Why Armageddon Must Be Fought
“GOD IS LOVE.” Not only does God show love, says the apostle John, but he is love—the very embodiment of love.—1 John 4:8.
Yet, this same God of love is often portrayed by some as a vindictive god who brings cruel punishment upon those who have fallen from his favor. Consequently, many have either lost faith in God or ridiculed the Bible, claiming it could not have originated with such a God. Particularly do portions of the book of Revelation come in for censure where God’s judgments upon the wicked are described, culminating in the battle of Armageddon.
For example, Joseph Wheless writes in his book Is It God’s Word?: “Surely the gentle reader would not endure the apocalyptic vision revealing the genial repentant soul among poor sinners (either of original or of mortal sin), who are there ‘tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb,’ who all look on complacent while ‘the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night’ from the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God (Rev. xiv, 10, 11). This is the inspired revelation of the God of all love.”
Also taking issue with the Revelation account, Professor Gerald A. Larue of the University of Southern California recently wrote in the magazine Free Inquiry: “Nonbelievers are plunged into an abyss of suffering that staggers the imagination. The punishment is not the lex talionis, the an eye-for-an-eye justice; nor is it like vendetta justice, where a total group may be wiped out (cf. Gen. 4:23, ; Josh. 6; etc). Here punishment is for eternity. There is no mercy, punishment is never-ending. There is no forgiveness, only punishment that denies the peace of annihilation. This is no Jesus-meek-and-mild imagery.” Then, quoting Revelation 14:9-11, he continues: “No turning of the other cheek here—only vicious, furious reprisal in savagery that makes the Nazi tortures look tame by comparison.”
Understandably, thoughts of cruel suffering while sinners are tortured eternally can raise questions about a ‘God of love.’ But such ideas are based on a misunderstanding of the Bible and the symbolisms used therein. Nowhere does the Bible teach that the soul is immortal. Rather, the Scriptures point out that “the wages sin pays is death”—not eternal torment—and that at death one’s senses, including the ability to feel pain, cease.—Romans 6:23; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.
It is the punishment, not the punishing, that lasts eternally—as the wicked are totally annihilated in “the lake of fire,” a symbol of complete destruction. (Revelation 20:14, 15; 21:8) Still, the battle of Armageddon will bring untold suffering and hardship to humankind and will be the most sanguinary war ever fought. (Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 14:20; 19:17, 18) Does it emanate from ‘the God of love?’ Will God really bring about such a war?
An Expression of God’s Love
Actually, it is because of God’s love that the battle of Armageddon must be fought. Jehovah God’s purpose for the earth is to restore it to its original Paradise state and to have mankind live on it in peace and perfection “with no one to make them tremble.” (Ezekiel 34:28; Micah 4:3, 4; Revelation 21:4) What, then, is to be done with those who, by their crime and violence, would mar the security of the restored Paradise? No system devised by man has yet successfully dealt with such a problem. The only way to ensure perfect peace is to eliminate even the threat of wickedness. Yes, God must destroy the incorrigibly wicked for the sake of those who want to do what is right. Out of love, he acts to clear the earth of those who would ruin it.—Revelation 11:18.
But no one needs to die. “[God’s] will is that all sorts of men should be saved,” writes the apostle Paul. (1 Timothy 2:4) And Peter, also writing under inspiration, states: “He does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) God has arranged for the “good news of the kingdom” to be proclaimed so that each individual will have opportunity to work out his own salvation. (Matthew 24:14; Philippians 2:12; Galatians 6:5) You can live forever in perfection on a paradise earth. The choice is yours. (Romans 2:5-9; Ezekiel 18:23, 32) Is this not what you would expect from a God of love?
The Issue of Sovereignty
In order to ensure perfect peace and tranquillity, there will be only one government ruling over all the earth—God’s Kingdom. Is it not the many human governments, all striving for their own selfish nationalistic gains, that have caused much of the strife and bloodshed earth wide? These governments must be removed to make way for the righteous rule of God’s Kingdom under Christ. (Daniel 2:44) You have prayed for that heavenly government when you repeated the model prayer that Jesus gave his disciples: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:10.
But which government do you know that is willing to renounce its sovereignty and subject itself fully to God’s Kingdom? Do governments not rather cling tenaciously to their own sovereignties, continually seeking to expand their sphere of influence in defiance of God’s established Kingdom? (Psalm 2:1-9) Has there ever been any indication that the nations will relinquish their rulerships to God and Christ? The ineffectiveness of the United Nations organization as an instrument for world peace shows the unwillingness of nations to budge where selfish national interests are concerned and to submit to a single authority. The nations are determined to run earth’s affairs their way. (Revelation 17:13, 14; 19:19) So the battle of Armageddon must be fought to break this stalemate and forever settle the issue of who has the right to rule the earth.
To Satisfy Man’s Needs
Jehovah’s actions at Armageddon will be with mankind’s best interests in mind. Think. How do you feel about the present world conditions? Do you like them as they are? Do you feel secure under the threat of nuclear annihilation? Do you tremble at seeing violence increasing, your own neighborhood becoming less safe? Do you fear for your children and their future? What relief do you see? Has any government ever shown that it could bring peace and prosperity to all mankind? Has any ever been able to eliminate sickness or death from the earth? Instead, have not conditions worldwide worsened despite man’s technological achievements, and often because of such developments? It is only God’s righteous Kingdom that will fully satisfy the needs of mankind. It is only by means of it that true peace will prevail over all the earth. The battle of Armageddon must be fought!
But how about the human suffering and hardship that will result as God goes into action to cleanse the earth? These have always been products of war. They will occur at Armageddon only because the nations entrench themselves in opposition to theocratic rule. They are determined to fight and resist. (Psalm 2:2, 3) That is not God’s fault. He gives them due warning: “And now, O kings, give heed; take warning, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before him; with trembling pay homage to him, lest he be angry and you perish from the way, when his anger blazes suddenly. Happy are all who take refuge in him!”—Psalm 2:10, 11, The New American Bible.
Now think. What would world conditions be like if God refrained from stepping in to straighten out world affairs? Would not wars, violence, and hatreds continue unabated as they have down through the centuries of human rulership? Do they not even now intensify to the point where all mankind is threatened with the horrors of nuclear warfare and its radiation poisoning? Armageddon is actually the best thing that could happen to our globe! It will put an end to the nations’ selfish suicidal course. It will clear out the systems that bring misery to humankind and make way for a truly righteous new system of things where all man-made sorrow, pain, and death will be forever removed. Then ‘the former things will have passed away,’ according to God’s promise.—Revelation 21:4; 2 Peter 3:13.
We must remember that God in his wisdom knows what is best for mankind and what is needed to achieve it. Even human governments have proposed and engaged in war to rectify seeming injustices or to fight for what was thought to be a noble cause. But only God has the wisdom to fight a truly just war. Only he can fight a truly selective war where right-hearted individuals, wherever they may be on earth, will be preserved. (Matthew 24:40, 41; Revelation 7:9, 10, 13-17) And only God has the right to impose his sovereignty over all the earth, for it is his creation. Yes, in order to remove all traces of wickedness forever, end injustice, oppressive false worship, even the cause of sin, and fully sanctify God’s holy name—Armageddon must be fought. And it will be, because “God is love!”
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ARMAGEDDON . . . . . . paves the way for peace