Man’s Hope for Peace—Is It the U.N.?
ON THE grounds of the United Nations stands the statue of a man beating a sword into a plowshare. This sculpture, a gift of the U.S.S.R., serves to illustrate that the goal of the United Nations is world peace.
Throughout the years of its existence this international organization has been described as the “last best hope of mankind” and the “only alternative to international conflicts.” In a joint communiqué signed on December 7, 1973, by Cardinal Maurice Roy and by Dr. Philip Potter, secretary-general of the World Council of Churches, the following appeared: “The World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church have often stated that the United Nations Organization is the chief temporal hope for world peace.”
More recently, however, many have expressed great disappointment in the United Nations. For example, a member of the United States House of Representatives spoke of it as failing “to offer either the promise or hope of world peace.”
So what can we expect from the United Nations? Does the sculpture symbolizing the idea, “Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares,” really fit that organization?
The concept that the sculpture conveys is by no means original. It was expressed many centuries ago in a book that has been severely restricted in circulation in the U.S.S.R. That book is the Holy Bible, wherein we read at Isaiah 2:4: “He [Jehovah God] will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
Note that the ‘beating of swords into plowshares’ is not to be accomplished through human efforts. We cannot even look to the so-called Christian nations, for to this day they have not converted their weapons of war into implements of peace. Nevertheless, the fact that the United Nations, and the nations of Christendom individually, have until now failed to attain true peace does not mean that the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy is an impossibility. Not man, but the God whose very existence many nations deny, will bring about permanent peace in his way.
THE RECORD OF EARLY CHRISTIANS
There is clear evidence that peace is possible when people recognize the true God and want to do his will. From the year 36 C.E. onward non-Jews became a part of the Christian congregation. They, along with Christianized Jews, put forth sincere efforts to lay aside former prejudices. They became one people under the headship of the resurrected Jesus Christ and loyally submitted to God’s will. As an international brotherhood they did not involve themselves with the conflicts of the nations.
Also later, in the second and third centuries C.E., there were professing Christians who recognized that there had been a fulfillment of Isaiah 2:4 in their case. After quoting the words of Isaiah 2:3, 4, Justin Martyr wrote: “We who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ.” Similarly, Origen stated: “We no longer take up ‘sword against nation,’ nor do we ‘learn war any more,’ having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, instead of those whom our fathers followed.”
A MODERN EXAMPLE
Even today there is an international brotherhood of Christians that has demonstrated to the world that it is possible to preserve peace. On August 1, 1958, at an international convention in New York city, this body of Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, went on public record that they would maintain peace and unity among themselves. The resolution adopted by the 194,418 persons present at that assembly read in part: “Figuratively speaking, we have beaten our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning shears and, although of so many nationalities, we will not lift up sword against one another because we are Christian brothers and members of the one family of God, neither will we learn to war against one another any more, but we will walk in God’s paths in peace, unity and brotherly love.”
Although there are more than two and a half times as many Witnesses today as there were back in 1958, they continue to hold fast to this resolve. This is simply amazing when we consider that their number is greater than the population of any of more than forty independent nations now in existence—most of which are members of the U.N., but none of which have been able to beat their swords into plowshares. This demonstrates forcefully that peace cannot be gained apart from submission to God’s commands.
HOW EARTH-WIDE PEACE WILL COME ABOUT
The record the nations have made reveals that they do not want to accept God’s authority. For this reason the United Nations will never be able to bring lasting peace. That organization is made up of many nations that openly declare themselves to be anti-God and of others that make only a lip profession of trusting in the Most High. Therefore, the words of Isaiah 57:21 apply to them: “‘There is no peace,’ my God has said, ‘for the wicked ones.’”
In due time those who refuse to submit to God’s authority will be judged as having forfeited the opportunity to continue living on earth. The Most High will not continue to tolerate men and nations that threaten peace and security. He will, as his Word says, “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Rev. 11:18) This great act of God will open the way for an era of earth-wide peace and total disarmament.
Do you desire to see that time? If so, strive to live as did the early Christians, learning war no more. Accept the way of peace that is outlined in God’s Word, the Bible. Thereby you can show that you want to submit to God’s authority and truly desire to see peace brought about earth wide.