The Wonderful World Beyond Today... War and Peace

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The Wonderful World Beyond Today... War and Peace

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Human history is, at its core, the story of wars. We 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.

After two devastating world wars, the nations gathered in San Francisco, California, in 1945 to found an organization “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind” (Preamble to the United Nations Charter). But in spite of that lofty goal, between 1946 and 2002, there were 226 armed conflicts by one count (John D. Wright, Guide to the State of the World, 2005, p. 80).

Why is man drawn inevitably toward war? Why have our best efforts failed to bring peace?

Causes of war

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 Isaiah 14:12How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
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; Luke 10:18 Luke 10:18And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
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). “You became filled with violence within, and you sinned,” Ezekiel records about this rebellion (Ezekiel 28:16 Ezekiel 28:16By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the middle of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the middle of the stones of fire.
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). Satan is described as a murderer, a roaring lion seeking prey and a dragon making war in heaven and on earth (John 8:44 John 8:44You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
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; 1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
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; Revelation 12:7 Revelation 12:7And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
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, 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 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
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; Ephesians 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
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). 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 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.
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).

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 Jeremiah 6:14They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
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; 1 Thessalonians 5:3 1 Thessalonians 5:3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail on a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
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). 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 Romans 3:15-17 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known:
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).

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 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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). Under His rule the elusive way of peace will finally be taught.

Swords into plowshares

Outside the United Nations buildings today, 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 Isaiah 2:2-4 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And 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.
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; repeated in Micah 4:1-3 Micah 4:1-3 1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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).

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 (Wright, p. 87). Gone will be these wasteful arms races, and today's dangerous neighborhoods—like the Middle East, where 40 percent of arms exports go—will be peaceful at last.

The way of peace

Though Christ's rule will begin by halting wars using supernatural force, soon peace will spread through education in the way of peace. Christ's followers are taught to become peacemakers even in this present age (Matthew 5:9 Matthew 5:9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
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), and will teach others in the world to come.

Paul described some of the elements of this way of peace in his letter to the Romans: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord.

“On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:16-21 Romans 12:16-21 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord. 20 Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
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, New International Version).

Many other biblical passages detail the attitude and approach of the peacemaker (for example, see Romans 8:5-8 Romans 8:5-8 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
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; 14:17-19; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 4 Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; 6 Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
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; 14:33; Philippians 2:3-5 Philippians 2:3-5 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
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; 4:6-9; and James 3:17-18 James 3:17-18 17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
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).

The way of peace, coupled with the justice and mercy of God's government, will provide effective conflict resolution on the personal and national level. Ultimately, every conflict can have a win-win solution that will benefit all parties for eternity.

Rebuilding and renewal

After the most devastating war in human history, there will be an incredible amount of cleanup and rebuilding to do. But this time people will be able to rebuild knowing that it won't all be destroyed again in a few years by another war.

This time the rebuilding can be done in a sensible and sustainable way. Cities will be clean and safe. Villages and farmlands will be productive and beautiful. Picture these scenes from the words of the prophets:

“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 9:14 Amos 9:14And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
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).

“So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited” (Ezekiel 36:35 Ezekiel 36:35And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
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).

Even Jerusalem, perhaps the most fought over piece of real estate in history, will finally live up to the meaning of its name as a city of peace and safety:

“Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets” (Zechariah 8:4-5 Zechariah 8:4-5 4 Thus said the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
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).

A world without war will be incredibly better than today's world. But a world with true peace—resulting from following God's way of peace—will be fantastic almost beyond human imagination! WNP

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