The surrender of Germany, the first atomic bomb detonation at Hiroshima, the second A-bomb blast at Nagasaki, Japan’s capitulation—the world is now remembering the greatest war in all of human history, a conflict in which 60 to 70 million people died.
When I was a child, World War II was still very fresh in people’s minds. At least four TV series set in that war aired weekly, and movies about the war appeared regularly. Like many boys, I had a sizable collection of American, German and Japanese toy solders.
At that tender age, I fully expected that I’d join the military when I grew up, just as my father and most of my uncles had done in the war. It seemed the natural, logical thing to do.
But along the way something happened to change my thinking.
Although I had no interest in the Bible at the time, my parents started taking it very seriously. They began making fundamental changes in their lives that affected everything we did. It began to rub off on me as I too started to take the Bible seriously and prove that it was the inspired and unalterable Word of God.
It said that we are not to take up the sword of war and that we are not to fight in the conflicts of this world’s governments (see Matthew 26:52 Matthew 26:52Then said Jesus to him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
American King James Version×; John 18:36 John 18:36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
American King James Version×). “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” it added (Matthew 19:19 Matthew 19:19Honor your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×; Matthew 22:39 Matthew 22:39And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×; Romans 13:9 Romans 13:9For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×; Leviticus 19:18 Leviticus 19:18You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×).
I learned that Scripture revealed the bottom-line cause of war—the ingrained selfish, greedy nature that leads people to covet what others have. As the apostle James put it: “What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from the cravings that are at war within you? … You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires” (James 4:1-3 James 4:1-3 1 From where come wars and fights among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
2 You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.
3 You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it on your lusts.
American King James Version×, Holman Christian Standard Bible).
I began to realize that the story of human history is a story of endless wars and that the words of Isaiah 59:7-8 Isaiah 59:7-8 7 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.
8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace.
American King James Version×explain our world of unending violence: “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; … wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known … they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace.”
It dawned on me that those words described me too, and that if I were to ever have a life that would be pleasing to God, it would have to begin with a change of my heart and mind. Now, 45 years later, I’m still working on that change, still trying to become more like God and less like me.
And although our headlines are full of terror, atrocities and global unrest starkly reminiscent of that horrifying and bloody time 70 years ago, my mind is at peace and my heart full of hope—hope in the coming Kingdom of God, which Jesus Christ will establish on earth at His return.
This hope is summed up well in Isaiah 2:4 Isaiah 2:4And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and 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 any more.
American King James Version×, which speaks of the time to come: “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.”
I so look forward to that time. I hope you’ll join us in praying fervently, as Jesus Christ commanded, “Your Kingdom come!”