The War to End Wars
A HUGE German zeppelin droned through the night sky. It was returning home after a raid on London, and as it passed over a village in Essex, bombs were dropped. One of them killed a nurse on leave from the war in France.
This was a minor episode of World War I, but it had huge implications. It was an example of how the 20th century, far from ushering in a time when man would ‘learn war no more,’ has seen a tremendous growth in both the weapons and the arenas of warfare. (Isaiah 2:2-4) For thousands of years, wars had been fought on land and on the surface of the sea. But in World War I, the fighting spread up into the atmosphere and down under the surface of the sea. As a result, civilians who were hundreds of miles from the battle lines were killed by bombs, and many ships were sent to the bottom of the ocean by unseen submarines.
Indeed, during that first terrible world war, 8 million soldiers died in the fighting, and an estimated 12 million civilians died from causes that included starvation and exposure. “The tragedy of the Great War [World War I],” according to historian H. A. L. Fisher, “was that it was fought between the most highly civilized peoples in Europe on an issue which a few level-headed men could easily have composed.” To justify the horrendous slaughter, it was called the “war to end wars.” But that phrase soon came to sound very hollow.
A Peace Organization
Once peace was declared in 1918, an embittered generation demanded that steps be taken to ensure that such a war could never happen again. Thus, the League of Nations was born in 1919. But the League was a great disappointment. In 1939 the world was again plunged into world war—a war that was even more deadly than the first.
In World War II, many cities were reduced to rubble, turning civilian life into a nightmare. Then in 1945 atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ushering man into the nuclear age. The hideous mushroom clouds that rose over those two Japanese cities were harbingers of a threat that has hung over mankind ever since.
However, even before those bombs fell, preparations were being made for setting up an organization like the defunct League of Nations. The result was the United Nations Organization, which basically had the same objective as its predecessor—that of maintaining world peace. What has it achieved? Well, there has been no world war since 1945, but there have been numerous smaller wars in which millions of people have died.
Does this mean that mankind will never see the fulfillment of God’s promise through Isaiah that men ‘will learn war no more’? No. It merely means that this will not be brought about by man. The Bible, which is called ‘a light to our roadway,’ is the book that contains that inspired promise. And it is the Bible that shows that none other than God himself will finally make all wars to cease.—Psalm 119:105.
An End to All Wars
As mentioned in the preceding article, there was a group in the first century that established an international brotherhood in which it would have been unthinkable for one member to war against his brother or sister. This was the Christian congregation, whose members in a very literal sense had ‘beaten their swords into plowshares.’ Today, while mankind as a whole can make no headway in abolishing war, there is again a group of people who have achieved this same remarkable goal. Who are they?
In the years before 1914, this small group had confidence in the Bible. Hence, they knew that men’s efforts to abolish war would not succeed. From their study of the Bible, they learned that the year 1914 would be a turning point in human history, and they gave warning of this for 40 years. True to Bible prophecy, 1914 was the beginning of a time marked by famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, as well as war. (Matthew 24:3, 7, 8; Luke 21:10, 11) Concerning World War I, historian James Cameron wrote: “In 1914 the world, as it was known and accepted then, came to an end.”
Before that war ended, a terrible flu epidemic struck on a global scale and killed 20 million people—more than twice the number of soldiers that died in the war itself. Since then, diseases such as cancer and, more recently, AIDS have terrified mankind.
Now note another Bible prophecy: “And because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.” (Matthew 24:12) Is this being fulfilled? Surely! Daily, the media expose worldwide lawlessness: murders, muggings, and general mayhem. Furthermore, a political forecast concerning World War II was that it would bring “freedom from fear.” In contrast, the Bible accurately foretold that men would “become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” (Luke 21:26) Once again human predictions were wrong, and God’s prophetic words true.
The Chief Warmonger
A warmonger is one who foments war. Politicians, clergymen, and even businessmen have played this role. But the greatest warmonger is none other than Satan the Devil, called in the Scriptures “the god of this system of things.”—2 Corinthians 4:4.
Satan rebelled against Jehovah God millenniums ago, and later he seduced a host of angels into joining him. But in 1914 his time was up. The Bible tells us: “War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.”—Revelation 12:7-9.
This explains why the earth has been such a dangerous place since 1914. The Bible foretold the result of Satan’s downfall: “Woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) How short a time? Jesus said: “This generation [the one seeing the events starting in 1914] will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) What things? All the disasters and turmoil that Jesus prophesied for our day.
However, the Bible shows that in spite of the debacle of the League of Nations and the present impotence of the United Nations Organization, the nations would not cease their own efforts to make peace. Indeed, the time will come when they will think they have succeeded. There will be a great cry of “peace and security,” but this is to be followed by the “sudden destruction” of this corrupt world. Being in the dark, men will be taken by surprise by this turn of events, which will come “as a thief in the night.”—1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3.
What will this lead to? To the war that really is a “war to end wars”: the battle of Armageddon, called in the Bible “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” This will mean destruction of all evil elements and their supporters. “Evildoers themselves will be cut off.” (Revelation 16:14-16; Psalm 37:9) Finally, Satan, the great warmonger, will be confined in a place where he can have no further influence on humans. Eventually, he too is to be destroyed.—Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10.
Notice, however, that this will not be a war of mindless destruction with senseless slaughter of innocent and guilty alike. There will be survivors, and these will be ones who are “rendering [God] sacred service day and night.” Yes, those who cease to learn war even now and who follow the peaceful ways of a true Christian will survive this last, great war. Will they be many? The Bible calls them “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.”—Revelation 7:9, 14, 15.
After the Storm
What a relief these will feel! Instead of many nationalistic governments, there will be only one government: the Kingdom of God. (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 6:9, 10) Instead of the proud and ambitious, the meek will inherit the earth and “find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:10, 11) “God himself . . . will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” (Revelation 21:3, 4) Jehovah will make “wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.” Swords will be beaten into plowshares, spears into pruning shears, and ‘they will not learn war anymore.’—Psalm 46:8, 9; Isaiah 2:4.
Would you not like to live in such a world? Of course you would! Well, the possibility is there. The first step is to study God’s Word, the Bible, and assure yourself that this hope is true and soundly based. Then, find out from the Bible what God’s will is for you now and act accordingly. True, study means effort, but it is worth it. Jesus said that the knowledge you gain, if you use it properly, will mean “everlasting life.” (John 17:3) Is there anything more important than that?