‘No Peace for the Wicked Ones’
“‘There is no peace,’ my God has said, ‘for the wicked ones.’”—ISAIAH 57:21.
1, 2. (a) How do many people feel about the future of mankind? (b) What is the result of human efforts to make peace?
“I AM constantly aware that at any second the world might blow up in my face.” This shocking statement, quoted in the magazine Psychology Today, was made by a North American high-school student. Sometime soon, the student feared, a nuclear war will likely destroy all mankind. A Russian schoolgirl describes the results of a nuclear war: “All living things will perish—no grass, no trees, no greenery.” What a terrible prospect! Yet, people feel this could really happen. In a recent survey 40 percent of the adults interviewed felt that there was a “high chance” of nuclear war before the year 2000.—See Luke 21:26.
2 World leaders also sense the danger. After the last world war, they set up the United Nations organization to try to bring peace and security to mankind—but in vain. Instead, the postwar years have seen the development of an intense rivalry between two nuclear-armed superpowers. From time to time, the leaders of these powers meet in an effort to defuse international tension but with few results. Despite the fact that religious leaders are praying for peace, the situation is much as Isaiah described: “Their very heroes have cried out in the street; the very messengers of peace will weep bitterly.”—Isaiah 33:7.
3. Why is there no possibility that men will succeed in their peace-making efforts?
3 Informed Christians know why politicians will never bring lasting peace. They realize that as long as humans are full of selfishness, hatred, greed, pride, and ambition, there will be no peace. (Compare James 4:1.) Besides, human events are not fully controlled by humans. Rather, the Bible tells us: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:4) The situation of mankind under this one’s control was well described by Isaiah: “The wicked are like the sea that is being tossed, when it is unable to calm down . . . ‘There is no peace,’ my God has said, ‘for the wicked ones.’”—Isaiah 57:20, 21.
“The God Who Gives Peace”
4. Who alone has the power to bring peace to the earth?
4 This does not mean that the human race cannot escape destruction in a future nuclear war. It simply means that if we are to see peace, it will have to come from an external source. Happily, that Source exists in the person of Jehovah God, “the God who gives peace.” (Romans 16:20) He has the power to counter Satan’s influence and has purposed to “bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11) Moreover, he has made the heartwarming promise: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:11.
5. (a) How did Jehovah use Daniel to give us information about His purpose to bring peace? (b) Why should we be concerned with this prophecy recorded by Daniel?
5 Many years ago, Jehovah revealed the historical development of events that would lead up to his bringing peace to the earth. Through an angel, he spoke to his faithful prophet Daniel about “the final part of the days,” our own time. (Daniel 10:14) He foretold today’s superpower rivalry and showed that it will soon end in a way that neither power suspects. And he promised that this unexpected development would usher in real peace. For Christians this prophecy is of vital interest. It gives a clear view of where we stand in the stream of time and strengthens our determination to remain neutral to the international rivalry while waiting patiently for God to act on our behalf.—Psalm 146:3, 5.
A Rivalry Begins
6. Outline the historical background of today’s superpower rivalry.
6 The truth is, today’s superpower rivalry is not a new thing on the world scene. It is, rather, a continuation of something that began a long time ago. After the collapse of Alexander the Great’s world empire toward the end of the fourth century B.C.E., two of his military leaders took power in Syria and Egypt. A lasting rivalry that ultimately led to the superpower rivalry of today sprang up between them and their successors—spoken of as the king of the north and the king of the south because they were situated to the north and south of the land of God’s people. The historical development of this rivalry was revealed in advance to the prophet Daniel through an angel.
7. (a) How do we know that there is an unseen, spirit dimension to human affairs? (b) Who, originally, were the king of the north and the king of the south, and how did their rivalry get started?
7 The angel first describes how he, supported by Michael, had been fighting against the spirit ‘princes’ of Persia and Greece. (Daniel 10:13, Dan 10:20–11:1) This glimpse into the spirit realm confirms that national conflicts involve more than mere humans. There are demonic forces, or “princes,” behind the visible human rulers. But from ancient times, God’s people have had a “prince,” Michael, to strengthen them against these demonic powers. (Ephesians 6:12) Then the angel focuses our attention on the rivalry between Syria and Egypt. He begins: “And the king of the south will become strong, even one of his princes.” (Daniel 11:5a) The king of the south here was Ptolemy I, ruler of Egypt, who captured Jerusalem about 312 B.C.E. The angel next refers to another king who “will prevail against him and will certainly rule with extensive dominion greater than that one’s ruling power.” (Daniel 11:5b) This is the king of the north in the person of Seleucus I Nicator, whose kingdom, Syria, became stronger than Egypt.
8. What does the remarkable accuracy of the first part of the angel’s prophecy about the king of the north and the king of the south mean for Christians today?
8 The angel goes on to prophesy many details of the continuing rivalry between successive rulers of Syria and Egypt. (Daniel 11:6-19) These prophecies were so accurate that some feel that the book of Daniel must have been written after the fact.* For Christians, though, the remarkable accuracy of these prophecies strengthens their faith in those parts of the prophecy yet to be fulfilled during “the final part of the days.”
The Prince of the Covenant
9. How did the action of the king of the north lead to Jesus’ being born in Bethlehem?
9 It is not to be expected that the angel would cover every individual ruler from Ptolemy down to “the final part of the days.” Rather, we understand that after Da 11 verse 19 the prophecy jumps to the years immediately preceding our Common Era, when we read: “And there must stand up in his [the king of the north’s] position one who is causing an exactor to pass through the splendid kingdom.” (Daniel 11:20) By now, Syria is a province of Rome, and the king of the north is represented by the Roman emperor Augustus. He is the one who ordered the census that resulted in Jesus’ being born in Bethlehem rather than in Nazareth.—Luke 2:1-7; Micah 5:2.
10. What other connection between the king of the north and the Messiah did the angel draw to our attention?
10 After Augustus came Tiberius, a disgusting man described by the angel as “one who is to be despised.” (Daniel 11:21) During his reign, a dangerous mutiny on the northern frontier of the Roman Empire was controlled and the frontier itself pacified, fulfilling the words of the prophecy: “The arms of the flood, they will be flooded over on account of him, and they will be broken.” Furthermore, during his reign Jesus was killed by Roman soldiers in fulfillment of the angel’s prophecy that “the Leader of the covenant” would be broken.—Daniel 11:22; 9:27.
At “the Time Appointed”
11. (a) In 1914, what was the identity of the king of the north and the king of the south? (b) What prophecy was fulfilled “at the time appointed”?
11 Eventually, the prophecy brings us down to “the time appointed,” in 1914. (Daniel 11:27; Luke 21:24) By now, there has been a change in the identity of God’s people. Since fleshly Israel rejected the Messiah, Jehovah’s chosen people has become spiritual Israel, the congregation of anointed Christians. (1 Peter 2:9, 10) The identity of the two kings has also changed. Britain, with its political partner the United States of America, has evidently become the king of the south, while the king of the north is now Germany. World War I was foretold in these words: “At the time appointed [the king of the north] will go back, and he will actually come against the south; but it will not prove to be at the last the same as at the first.” (Daniel 11:29) The king of the south won that war. The situation was thus different from what was true “at the first,” that is, when all-conquering Rome was king of the north.
12. Describe features of world events since 1914 that were foretold in the angel’s prophetic words to Daniel.
12 The angel goes on to tell of the competition between the two kings since 1914 and, particularly, of the way that both would oppose Jehovah’s people. He also prophesies the appearance of “the disgusting thing that is causing desolation,” which exists today as the United Nations organization. (Daniel 11:31) The setting up of the UN was a political effort in which both kings cooperated to bring peace. But it is doomed to fail because it is in opposition to God’s Kingdom.* (Matthew 24:15; Revelation 17:3, 8) Finally, the angel directs our attention to “the time of the end.”—Daniel 11:40.
“The Time of the End”
13. (a) To what does the expression “the time of the end” refer in this part of the prophecy? (b) Who have fulfilled the roles of the king of the north and the king of the south since the end of the second world war?
13 What time is this? Sometimes the expression “time of the end” refers to the time of the end of this system of things, from 1914 to Armageddon. (Daniel 8:17, 19; 12:4) But events in the year 1914, “the time appointed,” were foretold back in Dan 11 verse 29, and the angel’s prophecy has brought us far beyond that.* Hence, “the time of the end” here in Dan 11 verse 40 must refer to the final stages of the 2,300-year-long struggle between the king of the north and the king of the south. We read on, then, with great interest, since we now learn of events to take place in the near future. By now, shifts in power on the world scene have led to further developments in the identity of the two kings. Since the collapse of the Nazi-Fascist powers at the end of World War II, we have witnessed rivalry between two superpowers, one represented as the king of the north, dominating a mostly socialistic bloc of nations, and the other represented as the king of the south, dominating a largely capitalistic bloc.
14. How does the angel describe the king of the north?
14 The disposition of the latest king of the north is well described in Dan 11 verses 37, 38: “And to the God of his fathers he will give no consideration . . . But to the god of fortresses, in his position he will give glory; and to a god that his fathers did not know he will give glory by means of gold and by means of silver and by means of precious stone and by means of desirable things.” Can anyone fail to recognize this description? Today’s king of the north officially promotes atheism, rejecting the religious gods of previous kings of the north. He prefers to trust in armaments, “the god of fortresses.” This has contributed to a frantic arms race for which the two kings must share responsibility. Yearly defense spending by the king of the north alone reached almost 300 billion dollars in 1985. What a huge sacrifice of ‘gold and silver and precious stone and desirable things’ to the insatiable god of armaments!
15, 16. (a) How will affairs develop between the king of the north and the king of the south? (b) What will this mean for God’s people?
15 So, what finally happens between these two kings? The angel says: “And in the time of the end [the end of the history of the two kings] the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing, and against him the king of the north will storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships.” (Daniel 11:40; Matthew 24:3) Clearly, summit conferences are no solution to the superpower rivalry. The tensions caused by the ‘pushing’ of the king of the south and the expansionism of the king of the north may go through more or less intense phases; but eventually, in some way, the king of the north will be provoked into the excessively violent action described by Daniel.*
16 These final days are especially difficult for God’s people, who during this century have been persecuted by both kings. The angel warned that the king of the north “will also actually enter into the land of the Decoration, and there will be many lands that will be made to stumble.” “The land of the Decoration” is symbolically the land of God’s people. The angel’s words must mean, then, that as well as conquering many nations, the king of the north attacks the spiritual estate of Jehovah’s people. (Daniel 8:9; 11:41-44; Ezekiel 20:6) In Dan 11 verse 45, the prophecy adds: “And he will plant his palatial tents between the grand sea and the holy mountain of Decoration.” In other words, he positions himself to make a final assault against their spiritual paradise.
“All the Way to His End”
17. What unexpected development will provoke the king of the north?
17 But by then something will already have happened that neither the king of the north nor the king of the south foresaw. The angel prophesies: “But there will be reports that will disturb [the king of the north], out of the sunrising and out of the north, and he will certainly go forth in a great rage in order to annihilate and to devote many to destruction.”—Daniel 11:44.
18. (a) What is the source of the “reports” foretold by the angel? (b) What will be the final outcome for the king of the north?
18 What will these reports be? The angel does not specify, but he does reveal their source. They come “out of the sunrising,” and Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are alluded to as “the kings from the rising of the sun.” (Revelation 16:12) These reports also come “out of the north,” and the Bible speaks symbolically of Mount Zion, the town of the grand King Jehovah, as being “on the remote sides of the north.” (Psalm 48:2) Hence, it is “reports” from Jehovah God and Jesus Christ that send the king of the north on his last great campaign. But the results will be devastating to him. The end of Da 11 verse 45 tells us: “He will have to come all the way to his end, and there will be no helper for him.”
19. (a) What will be the different outcomes for this world and for “upright” ones? (b) What questions remain to be answered?
19 Indeed, there will be “no peace . . . for the wicked ones.” (Isaiah 57:21) Rather, the history of the king of the north will be marked by warfare right up to the end. But for His faithful servants, Jehovah promises: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth.” (Proverbs 2:21, 22) What, though, will happen to the king of the south when the king of the north ‘comes all the way to his end’? What will happen to Christians when the king of the north ‘plants his palatial tents’ in a menacing position against them? (Daniel 11:45) How will peace finally come to the earth? Jehovah, through his angel, has answered these questions, as we will see in the following articles.
For more details, see the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” chapter 10, published in 1958, by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
For more information on this section of the prophecy, see “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” chapter 11.
Notice, too, that in Dan 11 verse 35 “the time of the end” is said to be still in the future.
See “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” pages 298-303.
Can You Explain?
□ What spirit entities have been involved in human political affairs?
□ Who were the king of the north and the king of the south in 1914?
□ How does today’s king of the north worship the god of fortresses?
□ What pressure will be brought on God’s people by the king of the north?
□ What will finally happen to the king of the north?
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The Great Sea
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