"'Peace, Peace!' When There Is No Peace"

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"'Peace, Peace!' When There Is No Peace"

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A noted British author and journalist, A.N. Wilson, observed recently, "The history of the twentieth century is the history of death and slaughter on a scale [of] which our forebears could have had no inkling. The millions killed by the folly and wickedness of politicians far outstrips the numbers in Africa and Asia who died of unnecessary starvation."

Yet, about halfway through 1999, the Anglo-American media was generally optimistic in its judgment of the peace process. For instance, the writers of The Economist summed up prospects on the last day of that July. "On the face of it, this has been a good season for peace, and a good one for intervention. Over the past few weeks, agreements have been reached to end three of Africa's nastiest wars-in Congo, in Sierra Leone and between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

"And restraint has prevailed, with some help from outsiders, in the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. And in Kosovo the West has put a stop to Serb ethnic cleansing. All of a sudden the world looks quieter. Those who have worked to end the violence-whether by diplomatic means, as in Kashmir, Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, or by military intervention, as in Kosovo, Sierra Leone-may feel encouraged. Blessed are the peace-makers" (emphasis added throughout).

That Economist article did not mention that considerable progress had apparently been made in the long-running dispute in Northern Ireland. And even more importantly, the Middle East peace process had taken a decided turn for the better with the "olive branches" offered by Ehud Barak, prime minister of Israel.

Where are we today?

But where are we now? Reading the morning papers at the time of this writing was not encouraging. Several stories indicate that progress toward peace is not as advanced as the above analysis suggests.

Sadly, the war of words between India and Pakistan is escalating again. It would be foolhardy to imagine that these two neighboring countries have really settled their long-running dispute over Kashmir. An exchange of firepower could come at any time-and nuclear weaponry could conceivably be used. A major article in the Financial Times stated, "Pakistan's General Pervez Musharraf and India's Atal Behari Vajpayee are perilously close to taking their countries into another war over the disputed state of Kashmir."

According to this article, "India regards U.S. analysis of the situation as misguided," and says that "we are not going to be immobilised [British spelling] because of the nuclear factor." It also stated that "the mullahs with nukes scenario that so horrifies the U.S. cuts little ice in India."

The African Angola war in the Congo area is another case in point. Never mind how many papers may have been signed, the fighting has never really ceased. The latest news is that government forces have captured a rebel center in the south. The Telegraph also alleged that the "Angolan leader keeps [the] country at war for profit." The Independent added that "escalation of the Angolan war could undermine Congo peace negotiations and lead to instability across the region."

Such are the ups and downs of the peace process. Kosovo in Southeastern Europe is very much back in the news. Realistically, the "peace" that NATO made possible has been punctuated by local massacres and ethnic cleansings. The positive Economist article quoted above stated, "Even optimists admit that full-scale blood-letting will resume unless outside troops keep the combatants apart, certainly for years, maybe for decades."

Bringing the Kosovo scene up-to-date, violence has recently erupted again as 70,000 Albanian protesters tried to storm the bridge which separates the Serbian and Albanian communities in the city of Mitrovica. Geographically, only the Ibar River keeps them apart.

Unfinished conflicts

The Observer dubbed this conflict "the unfinished war." So many of our modern wars seem never to fully end. Correspondent Tim Judah stated that "a year ago the world's eyes were focused on the slaughter of Kosovo. Now the TV crews have gone, but the agony remains." Mr. Judah "toured the torn cities and uneasy borders where all sides are braced for a return to guerrilla fighting." It's a very uneasy peace at best.

In Northern Ireland the peace process has at least been temporarily halted by a dispute over the long-hoped-for decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons. Said a Daily Mail editorial, "Why should anyone be surprised that the IRA has refused to hand over so much as a single bullet in the cause of peace?" Currently, there is a frantic scramble among politicians to preserve the Good Friday Agreement.

The peace process in the Middle East has also at least temporarily been interrupted by Hezbollah attacks against Israeli soldiers in Southern Lebanon, jeopardizing a potential peace deal between Israel and Syria.

This article is far from a comprehensive study of all the world's trouble spots. For example, we have not assessed the events in Chechnya and East Timor-or the potential perils of Taiwan. China has again threatened military action in its continuing quest to bring Taiwan under its rule. Undoubtedly, more hot spots will flare up between the time this is written and the time it is published.

Where do we go from here?

Certainly, the peace process as conceived by human beings has many tortuous twists and turns. Things seem to be better and then they get worse, and vice versa. The entire process can turn out to be incredibly deceptive. The Bible predicts a future time when, just as the peace process looks its most promising, war (big time) will suddenly break out.

Near the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul wrote these sobering words, "the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night [at an unsuspected time]. For when they shall say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman" (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3).

Jesus Christ said the end time would be like the days of Noah. But how so? People will be going about the normal everyday business of living-buying and selling, building and planting, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage-that is, until the penny finally drops and the world explodes in a multitude of troubles (Matthew 24: 37-39). It will be like it was in the Noachian age, when the Flood destroyed nearly all human life. There were no survivors outside the ark. Thankfully, at the end time, there will also be some survivors due to the Work of God through His elect (Matthew 24:21-22).

The destruction that came on the pre-Flood world was sudden. Appearances just beforehand were deceiving, the people having paid no attention to Noah's warnings (2 Peter 2:5). They simply didn't comprehend what was about to happen. In the vernacular, they didn't have a clue.

Jesus told us that the inhabitants of Sodom were similarly unaware of impending disaster just before the heavens rained down fire and brimstone as a judgment against their ungodly lifestyle. True, they were warned. But they simply didn't see or hear it, having ignored God's messenger, Lot (verses 6-8).

Beware a counterfeit peace

A coming time of counterfeit world peace will seem so very real just before a great time of trouble begins in deadly earnest. Jeremiah foresaw and was inspired to write of it. "They [the false prophets] have also healed the hurt of My people slightly [superficially], saying, 'Peace, peace!' when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14). The world will be told that there is nothing really to worry about, and that all will be well.

All will be well, but only after the second coming of Christ, who will establish and administer the Kingdom of God-the only hope of lasting peace. However, in this age of man ("this present evil age," Galatians 1:4), Christ warned us not to judge according to appearance. We have to look deeper with the spiritual insight given to those who are truly converted. We have to see beyond the superficial and often deceptive surface of current events.

Many people today do not really understand the principle of cause and effect. In the vernacular of some 30 years ago, they are "now people." They take little notice of history and give little thought to the future. Solomon said, "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11). It's potentially easy to be fooled into thinking that the day of reckoning or payback time will never come.

That is one reason we publish World News and Prophecy. We earnestly desire to alert our readers to the perilous times just ahead, the consequence of the wholesale breaking of God's spiritual law-a wonderful law that would govern humankind for its benefit and make life really work.

With the apostle Paul, we are hopeful that our readers will be among those who do take heed, and we therefore repeat his encouraging words of yesteryear, fully applicable to us today:

"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day [time of great trouble] should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day…. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6). WNP