Peace on Earth—Only a Dream?
AFTER surviving the horrors of World War II, people everywhere yearned for peace. “We have had our last chance,” General Douglas MacArthur declared. “If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system Armageddon will be at our door.”
That same year the Charter for the United Nations was signed. “We the peoples of the United Nations,” the preamble of the Charter affirms, are “determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war . . . and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.”
The United Nations was thereafter hailed by political and religious leaders alike. In 1961 United States President John F. Kennedy called it “our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace.” (Italics ours.) And in 1965 Pope Paul VI said: “The peoples of the earth turn to the United Nations as the last hope of concord and peace.”
Yet, there has been no peace! Rather, tens of millions have since died in conflicts around the world, and disillusionment in the UN has grown. Despite the UN’s recent declaration of 1986 as an International Year of Peace, people everywhere doubt that true peace can ever be realized.
But what of the angelic pronouncement at Christ’s birth about ‘peace on earth’? (Luke 2:14) “The kind of peace about which the angels sang,” wrote religion editor Tom Harpur, “was not a merely personal, ‘safe-in-the-arms-of-Jesus’ sort of inner calm. . . . It means the peace which comes when justice prevails, fear is put to rout, and war is no longer even thinkable.”
From a human standpoint, such true peace may not seem possible. Yet, regarding the One at whose birth the angels sang, the Bible promises: “In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more. And he will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”—Psalm 72:7, 8.
Yes, what is foretold here is an earth-wide rule by God’s Son, Jesus Christ. It is promised to occur in fulfillment of the angel’s assurance to Mary regarding her child Jesus, “And he will rule as king . . . and there will be no end of his kingdom”!—Luke 1:32, 33.
‘But how can this be,’ you may ask, ‘when Christians do not hesitate to go to war and kill one another? What basis do we have for believing that such true peace is really possible?’
“Christians” Who Are Not Christians
First, it is vital to clarify what Christianity is and what it is not. Jesus himself said that a person is not a Christian simply because he says he is. In fact, he warned: “Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s covering.” Jesus also said: “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not . . . perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.”—Matthew 7:15, 21-23.
Jesus provided this rule: “By their fruits you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:16) This is really such a simple rule, or truth. Steve Whysall, staff writer for The Vancouver Sun, pointed this out, explaining: “Often you will hear people talk about how this or that was done in the name of Christianity and what an awful thing it was to do. Well, yes, it was awful. . . . But who ever said they were Christians who did those awful things?
“Oh, you say, the established churches say so. Well, who ever said the established churches are Christian?
“So the pope blessed Mussolini, and there is evidence of other popes who have done dastardly deeds in the past. So who said they were Christians?
“You think because a man is the pope he must be a Christian? Just because a person says ‘I am a Christian’ does not mean he is one—just as a man who claims to be a mechanic may not be a mechanic. . . .
“It’s amazing how many people think the fighting in Northern Ireland is some kind of holy war. That’s a lie.
“No Christian can war against another Christian—it would be like a man fighting himself. True Christians are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. . . . They would never, never intentionally hurt one another.”
The Bible puts the matter very plainly, saying: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother.”—1 John 3:10-12.
Clearly, the churches provide no basis for believing that they can bring earth-wide peace. What does their record show? It shows that their members were the principal combatants in the world’s two greatest wars; they slaughtered not only one another but innocent women and children as well.
Well, then, is there any basis for hope that lasting peace can be realized?
Making War Impossible
Jesus explained how his true followers could be recognized. They would be “peaceable,” he said. (Matthew 5:9) He also gave this means of identification: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” In addition, Jesus said of his disciples: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”—John 13:35; 17:16.
In view of these teachings, do you believe that Christ’s early followers participated in the wars of the nations? Discussing this matter, Professor Reo M. Christenson wrote in The Christian Century: “The earliest Christians did not serve in the armed forces. Roland Bainton notes that ‘from the end of the New Testament period to the decade A.D. 170-180 there is no evidence whatever of Christians in the army’ . . . Only gradually did Christians abandon their opposition to military service.”
Thus, there was no such thing as a Christian going to war against a fellow Christian. No matter what a worldly ruler ordered, Christ’s followers would not become children of the Devil by slaughtering their spiritual brothers. They obeyed God as ruler rather than men! (Acts 5:29) So if the whole earth was inhabited only by true Christians, war would be impossible!
Happily, the Bible foretells that such a situation will actually occur. It says: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4, King James Version) These words have been inscribed on a stone wall just across the street from the United Nations’ main building in New York City, but it is obvious that UN members have not fulfilled them. Yet, early Christians did!
The prominent church historian C. J. Cadoux explained: “The early Christians took Jesus at his word . . . They closely identified their religion with peace; they strongly condemned war for the bloodshed which it involved; they appropriated to themselves the Old Testament prophecy which foretold the transformation of the weapons of war into the implements of agriculture.”—Isaiah 2:4.
So peace on earth is not an unattainable dream. Since adherence to Christ’s teachings made war impossible among his early followers, basis was provided for believing that peace earth wide would eventually be achieved. Is there a similar basis today for believing that peace on earth is possible?
Basis for Hope Today
Well, the Encyclopedia Canadiana observes: “The work of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the revival and re-establishment of the primitive Christianity practised by Jesus and his disciples during the first and second centuries of our era. . . . All are brothers.”
Yes, they did. The book The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-45, by J. S. Conway, explains: “Basing their case on biblical commandment, [Jehovah’s Witnesses] refused to take up arms.” Contrasting their adherence to Christ’s instructions with the actions of others, the Roman Catholic St. Anthony Messenger observed: “Jehovah’s Witnesses stand outside the ‘establishment’ and accept no responsibility to bless whatever the secular government decides to do. Thousands of good people find such aloofness from political and economic interests closer to the spirit of the New Testament than the present sometimes cozy arrangements between Church and state.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere place their hope for peace, not in the United Nations or in any other human peace effort, but in the reign of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. What if everyone did that? Yes, imagine what would happen if everyone heeded Christ’s teachings to “love one another” and to remain “peaceable”!
True Peace on Earth—Soon!
‘Peace on earth’ are words often heard at Christmas, accompanied by the visual image of a babe in a manger. But is this a true picture of Christ’s position? Not at all! Christ is now more than a baby prince—he has been given rulership and authority in fulfillment of the ancient Bible prophecy: “The princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called . . . Prince of Peace.”—Isaiah 9:6.
As God’s appointed Ruler of all the earth, Christ will bring peace to earth. But this will not occur in the way that many may expect. Please open your Bible to Revelation chapter 19 and read Re 19 verses 11 to 16. It is vital that we get the picture of Christ’s position here described—as a mighty ruler at the head of God’s angelic forces. Notice that the scripture says that Christ, who is “The Word of God,” will ‘strike the nations and shepherd them with a rod of iron,’ removing them to make way for God’s government of peace.
This, then, is how peace on earth will be realized. It will not come by means of the United Nations or any other human peace agency. But it will be realized by means of God’s Kingdom government. We are now living at the time when this Bible prophecy will be fulfilled: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself . . . will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44.
In view of the foretold divine destruction of all these present governments, as well as the religions that support them, it is vital that we examine our own situation. If you agree that war does not make sense and that you would like to live on earth when peace is universal, contact Jehovah’s Witnesses. They will be pleased to help you to learn more about how peace on earth will soon be realized under the rule of God’s Kingdom.
Come, you people, behold the activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth. He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the wagons he burns in the fire.—Psalm 46:8, 9.
[Blurb on page 8]
“We should have love for one another; not like Cain, who . . . slaughtered his brother”
[Box on page 9]
From a Killer to a Man of Peace
A traveling overseer of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the southern United States was making house-to-house visitations along with an older German Witness. At one door a woman who identified herself as a member of one of Christendom’s churches said she wanted nothing to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses because they did not fight for their country. She had lost a son during World War II and felt that the Witnesses should also have helped in the war effort.
As they were leaving, the older German Witness asked if he could tell the woman something. ‘You know, I fought in that war,’ he said. ‘But I didn’t fight on the side of the United States. I fought on the side of Germany. And I was personally decorated by Adolf Hitler for single-handedly killing 35 American soldiers. Many of these were with my own hands, in hand-to-hand combat. Perhaps one of those men was your son. I don’t know. But you should have prayed for me to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses back then because when I did that I was a member of your religion.’
That gave the woman an entirely different perspective. Really, how can persons be true Christians and kill fellow believers simply because they are of a different race or nationality?
[Picture on page 10]
Who is fulfilling the Bible prophecy inscribed on this wall of the United Nation’s plaza?