Walking With God in a Violent World
“Do not forget this: there will be terrible times in the last days.”—2 TIMOTHY 3:1, The New American Bible (Catholic).
1. What indicates that these are indeed “the last days”?
DO YOU not agree that these are terrible times? The word “terrible” in the Bible text just quoted is from the Greek word khalepos. This is also translated “hard to deal with,” “perilous,” “dangerous,” “grievous,” “hard,” and “very difficult.”* At Matthew 8:28 this same word is used in describing two demon-possessed men as being unusually “fierce” or “violent.”* How true it is that we now live in terrible and violent times! They fulfill the above prophecy of the apostle Paul, showing that these unquestionably are “the last days”!
2. (a) How have godless men brought on these terrible times? (b) What scriptures identify the chief source of today’s woes, and how extensive have these become?
2 What has spawned these terrible times, “the last days”? Is it not the condition that Paul foretold, in saying: ‘Men will be lovers of themselves, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride’? And such godless men are egged on by the one whom the Bible describes as “the god of this system of things,” “the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” The result is the shocking state of affairs that we observe all around us today—in government, in the business world, in religion, in human society in general.—2 Timothy 3:2-5, 13; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9, 12.
3. Why may it be said that violence has reached epidemic proportions?
3 As we move deeper into the 1980’s the world is experiencing an epidemic of violence. In 1980 alone, the United States reported 1.3 million cases of violent crime, a 13-percent increase over the previous year, with homicide becoming a leading cause of death of men between ages 25 and 44. In the decade ending in the same year, Britain reported murders increasing 50 percent, muggings 300 percent and vandalism 200 percent. In France, total crime has increased more than 260 percent since 1963. Similar reports come from around the world.
4. How has the human scene changed since 1914, giving rise to what questions?
4 Historian Walter Laqueur reported: “The period up to the first World War was, on the whole, more humane. I’m sorry to say that human life has become cheaper in our time—partly as a result of the experience of mass killing of the first and second World Wars. Also, we now have these philosophers of violence who did not exist in the 19th century—people who argue that violence is wonderful, that it does things for you psychologically, that we really need violence.” Since world war first erupted in 1914 violence has become rampant worldwide. How does God view this violence? How should Christians view it?
How God Views Violence
5. (a) What early start was there to violence? (b) How did Jesus describe the originator of violence?
5 The Bible describes an earlier time in history, when “the earth became filled with violence.” That was more than 4,300 years ago, after the world of that time had got off to a bad start with the disobedience of Adam and Eve followed by their expulsion from the Paradise of Eden. In due course their first son, Cain, murdered his brother Abel. The divine record tells us: “Cain . . . originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother. And for the sake of what did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.” (Genesis 6:11; 1 John 3:12) Jesus identifies that “wicked one” as the Devil, saying: “That one was a manslayer when he began.” (John 8:44) Starting from Eden, Satan surely has built up an impressive record of inciting mankind to violence.
6. (a) What shocking things occurred in Enoch’s day, calling for what response from Jehovah? (b) Why did God ‘take’ Enoch? (Genesis 5:24)
6 Following Cain’s murder of Abel, that original world moved on from bad to worse. Cain’s descendant Lamech is also named as a manslayer. (Genesis 4:23, 24) About that time “the seventh one in line from Adam, Enoch [of the line of Seth], prophesied also regarding [the wicked], when he said: ‘Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.’” (Jude 14, 15) God transferred Enoch out of that world, so that he no longer had to put up with the violence and abuse of those wicked people. How rewarding to him will be his resurrection into the peaceful “new earth” of Jehovah’s creation!—2 Peter 3:13; Hebrews 11:5.
7. How did the ancient world come to be filled with violence?
7 In the time of Enoch’s great-grandson Noah the invisible wicked one, Satan, was joined by angelic reinforcements. These were spirit sons of God who disobeyed him by coming down to earth to marry the daughters of men, producing by them a hybrid offspring—the Nephilim. This name means “Fellers,” and true to that designation they pursued their murderous way among mankind. “They were the mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame. . . . After that God said to Noah: ‘The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them; and here I am bringing them to ruin together with the earth.’”—Genesis 6:1-13.
8. (a) How does the world situation now compare to that of Noah’s time? (b) What example did Noah leave for us, and how may we benefit by following it?
8 The apostle Peter tells us: “The world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word [of God] the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” Fulfillment of Bible prophecy shows that the present world is now very near that day of judgment. What must we do in order to survive? Well, what did Noah do, along with his family? The Bible informs us: “Noah walked with the true God. . . . Noah proceeded to do according to all that Jehovah had commanded him.” (2 Peter 3:6, 7; Genesis 6:9, 22; 7:5) This included his becoming “a preacher of righteousness.” Through his faith “he condemned the world.” (2 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 11:7) Should we not be following closely the splendid example of Noah and his household, as we seek salvation out of this modern world that truly “is lying in the power of the wicked one”?—1 John 5:19.
Escalation of Violence
9. (a) What resulted from the escalation of violence in Noah’s day? (b) What parallel development followed the Flood, leading to what climax?
9 There was an escalation of violence in the world before the Great Deluge—until God himself executed judgment in bringing to ruin those who were ruining the earth. (Genesis 6:13, 17) From the time of Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod, the “mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah,” there has again been an escalating of violence through the ages, perhaps gradual at first, but steadily gaining momentum. (Genesis 10:1, 6, 8, 9) There came in time the sword, the bow and arrow, the spear; and in more modern times the musket, the cannon and other firearms. But World War I, starting in 1914, brought astonishing new weapons of violence—the airplane, the tank, and also poison gas. In that war, use of the submarine caused much terror and machine guns took literally millions of lives.
10. (a) How has Jesus’ prophecy concerning events “in the Lord’s day” been fulfilled? (b) Why should we expect Jehovah to execute judgment shortly?
10 The Lord Jesus Christ had foretold such a development “in the Lord’s day,” where we have been since 1914. (Revelation 1:10) He described how he would ride forth on a white horse as a newly crowned King, followed by a rider on a fiery-colored horse. This one is “granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him”—the sword of Total Warfare. That symbolic sword now embraces the most horrible and violent instruments ever devised and proliferated by man, including nuclear missiles capable by their combined power of blasting the entire human race off our globe many times over! If the presence of the giant Nephilim, combined with the abundant badness of man, in the days of Noah, was cause for Jehovah’s ‘bringing mankind to ruin because the earth was full of violence as a result of them,’ with how much more reason should we expect the same Sovereign Lord of the universe “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth” today! (Genesis 6:4, 7, 13; Revelation 6:1-4; 11:18) Speaking of ungodly people of our age, the Lord Jesus himself said: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. . . . They took no note until the flood came and swept them all away.”—Matthew 24:37, 39.
The Christian View of Violence
11. (a) Why did God approve of ancient Israel’s wars? (b) How must God and Christ view modern-day warfare? (Compare 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4.)
11 It is true that wars were fought by God’s servants of ancient times. But we must remember that those were theocratic wars, commanded by God. Israel fought for the purpose of dispossessing depraved, demon-worshiping nations from God’s “land.” (Leviticus 18:24-27; Deuteronomy 7:1-6) Are the wars of the nations, and particularly wars fought for world domination since 1914, wars approved by God? When Catholics slaughter Catholics, Protestants slaughter Protestants, Buddhists slaughter Buddhists, or Muslims slaughter Muslims, are they acting in harmony with the God who “made out of one man every nation of men”? How must Christ, the Prince of Peace, regard the bloodshed that erupted in Christendom when World War I, and later World War II, got started? (Acts 17:24-26; Isaiah 9:6) Let us note the new and higher standard that the Prince of Peace set for Christians just before he met a violent death.
12, 13. (a) Why did Jesus see to it that his disciples were equipped with swords? (b) What did Jesus then make plain about theocratic warfare?
12 Having in mind his role in fulfilling prophecy, Jesus said to his disciples on the eve of his arrest: “Let the one having no sword sell his outer garment and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be accomplished in me, namely, ‘And he was reckoned with lawless ones.’” When they replied, “Lord, look! here are two swords,” he said to them: “It is enough.” (Luke 22:36-38) Enough for what? First, to fulfill Isaiah 53:12. Secondly, to drive home an important lesson for Christians.
13 Surely there could have been no stronger reason for using a sword than protecting the Son of God himself! Yet it was not God’s will for Jesus to be spared at that time. So when the apostle Peter used his sword against the slave of the high priest, Jesus told him: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52, 53; John 18:10, 11) Jesus thus made it plain that theocratic warfare from that time on was not to include the use of carnal weapons.
14. As stated by Jesus, what is involved in being “no part of the world”?
14 This clearly was in line with what Jesus had told his disciples earlier on that same evening, that they would be persecuted because of being “no part of the world.” It was in harmony with Jesus’ prayer to his Father, uttered that same evening, in which he emphasized that, like him himself, his disciples are “no part of the world.” It agreed with what Jesus told Pilate: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”—John 15:19, 20; 17:14-16; 18:36.
15. (a) To what unity has separateness from the world led? (b) What various aspects of this unity are described at Isaiah 2:2-4?
15 Are you now separate from this world and its violent ways, as were Jesus and his disciples in the first century? If so, you have come to share in a wonderful worldwide unity experienced only by Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is a unity engendered by obedience to God’s laws and his will for the present day. For now a “great crowd” of peace-loving Christians “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” is streaming toward Jehovah’s great spiritual temple for worship. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 15) They are described at Isaiah 2:2-4: “It must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it all the nations must stream. And many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion law will go forth, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem. And he 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.”
16. (a) How do Jehovah’s Witnesses contrast with the world? (b) What does Micah 4:1-5 foretell, as to the prosperity of God’s people, the reason therefor and the final outcome? (c) In view of what does a further question arise?
16 No flag-waving ultranationalists are these, but one peaceful, united people out of all nations. They are truly neutrals in a warring world. After telling how they ‘beat swords into plowshares,’ Micah 4:1-5 describes their spiritual prosperity and their prospect of living forever on earth in unity. The prophecy contrasts them with peoples of this world, saying: “For all the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” But as we continue to walk in God’s name, we meet up with many pressures from a violent world. How should we cope with situations that may arise? The next article gives the Bible’s answer to this question.
New World Translation, King James Version, Douay Version, English Revised Version, Moffatt, The Living Bible.
New World Translation, The New English Bible.
What answers would you give to the following:
□ How does the world situation point to our time as being the last days?
□ According to the record in Genesis, how does God view violence?
□ What parallels are to be noted between Noah’s day and modern times?
□ In harmony with Jesus’ example and words, what separateness should Christians maintain?
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These “last days” are indeed “terrible times”
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Jesus said, “All those who take the sword will perish by the sword”