After the Munich Conference, on Sept. 30, 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain stepped off a plane and waved a printed statement before a waiting world. It read:
"We, the German Führer and Chancellor, and the British Prime Minister, have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for our two countries and for Europe.
"We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to remove possible sources of difference, and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe."
After reading this statement at 10 Downing Street, Chamberlain said this: "My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time . . . Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."
In the world's eyes, Neville Chamberlain went down in history as someone lacking fundamental discernment of geopolitics and human nature. His naiveté played a role in Adolf Hitler launching World War II and his plan to murder millions of innocent people. His "peace for our time" proved to be a monumentally dangerous delusion.
Is true peace possible?
Today we see violent upheaval in Muslim nations of the Middle East. We see Iran pursuing nuclear weapons, and dangerous players like North Korea already in possession of them, along with politically unstable Pakistan. We see China and Russia aggressively modernizing their military forces. What does it all mean? Will we see continued war, or could world peace come in our time? Is there a way to know?
The world accepts the meaning of peace as a time when there is no war. But Jesus Christ's definition of peace is not like this world's peace. Jesus told His disciples, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14:27).
True peace is embodied in the Ten Commandments in their full, spiritual intent—realized when people, out of their hearts and minds, willingly and actively honor and obey God's laws of love, producing peaceful relationships (1 John 5:3; 4:20-21; James 3:18).
Baruch Spinoza was a notable Dutch philosopher, raised in a Dutch Jewish community (1632-1677). He gave this definition of peace: "Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice."
Spinoza's concept of peace was perceptive. It is remarkably close to what God says about peace. And God does show how true peace will come the earth—through events pictured by His annual festivals revealed in the Bible.
Four festivals point us to world peace
How will God bring lasting peace to humankind? He reveals how it will happen in His holy festivals found in the Bible. First let's address the backstory of the overall purpose of God's festivals.
All seven of God's annual festivals reveal the dispensational salvation of all humankind. They are, in order, Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost (also called the Feast of Weeks or Firstfruits), the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day (immediately following the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles). You'll find all of these listed in Leviticus 23.
Each of these festivals depicts a highly important part of God's overall plan to offer salvation to mankind. Each also shows the active role and involvement of Jesus Christ in carrying out that plan here on earth—including how He, as the Prince of Peace, will eventually bring lasting peace to the earth.
The last four depict Christ's return to establish His Kingdom of peace and prosperity and events that will follow. (You can find the meanings of all seven festivals in our free booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.)
The Feast of Trumpets
The first of the last four of God's festivals and Holy Days, the Feast of Trumpets, symbolizes a time of blowing of trumpets, warning of impending war and subsequent judgment. In Old Testament times, sentries or watchmen were placed in strategic places to sound the alarm when an enemy approached. They typically blew on a ram's horn, a shofar, which gave out a piercing and ominous sound.
The Feast of Trumpets prefigures the blowing of a final trumpet at Christ's return (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) as well as a series of significant trumpet calls leading up to it (Revelation 8:6).
These trumpets, as well as the festival, are in part a warning about the final battle of "that great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:14; see Zechariah 14:3). Jesus will fight a final battle against a new end-time superpower the Bible calls "the Beast" as well as against massive armies from beyond the Euphrates River.
These forces will have first converged northwest of Jerusalem near the hill of Megiddo, which is written in the original Greek of the New Testament as Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). But they will actually fight the returning Jesus Christ near Jerusalem. "These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them" (Revelation 17:14; compare Revelation 19:11-21).
Specifically, then, the Feast of Trumpets represents on one hand a final war between Jesus Christ and the human tyrants overseeing these end-time geopolitical powers. Christ dispatches them dramatically and decisively (Revelation 14:14-20; 19:11-21).
On the other hand, the Feast of Trumpets also represents the resurrection of God's faithful saints who have died through the ages and the transformation of those saints still alive at Christ's return. As the apostle Paul wrote: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The Day of Atonement
Jesus Christ will dispatch the human tyrants who wage war against Him as He descends to Jerusalem. Then He will turn His attention to removing the tyrants in the spirit realm around us—Satan and the demons.
The Day of Atonement symbolizes the time that shortly follows the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. At that time, God will remove and incarcerate Satan and the demons from their positions of power on earth (Revelation 20:1-3).
The Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles follow one another closely. Christ quickly sets His hand to remove those who have come perilously close to exterminating humankind. He had earlier said of this period of crisis, "If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive" (Matthew 24:22, Revised English Bible, emphasis added throughout).
Christ then removes this very powerful spiritual interloper, Satan the devil, so human beings can at last become reconciled—at one—with their God. "At one" is at the root of the word atonement, or "at-one-ment." With Satan's deceptive influence removed, human beings can now be reconciled and restored to a right relationship with their Creator.
One aspect of this day is that God's people are to obey His command to fast on it ("afflict your souls," as it is translated in Leviticus 23:27-29), for fasting emphasizes the hunger that we should feel for God and our reliance on Him. It also points forward to the fact that at a future time we will no longer need physical sustenance at all once we're given the gift of eternal life.
Fasting also provides spiritual strength. Jesus was at His spiritual strongest after He fasted 40 days and nights (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus also instructed His disciples that fasting gives us spiritual strength to confront the reality of this evil spirit world, telling them that "this kind [of demon] does not go out except by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21). And this day foreshadows the banishment of Satan and His demons.
Fasting helps us break the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens of worry, fear and anxieties, free the oppressed, break every yoke of sinful bondage and live an exemplary life. It is an important practice in self-denial for God's purposes. After a productive fast, God will hear our prayers (Isaiah 58:6-11).
God will intervene in the horrendous affairs of humankind to save us from ourselves. As depicted by the Day of Atonement, He will remove and bind Satan and the demons so they can no longer lead mankind into sin, deceit and rebellion. Then, and only then, can peace break out, with all people on earth at last having the knowledge of and opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The Feast of Tabernacles
After this period of turmoil on the world scene comes a time of great peace, symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles. This great festival represents the 1,000-year reign on earth of the Prince of Peace (Revelation 20:4-6; Isaiah 9:6-7).
The Bible is full of positive prophecies about the millennial reign of Christ, characterized by peace and prosperity (Acts 3:19-21). It will be an international Garden of Eden, beginning in Jerusalem and extending throughout the Holy Land and the entire world.
At the commencement of the millennial reign of Christ, people who come to Jerusalem will notice the beauty of the land. "So they will say, 'This land that was desolate [as a result of the wars and destruction leading up to this time] has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited'" (Ezekiel 36:35; compare Isaiah 51:3).
The prophet Isaiah describes the glorious 1,000-year peaceful reign of Jesus on earth:
"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of [King David's father] Jesse, and a Branch [Christ] shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth . . . Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. 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 11:1-9).
On the heels of true peace, prosperity also breaks out: "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them'" (Amos 9:13-14).
Isaiah 35:1 further tells us, "The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose."
The Eighth Day
Immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasts for seven days, there is another great and separate feast referred to simply as "the eighth day" (Leviticus 23:36). The meaning of this Holy Day is explained in more detail in the article "The Great White Throne Judgment: A Biblical Mystery Explained".
The phrase "Great White Throne Judgment" is derived from Revelation 20:11-13: "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books [biblion, from which we get the word Bible] were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.
"And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books [of the Bible]. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works."
Ezekiel 37:1-14, which contains a detailed narrative of this event as it pertains to millions of long-dead Israelites, describes what this resurrection of vast numbers of people will be like.
In this resurrection, in this case to physical life, many billions of human beings will have their glorious time of salvation. Paul tells us that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). But the vast majority of people who have ever lived have never had the opportunity to even hear God's truth, much less have the opportunity to repent, be converted and receive His gift of salvation.
The Eighth Day represents the great resurrection of billions of people to physical life who never had their day of salvation. This happens shortly after the 1,000-year reign of Christ. He continues His reign during this time in which He will judge all in righteousness and with true justice.
Will permanent peace come in our time?
Deceived by Hitler, Neville Chamberlain badly miscalculated peace in his time. God is not a man; He doesn't make mistakes. Only God knows the hour and day when He will send Christ Jesus to the earth to save humanity from itself (Mark 13:32).
Will we see permanent peace in our time? A sober look at the world around us indicates that we are living in the latter days. And in the end, some will survive the terrifying events to come and will indeed live to see ongoing peace. But terrible events must unfold first, events that will shake the world to its core.
What about you? God offers you peace and protection in this life and something far greater in the world to come, but it depends on you (see Luke 21:34-36). If you are willing to commit yourself to God the Father and Jesus Christ and begin to observe God's annual festivals, you can come to understand His great plan of salvation for all humankind. His peace and prosperity are waiting for you!