When Men Say “Peace and Security,” Then Sudden Destruction!
THE major reason the coming world peace set up by human leaders will be only momentary is because Bible prophecy foretells this. How so?
Writing to Christians nineteen centuries ago, the apostle Paul said these words:
“Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace’ and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.”—1 Thess. 5:1-3.
But why apply this Bible prophecy to present-day peace efforts and pronouncements? Is not peace a good thing and does not the Bible say, “Blessed are the peace-makers”? Do not even the religious leaders of Christendom applaud the efforts now under way? Why, then, would the Bible foretell failure for such a major peace effort as appears to be in the making?
Why “Sudden Destruction” in Our Day?
For one thing, we live in a time clearly marked by the fulfillment of yet other Bible prophecies that point to the arrival of “Jehovah’s day” and his divine execution of judgment upon the nations. Because they have been fulfilled, we have basis for conviction that the apostle’s prophecy of “sudden destruction” hard on the heels of a “peace and security” pronouncement will also be fulfilled in our day.
As far back as 1879, the publishers of this magazine pointed to the year 1914 as a marked year in Bible prophecy, as the starting point for what the Bible calls “the time of the end.”a
From 1914 forward our generation has witnessed the “sign” that Christ Jesus said would identify that period and would preface the foretold ‘day of Jehovah.’ The sign he gave had multiple features. Those seeing it could be sure of two things:
First, that this sign would be the prelude to a “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” And secondly, that those seeing the sign could positively “know that the kingdom of God is near,” so near that the observing generation would “by no means pass away until all things occur.”—Matt. 24:21; Luke 21:31, 32.
What was this multifeatured sign? Do we now see it? And have people in fact been seeing it from 1914 on? Compare its features, found at Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and Revelation 6, with events and conditions of our generation as set out below:
Military analyst H. W. Baldwin in the book World War I states: “World War I [1914-1918] ushered in the century of Total War, of—in the first full sense of the term—global war. . . .”
President Nixon recently pointed out that just since the end of World War II one hundred or more wars have been fought.
In the same period, from 1914 on, despite agricultural advances, food costs have soared upward. Famine spreads throughout the earth, at times dramatically, more often through slow, less conspicuous—but nonetheless killing—malnutrition.
A New York Times report shows that just in the past decade malnutrition-caused illnesses were striking down 10,000 persons in some part of the world every day—over 3,500,000 every year. People in industrialized lands may balk at believing it but it is still true: one out of every three persons on earth today is either slowly starving or suffers from malnutrition.
Even without considering the “Spanish influenza” epidemic of 1918-1919, which killed 21,000,000 persons in a matter of months, we cannot deny that our generation has been plagued with cancer, heart disease, mental ailments, venereal disease, drug addiction and pollution poisoning in genuinely epidemic proportions.
Earthquakes in one place after another (Matt. 24:7)
Virtually every year brings one or more major quakes in some part of the earth. Entire towns have been wiped out in Peru, Iraq and other lands in just the past few years. Since 1914 over seven hundred thousand persons have lost their lives in earthquakes.
Increasing of lawlessness (Matt. 24:12)
We live in what many call an “Age of Violence.” Life was never more insecure, particularly in large cities around the world. Now crime is also increasing rapidly in suburbs and rural areas. Sex crimes increase and sexual immorality seems to know no limits; it reaches farther and farther into the lower age groups, through the teens on into the pre-teen age group.
Good news of the Kingdom preached in all the earth (Matt. 24:14)
During this same period from 1914 till today, the greatest publicity campaign in history has been carried on earth wide in announcing God’s kingdom has begun active rule from the heavens and will shortly take control of all the earth. As the book These Also Believe, by Charles Braden, says: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing.”
Hundreds of millions of homes in over 200 lands have been visited not once or twice but dozens of times by these Kingdom proclaimers. The result? Not world conversion, for that is not what the Bible foretold. Instead, Jesus’ prophecy says: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
Destruction of What?
As the rest of the Bible shows, the “end” refers not to the end of planet Earth nor of all the inhabitants on it. It refers to the destruction of a world system of things that has been unrighteous from its start.
Refusing to be guided by God’s law and to settle their differences by it in peace, for thousands of years men have made this earth a battlefield in which, not justice, but ‘might makes right.’ They struggle to gain or retain commercial advantage, political influence and power, or expansion of territorial rights. They give vent to religious prejudice, nationalistic pride or racial hatred. And to accomplish these selfish aims they have not held back from ruthless killing, almost invariably accompanied by looting, raping and other acts of cruelty. Can we believe that the Almighty God will never require an accounting for all this? Could he merit our trust and worship as a God of righteousness if he did not?
The ‘day of Jehovah’ of which the apostle wrote is God’s time for just such an accounting. But there will be survivors. And for all those who have repudiated the godless way of the nations and who love righteousness and want to escape the “sudden destruction” coming, these encouraging words spoken to ancient Israel will apply:
“Go, my people, enter into your interior rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for but a moment until the denunciation passes over. For, look! Jehovah is coming forth from his place to call to account the error of the inhabitant of the land against him, and the land will certainly expose her bloodshed and will no longer cover over her killed ones.”—Isa. 26:20, 21.
Why God Rejects World’s Peace Moves
In his Word, Jehovah God is called “the God who gives peace.” (Rom. 15:33) But he does not favor ‘peace at any price.’ With him there can be no peace unless it is peace with righteousness. Nor will he bless any peace arrangement that leaves him and his purposes out of the picture.
That is exactly what the coming peace arrangement of the nations is doing. They want peace, but only so as to be able to keep on in the same way of life they have chosen over the centuries. They are concerned with material prosperity, but not spiritual prosperity. The words of James, the disciple and half brother of Jesus Christ, well describes them, including the nations of Christendom. He writes:
“From what source are there wars and from what source are there fights among you? Are they not from this source, namely, from your cravings for sensual pleasure that carry on a conflict in your members? You desire, and yet you do not have. You go on murdering and coveting, and yet you are not able to obtain. You go on fighting and waging war. You do not have because of your not asking. You do ask, and yet you do not receive, because you are asking for a wrong purpose, that you may expend it upon your cravings for sensual pleasure.”—Jas. 4:1-3.
Would, then, the nations use a time of “peace and security” to turn from wrong ways and seek righteousness? Would they use that time to learn more about their Creator and to devote themselves to the carrying out of his will and purposes?
What you read each day in the newspapers, what you hear on the radio, or see by television, and especially your own daily experiences and contacts—all this should tell you that such sincere motive is lacking. Love of God and love of neighbor are obviously not uppermost in the minds and hearts of the vast majority today. For that very reason mankind finds itself in its present deplorable situation and faced with deadly crises.
Why Religion’s Blessing Does Not Guarantee Success
It would be a grave mistake to think that the approval, support and participation of the world’s religions in today’s peace movement in any way guarantees God’s blessing on it. All to the contrary, it points to its doom.
In reality the world’s religions have followed a course exactly opposite to that set forth by God’s own Son. Christ Jesus said that ‘his kingdom was no part of the world’ and that his true followers would be no part of the world. (John 18:36; 17:14) But for centuries the world’s religions have prostituted themselves to the political powers to gain influence with them.
This has been especially true of the religions of Christendom. They cannot escape identification with the symbolic harlot called “Babylon the Great” described in chapter seventeen of Revelation as having intimate relations with the kings of the earth. Babylon the Great, as a symbolic city that “has a kingdom over the kings of the earth,” accurately fits the combined ‘spiritual’ empire that the religions of this world have for centuries held over earthly governments.
This Bible book of Revelation shows that Babylon the Great directs the nations, not to God, but against him so that they battle against “the Lamb,” Christ Jesus. They do this by rejecting his Kingdom rule and rejecting, even persecuting, those who announce and advocate it.—Rev. 17:1, 2, 14, 18.
Though the religious leaders of Christendom may applaud the world’s present peace movement and offer up prayers for its success, we know how God will view this. At Isaiah 1:15 we read:
“And when you spread out your palms, I hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I am not listening; with bloodshed your very hands have become filled.”
Yes, Christendom’s religious systems themselves have bloodstained hands. From the ravaging Crusades of the early centuries, through the “Religious Wars” and Inquisition of the Middle Ages, on down to the global wars of our generation, Christendom’s churches have supported the political states in their warfare, even urged them on, assuring them of God’s blessing. Their ever deeper involvement in politics now proves they have had no genuine change of heart. Their prayers, therefore, can gain no receptive audience with God.
a For a detailed explanation of the prophetic evidence, please see the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, pp. 174 to 181.
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