War & Peace

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War & Peace

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Terrorism is the scourge of the modern age. More than 30 years ago, living just outside of London, I remember being inconvenienced on more than one occasion by the IRA terror campaign on the British mainland. Later in the same decade my wife and I lived through a terrorist war in Africa, in which we lost a number of personal friends and acquaintances. Today it's Islamic terrorism that is affecting our way of life. It didn't start on Sept. 11, 2001, but it has certainly spread since then. July saw terror return to the British capital. This time it was not the IRA but Islamic suicide bombers. Coincidentally, in the same month, the IRA renounced terrorism, encouraging hopes of peace in Northern Ireland. War and peace have been constant themes throughout history. Wars are fought and peace follows. Eventually, other wars come along, followed by peaceful interludes. Man seems unable to learn the lessons. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah summed up one of man's greatest weaknesses when he wrote, "The way of peace they have not known" (Isaiah 59:8). We live in worrying times, with the constant and spreading fear of terrorism coupled with a growing threat of nuclear terror. Jesus Christ warned that man would eventually come to the point of self-extinction, except that Christ Himself will intervene to save mankind (Matthew 24:21-22). He will then establish the Kingdom of God, the central message of His ministry 2,000 years ago (Mark 1:14). One of the primary causes of terrorism is religion. Different religious beliefs have caused conflict in various parts of the world for thousands of years. In the last decade we saw conflict in the Balkans between Croatian Catholics, Serbian Orthodox Christians and Bosnian Muslims. War and the threat of war have been a constant for six decades in the land of the Bible as Jews and Muslims struggle for mastery over the Holy Land. In India, Hindus and Muslims are in conflict; in Sri Lanka it's Buddhists and Hindus. For almost 14 centuries there has been repeated conflict between Muslims and Christians, with the threat of a return to such wars on the rise again today. When the disciples asked Jesus Christ what sign would signal His second coming (Matthew 24:3), He responded with the following words: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet" (verse 6). He added: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" (verse 7). Of the time His Kingdom is established on earth, God says, "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). Isaiah was inspired to write of this coming time of Christ's rule: "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end . . . from that time forward, even forever" (Isaiah 9:7). Jesus told His disciples to "seek first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33) and to pray daily for that coming Kingdom (verse 10). That is the only real hope for lasting peace for the world. GN