We have historians and experts who study what led up to them, what weapons were developed and used, who was hurt most by them, who was considered the winner and what was done to prepare for the next one.
The spaces in between wars are often referred to as peace, but too often they are merely times of sorrow and recovery from the war just past or fear and preparation for the war to come. Precious little peace can be found in human history.
The Bible reveals that the cause of violence goes all the way back to the rebellion of Lucifer, who became known as Satan (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18). "You became filled with violence within, and you sinned," Ezekiel records about this rebellion (Ezekiel 28:16). Satan is described as a murderer, a roaring lion seeking prey and a dragon making war in heaven and on earth (John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 12:7, Revelation 12:17).
Satan, humanity's greatest adversary, currently rules this world, and broadcasts his attitudes of hate and violence into the minds of men (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). His influence helps amplify our natural selfishness to a fevered pitch as described by James:
"Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war" (James 4:1-3).
And so we find ourselves in a world that desperately needs and desires peace, yet which is far from it. Cries of "peace, peace" are too often wishful thinking, political maneuvering or outright deception (Jeremiah 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:3). Paul accurately described the human condition this way:
"Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known" (Romans 3:15-17).
Thankfully the Bible reveals that Jesus Christ will rescue this world from the final throes of the most destructive world war, before we annihilate ourselves (Matthew 24:22). Under His rule the elusive way of peace will finally be taught.
Swords into plowshares
In New York City today, outside the United Nations buildings, a famous sculpture of a man beating a sword into a farm implement captures the longing of humanity for peace—and hints at the way it will truly come. The inspiration for the statue—and the true hope for disarmament and peace—comes from a beautiful prophecy in Isaiah.
"Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.
"Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
"He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; 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" (Isaiah 2:2-4; repeated in Micah 4:1-3).
What a wonderful vision! Finally disputes between nations will be resolved without resorting to the horrors of war (which only plant the seeds of future conflict). At last, nations will be forced to disarm, but they will soon realize they have nothing to fear, since their neighbors will all be disarmed as well.
War colleges will be shut down and the militaries disbanded. No more will the young, with their bright hopes and great potentials, be used as cannon fodder. Instead of investing the best minds and greatest resources into developing weapons of destruction, nations will be able to invest in making life better for all their citizens.
Today some of the most impoverished nations in the world import inordinate amounts of arms. Weapons make up 33.5 percent of Eritrea's imports and 20.5 percent of Ethiopia's (John D. Wright, Guide to the State of the World, 2005, p. 87). Gone will be these wasteful arms races, and today's dangerous neighborhoods—like in the Middle East, where 40 percent of arms exports go—will be peaceful at last.