“Seek Peace and Pursue It”
1. (a) How may we “seek peace and pursue it” in this violent world? (b) In trialsome situations, why should we earnestly supplicate Jehovah?
HOW may we follow through on the advice of the apostle Peter, quoted above, surrounded as we are by a world of violence? Peter answers, telling us to “turn away from what is bad and do what is good.” We need, then, to put forth earnest effort to come into a peaceful relationship with Jehovah God on the basis of faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Thereafter we pursue peace by following closely the standards that God sets forth in his Word. “For the eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their supplication; but the face of Jehovah is against those doing bad things.” (1 Peter 3:11, 12) When the wicked try to do bad things to us, we can earnestly supplicate Jehovah. We can call aloud to him by name for help, as when confronted by a rapist or other evildoer.—Compare Deuteronomy 22:25-27.
2. When confronted by violence, we may hold to what confidence as expressed by David?
2 In violent situations implicit trust in Jehovah has often been the key to survival. Time and again, the witness of Jehovah has been blessed in holding to the confidence that David expressed in prayer at Psalm 18:46, 48: “Jehovah is living, and blessed be my Rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted. He is providing escape for me from my angry enemies; above those who rise up against me you will lift me up, from the man of violence you will deliver me.” Those millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses today who look forward in strong faith to the fulfillment of God’s promise that ‘the righteous will possess the earth and reside forever upon it’ are assured also that “salvation of the righteous ones is from Jehovah; he is their fortress in the time of distress.”—Psalm 37:29, 39.
3 Whatever the situations that may arise in this violent world, Jehovah is able ‘to safeguard his people as the pupil of his eye.’ (Deuteronomy 32:10; Daniel 3:19-27) He is even able, if he so chooses, to preserve his own through such a horror as a nuclear holocaust. This was demonstrated on August 6, 1945, in the experience of a faithful servant of Jehovah who was undergoing persecutions in Japan’s Hiroshima prison. On that morning a departure from his usual schedule placed him in such a position that he was unharmed by the atom bomb’s explosion.* Most of the prison was flattened, but much as Rahab survived the fiery destruction of Jericho, Katsuo Miura survived the devastation in Hiroshima. (Joshua 6:23, 24) He was thankful to Jehovah, as he expressed it, that he was ‘atom bombed out of prison,’ in order to spend the remaining years of his life in pioneer service. (Compare Psalm 116:15.) Nothing is too wonderful for our Sovereign Lord, “the true God, the great One, the mighty One, Jehovah of armies being his name.”—Jeremiah 32:17-19.
Keep Close to Jehovah’s Organization
4. How does Isaiah chapter 60 describe the condition of God’s organization at this time?
4 In order to face up to these violent days, we need the tender guidance of Jehovah’s motherly organization. Since 1938 there has been an improved theocratic condition among God’s people, as Jehovah had foretold: “I will appoint peace as your overseers and righteousness as your task assigners. No more will violence be heard in your land, despoiling or breakdown within your boundaries. And you will certainly call your own walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” The peace and love of righteousness that now characterize Jehovah’s organization worldwide have contributed much toward the “small one” of a few thousand Kingdom proclaimers of 64 years ago becoming “a mighty nation” 2,477,000 strong, moving forward throughout 205 lands of the earth. Reports from the field show that, as we approach “the end,” Jehovah is ‘speeding it up in its own time.’—Isaiah 60:17, 18, 22; Matthew 24:14.
5. As stated in the Psalms, what has kept Jehovah’s people strong in the face of violence?
5 Much of this expansion has taken place in the face of violence, such as that experienced by Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hitler’s concentration camps and in wartime mob attacks in the United States. Violence continues to escalate in many parts of the earth. Few countries, if any, have experienced more violence in recent years than has Lebanon. Yet our brothers there are strong. What has kept them strong? Implicit trust in Jehovah and determination to keep on associating in their meetings and other Christian activity.—Psalm 73:28; 149:1.
6. How should we regard regular meeting attendance, and why?
6 This should drive home to us that in violent times we must never forsake the gathering of ourselves together. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) If this is so important in bracing ourselves against the violence of Satan’s world, it is necessary also in gaining strength to cope with the more subtle machinations of the Devil. Our regular meeting attendance means life to us!
7. (a) How does Satan seek to subvert God’s people? (b) In what specific ways does Satan whip up the spirit of violence and immorality? (c) How may we pursue peace, and with what goal in view?
7 In these terrible times, Satan seeks to subvert God’s people by making them “lovers of themselves, lovers of money [and the glittering material things that it buys], . . . lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” These are the things that may draw us away from regular association with God’s people. (2 Timothy 3:1, 2, 4) Rather than imbibe Satan’s spirit of violence and immorality, which is glorified by certain TV programs, some video games and the like, how important that we continue, through our personal study, meditation and our meetings, to take in and apply the accurate knowledge that “means everlasting life”!—John 17:3; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-11.
Where Is Our Protection?
8. (a) How do many worldlings react to these violent times? (b) With examples, show why their course is unwise.
8 Violence is striking fear in the hearts of people of the large cities of the earth. According to a recent Gallup poll, 45 percent of Americans are afraid to go out alone at night within a mile of their home. Many carry guns. But is this the road that Jehovah’s Witnesses should take—to meet possible violence by preparing to be violent? The many accidents involving “weapons of self-defense”—with young children even killing other youngsters—should cause us to pause and examine the situation. It is well known that a professional gunman, when he sees another gun, will shoot—and shoot to kill. What chance then does the gun-toting amateur have!
9. Where and how will the Christian find protection?
9 The Christian will find protection, not in possessing firearms, but in ‘seeking peace and pursuing it.’ (1 Peter 3:11) Trust in Jehovah. If you are confronted by a criminal, make it known that you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Do not resist the one who threatens violence; give him the material belongings that he demands. Your life is more valuable than these. When cornered and threatened, call on Jehovah for help. Remember: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”—Proverbs 18:10.
10. (a) With regard to self-defense, what do the accounts in Ezra chapter 8 and; 2 Corinthians chapter 11 indicate to us? (b) What do reports from Africa and Ireland tell us as to the folly of carrying firearms?
10 However, would there not be occasions, such as in traveling through dangerous insurgent territory, when Jehovah’s Witnesses might be better off carrying firearms for self-defense? The answer emphatically is No. (Compare Ezra 8:21-23, 31; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.) Take for example our traveling overseers in a certain African country. In recent years these brothers often were required to pass through war zones when serving the congregations. At times they were accosted by guerrillas or by security forces. If firearms had been found on them it would have cost them their life. With few exceptions, their identity as Jehovah’s Witnesses, along with the absence of any weapons of violence, gave them passage to their destination. It is the same in strife-torn Northern Ireland, where it has been said that “death is part of the landscape.” The neutrality of Jehovah’s Witnesses is well known, and as peace lovers they find protection in both Catholic and Protestant areas.
11. (a) What makes it plain that Christians should not arm themselves with lethal weapons? (b) According to the Scriptures, where should our trust be?
11 The Scriptures, backed up by the modern-day experience of Jehovah’s Witnesses, make it plain that it is inadvisable for individual Christians to carry, or have in their possession at home or in other locations, a firearm or other lethal weapon for use against human attackers or intruders. (Isaiah 2:4; 1 Peter 3:11) One who prepares for violence invites violence. Rather, the Christian’s main trust should be in Jehovah, his God.—Psalm 18:48; 140:1, 4; Proverbs 3:5-7.
12. (a) Why, Scripturally, may Christians request police protection? (b) Would a Christian ever use firearms in an emergency, or take the law into his own hands?
12 In line with Romans 13:1, 4, the worldly “superior authorities” may set up certain peace-keeping agencies, such as police, that are armed officially to protect citizens and property. Since such arrangements permitted by God are described as “God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad,” it would be in order for the Christian to request and receive protection from such an agency. But even if he finds it necessary to defend himself or his loved ones by whatever is at hand, he should not use firearms. Nor would he take the law into his own hands. In many countries it is illegal even to possess firearms for self-defense.—Matthew 22:21; compare Exodus 22:2.
13. Why would a Christian not use the martial arts for self-defense?
13 However, for private self-defense, might not the Christian take training in the martial arts, such as the Chinese Kung fu? Let it be noted that this most lethal of the Oriental arts was developed more than 1,400 years ago by Zen Buddhist monks of the Shaolin Monastery on the slopes of Songshan, one of China’s sacred mountains. From this religious source came also the martial arts of Japan—Bushido, meaning, literally, “The Way of the Warrior.” Many experts in the arts of judo, kendo and karate still draw inspiration from religious meditation. Karate has as its objective incapacitating the victim, which could result in serious injury or death. Surely, those who trust in Jehovah would not turn to the martial arts for defense!—Proverbs 3:31.
14, 15. (a) Why would it be fitting for a Christian to hunt or kill animals for food? (b) But what might lead to a Christian’s being ineligible for special privileges, and why?
14 Would it be fitting for the Christian to possess firearms for the purpose of hunting animals for food? Since the Flood, God has permitted the killing of animals for food, though the blood must be poured out on the ground, not eaten. (Genesis 9:3, 4; Deuteronomy 12:23-25) When allowed by local law, some Witnesses keep guns for protection against wild animals or for shooting game. (Matthew 22:21) To them this may be an important or practical source of food. But never should anyone think that Jehovah would approve of taking animal life for sport, for the thrill of killing—as has been the way with ancient and modern “Nimrods.” Since “the soul of the flesh is in the blood,” this is precious in Jehovah’s sight.*—Leviticus 17:11, 14.
15 If a sizable number of Witnesses in a congregation should be disturbed in that someone is hunting animals merely for sport, and not for obtaining food, he might not be in position to receive special service privileges, because of his offensive reputation.—1 Timothy 3:2.
16. How may elders help, but what may result to those who fail to follow the Scriptural counsel in paragraphs 9 to 15 above?
16 It is similar if one of Jehovah’s Witnesses insists on carrying or having firearms for protection against humans, or on learning the martial arts. The spiritual elders should take immediate steps to counsel and help him to remedy the situation. (Micah 4:3) Anyone who thus continues to carry personal arms or otherwise equips himself to become “a smiter” would cease to qualify for special privileges in the congregation.—1 Timothy 3:2, 3.
Use of Arms in Civilian Employment
17. Why do most Witnesses avoid employment involving the martial arts or the carrying of firearms?
17 If someone has employment that involves carrying a weapon for use against other humans, or if he is required to be trained in the martial arts, such as judo and karate, what should he do? In making his personal decision he must bear in mind that a follower of Jesus is to pursue peace. (Romans 12:17, 18) In view of what is stated at Isaiah 2:4, most of Jehovah’s Witnesses avoid such employment. Even though the employment may be for the purpose of protecting the public (or property) in harmony with Romans 13:4, experience has shown that there is always the danger of incurring bloodguilt by taking life with the weapon, with harm to the individual’s conscience, as well as there being a danger of injury or death to oneself due to retaliation. (Psalm 51:14; compare Numbers 35:11, 12, 22-25.) Certainly it is best to avoid such dangers by selecting employment where they do not arise.
18. (a) How would the viewpoint of a mature Christian differ from that of the world? (b) To keep a clear conscience, how might he try to adjust matters?
18 During these “last days,” many employees are expected to carry a firearm. Bank or security guards, watchmen and policemen may even be required to do so to hold employment. But what of the Christian, who is obligated to “provide for those who are his own”? (1 Timothy 5:8) His Bible-trained viewpoint would be different from that of worldly persons, who feel free to carry such weapons and to use them as they see fit in any dangerous situation that may arise. (Ephesians 5:15-17) He will want to avoid bloodguilt, having in mind Jehovah’s viewpoint on the sanctity of blood. (Genesis 9:6; Psalm 55:23) A mature Christian should try to find unarmed employment.* Some Witnesses by talking with their employer have been successful in changing to a job that does not require carrying a weapon.
19. For what privileges might a brother be ineligible until an adjustment is made? (2 Corinthians 13:11)
19 As the world becomes increasingly violent we can no longer regard as exemplary a brother who continues in armed employment. He could be allowed six months to make a change. If he does not make a change, he would not be in a position to hold special privileges of service and responsibility in the congregation.—1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:5, 6.
Let All of Us Pursue Peace
20. (a) Why is the path of peace to be recommended? (b) Despite severe tests, and even death, what will be the outcome to integrity keepers? (c) In whom do you trust?
20 In pursuing the path of peace Jehovah’s Witnesses have so many times found protection—physically, morally, spiritually! Clearly this Scriptural course is the one to be followed. In the few cases where there have been casualties among faithful Christians, their fearlessness to the death has placed them in line for an early resurrection. (Hebrews 11:36-40; Revelation 2:10) At times Jehovah permits Satan to place severe tests on His people, as in the case of Job, though the final outcome to that integrity keeper was a happy one. (Job 1:18, 19; 42:12-15) But whatever may come in these violent times, let it never sway us from our integrity. Let us trust in God. “For, as regards Jehovah, his eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.”—2 Chronicles 16:9.
For the complete account, see the article “In the Mushroom Cloud,” pages 17-19, Awake! of September 8, 1954.
How would you answer?
□ In all situations threatening violence, where must the Christian place his trust?
□ What benefit is there in keeping close to Jehovah’s organization and its counsel?
□ Why is it folly to carry firearms or learn the martial arts for self-defense?
□ With regard to armed employment, what course is counseled for Christians, and why?
[Box on page 22]
The Escalation of Violence—Where Will It End?
“An all-out nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union could result in the death of . . . about 80 percent of the world’s population.”—The Express, March 29, 1982, based on interview with a California senator.
“Bombed out of their Brains—The danger is that the political leaders, Soviet and American . . . will be persuaded that nuclear war is thinkable. The fact is, of course, that any nuclear war in which all, or a significant part, of the Soviet and American nuclear arsenals are used would utterly devastate the Northern hemisphere.”—Dr. Frank Barnaby, peace researcher, December 26, 1982.
“If readiness for war is a prerequisite for peace, then peace must never have been better guaranteed. A million Hiroshimas stockpiled on earth, and this is still not preventing each of its 4,200,000,000 inhabitants from spending £115 a year on arms.”—Andre Fontaine, Le Monde, republished in The Guardian, January 9, 1983.
“U.N. Chief Says Threat of Nuclear War Grows—‘The choice is between new generations of weapons and future human generations,’ he said.”—The New York Times, February 16, 1983, quoting Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.
“A generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.” “And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ecclesiastes 1:4; Psalm 37:10, 11.
[Box on page 23]
Jehovah’s Witnesses Endure Violent Times in Tripoli, Lebanon
“They really went through some tough times but never missed a meeting. They told us that while holding their district convention one group of 117 was gathered at a brother’s home, and when the last sister entered, a rocket exploded right outside the door. All through the meeting the rockets and mortars fell all around them like rain. They showed us the shaved-off lamp posts and the surrounding buildings peppered with shrapnel—but nothing hit the apartment where they were gathered!
“Two families on one occasion wondered if they should try to go to the meeting because of the shelling. They decided to go ahead, and their lives were saved because, while they were at the meeting, the house of one family was bombed and completely destroyed, and the other house was so sprayed with shrapnel that no one could have survived.
“One Witness family living in leftist territory where the rightists invaded were to be taken out and executed. But a relative not in the truth and in the party heard of it and got to them before the execution squad arrived. He took them to the headquarters of the party where they explained all about the neutrality of the Witnesses, gave a good witness and were released. This is the story many times over.”—As reported by a visitor.
[Picture on page 25]
Meet violence with violence or trust in Jehovah?