Peace From God—When?
“The God who gives peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.”—ROMANS 16:20.
1, 2. (a) What did a Hindu sage say about war and peace? (b) Who are the happy ones who come to enjoy peace from God?
“IF THE mad race for armaments continues, it is bound to result in a slaughter such as has never occurred in history. If there is a victor left the very victory will be a living death for the nation that emerges victorious.” That forecast made in 1938 by Mohandas Gandhi actually looked far beyond his time.
2 Previously, in 1931, Gandhi had told a British viceroy: “When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world.” As the Hindu sage indicated, Jesus’ sermon points the way to lasting peace. In that sermon Christ said: “Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” (Matthew 5:9) Many “sons” now enjoy peace from God. In time, all meek ones of earth will find “exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:11) But can we be confident of this outcome?
3. Why is there no real peace on earth today?
3 Today, the specter of world annihilation hovers over mankind. A recent study states: “The ultimate absurdity is the $3-4,000,000,000,000 (3-4 trillion dollars) spent since World War II to create a nuclear arsenal which, if used, will mean global suicide. . . . The megatonnage in the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons is enough to kill 58 billion people, or to kill every person now living 12 times.”* Yet the mad race has continued to accelerate. MAD indeed, since those initials stand for Mutually Assured Destruction, the shaky concept on which the superpowers balance their so-called peace. This surely is not peace from God.
4. (a) What spectacle does the world now present? (b) Yet what strong hope do worshipers of Jehovah entertain?
4 In every way, this world presents a sorry spectacle. Never before has human society had to endure more political corruption, more criminal violence, more economic headaches, or more godlessness and religious confusion than in this present age. Never has it been truer of mankind that “all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together.” Yet God promises that his human creation “will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21, 22) Those peace-lovers who worship the God of the Bible, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, are assured of entering into that freedom. It will be a freedom that is firmly rooted in true peace, eternal peace. (Ezekiel 37:26-28) But when and how will that peace come?
God’s View of ‘Times and Seasons’
5. What question arises in connection with 1 Thessalonians 5:1?
5 The apostle Paul had comforted the Christians in Thessalonica by explaining how the resurrection is related to “the presence of the Lord” Jesus. Next he says: “As for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you.”—1 Thessalonians 4:15; 5:1.
6. How do we know that ‘times and seasons’ are important to God?
6 Do the apostle’s words indicate that ‘times and seasons’ are not important to God? Far from it! (Ecclesiastes 3:1) It was “when the full limit of the time arrived,” at the end of 69 weeks of years, that “God sent forth his Son.” And Jesus’ ministry lasted three and a half years—from 29 C.E. to 33 C.E.—just as had been prophesied. (Galatians 4:4; Daniel 9:24-27) It was exactly at the end of “the appointed times of the nations” in 1914 that Jesus was installed as King in “heavenly Jerusalem.” (Luke 21:24; Hebrews 12:22; Ezekiel 21:27; Daniel 4:31, 32) The “great tribulation” will also come at the “day and hour” decreed by Jehovah. “It will not be late.”—Matthew 24:21, 36; Habakkuk 2:3.
7. Why did Paul have no need to write to the Thessalonians about ‘times and seasons’?
7 However, at this point Paul had no need to write of “the times and the seasons.” Those Thessalonian Christians were already convinced that it was the ‘season’ for the conclusion of the Jewish system of things, which would end some 20 years later, in 70 C.E. Their zeal and “joy of holy spirit” shone forth as exemplary. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-7) Likewise, Jehovah’s Witnesses today are fully aware that the world wars and other distressing events since 1914 are “the sign” of Jesus’ invisible presence in Kingdom power and glory.—Matthew 24:3-8; 25:31.
8. Why must we keep awake and active?
8 Next, the apostle reassures his fellow Christians, saying: “For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2) Though we do not know the exact timing, that day for executing judgment moves ever closer. It will break suddenly, instantly, at God’s appointed hour. Therefore, we must keep awake and active.—Luke 21:34-36.
A Climactic Call for Peace
9. (a) What cry arises, and why do true Christians not share therein? (b) Who herald forth this call, and how do they compare to the rulers in Jeremiah’s day?
9 “Peace and security!” Paul here alerts us to the proclamation that will be heard at the climax of Christ’s “presence.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) Will we soon hear that cry? Where could such a call for the world’s peace and security originate? Obviously not from among Christ’s followers, for Jesus stated that neither they nor his Kingdom are “part of the world.” (John 15:19; 17:14, 16; 18:36) Those who herald forth this cry must therefore be worldlings who are opposed to the incoming Kingdom of God. They are part of the world that ‘lies in the power of the wicked one,’ Satan the Devil. (1 John 5:19) Like the political and religious leaders of Jeremiah’s day, these will speak “the vision of their own heart,” saying, “Peace is what you people will come to have,” wrongly contending that such peace is from God. How false their claim will prove to be!—Jeremiah 23:16, 17, 19, 20.
10. What chain of events has led up to the present world situation?
10 A chain of events leads up to this cry of “Peace and security!” It was in 1920 that the League of Nations was brought forth in the wake of the Great War, now known as World War I. The purpose of this League was to banish war from the earth forever. But World War II tumbled the League into an abyss. On October 24, 1945, this body was revived, rising from the ashes with a new name, the United Nations. (Compare Revelation 17:8.) Its primary objective is “to preserve world peace and security.” Its founders expressed determination “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Has the UN been successful in assuring such peace and security?
11. How serious is the crisis that confronts the world?
11 However sincere some of the founders of the UN may have been, that body, like the League before it, has failed to fulfill its chartered purpose. The world now sits on a powder keg of nuclear armaments. The accident at Chernobyl, U.S.S.R., in April 1986, with the resultant radioactive fallout over much of Europe, shows that even when used for peaceful purposes, nuclear power has a terrible potential. Some nations in the South Pacific are trying to maintain their area as a nuclear-free zone. But if a full-scale nuclear war ever broke loose, there would be survivors nowhere.
Are “Peace and Security” Possible?
12. What declaration has the UN made for 1986, and with what response among the nations?
12 Fully aware of the deepening crisis, the United Nations declared 1986 to be the International Year of Peace. This has met with a mixed reception among the nations. Most of them have supported the UN Year of Peace in one way or another, but they point to nuclear war as the overshadowing threat to peace. In the meantime, miniwars continue to be fought around the earth, some 150 of them since World War II, with a combined death toll of more than 30,000,000. Can it be said that any nation really has taken the initiative in acting upon those famous words of Isaiah 2:4 that are emblazoned on the plaza wall at the UN?
13. How have religious leaders given support?
13 The religions of the world have not been backward in giving support to the UN Year of Peace. Pope John Paul II proclaimed January 1 as a World Day of Peace and urged statesmen to provide the leadership needed for establishing a basis for universal peace. He also called upon the world’s faiths to meet for prayer at Assisi, Italy, during the International Year of Peace. The Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, and Buddhist groups warmly welcomed this invitation. The World Council of Churches issued a declaration on the International Year of Peace, urging that nuclear disarmament begin immediately.
14. How only may a project for peace succeed?
14 However, in this matter of establishing “peace and security,” what is the will of “the God who gives peace”? Does God’s prophetic Word show that imperfect men and nations can bring peace and security to this world? Far from it! “Certain success” would depend on Jehovah’s handling matters in harmony with his righteousness and to his praise.—Isaiah 55:11; 61:11.
Impending “Sudden Destruction”
15. What startling announcement does Paul next make?
15 The apostle Paul tells us what is about to happen. He says: “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 Thessalonians 5:3.
16. Why are the ways of the nations not God’s ways?
16 At first reading, those words may seem shocking. But the Bible clarifies matters. The ways of the nations today are not God’s ways. (Isaiah 55:8, 9) His reason for permitting the various forms of man-rule to continue is to answer an issue that the wily Serpent, Satan the Devil, raised some 6,000 years ago. When Satan persuaded our first parents to choose independence from God, he disputed whether mankind really needs God-rule.—Genesis 3:4, 5.
17. What record has man-rule made, and what does this prove?
17 During the millenniums that have followed, God has allowed men to experiment with every imaginable form of human government. Whether it endured for a few years or for hundreds of years, each kind of man-rule has failed miserably to bring in true peace and security. War, crime, terror, and death have been the continuing lot of mankind under every type of human government. Throughout history, “man has dominated man to his injury.” (Ecclesiastes 8:9) It is no different today. Anyone aware of the issue can now say, as did God’s prophet: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”—Jeremiah 10:23.
18. Why is the nations’ cry of “Peace and security!” in vain?
18 Now the time is at hand to settle the issue once and for all. God-rule alone can bring true peace and security to mankind. However, it is not God-rule that the nations favor when they cry “Peace and security!” They want to continue domination according to their own prideful ideologies. But time has run out! The nations sense that something drastic must be done. Otherwise, all will be lost in some nuclear holocaust. So they will do what Jeremiah foretold: “They try to heal the breakdown of my people lightly, saying, ‘There is peace! There is peace!’ when there is no peace.” But it will be in vain!—Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11, 15.
The Prophesied End
19. How will “Jehovah’s day” break forth?
19 “Sudden destruction . . . instantly,” says the apostle Paul. God’s prophet Isaiah adds: “Look! Their very heroes have cried out in the street; the very messengers of peace will weep bitterly.” (Isaiah 33:7) In many places, the Bible shows that Jehovah’s execution of judgment upon wicked nations and men will come swiftly, unexpectedly—truly “as a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3; Jeremiah 25:32, 33; Zephaniah 1:14-18; 2 Peter 3:10) At a time when the world is loudly proclaiming that it has reached some plateau of peace and security, “Jehovah’s day” will break forth with frightening suddenness. God’s people will have recognized that cry of “Peace and security!” for what it is and will be safe in Jehovah’s provided refuge.—Psalm 37:39, 40; 46:1, 2; Joel 3:16.
20. (a) The UN is what kind of “beast”? (b) How does Jehovah view false religion, and why?
20 In God’s Word, the course of the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, is likened to that of “a scarlet-colored wild beast” having seven heads (representing the world powers from which it originates) and ten horns (standing for the governmental powers that now support it). The Bible shows it to be a political “beast,” comparable to the British “lion” and the Russian “bear.” Upon its back there rides a woman, “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” (Revelation 17:3-8) This well expresses Jehovah’s view of false religion, which does not represent him and his righteous Kingdom. She commits spiritual harlotry by getting involved in politics. Religion’s linking up with the UN in the world’s campaign for peace and security is an example of this. She would also like to have peace and security from God’s judgment message proclaimed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. To this end, she has influenced some governments to ban the Christian activity of the Witnesses.—Psalm 2:1-3.
21. (a) What action marks the start of “Jehovah’s day”? (b) To what finale does the “day” next proceed?
21 How will “Jehovah’s day” break forth? In this darkest night of human history, it will indeed come “as a thief”! That will be when God maneuvers nations of the UN beast to turn suddenly on false religion. Displaying their underlying hatred for Babylon the Great, they will expose her for what she is and utterly devastate her. So swiftly will this execution come that former political paramours will exclaim: “Too bad, too bad, you great city, Babylon you strong city, because in one hour your judgment has arrived!” But the nations and their armies will also attack God’s people. Then, the King of kings, Jesus Christ, will destroy all those enemies and abyss the arch-opposer, Satan the Devil.—Revelation 17:16, 17; 18:10; 19:11-21; 20:1-3; compare Ezekiel 38:11, 16, 18-23.
22. (a) What grand prospect do believing humans have today? (b) How may you come to enjoy peace from God?
22 At last, true peace and security will flourish under God’s Kingdom! (Psalm 72:1, 7; Isaiah 9:6, 7) Happily, many today who ‘stay awake and keep their senses’ will live to see it. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6) “A great crowd . . . out of all nations,” who exercise faith in Jehovah’s ransom provision through Christ, will be saved out of “the great tribulation” to enjoy eternal peace from God. (Revelation 7:9-17; 21:3, 4) May you be one of them!
The publication World Military and Social Expenditures 1985.
How Would You Answer?
□ Why are ‘times and seasons’ important to God and to us?
□ How should we regard the approach of “Jehovah’s day”?
□ Who share in the cry of 1 Thessalonians 5:3, and when?
□ What momentous events are triggered by that cry?