Can an Image Bring Peace and Security?
HOW do you react to the question, ‘Can an image bring peace and security’? Do you think it strange that such a question would be raised? Who would even claim that an image could bring an end to war?
There is an image, however, that has been looked to for more than thirty years as man’s best hope for peace. It is not some figure of a human or an animal but is an international organization. As an image that organization is a reflection of the way the world is. What is that organization? It is the United Nations. The Philadelphia Inquirer quoted a U.S. official as saying regarding it: “The U.N. is a mirror of the world the way it is—not the way we’d like it to be.” Dag Hammarskjold, as secretary-general of the United Nations, used to express the same thought.
The amazing thing about this is that the Bible pointed forward to the coming into existence of such an image, mirror or reflection of the worldwide political system. By examining what the Bible says, we gain advance knowledge of what role the United Nations will yet play in world affairs. There is tremendous value in making this knowledge our own, as it can help us to take a wise course in this critical period of human history.
AN IMAGE OF WHAT?
The Bible book of Revelation uses symbolism when depicting developments in world affairs. The meaning of what is stated can be ascertained with the help of other parts of the Bible and the actual events of history.
A symbolic description that fits the United Nations is found at Revelation 13:14, 15, where we read of the ‘making of an image to the wild beast.’ That wild beast is earlier described as being “like a leopard” and as having “seven heads” and “ten horns” (each topped with a diadem), ‘feet as those of a bear,’ and a lionlike mouth.—Rev. 13:1, 2.
In the prophecy of Daniel, mention is made of four beasts—a lion, a bear, a leopard and a fearsome beast with ten horns—each beast representing a ‘king’ or ‘kingdom.’ (Dan. 7:4-7, 17, 23) The “wild beast” of Revelation thus has features of the beasts of Daniel’s prophecy. On this basis, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible draws the following conclusion: “The first of these beasts [of Revelation chapter 13] combines in itself the joint characteristics of the four beasts of Daniel’s vision . . . Accordingly, this first beast represents the combined forces of all political rule opposed to God in the world.”—Vol. 1, p. 369.
In having representations from many nations, the United Nations most certainly is an image, reflection or mirror of these political rulerships governing mankind.
THE “SCARLET-COLORED WILD BEAST”
Evidently the image of the wild beast is later referred to at Revelation 17:3 as a “scarlet-colored wild beast.” Like the “wild beast” of Revelation 13:1, 2, the “scarlet-colored wild beast” has “seven heads, and ten horns.” So it reflects or mirrors the chief features of the “wild beast.” However, the horns of the “scarlet-colored wild beast” are not topped with diadems. This is appropriate, since the “scarlet-colored wild beast” does not picture the entire system of political rulership as it has been progressively exercised by seven world powers. Instead, according to Revelation 17:11, the scarlet-colored beast is “an eighth king, but springs from the seven.” This agrees with the fact that the great powers or remnants thereof that once ruled vast territories are represented in the United Nations. As a unit, the United Nations acts as a “king,” with authority comparable to that exercised by a ruler.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
The Bible, however, does not say that this “eighth king” will bring about true peace and security. It points to a bleak future for the “scarlet-colored wild beast,” saying that it will ‘go off into destruction.’ (Rev. 17:11) While not able to bring about lasting peace, the United Nations may, however, figure in the development of things to the point where people will be saying: “Peace and security!”
Wise will be those who are not deceived by such a cry. Why so? The Bible answers: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.”—1 Thess. 5:3.
The only way for anyone to escape this calamity is to remain separate from human schemes to bring “peace and security” in a way that ignores God and his Word. This is evident from what the Bible next says to true Christians: “You, brothers, you are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves.”—1 Thess. 5:4.
Some persons may reason that they have nothing to worry about. Being members of a religious organization, they may feel that they will not be overtaken by calamity. But this can be very dangerous reasoning. The Bible shows that not all religion is approved by God. In a letter to fellow believers, the Christian disciple James wrote: “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.” (Jas. 1:27) “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (Jas. 4:4) So, then, nominally Christian religious organizations that do not remain clean from the world’s ways, attitudes and actions are harlots or prostitutes from God’s standpoint. They are unfaithful to the God whom they claim as their Lord.
Hence, it is of interest to note that the Holy Scriptures speak about a harlot in connection with the “scarlet-colored wild beast.” We read: “I caught sight of a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast that was full of blasphemous names and that had seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and was adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls and had in her hand a golden cup that was full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication. And upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.’”—Rev. 17:3-5.
What about the world’s religious systems as a whole? Do they act like the harlot “Babylon the Great”? Have they looked to the United Nations as man’s only hope for peace and security and, hence, as needed for their own preservation? Do these religious systems, then, not depend upon the United Nations as does a rider upon his horse? The facts speak for themselves.
The Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches, with a membership of over 250 churches, have repeatedly declared the United Nations to be “the chief temporal hope for world peace.” The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: “Recent pontiffs have stressed the necessity of international organization and the principles that should guide it, and have praised the UN for its purposes and various programs and accomplishments. The Holy See maintains a permanent observer at the UN and contributes financial as well as moral support to many of its economic, social, scientific, cultural, and humanitarian programs. It participates as a full member or observer in a number of Specialized Agencies and participates in diplomatic and other conferences called by the UN. Sixteen Catholic international organizations contribute formally to the work of ECOSOC and various Specialized Agencies through the medium of consultative status with these bodies, and Catholic groups and individuals in various countries contribute to the formation of national policy and action with regard to the UN.”—Vol. 14, p. 423.
Will all such friendliness with the world be of real benefit to any religious system? No, the Bible declares that “Babylon the Great,” the harlotrous religious empire, will experience a great shock. Revelation 17:16 says: “The ten horns that you saw, and the 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.”
So there is real danger in becoming involved with the “scarlet-colored wild beast.” Never will it bring real peace and security. But it will unleash destructive fury against the religious systems who have looked to it as man’s “chief temporal hope for world peace.” This should not come as a surprise. Even now many members of the United Nations openly state that they are anti-God. In turning against religion, the “scarlet-colored wild beast” and its “ten horns” will, therefore, not be acting out of any love for the Most High. Its going against religion will be an expression of an anti-God attitude. So even if it does bring about a semblance of peace and security, it will merit destruction for setting itself up in total opposition to Jehovah God. For that reason those who join in any U.N. cry of “Peace and security!” face disaster, even if they are not in sympathy with “Babylon the Great.”
Are you acting in harmony with this advance knowledge? Have you separated yourself from the world’s ways, attitudes and actions? Are you proving that you look to God’s kingdom by Christ as the only means for bringing about lasting peace and security? Only by continuing to do these things can you hope to escape entanglements that could mean your losing God’s approval and life itself.