What Stands in the Way of World Peace?
TRY as they might, the people of the world have been unable to achieve genuine peace. Why?
Until two obstacles are removed, true peace can never come.
The first of these obstacles, according to the Bible, is the world’s false religious systems. Informed men are also beginning to view world religions as an obstacle.
Under the headline “Now Church Upsetting World,” John Chamberlain, editorial commentator for the King Features Syndicate, calls attention to the churches’ interfering in politics, their even going so far as to support revolutionary movements. He writes:
“Ironically, the biggest enemies of the growing spirit of universal détente [a relaxing of strained relations between nations] are a few functionaries who claim to be speaking in the name of Christianity. The World Council of Churches is the worst offender. But the Roman Catholic Church has produced its own radicals, whom it should disown.”—The Daily Oklahoman, August 8, 1973.
And the United States president, in his August 15, 1973, television address to the nation, implicated the clergy in political meddling and lawbreaking when he said that, in the nineteen sixties,
“individuals and groups increasingly asserted the right to take the law into their own hands, insisting that their purposes represented a higher morality. Then, their attitude was praised in the press and even from some of our pulpits as evidence of a new idealism. Those of us who insisted on the old restraints, who warned of the overriding importance of operating within the law and by the rules, were accused of being reactionaries.
“That same attitude brought a rising spiral of violence and fear, of riots and arson and bombings, all in the name of peace and in the name of justice.”
Actually, the Bible says that the true servants of God should stay out of politics completely, being totally neutral, and should proclaim the kingdom of God as the hope of the world. But, instead, world religion, particularly the churches of Christendom, has meddled in politics, has taken sides in national disputes and has misrepresented God. Therefore it has his disfavor. He has said that he will destroy it. How?
God’s instrument will be the political elements with which the religious organizations have ‘played the harlot.’ But right now, in most of the so-called “Christian” nations, the religious leaders “hobnob” with politicians and are often prominent in their political gatherings. Even though there are some godless rulers, it is not to be expected that the political elements, on their own, would act unitedly to destroy false religion. What, then, will cause them to do so? Note what action God says he will take toward harlot-like world religion.
THE “WILD BEAST”
In his Word the Bible God describes the great world political organization as a “wild beast.” We know this from what God revealed centuries ago through his prophet Daniel. Daniel was given a vision in which he saw beasts—a lion, a bear, a leopard and a fearsome beast with iron teeth. God’s angel explained, “as for these huge beasts, because they are four, there are four kings that will stand up from the earth.” These turned out to be Babylon (then in power), Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.—Dan. 7:4-7, 17; compare Daniel 8:3-8, 20, 21.
Likewise, in the book of Revelation the apostle John reports a vision in which he saw a “wild beast” having seven heads and ten horns. This beast, being a composite, represents the world political organization that has expressed its authority through seven world powers. (Rev. 13:1, 2) The Devil is shown to be its real ruler and god.—2 Cor. 4:4; Matt. 4:8, 9.
An “image” of the symbolic “wild beast,” an international organization for peace and security, now known as the United Nations, has been set up, its membership being comprised of the chief political powers of earth making up the political “wild beast.” Its “ten horns” represent all the national rulers therein. This “image,” also called a “scarlet-colored wild beast,” is ridden by the “harlot” “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion. She is shown directing this “wild beast” toward total war against the “Lamb,” Jesus Christ, and his Kingdom interests in the earth. False religion has had a strong influence in directing the political rulers against Jehovah’s witnesses, and they have been bitterly persecuted. “Babylon the Great’s” powerful influence makes her a religious “empire” over the earth’s political organization, as the Bible says: “And the woman whom you saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.”—Rev. 17:1-3, 5, 13, 14, 18.
How does the end of the entire false religious system come? The Bible answers: “The ten horns that you saw [all the national rulers], and the [scarlet-colored] wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.”—Rev. 17:16.
What prompts them to act, since they have not done so even though they see the churches meddling in political matters? Jehovah God himself. “For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished.”—Rev. 17:17.
False religion’s end will therefore come with surprising suddenness, while she is thinking, “I sit a queen, and I am no widow, and I shall never see mourning.” But God says: “That is why in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.”—Rev. 18:7, 8.
REMOVING THE SECOND OBSTACLE
What, then, is the second obstacle to world peace? It is the “wild beast” itself, the earth-wide political organization that governs this world.
The “wild beast’s” record is indeed a bad one. It is a record of far more years of war than of peace. And even during peacetime millions of people have always been under oppression or in slavery. Now nationalism forms a positively impenetrable barrier to world peace. So God’s Word tells us that, after false religion is ‘burned up,’ right on its heels will come the destruction of the “wild beast” and all who support it.
Does this destruction come by a nuclear and chemical war? Enough of these weapons are now stockpiled to destroy the entire human race. But no, the Bible shows that the entire “wild beast” fights against God and his kingdom in the hands of Christ Jesus. From heaven, Christ conquers them. This is the battle that takes place at the stage of world developments called Har–Magedon, as it is written: “And they gathered them [the kings of earth] together to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.”—Rev. 16:14-16.
Therefore, let no reformers think that by protests and demonstrations they can make the “wild beast” a tame ‘peace beast,’ assuring human rights to all earth’s peoples. Nor should revolutionaries think that by violence, guerrilla tactics or terrorism they can unseat the “wild beast” from its control of earth. The book of Revelation, describing Har–Magedon, reveals the only way that the “wild beast” can be subdued:
“And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army. And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image. While still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur. But the rest were killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth. And all the birds were filled from the fleshy parts of them.”—Rev. 19:19-21.
The one seated on the horse is described earlier (Re 19 verses 11-16) as the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Who else but the “Lamb,” the Lord Jesus Christ, would be the one on the horse, fighting this battle of the “retribution of God the sovereign Lord”? (Rev. 19:15, The New English Bible) Notably, along with the “wild beast” there is seen a “false prophet.” This evidently would be a part of the “wild beast’s” forces acting as a mouthpiece or chief spokesman. And we find that this “false prophet” is the very one that spoke so loudly to get the “image of the wild beast” set up for the people to worship, to look to for world peace and security.
Yes, it is one of the heads of the beast and is itself a “wild beast” when viewed as a single world power, as were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. It is represented as a “two-horned” wild beast. (Rev. 13:11-15) It proves to be the seventh world power, having two “horns,” two separate but usually cooperating ruling political powers, Britain and the United States.
HAR–MAGEDON NOT OF LONG DURATION
No part, therefore, of this world’s political system will be on the sidelines. Even so, the heavenly forces under Jesus Christ will not take long to wipe out the entire military forces of all the armies of earth and all their equipment at Har–Magedon. Earthly weapons cannot touch the heavenly forces, of course. But weapons can threaten those on earth who stand on the side of God’s sovereignty. Yet these earthly servants of God will not engage in any fighting. They rely on Christ’s heavenly forces, which the “wild beast,” however powerful and elusive, cannot evade. It will be “caught” while committing its last misdeeds against the faithful worshipers of Jehovah God.
If one angel of God could destroy 185,000 of the chief men and leaders of the Assyrian army in one night, how long would it take all the myriads of angels under Christ’s command to annihilate the armies of this world, even though they should number into tens of millions?—2 Ki. 19:35; 2 Chron. 32:21; Dan. 7:9, 10, 13, 14.
At Har–Magedon the King of kings issues the order for the destruction of God’s enemies at the hands of the heavenly angels under his command. While “still alive”—strong, functioning institutions—the political organizations are annihilated by being thrown into the symbolic “lake of fire.” What disorganization and confusion this destruction of their organization brings among the ranks! But it proves too late for flight and too hopeless to fight. Jesus Christ, by the ‘long sword proceeding out of his mouth,’ orders their execution as if a long sword of an officer with authority were being applied.
Note that the account does not say that God will burn up the literal earth over which the world political system ruled for centuries and which it polluted and desolated to a great extent. Neither does the prophecy say that the earth will be a dead, uninhabited place. There will be survivors. How do we know?
Jesus Christ himself implied survival by giving instructions for survival and then saying: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:36.
Accordingly, not all will worship the “wild beast” or its “image.” The pressure applied to make everyone do so provides a test of endurance for the spiritual brothers of Christ on earth. (Rev. 13:7-10) But they defeat the “wild beast’s” efforts and are ‘conquerors’ of the world without armed conflict.—John 16:33; Rev. 2:7, 17, 26.
Besides these spiritual brothers of Christ, who have heavenly hopes, the Bible definitely shows that there are others who do not worship the “wild beast.” These are the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17, who are specifically said to “come out of the great tribulation” and over whom God will spread his “tent” of protection, and his Lamb will “guide them to fountains of waters of life.” These are not of the “new creation” that make up the “Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:15, 16) The apostle John saw them appear on the scene after he had witnessed the sealing of the 144,000 of spiritual Israel.
Also, these are depicted as the “sheep” who do good to Christ’s spiritual brothers during his presence in Kingdom power. They are invited: “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.”—Matt. 25:34.
Consequently there will be no vacuum, no empty, uninhabited earth. God will merely cleanse the earth of polluters, ruiners. (Rev. 11:18) He will annihilate his enemies. All who survive will see the disgrace of those who fight against God, and all living will praise him for his justice, righteousness and mercy.—Ps. 145:9-21.