Writing this column around Armistice Day this past November (now called Veterans Day in America), my thoughts were on the day’s commemoration of the end of World War I. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the weapons of war stopped their roar, church bells rang in jubilation, and birds could again be heard on the fields of Europe. By the armistice (a term derived from roots meaning “armaments stilled”), the so-called “Great War” or “War to End All Wars” concluded.
Naivete over social progress assumed people had advanced beyond the savagery of our ancestors, but they clearly had not! Ultimately, around 20 million people died. Then just 21 years later came World War II, which by conservative estimates consumed 40 to 50 million lives and displaced millions of others. And wars have continued to be waged since it ended in 1945.
If you’re reading this column in early 2024, the Russia-Ukraine war and the widening Middle East crisis (again!) are likely still proceeding. And red flags of concern are raised by various voices regarding possible unintended consequences ushering in World War III!
Let’s face it: Escalating global conflict alongside the tsunami of ungodly and immoral societal challenges can paralyze even the hearts of Jesus Christ’s disciples. It’s time, then, to settle our hearts as we heed Jesus’ personal invitation of “Follow Me” (Luke 9:23; John 10:27), carefully reading and absorbing the hope-filled promises in Scripture regarding His dynamic intervention coming to full fruition.
Rescuing humanity from itself
Let’s start with a bullhorn-scale announcement of both warning and comfort Jesus gave in a prophecy of end-time events: “It will be a time of great distress, such as there has never been before since the beginning of the world, and will never be again. If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; but for the sake of God’s chosen it will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22, Revised English Bible, emphasis added throughout).
Jesus does not promise His followers that it will be a time of ease. People will be at their wits’ end. Satan, the archenemy of all made in God’s image, will seemingly have victory at hand. Jesus’ own devoted followers will cry out, “How long, O Lord . . . ?” (Revelation 6:10). Perhaps you’re already at that point.
However, our Heavenly Father is sending His Son, our champion, to interrupt human history to change things forever. The One who created time is the Master of timing and will know precisely when to intervene to save humanity from itself. If too soon, many might think, We just need more time to do it our way. Yet if too late, there would be no one left alive!
Let’s turn down the “noise machine” of this age and hear the clear instruction of the I AM: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (Psalm 46:10-11). Again, does that mean times ahead are going to be easy? No! Jesus is brutally honest in His description. Nevertheless, He promised, loud and clear, there would be a sunrise beyond humanity’s self-made storm.
Why does Jesus need to interrupt history to rescue humanity? Scripture explains: “The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:8). Mankind rejected our Creator’s roadmap to abundant life in the Garden of Eden. Is it any wonder that in thousands of years of known history, there have been only about 300 to 400 years of relative peace?
In his famous novel War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy hit the nail on the head in having a character say, “Drain the blood from men’s veins and put in water instead, then there will be no more war.” In saying essentially that war is in the blood, he meant it’s ingrained in what we are. James 4:1-2 confirms that wars and fights come from wayward desires in our corrupted fleshly nature.
The ultimate war to end all wars
A vision of the great heavenly interruption revealed in Daniel 2 is explained in these terms: “And in the days of these kings [a group of end-time rulers] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (verse 44).
Symbolizing this Kingdom and its King is a stone cut out without hands that smashes the world’s governments and takes over (verse 45). The King is the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the stone rejected by people but chosen of God (Psalm 118:22; 1 Peter 2:4; Matthew 3:17). And the Kingdom He brings will rule forever.
With the coming of that Kingdom the world will undergo fundamental change. Isaiah 2:4 says of people then, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” Instead, they will learn a different way to live, going to God to be taught His ways from His Word (verse 3).
During that future rule under our Master and Savior, people’s inner hearts and minds will be changed as they are exposed to: 1) transformative life-giving “water” that flows from Christ, referring to the Holy Spirit (John 7:37); and 2) rather than shedding other people’s blood, dying to self as they surrender to God’s will, experiencing Christ’s lifesaving and enduring sacrificial blood for the forgiveness of their sins (Romans 4:7).
Our Heavenly Father has sent and will send His beloved Son as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He sent Him as the Lamb of God to die in our place (John 1:29), and He will send Him again, as the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5), to wage the ultimate war to end all wars, not just in overpowering those arrayed against Him, but in melting the resistance to Him that resides in man’s present nature (see Romans 8:7).
The big question for you
So a question for you today that only you can personally answer: Whose blood are you living according to at this time—that of your fleshly human nature or that of Jesus Christ? Are you pursuing the ingrained way of war, or receiving Christ’s forgiveness and extending forgiveness to others?
The peace that God offers and requires is not devoid of effort but is transformative in every way in every chapter of life. After all, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers”—not merely the peace hopers (Matthew 5:9). It begins with a thought expressed by the poet Robert Browning: “When the fight begins within himself, a man’s worth something.”
The ongoing invitation from above of “Follow Me” challenges us to not only lay down our arms but to transform our personal swords into plowshares to lovingly till the soil of humanity within our sphere of influence. It further challenges us to transform our personal spears into pruning hooks to gather godly fruit and responsibly reach into other lives in helpful ways by not merely what we say but what we do.
Till next time: As we are confronted with today’s new headlines, stop, turn down everyone else’s voices—for there are many who want to live rent free in your mind—and look up, not around. And remember whom we follow, as He guides us to serve Him towards a new age of which God declares in Isaiah 11:9, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain [His Kingdom].” May that Kingdom come! And may we live according to that Kingdom even now!