James F. McBride: Our world seems incapable of remaining at peace for long, or of solving its conflicts. Where have the peacemakers gone?
If every conflict on our planet, viewed from space, were to `glow' it would present an arresting spectacle. Most of earth's habitable surface would glow faintly - a kind of universal background to the multitude of white-hot conflagrations that are all too visible.
A recent report cited some eighty major conflicts worldwide. Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Israel, Congo, Chechnya, occupy the headlines. The embers of war still burn in Kosovo, in Peru, in Ireland. Bitter enmity between governments and minorities is widespread - in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Central America, China, Saudi Arabia. Even stable democracies are increasingly facing internal dissent and violence - riots on and off the sports fields, protest against multi-national corporations, against animal abuse. Then there's `ordinary violence', with anger spilling into murder, muggings, cold-blooded executions, domestic disturbance, road rage.
In Ireland governments turn a blind eye to murdering thugs hiding behind lofty pseudo-nationalist aspirations as they beat to pulp with metal bars or cripple with bullets in the knee those who offend them. In Sierra Leone `rebels' cruelly sever limbs and mutilate their 'enemy' not excluding women and babies. Albanians and Serbs continue to mutually kill and maim. Black Zimbabweans `re-educate' opponents of the President by murders and beatings and theft. And rock-throwing Palestinians, encouraged by their leadership, seek to provoke a violent response from the Israeli military whose hands are tied from retaliation by the convoluted and deceptive `Oslo peace agreement'.
Every imaginable pretext has been used to express human blood-lust. Not even religion is free from violence. Whether Christianity or Islam, history flows red with the blood of their opponents. Literally millions have been slaughtered in the name of Christ and of Allah. Hot war between Muslims - in Iran and Iraq - has in recent history slaughtered uncounted thousands..
Analyze any conflict and there surfaces raw human nature stripped of the veneer of civilized behavior. As long as my stomach is full, as long as I am content and have shelter and a peaceful environment then I'm `civilized', and unlikely to knee-cap my neighbor or take a machete to his toddler. But give me a mission, or what I see as personal desperation and I revert to the law of the jungle.
Naive `thinkers' from cuckoo land, however, imagine `every day in every way mankind is getting better and better'. Nonsense, of course. We are no more civilized than our ancestors from the time of the earliest human records. It's our fallen nature. History, sacred and profane, is largely a record of wars and rumors of wars. Even the cannibalistic scorings on ancient `primitive' skulls have their modern counterpart!
In other words, human nature hasn't changed, doesn't change. Some four and a half thousand years ago history testifies to a universal flood which destroyed a humanity that had `filled the earth with violence'. Only a pitiful handful, then, maintained the divinely revealed true values. The rest of mankind scoffed, fought world wars - and perished in a universal Flood (Genesis 6:1-12).
Created in the image of a God who loved and cherished His creation, man had the faculty of free choice. Given dominion over the rest of the natural terrestrial world, he chose forbidden knowledge and in the process lost the divine spark, sinking within a dozen generations into the enemy of all that was wholesome and good. Human life all but died out. And all history since is blood-stained.
Peace On Earth?
Whatever happened to the supposedly peaceful `age of Aquarius'? Why has man's supposed evolution into a higher being stagnated or gone into reverse? Where are those whose personal lives are dedicated to peace with their neighbor? That's a matter Jesus addressed in the famed Sermon on the Mount. "Blessed" he said "are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). That is, their lifestyle - contrary to their human nature - will day by day reflect the divine nature.
In modern terms a 'peacemaker' is a Colt 45, a death-dealing weapon! Or it's some diplomatic mission wielding an armory with a velvet-gloved hand extended in 'peace', but concealing ulterior motives of gain. The United Nations, even viewed altruistically, can't get it right but bungles every Security Council approved mission - as in Sudan or Sierra Leone or recently in Lebanon.
In Ireland governments have been trying, unsuccessfully, to hatch peace for over thirty years. 'Peace process' is merely a term that buries racial and religious enmity. It's a process that hides the secretive intention of forging a united Ireland at the behest of hidden foreign powers.
Mission after mission seeks unsuccessfully to broker peace. Conflict drags on in the Middle East despite years of involvement - or interference - by the 'peacemakers'.
As King David noted, there are those who 'delight in war' - they are warmongers and it is their life. The spoils of war are too attractive to abandon! The prophet Isaiah perceived that 'the way of peace they know not'. That's human history!
But didn't God make us that way?
In fact, no. Mankind came from the hand of the Creator perfect. Man having freely chosen to go his own way and rejected revelation, God imposed a limited time during which we could experiment with our own solutions to the problems facing us. Problems which are a direct result of our failure to implement the divine 'instruction manual'.
[See the accompanying article An End To Enmity and the previous issue of New Horizons]
Way of Peace
Six thousand years of recorded civilization has made clear that we prefer humanly-devised solutions in our disputes between individuals and families and nations. But this present time of human rule will end with the return of the King of kings. In the words of Scripture highlighted by the world-famous Handel's Messiah: "...He shall reign for ever and ever".
Isaiah was inspired to write of that future Kingdom: "He shall judge between the nations and rebuke many people. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (ch. 2:4). Armaments factories will become derelict. Military academies will close their doors. Armies will stand down.
Before that, however, we will witness the rise of a satanically motivated cruel dictator, drunk on physical force and hell-bent on world domination.
A Red Horse
In a vision of the end-time, the apostle John saw the infamous 'four horsemen': "Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another..." (Revelation 6:4). A full quarter of the planet will flow red.
[For a guide to the end-time sequence of events, request the booklet Key To The Book of Revelation]
Isaiah again: "You shall take up this proverb against the king of Babylon: How the tyrant has stopped, how his insolent rage has ceased. The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers who smote the peoples in wrath with ceaseless blows and trampled down the nations in anger with unrestrained persecution" (ch 14:3-6). And the result of this divine intervention?: "The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they burst out with singing" (v.7).
That's the future. But man's way now is a far cry from the true way taught by Jesus - 'Blessed are the peacemakers'.
In Jesus-speak a peacemaker is you. He or she is the person who seeks to "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (Romans 12:18). What can you do now?
Can you imagine a world in which everyone was a peacemaker of the Jesus kind? Few religious folk live by that rule! Yet that's what is required of those claiming to be 'children of God' who aspire to express the divine nature, those moved by the Spirit of God.
Such, though, are no push-over. They are courageously valiant for truth, even to the death - their own.
The history of the true people of God has from the beginning been gorily bloodstained They were men and women who:
...through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trials of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain by the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins being destitute, afflicted, tormented - of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth (Hebrews 11:33-38).
Faith is no easy ride! God's faithful have at times suffered beyond ordinary human endurance. They will again. Some few may be shielded from the terror coming on earth many will not, but will stand firm, valiant for truth, to the death.
A Key Event
Jesus, who gave John this vision, himself spoke of these awesome events at the end of human dominion over planet Earth, just prior to his return. He warned of false religion sweeping the world, of wars, of widespread famine and disease.
Then He focused on modern Israel and described a key event, the signal that a time of terrible distress - a new 'holocaust' - will begin. That signal is a sudden attack on Jerusalem, the city surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20) and a desecration of some kind defile a 'holy place' on the Temple Mount (Matthew 24:15).
If you live in Israel, that's the time to instantly drop all and flee for your life (vv. 16-21)! Given the on-going events in Israel and her surrounding nations, and on the world stage, that time may not be too distant.
But these events at Jerusalem are not some little localized battle. They also herald 'Jacob's trouble' - a worldwide attack on the brother nations of the Jews, mainly the Anglo-saxon family of nations.
These nations have inherited material blessings beyond all others. They have, too, been in the vanguard of preserving the Word of God in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, basing their national constitutions on that Word. And from them that Word has been distributed worldwide.
That godly foundation has been broken up. Whatever the appearance of godliness, our nations are sinking to depravity. And the time of reckoning isn't far oil
Ancient Israel followed the same downward immoral spiral - and natural justice dictated an awesome fate. The nation of Israel and later the nation of Judah were invaded, defeated in battle and the remnant exiled to foreign lands. [Shortly after Solomon's reign, Israel - with thirteen tribes - was divided into the House of Judah (three tribes) and the northern House of Israel (ten tribes). They remained separate nations, even at times in conflict.]
The same fate is predicted in the Scriptures for their modern descendants, unless there is national repentance - always a possibility, if now a remote one.
A Personal Choice
Whatever your nation does - as an individual, you can turn yourself around. In your lifetime, likely, you will face a choice.
You can choose to submit to that 'King of Babylon' - the arch enemy of the Creator. For a brief time you will live. Then comes 'the wrath of God' upon all those who choose to align themselves with this 'Beast and his evil anti-God world empire. That 'wrath' is divine retribution upon a generation that has willingly rejected the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ (Revelation 15 and 16).
Or, in solidarity with God's faithful through the ages you can choose the path of opposition to the Adversary - with the likely consequence of persecution and death at the hands of an Inquisition. Notice his agenda: "And the dragon [i.e., Satan who motivates the King of Babylon] was enraged with the woman [i.e., physical and spiritual Israel] and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring - who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17). But there follows for these courageous faith-filled followers of Christ the sure and certain hope of resurrection to be with him on his return - to establish world peace.
Request Coming To Baptism for insight into how you may attain to that resurrection - and unending life in the spirit Family of God.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 4 Issue 4, July/August 2000. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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