Happy Are the Peaceable
“Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God’.”—Matt. 5:9, NW.
1. How are we assured of peace?
“JEHOVAH will bless his people with peace,” declared the psalmist. “The meek shall inherit the land, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (Pss. 29:11; 37:11, AS) Speaking to his disciples in the sermon on the mount, Jesus referred to these promises and the desire of sincere men for peaceful conditions. He told of a group of faithful men and women who would promote peace on the earth during troublous times by saying: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt. 5:9, Dy) These peacemakers put their faith, not in the armistices and uneasy truces of men, but in the everlasting peace that God has promised to establish in our time through his kingdom of righteousness. They realize that no nation or combine of nations today can assure permanent peace. Instead, just as in the days of Jeremiah, men keep crying out, “Peace, peace!” when there is no peace.—Jer. 6:14.
2. What are some causes of war?
2 For centuries sincere men have worked for peace, but their best endeavors have ended in failure. There have been many causes of war: territorial expansion, nationalism, the desire of the nations for natural resources, political intrigue—even religion. As science progresses, so does the terror of war. Never has a generation so feared the threat of war as the present one. Students of history tell us that there always have been wars and there always will be wars. In fact, no less an authority than The Encyclopedia Britannica says: “Conflict, with death for its ultimate sanction, is a universal law of life.” While this may be true of the present world system, it is not so of God’s new world, which has Jehovah’s word as its law of life. Even in this system the majority of men do not desire war, for they know the benefits of peace. Imagine the conditions that would exist on earth if the nations were no longer to pour their wealth into armaments and if peaceful conditions were to prevail worldwide! No longer would the blood of the nations run red in battle, leaving ruined lands, charred homes and scattered families. But is such a time possible? Or is man forever doomed to ride a roller coaster between war and peace, climbing the heights of peace, only to plunge down again into bloody conflict?
3. How did the Bible foretell present world conditions?
3 For our answer we must look to God’s Word of truth, the Bible. There we see that the very conditions existing in the earth today were long ago foretold in prophecy. Neither men nor nations have the solution to the problem. As the Bible tells us: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12, AS) The fact that God long ago foreknew the troubles that are now plaguing the nations is clearly shown in the sixth chapter of Revelation, where the prophecy speaks of a fiery-colored horse that would ride roughshod over the nations, and the statement is made that to its rider “there was granted to take peace away from the earth.” Re (6:4, NW) Then follows famine, plague and death, in the pattern that has become familiar to us in this generation. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told that men would gradually rise to perfection through their own efforts. Instead, Jesus foresaw that conditions would get worse as we approached the climax of this present system of things. He referred to total war, with nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom. (Matt. 24:7) Although scoffers of our time mock at the possibility that the world wars we have seen could have any special significance, the fact remains that such total war was never possible before our time. Only now have developments in the fields of communication, transportation and warfare made world war possible, as Jesus foretold.
4. In what way will peace finally come?
4 However, Jesus showed that, instead of being discouraged because of the uncertainty of world affairs, true Christians should lift up their heads and rejoice, because these conditions mark a time of change. The hope held out by Christ as the Prince of Peace is not the illusory dream of peace the nations see, but the assured Word of Jehovah God: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, . . . The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.” “He . . . will break in pieces the oppressor. In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace, till the moon be no more.” (Isa. 9:7; Ps. 72:4, 7, AS) Past history proves that this will never be accomplished while the world remains divided in the present political and religious factions. However, God assures us that the change will be made, not by human maneuvering, but by divine intervention. Isaiah 32:1, 17, states: “A king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” In connection with these prophecies there is no indication that they will be fulfilled as a result of man’s efforts. In fact, the greatest attempt by the nations to promote world peace through the United Nations has failed to unify the peoples of the earth, and the armaments race continues as the nations stockpile deadly bombs, following the “way which seemeth right unto a man.”—Prov. 14:12.
5. Why cannot world conditions be attributed to Jehovah?
5 Lasting peace can come only by God’s power. The mighty Creator of the universe has all his creation operating in perfect harmony and order, according to his will. He has set a time limit for the chaotic conditions that prevail on earth and has assured us of peace through his kingdom of righteousness. At James 4:1 (NW) we read: “From what source are there wars and from what source are there fights among you?” Certainly they are not from Jehovah, the God of Peace; nor are they brought about by Christ Jesus, the great Prince of Peace. A basic cause of war is greed, and James also speaks of selfish sensual desires and wrong purposes. God has no love for such things; so for men of faith to cultivate friendship with this world system means enmity with God. God’s way to bring peace to mankind is not by trying to patch up or make over the present system of things.
6. How can God’s remedy for the world’s troubles be applied?
6 Jesus showed the enduring basis for unity among men of faith in citing the two great commandments. This is the real remedy for the world’s ills, that we love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. If men were to adopt this remedy today it would mean the immediate cessation of hostilities and the lasting end of war. This remedy is even now being applied by God for men of faith.—Mic. 4:1-3.
7, 8. (a) Does God take sides in wars between nations? (b) What position do the clergy take on war?
7 We cannot say, then, that war is from God, that he is the fomenter and instigator of wars among the nations. Looking back into history we might ask, If God supports those claiming to fight for him, why, from the “Christian” viewpoint, were the Crusades such a failure? Or what can we say of the Thirty Years’ War? This was described as a “theological conflict . . . the most horrible single military episode in Western history.” Did the outcome of that war prove that God was with the Protestants and that the Catholics were wrong? Sincere Catholics would not accept such a contention. When two nations not professing Christianity engage in war, on whose side is God then? In view of such questions it is surprising that some clerics teach that war serves God’s purposes.
8 In a sermon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Monsignor Green stated that the ‘war in Korea was a part of God’s plan for populating the kingdom of heaven.’ Christians cannot hope to gain the kingdom of heaven by violating God’s everlasting covenant regarding the sanctity of life. So the burning question is not, Whose side is God on? but, Are we on God’s side? Consider the words of other prominent clergymen and see if you think they take the side of God’s Word in this matter. One minister said: “To take life in hate is a dreadful deed”; but “the Christian soldier in friendship wounds the enemy. In friendship he kills the enemy. In friendship he receives the wound of the enemy. He keeps his friendly heart while the enemy is killing him. . . . After he has wounded the enemy he hurries to his side . . . with an invincible hope that sometime . . . he and his enemy shall find common ground . . . in some great enterprise of God.” On another occasion the editor of the Christian Register stated: “As Christians, of course, we say Christ approves [of the war]. But would he fight and kill? . . . There is not an opportunity to deal death to the enemy that he would shirk from or delay in seizing! He would take bayonet and grenade and bomb and rifle and do the work of deadliness.” (Preachers Present Arms, pages 67, 68) It is no wonder that many people have been turned away from religion by such sadistic teachings. As Jeremiah 6:15 asks: “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush.” “From the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.”—Jer 6:13 Vs. 13.
9, 10. (a) Describe the fruits of war. (b) Why do peace prayers go unanswered?
9 The statements of these professed Christians do not reflect Jesus’ mind when he told his disciples that they should love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength and their neighbor as themselves. Even apart from the Scriptural viewpoint on war, its fruitage is repellant to all honest-hearted men. It has been said that “the legitimate object of war is a more perfect peace”; but what are the results? Starvation, impoverishment, misery, disease, death and the ruining of the beauties of the earth. These things do not contribute to a more perfect peace, but only to continued enmities and hatreds among the people.
10 History shows that the clergy have not served in the happy role of peacemaker, as true sons of God, but have actually shared in promoting war. No wonder Isaiah 1:15 declares: “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” This present world system, with its war and coercion, cannot bring permanent peace to mankind.
WHY PEACE EFFORTS FAIL
11. (a) What is the source of world disunity? (b) How is Satan’s organization described, and what position does the Christian take toward it?
11 Why have the sincere efforts of devoted men failed to bring peace? The answer can be clearly discerned by putting the Bible spotlight on this subject. Swinging the light back to the start of man’s troubled history we see a spirit creature appointed as the guardian of man in the beautiful garden of Eden. This cherub was to direct man in matters pertaining to life and pure worship. But instead of walking in the paths that Jehovah had prepared the cherub turned rebel, coveting the worship of the first couple that was going to Jehovah, and determining to establish himself as universal ruler in place of the Creator. His first action was to entice Adam and Eve from the course of right worship. Thus were sown the first seeds of disunity and enmity, which have flourished until now between the organizations of Satan and Jehovah. Since that time Satan has built up a powerful worldly organization, which was described by Daniel as being like a great image with a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron and feet partly of iron and partly of clay. The covering cherub, or Satan, is himself the demonic god that controls this old-world organization. (Dan. 2:31-33, 44, 45) It is God’s kingdom, like a stone cut out of a mountain, that strikes against Satan’s organization, finally destroying it. But as long as this image dominates the earth and as long as the people bow before it, as they did in the days of old, there will be no peace from God. Though total support and worship is demanded by Satan’s organization today, true Christians follow the example of the faithful Hebrew men of old, who refused to compromise their worship, even though threatened with death. They remember how Christ, during his ministry, refused to do obeisance to Satan. So today sincere students of the Scriptures, instead of putting their confidence in old-world efforts to bring peace, realize that only by God will lasting peace come, in his appointed way.
12. In what ways is Satan’s activity felt by the people?
12 In the meantime Satan exercises pressure on mankind in many ways. “The whole world is in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19, RS) This helps us to understand that God is not the one bringing wars with famine, sickness and death to the peoples of the earth, but that Satan is continuing his vicious attempt to rule or ruin the earthly creation of Jehovah, and has determined to break the faith of those who endeavor to maintain pure worship. His influence is seen not only to be upon the nations but also to extend to the individual. Job, a faithful servant of Jehovah, felt this satanic pressure keenly when under test. He saw his cattle, his servants, his beloved children, his lovely home, all destroyed as Satan moved against him. Even his wife urged him to curse God and die, but Job wisely recognized that these evils were of God’s permission, so he maintained his faith. Job was a fighter, and, even though on the brink of death, he refused to give up. True Christians today put up a similar fight for the faith.
13. (A) Why has demonic influence been permitted by God, and what do the Scriptures say about the outcome? (b) In what way can we resist attacks by Satan?
13 Why is it that Satan has been permitted to exercise such tremendous control over the nations and even over the lives of the people? It is not that God is powerless to restrain him, but that he has permitted Satan this opportunity as a final proof to the universe of the futility of Satan’s boast that he could turn all men against their Creator. In Exodus 9:16 we read of the statement made to Pharaoh as Satan’s visible representative: “For this cause have I allowed thee to remain, in order to show thee my power; and in order that they may proclaim my name throughout all the earth.” (Le) During all the centuries of satanic control over the earth God’s purposes have been moving inexorably toward their climax. In the dawn of man’s history prophetic words were spoken showing Satan that at God’s appointed time he would be crushed underfoot. In the prophecy later given to Daniel Satan’s imagelike organization is depicted as being toppled and crushed. But in the meantime his demonic power continues to be exercised in the world. No men or nations can resist such superhuman power; so taking up arms to try to right the wrongs of the day is not the real answer to the problem. Who can fight against Satan or his invisible demon hosts? It is impossible to fight in a physical way against an unseen spirit adversary. That is why Paul stated, at 2 Corinthians 10:4, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” The weapons of spiritual warfare are powerful for cutting away the mystery that shrouds the troubles on the earth and for revealing Satan as the great cause of the world’s woes.
14. What effect has Satan’s activity had upon the world until now?
14 Once before in human history, when wickedness came to a climax at the time of the Flood, the earthly organization of Satan was swept out of the way, leaving a cleansed earth. Again this demonic power asserted itself, and the nations have been held in its grasp until this time. Now we are approaching the grand climax of Scripture prophecy and Satan is making an all-out attempt to take control. Revelation chapter twelve informs us of the woes that are now on the earth as a result. The world has never seen such turmoil as we see today, as Satan makes a final effort to bring ruin to God’s earthly creation. He has even called on false religion to sanctify the “holy” wars he foments. Satan’s mark has been left on every facet of this oldworld system. This mark is one of division, for Satan’s loveless course has divided the world. It has been divided religiously, commercially, nationally, politically, racially and socially. This is not true of those who come out from the control of the satanic world system and take a stand in keeping with Bible truth as a part of the New World society.
15. Contrast the condition of God’s New World society.
15 The contrast in the organization of God’s people is outstanding. In over 160 lands throughout the world the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses can be found working unitedly in the service of their Creator. They are not divided by the barriers that the old world puts between the people. They have unity of faith as truly happy children of God. The apostle Paul emphasized this oneness at 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NW): “I exhort you, . . . that you should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among you, but that you may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.” “Putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace. One body there is, and one spirit, even as you were called in the one hope to which you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all persons.” (Eph. 4:2-6, NW) This unity of thought and action comes from a knowledge of God’s Word and faith in it. It is only by true worship that men of all nations are now united as a happy, peaceable people, making known the only remedy for world distress, God’s kingdom.
16. What assurances do we have of victory in Jehovah’s service?
16 Today Satan concentrates his attack against this united international group. But we can take courage from the fact that although those serving Jehovah seem to be a minority, still with God’s protection they are invincible. This was illustrated in the battle between David and Goliath. (1 Sam. 17:40-51) David foreshadowed both Christ battling against Satan and his gigantic organization and the fight of the remnant of God’s servants on earth as they battle to maintain true worship against demonic influence. Although David appeared little and insignificant and was despised by the adversary, he came in God’s power, crying out: “I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” By Jehovah’s power he was victorious. Another case of Jehovah’s backing was seen when Elisha was surrounded by the warriors of the Syrian army. He and his young companion rose in the morning to find the enemy hosts hemming them in. But Elisha reassured the young man, saying: “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. . . . and the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Ki. 6:16, 17) Once again Jehovah’s power was sufficient to deliver his servants against overwhelming odds.
17. Was Jesus’ death a defeat for God? Why?
17 Why, then, was it that Jesus himself died, apparently forsaken by God? It was not that God deserted him, for shortly before his death Jesus declared that his Father could immediately send legions of angels to act for his protection; but he knew that Jehovah’s will was that he should die. Jesus had proved himself a fighter against demon power, devoting his life on earth to the preaching work. Even though he gave his life at death, this was not a defeat for Jehovah but a step forward in God’s final purpose. Jesus did not try to marshal all men of faith into a tremendous army to straighten out world affairs. He refused to bow to Satan so that he might assume authority, and he did not follow the militaristic ways of the world even though his life was at stake. Instead he declared: ‘My kingdom is not of this world; otherwise my servants would fight to protect me from the Jews.’ (John 18:36) His servants fought later, but in a different way.
18. How are the followers of Christ positively identified?
18 Satan has now redoubled his efforts against God’s servants. He directs his warlike attack against this core of resistance, striking out by every means at his command against those who maintain faith and serve as Christian soldiers under the lead of their Commander, Christ Jesus. Revelation 12:17 states that he has gone to make war against the remnant of the followers of Christ. How can we identify these, since many religious denominations claim to be of this number? The scripture goes on to identify clearly who they are by saying that these are the ones who observe the commandments of God and keep the testimony about Christ. While the false religious organizations of the world today claim to be observing the commandments of God, they completely brush aside the everlasting covenant about the sanctity of life. Fighters for true worship, however, recognize that this law from God, originally given to Noah, still applies down to this day. Neither are the religious leaders of Christendom today truly keeping the testimony about Christ. This is no longer simply the message of Jesus’ earthly ministry or of his resurrection, but this is the message that he himself commanded must be preached in this time of the end, the message of good news concerning the establishment of his kingdom in righteousness. (Matt. 24:14) This good news pertains to the enthronement of Christ and his taking power now while his enemies continue to rule. (Ps. 110:2) Jehovah’s witnesses have every reason to rejoice as they announce this peaceful message in all the world.