of Europe. International congresses of American and European peace societies, begun in 1843 and lasting until around 1914, fit together a broad program of peace through international arbitration, mediation, and education. In 1899 and 1907 the Hague Conferences were held, designed to negotiate arms reductions.
Wealthy men, prominent men -- Andrew Carnegie, Alfred Nobel, and others--donated fortunes to support peace movements, contests, and prizes. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Nobel Peace Prize.
What were the results of this concentrated effort to promote peace and safety? World War I broke out in 1914, and over the next 4 years the conflict between the nations was responsible for some 8.5 million deaths.Following the war there was a decade of elation over the creation of the League Of Nations, the International Court Of Justice, and the postwar Disarmament conferences, which tried to limit the world's naval fleets. Thousands of young men in Britain signed the "Peace Pledge," swearing never again to fight for "King and Country." World War I was called the war to end war, and it was everyone’s fervent intention that peace would be permanent.
But then Germany began to assert itself, and the League of Nations was found to be absolutely helpless to prevent aggression. When World War II ended in 1945, its human losses were counted at six or seven times those of World War I.
Since then, the League of Nations was reformed into the United Nations, founded to maintain international peace and security. The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations begins with the declaration that it is determined "to save succeeding gnerations from the scourge of war." But as it was being born in 1945, cracks were already forming in the foundation. The United States dominated the new organization, but its developing Cold War with the Soviet Union prevented the UN from functioning effectively. With the great powers divided there was little that could be done for peacekeeping... too often the U.S. and the Soviet Union were at opposite poles over warring nations, because each was seeking advantage over the other.
Has the United Nations been effective in preventing war? Not in the least. Many of the world’s experts predicted that with the fall of the Soviet Union, the UN and other organizations would at last be the means to lasting peace. But the weakening of Russia in the decade has not lead to this. With the controlling influence of the Soviet Union removed, old ethnic hatreds have arisen, and the planet is once again in a state of constant unrest and turmoil.
Even the most deliberate attempts to foster peace by bypassing ethnic issues have failed. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, is a specialized agency of the United Nations. Its purpose was to further the cause of peace by increasing understanding among nations through education and research. But in December 1984 the United States withdrew from UNESCO because of the agency's inefficient administration and increased politics. Britain, following the U.S. example, withdrew at the end of 1985.
With the increasing danger from more and more powerful weapons of destruction, and motivated by an increasing era of tolerance, peace arguments are slowly but steadily gaining force. But judging on the basis of all the peace movements that the world has ever seen, are the advocates of peace likely to succeed? Will the peace and safety cry foster harmony between the peoples?
The answer is no. Despite nearly 6000 years of attempts, there is no lasting peace to be found.
Is war and conflict then the eternal destiny of humankind? If man were left to his own devices, the answer would be yes, to the eventual annihilation of the race. But thankfully, man is not in charge. It is evident when we look at the Bible that God is.
Please turn to Job 12:23. Here, in plain language, is a statement very much to the point: "God increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again."
Also, 2 Chron. 20:6, we find the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, saying, "O Lord God, rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen?"
And in Psa 22:28 is another proof that God is in control: "The Lord is the governor among the nations."
And Dan 4:17 gives us even further evidence: "The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."
But if God is in command, why is there such war and conflict and bloodshed as we see about us? Why do we see the pain and anguish in places such as Kosovo? If God, as the apostle Paul said, is the Author of Peace (1 Cor. 14:33), and He is in control of the nations, should there not be peace among the nations?
The answer to this is two-fold. First, there are very direct and pronounced statements in the Bible that say why the nations and peoples of the earth are in constant contention. Second, in equally clear terms, it undeniably states that there will come a time when peace will reign, and war will be found no more on earth.
The terrible things going on in Kosovo and other areas in the earth are not surprising to anyone who is familiar with the Bible. The Bible describes mankind as having a natural state of mind which is against peace. It uses the term, "the thinking of the flesh," or "the carnal mind" as it is translated in the King James Version. This principle is the direct cause of strife. In 1 Cor. 3:3 Paul wrote to the assembly in Corinth: "Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"
To be carnally-minded then, to be influenced by the thinking of the flesh, is to be partaker in envying, strife, and divisions. Since these conditions are found the world over, the people of the world exhibit the characteristics of the thinking of the flesh. Under this state, they are clearly defined as ‘the wicked.’
In Romans 8:6, the apostle Paul was very clear on this, and notice how he contrasts the mind of the flesh against a spiritual mind. He says there: "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace; the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Job, in chapter 9:24, tells us that not only is there such as state as being "wicked,", he also tells us that "The earth is given into the hand of the wicked."
And Isaiah, in chapter 57:20 gives us a very important quotation that emphasizes why there is so much war and death: "The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
Here then is the great reason why the earth is so full of hostility, contention, and war. These things are all manifestations of the reigning of the mind of the flesh. When we continue a little further in Isaiah, in chapter 59:7-8, we find he says even more to the point: "Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not."
What the Scriptures are saying, then, is that as long as the mind of the flesh rules, there will be no peace. It also clearly states that mankind, left to himself, has no way of knowing how to correct his evil tendencies. Despite all that he might try to do to remove the affliction of war from his existence, he will not be successful. One need only look at the newspaper for proof.
However, there are very clear and undisputable statements in the Bible that reveal that there will yet be peace on earth. This, in fact, is a very important and integral part of the whole message of the Gospel, one which many are unfortunately unaware of.
Isa 2:4 tells us of a time when the nations of the earth will do exactly the opposite of what they are doing now: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Also, in Micah 4:3-4, this prophet tell us: "Neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid."
And there is a quotation in Num 14:20-21 which all the students of the Bible love to consider. For there it is written: "The Lord said, as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord."
Also in Psa 72:19: "Blessed be God’s glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen."
This is also echoed by the prophet Hab 2:14: "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
To fill the earth with God’s glory can only mean that all the earth must be brought under submission to God and His will. It is by obedience that God is glorified, and the Bible tells us that with obedience comes peace.
Job 36:11 -- "If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword (that is, through war), and they shall die without knowledge."
The current institutions cannot bring peace. For there to be peace on earth, the wicked must be removed from the ruling classes of men. Peace cannot be established on the earth so long as the wicked prosper, therefore, the wicked are to be abolished. And in their place will rule in peace those that are styled the righteous, the meek, and the blessed.
We don’t say these things lightly or without proof: Psa 34:16 tell us: "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth."
And flip over to Psa 29:11 -- "The LORD will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace."
And back to Psa 37:9-11 -- "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."
And again verse 28 "For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off."
Peace is not to be the lot of the world as we know it. The presidents, the prime ministers, the secretaries of state, the "think-tanks", the experts, the peace-makers, the priests -- none are able, nor will be able, to bring about peace. It is a goal that will forever elude them, for they all work under the law of sin. They are what Paul calls "the high things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God," which are to be cast down (2 Cor 10:5).
But who is the class of people that will inherit the earth in peace and in righteousness? We know that they are the obedient, the ones who follow God’s commands, and who as a result are promised to inherit the earth in peace. But who, exactly, are they? To find out, we turn to the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in Genesis 12:1-3. . .
There it is written, "Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall ALL families of the earth be blessed."
And continuing on in Gen 13:14: "And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to THEE will I give it, AND to thy seed FOR EVER. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee."
And further, in Gen 22:16-18:
"By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
Note the use of the phrases, "nations of the earth," and "the land which thou seest." These promises, therefore, are centred on the earth as a literal possession of Abraham and his offspring. Note carefully that they have no reference whatsoever to a kingdom in the skies.
These promises were confirmed to Isaac and Jacob in Gen 26 and 28, and were therefore styled by the apostle Paul as "the promises made to the Fathers." Now about these promises, Paul had something very important to say. Please look up Gal. 3:16, and also verse 29:
There he says: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (29) And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Here is the key to understanding who will constitute the righteous that will inherit the earth. They are those who are constituted of the seed of Abraham through Christ. It is by Christ that all the earth will be blessed. It is he who will rule over all the earth in righteousness and peace, along with those who are fellow heirs of the promises. It was confirmed at his birth by no less a witness than that of the angels, when they sang in Luke 2:14, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." It is also written in Luke 1:32-33, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
Now King David, who ruled in Jerusalem, was a direct descendant of Abraham, and to him a promise was given, in 2 Sam 7:16: "thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever."
Many years later, long after David had died, Jeremiah prophesied of the fulfillment of this promise in chapter 23:5-6:
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely."
Who was this righteous branch? Luke 1:31-33 tells us that it was Jesus --
"And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
We must note that David’s kingdom -- his throne -- was on earth, in Israel, when the promise was given to him. Therefore where this promise involves Jesus inheriting the throne of his father David, it must be talking about the same kingdom that David possessed, on earth.
Christ has not yet inherited this throne, because we do not see any king in Israel at the present time. We also note that when the Bible lists some who are considered righteous, as in Heb. 11, that they also have not yet received a place in this kingdom. After naming Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Paul in Heb. 11:13 says -- "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
And Paul closes the chapter on the same thought: Heb 11:39-40: "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
The promises have not yet been fulfilled. They are still in the future, though we believe not very far off, and the invitation to share in the fulfillment of them is still open to all who are truly interested in what God plans with His earth.
In fact, as was mentioned, these promises constitute the Gospel as it was preached by Christ and the Apostles. As Paul said, "I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers" (Acts 26:6). Paul was a Hebrew: his forefathers included Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We know that Abraham was the father of the Jews. Yet how are those who are not born Jews, able to gain admittance to the promised blessedness? How can anyone share in the inheritance of Abraham and his seed, when they cannot count their natural ancestry back to Abraham? This is the wonderful news of the Gospel of Christ and the Kingdom as preached by the Apostles. Please turn to Acts 15:14:
"God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name."
Also Eph. 3:3 -- "By revelation he made known unto me (Paul) the mystery, (v.5) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ BY THE GOSPEL."
Also in Romans 4:11, 12 the apostle wrote, "(Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of ALL them that believe, though they be not circumcised; And the father to them who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised."
Those who embrace the faith of Abraham, and become figuratively circumcised by putting on Christ (a descendant of Abraham) in baptism, become the children of Abraham, and heirs of the promise made to him. This is exactly what Paul says in Gal 3:27-29:
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Therefore those who are in Christ, are the blessed, the meek, and the righteous, that will inherit the earth, and who will rule over it in peace. There is no doubt that the Gospel of God is centred on the earth, and not on some fable of a kingdom in heaven, which would require the saints to leave the earth. Witness the following testimony. Luke 13:28-29 --
"There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south (these directions only have meaning on the earth), and shall sit down in the kingdom of God."
Likewise Zech. 2:12: "The Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again."
In Micah 4:6-7: "In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the Lord shall reign over them in mount Zion (in Jerusalem) from henceforth, even for ever."
The Kingdom of God will be re-established on earth, for it will be the Kingdom of Israel restored, and it will be a time of blessing to all the people of the earth. The capital city of the Kingdom, where Christ will reign, will be Jerusalem, as it is written --
"Many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (Mic 4:2).
So far, we have contrasted the world as it currently is, steeped in wickedness and strife, with the earth as it shall be, filled with the glory of God. There must be a transition between the one ruling class and the other, how is it to take place?
As has been Scripturally proven, the wicked are to be cut off from the earth. How is this to be done? The Bible tells us that it is to be the task of the saints, the blessed, to overthrow the wicked. Psalm 149:7-9 says: "To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; this honour have all his saints."
Dan. 7:18 says: "The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever."
Dan 7:27 says: And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High"
And the saints will do this as immortalized beings, for it is written, "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." 1 Cor. 15:50. Rather, the dead who knew the Truth of these matters will be resurrected, and those who have believed the Bible and obeyed it will be given immortality. For Paul wrote, "the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." 1 Cor 15:52-53.
The Jews will be God’s people in the great day of the Kingdom. "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you." Zec 8:23.
The promise of God that all the earth will be filled with His glory will come to pass as surely as His other prophecies have unfolded. Admission to this age will only come through obedience to God’s commandments, for as we have proven, peace will only come to the righteous, or those who submit to God’s will. First must come understanding of the first principles of the Truth, then obedience by baptism, to be followed by righteous conduct and the upbuilding of faith. Those who are in Christ are commanded to "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." To "fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. Keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." Then, "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (1 Tim 4:11-14, Col 3:4).
The Kingdom Age will be an age like no other, when "the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth:"
War shall exist no more, and in peace shall the saints rule in righteousness.
Are we interested in seeing peace on earth? Let us take hold of these promises, and live up to their requirements, and we will see it. "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth." (Psa 37:9)