War from Heaven Brings Peace to Earth
“Come, behold the works of Jehovah, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariots in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Jehovah of hosts is with us.”—Ps. 46:8-11, AS.
1. What difficulties are encountered when trying to climb earth’s highest mountain?
IN THE Himalayas there is a peak that towers skyward twenty-nine thousand feet. Its slopes are sheathed in snow and ice. Temperatures drop far below zero. Freezing winds shriek their way through the surrounding crags and passes. The air on this highest peak on earth is so thin that a man suddenly placed on its heights would be unconscious very quickly because of oxygen shortage. At such high altitudes muscles, nerves and mind itself begin sharply to deteriorate and a lassitude that is dangerous sets in. Nevertheless, for many years men have tried to scale the pinnacle of Mount Everest. Only after years of training and experience do mountaineers tackle its challenging slopes and brave its many dangers. Yawning crevices of dizzying depth open up at the feet of the climbers, and avalanches of snow and ice thunderously hurtle down from the heights above. Despite being bundled up in the warmest of clothes, the climbers are quickly robbed of their heat and energy by the raging winds, and frostbite is an ever-present menace. Burdened by packs and oxygen tanks on their backs for breathing, they chop their way step by step with ice axes and toil upward with an unspeakable weariness over treacherous footing where one slip would send them plummeting thousands of feet downward to their death. Many have tried to conquer its heights, many have died in the attempt. On May 29, 1953, two men triumphed and stood on its windswept crown. To do it they had the backing of an expeditionary force of more than four hundred and fifty men. Four hundred and fifty to get two to the top!
2. What proves the mountains we are to flee to are not literal?
2 Do you think you could do it? Christ Jesus warned us to flee to the mountains. These mountains symbolize a place of refuge which is associated with God’s mountain: “And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Isa. 2:2, 3, AS) Note that this mountain of Jehovah is on top of all other mountains, above all other hills. If it is literal, it means it is higher than Everest! If you cannot climb Everest, how could you hope to scale this still higher one? Yet the Bible shows men and women and children from all nations, a great crowd of them, making a successful climb to the mountain of Jehovah. Obviously, the mountain we ascend is not a literal one but is something symbolized by mountains.
3. Of what are mountains symbols, and what is the mountain we flee to?
3 Mountains are used as symbols of governments or world ruling powers that rise above the seas of humanity that support or bear them up. When Babylon was a world power laying waste many nations Jehovah spoke of it as a mountain: “Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith Jehovah, which destroyest all the earth; and I will stretch out my hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain.” In Revelation the seven world powers are referred to as seven kings and are pictured by the seven heads of the beast there described, and of these heads or world powers it states: “The seven heads mean seven mountains.” Even Christ’s kingdom and its realm are spoken of as a mountain. In the book of Daniel it says that Christ’s kingdom “shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” This is pictured by a stone smiting and toppling an image that represents Satan and his demons and the kingdoms of this old world, and it states: “The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” The symbolic mountain, the mountain we are to come to, is the Kingdom arrangement under Christ with the new system of things now being set up on earth. From this new royal government Jehovah’s law and word go forth, and to it persons of all nations are now coming to learn Jehovah’s ways and to walk in his paths.—Jer. 51:25, AS; Rev. 17:9, NW; Dan. 2:44, 35.
4. Why would flight to a literal mountain be useless?
4 Ascending a literal mountain higher than all others would be not only impossible for most of us but also ineffective in securing safety from Jehovah’s wrath: “Though they dig into Sheol, thence shall my hand take them; and though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down. And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and it shall bite them.” (Amos 9:2, 3, AS) But flight to Jehovah’s new system of things is now made possible for peoples of all nations, and since it is of Jehovah’s making it will be a place of safety, untouched by his wrath. And just as Isaiah’s prophecy spoke of the mountain of Jehovah as being above all other mountains, so this holy place of worship under Christ is superior to and above all earthly governments of this old world.
THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
5, 6. How do men of the world view Armageddon?
5 Why did Jesus advise “fleeing to the mountains”? To escape “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” That tribulation is a war, a war from heaven, and the field where it is waged is “called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” (Matt. 24:16, 21, NW; Rev. 16:16) Is the war at Armageddon a man-made war? Men fight modern wars in the skies, and from the immediate heavens their flying fortresses rain bombs on the earth—and what was a city becomes rubble, what were homes become ashes, what were peoples become mangled and scattered flesh. As modern warfare has become more and more horrible men have become more and more prone to refer to their wars or prospective ones as Armageddon. Especially is this so since the explosion of the hydrogen bomb.
6 In calling for a showdown with Russia on control of atomic weapons the New York Daily Mirror said editorially: “Or shall we wait and let the world drift to Armageddon?” A Los Angeles newspaper remarked concerning the next war: “It will be the most titanic in history. It will be Armageddon.” Tempo magazine referred to an approaching “nuclear Armageddon.” Addressing a joint session of Congress General MacArthur repeated a warning he had previously sounded: “Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door.” Senator Flanders declared: “In very truth the world seems to be mobilizing for the great battle of Armageddon.” Lastly, in the wake of the hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific a staff writer of the New York World-Telegram and Sun said: “In blunt words, American, free-world and Soviet leaders are frightened. The past eight or ten weeks have made them all aware that they are face to face with Armageddon. . . . Today fear is a blanket that hangs over both capitals, Washington and Moscow.”
7. What is Armageddon, and who fight it?
7 Actually, for men to call one of their wars Armageddon is robbery. It robs a word of its true meaning. It throws men off guard as to what Armageddon really is. It is not a war by men, and to envision it as the possible atomic holocaust of World War III is to be blind to the real meaning of Armageddon. It is a Bible term, and therein it is specifically defined as “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:14, NW) It is Jehovah’s war fought by heavenly forces under Christ and it will uproot all wickedness from earth and plant instead permanent peace: “And I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. Also the armies that were in heaven were following him on white horses, and they were clothed in white, clean, fine linen. And out of his mouth there protrudes a sharp long sword, that he may smite the nations with it, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. He treads, too, the press of the wine of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”—Rev. 19:11, 14, 15; 20:2, NW.
8, 9. How do Zephaniah and Isaiah and Jeremiah describe Armageddon?
8 Jehovah’s fury descends upon men and nations and their armies because they have sinned against him, and no bribes can avert Armageddon: “The great day of Jehovah is near, it is near and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of Jehovah; the mighty man crieth there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm, against the fortified cities, and against the high battlements. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against Jehovah; and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he will make an end, yea, a terrible end, of all them that dwell in the land. Therefore wait ye for me, saith Jehovah, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” “For the wrath of Jehovah is against all the nations, and [his] fury against all their armies: he hath devoted them to destruction, he hath delivered them to the slaughter.”—Zeph. 1:14-18; 3:8, AS; Isa. 34:2, Da.
9 Jehovah’s power unleashed at Armageddon will be earth-shaking, the widespread slaughter left in its wake will be appalling: “Behold, Jehovah maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. The earth also is polluted under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are found guilty: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left. The earth is utterly broken, the earth is rent asunder, the earth is shaken violently. The earth shall stagger like a drunken man, and shall sway to and fro like a hammock; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall, and not rise again.” “And the slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the face of the ground.”—Isa. 24:1, 5, 6, 19, 20; Jer. 25:33, AS.
10. How does Armageddon’s destruction differ from men’s wars, yet how do men pervert matters?
10 When worldly men hear of this slaughter to come from Jehovah’s hand they set up a howl and protest that it is fiendish for God to do that. They think it is all right for them to dig the metals from the earth and forge them into tanks and guns, ships and planes, rockets and bombs, and to hurl these instruments of destruction at other men, bathing the planet with the blood of the innocent and the guilty alike, the good and the bad indiscriminately. They do not own the earth, or the peoples on it, or even themselves; yet they feel justified to pollute the land and slaughter the people. But Jehovah, to whom the earth and its fullness belong, the Owner of every living, breathing thing on or above or beneath its surface, must not take life, they say. Their wars sweep multitudes into the grave, without distinction as to guilt or innocence. Jehovah’s war will be selective, killing only the wicked, none of the lovers of righteousness that seek him. Yet they say their brutal and wanton wars are good, but Jehovah’s just one is bad. Their perversion of matters earns woe for them: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20) Men can spray a field with chemicals that kill weeds but spare crops; too bad they cannot spray cities with bombs that blow the bad to bits but leave the innocent intact.
11. How is Armageddon in harmony with Jehovah’s attributes?
11 The battle of Armageddon is righteous and in harmony with Jehovah’s attributes of justice, power, wisdom and love. It is just because it is selective in its destruction. It kills those deserving to die. It does not slaughter those of good will seeking to serve Jehovah. This battle displays Jehovah’s power, and it will be exerted to the extent necessary to accomplish the destruction determined. It is wholly adequate. There is no other power great enough to counter it. Armageddon is an evidence of Jehovah’s wisdom, for only by sweeping the troublemakers and peace-disturbers from the earth can permanent peace be established. And it shows love for those who want to serve God and Christ and to dwell peacefully with their fellow man. How can they enjoy peace when wicked men and nations continually foment and fight wars?
PREPARING FOR ARMAGEDDON
12. What two classes are warned, and how do they respond?
12 Also it is out of Jehovah’s love that he causes a warning of Armageddon’s approach to be sounded. It gives those who want to live time to make peace with him, and it allows those who want to fight him time to prepare. He advises those wanting peace: “Seek ye Jehovah, all ye meek of the earth, that have kept his ordinances; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye will be hid in the day of Jehovah’s anger.” He invites those itching for a fight: “Prepare war; stir up the mighty men; let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.” (Zeph. 2:3; Joel 3:9, 10, AS) The nations respond to the invitation to prepare for war instead of to the advice to seek meekness. In 1952 at the Eucharistic Congress in Spain Cardinal Spellman said: “Security and stability are nowhere on the horizon. We see immense armies massing. We see the furnaces and the forges of the world turning plowshares into guns and swords. We see scientists in laboratories inventing annihilating engines of war. Propaganda is stoking up insane hates to inflame the hearts and drive the mind of man with a frenzy to kill and destroy. Perhaps we see the world hurrying to Armageddon from which no nation may hope to survive.”—New York Times, May 29, 1952.
13. How are Jehovah’s words, “Let the weak say, I am strong,” appropriate?
13 Note Jehovah’s words, “Let the weak say, I am strong.” Weak men of earth are awed and frightened by their own power. They tremble at the staggering power of their A-bombs and H-bombs, and the cobalt bomb now possible to make it too deadly even to test. Men live in fear and dread of the unleashing of their own military strength in atomic warfare. And yet, after data on the hydrogen bomb tests were released, a United Press dispatch of April 7, 1954, stated: “Some scientists say that while the hydrogen bomb is powerful nature is still the champ. One weather expert says earthquakes and hurricanes have more power than the most powerful H-bomb that could be devised. He says one moderate earthquake is more powerful than one million atomic bombs. He says H-bombs lack the power to set off earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. Another weather bureau scientist says he doubts the H-bomb’s ability to start or stop hurricanes. He says an H-bomb equal to the explosion of twenty million tons of TNT only gives off enough energy to keep a hurricane going for twenty-five seconds, and hurricanes last for days or weeks.” The Scientific American of June, 1954, calculated: “A mature hurricane spends kinetic energy at the rate of five hundred trillion horsepower, the equivalent of several thousand atomic bombs per second.” Jehovah is the Creator of the elements, can control them, and can use them to fulfill his word relative to Armageddon: “Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling his word.” With all their bombs, how weak these men that think themselves so strong!—Ps. 148:8.
14. How will Jehovah reply when worldly men cry to him for help at Armageddon?
14 Nevertheless, by their own freedom of choice the men and nations of this old world choose to trust in their own strength, to rely on military might, to seek security behind growing stockpiles of atomic weapons. Modern men, even those who give lip service to God and his Word, brush the Bible aside as impractical and put reliance in money and armaments. In effect, they make such materialistic things their gods, looking to them for security and protection. Having turned their backs on Jehovah and chosen instead materialistic gods their faithless eyes can see, they will cry in vain to the Almighty when his war blazes against them: “As for you, you abandoned me and took up serving other gods. That is why I shall not save you again. Go and call for aid to the gods whom you have chosen. Let them be the ones to save you in the time of your distress.” Again Jehovah says of such selfish ones: “They have turned to me their back, and not their face; yet in their time of trouble they say, ‘Arise, and save us!’ But where are your gods whom you made for yourself? Let them arise, and save you—if they can!—in your time of trouble.” Rather than trust in the gods men have made, we should trust in the God that made men.—Judg. 10:13, 14, NW; Jer. 2:27, 28, AT.
15. What is better than “dying with your boots on”?
15 Men have a saying about “dying with your boots on.” At Armageddon Jehovah God will grant their wish and let them “die with their boots on.” He will allow them to build up to peak strength and go down fighting. Let worldly men die with their military boots on if that is their wish. But we who serve Jehovah do not want to be in their shoes. There are other shoes that we wish to wear, and that is the footgear mentioned at Ephesians 6:14, 15 (NW): “Having . . . your feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace.” Our preparation for Armageddon is to put on now this theocratic footgear by learning of the good news of Christ’s established kingdom and walking forth to preach it from door to door, in the homes, on the streets, at public assemblies—anywhere and everywhere that appropriate opportunity arises. Thus we seek meekness and righteousness, obey Jehovah’s commands, and put ourselves in position to receive his favor and protection at Armageddon. And not only ourselves, but many others also. So let this old world die with its military boots on if it wishes, but let us live with our theocratic boots on, preaching the good news of peace and singing the praises of Jehovah God!
16. Does Jehovah need to prepare for Armageddon, and why your answer?
16 And what about Jehovah God? Does he prepare for Armageddon? Well, would you prepare to kill a fly? Would you prepare to squash a bug? Would you do calisthenics every morning for weeks to get in condition to swat a fly? Would you train with barbells for months to make your muscles bulge and give you strength to step on a bug? Would that be necessary? Could you not cope with the fly or the bug without special training? Would not such a course of preparation be useless and a waste of time, as far as dealing with an insect is concerned? For the same reason it is wholly unnecessary for Jehovah to prepare for Armageddon. Men are as grasshoppers in his sight. He created the universe, and the earth is a mere speck in its vastness, and men must appear microscopic in the universal view. Jehovah does not need to specially train angels in warfare or engage in an armaments race with puny nations of earth. He can fight and win Armageddon without an instant’s notice.—Isa. 40:15, 22.
17. Despite the warning, why does Armageddon overtake men like a thief?
17 His only preparatory work for Armageddon is to have a warning given for the benefit of men. Those of good will toward God can flee to the mountains, the new system of things under Christ, and those preferring this old failing system under Satan can prepare for a losing battle. Armageddon comes as no sneak attack, yet it comes upon worldly men as a thief in the night: “Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night.” (1 Thess 5:2, NW) How can that be? The warning is being given. It is being preached earth-wide by word of mouth and distributed in hundreds of millions of books and booklets and magazines published in more than a hundred languages. Why should such a widely publicized battle come upon this world like a thief? Because the men of this world have eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, minds that do not discern. (Matt. 13:14, 15) Their eyes are shut, their ears are shut, their minds are closed, but their mouths are always open, open to scoff and ridicule the warning message Jehovah is now having his witnesses declare. This is itself a foretold evidence that we are in the last days of this old world: “In the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’” Then it goes on to say that the facts escape their notice “according to their wish.” They only have eyes for their own schemes, ears for their own plans, minds for their own theories. According to their own wish they remain blind and deaf and undiscerning relative to the preaching of the good news and the warning of Armageddon.—2 Pet. 3:3-5, NW.
18. Who are not in darkness, and what do they behold after Armageddon?
18 But to those faithful ones who view the unfolding events of this generation through the prophetic light of Jehovah’s Word these words are spoken: “But you, brothers, you are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves, for you are all sons of light and sons of day.” To such spiritually awake ones Jesus said: “However, happy are your eyes because they behold, and your ears because they hear.” (1 Thess. 5:4, 5; Matt. 13:16, NW) By now seeing and hearing and discerning Jehovah’s purposes concerning Armageddon and heeding his warning and fleeing to the mountains in obedience to his command, such persons will survive the war from heaven to enjoy the peace it brings to earth. They will retain these senses and perceptive powers through the destructive cataclysm of Armageddon to use them in response to the invitation given to the survivors: “Come, behold the works of Jehovah, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariots in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Jehovah of hosts is with us.”—Ps. 46:8-11, AS.