When Will Lasting Peace Really Come?
“WAR is one of the constants of history, and has not diminished with civilization or democracy,” wrote Will and Ariel Durant in their book The Lessons of History. “Peace is an unstable equilibrium, which can be preserved only by acknowledged supremacy or equal power.”
Indeed, despite intense efforts, lasting peace has so far eluded mankind. Why? The reason is that the causes of war are far more deep-rooted than the political, territorial, or social struggles we see on the surface. The Durants observed: “The causes of war are the same as the causes of competition among individuals: acquisitiveness, pugnacity, and pride; the desire for food, land, materials, fuels, mastery.”
However, the Bible in particular identifies the root cause of strife and war between individuals and on a larger scale. We read: “From what source are there wars and from what source are there fights among you? Are they not from this source, namely, from your cravings for sensual pleasure that carry on a conflict in your members? You desire, and yet you do not have. You go on murdering and coveting, and yet you are not able to obtain. You go on fighting and waging war.”—James 4:1, 2.
The issue, then, boils down to this: For true peace to come, we must eliminate not only the symptoms—wars, uprisings, coups, revolutions—but also the root causes—suspicion, greed, hatred, hostility—in all humans. These must be replaced by actions consistent with such unselfish qualities as love, kindness, trust, and generosity. Does anyone exist who is capable of accomplishing this? If it is dependent on imperfect, mortal earthlings, the answer will have to be no. But there is someone for whom this is not too difficult. This is the One who holds the answer to the question: When will peace really come?
The One Who Can Bring Peace
Some 28 centuries ago, the prophet Isaiah was inspired to declare: “There has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7.
The identity of this one who will bring peace with no end was later revealed to be none other than Jesus Christ, “Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:30-33; Matthew 1:18-23) But why will this one succeed where all other princes and rulers have failed? It should be noted, first of all, that the promised “child” was not to remain forever a helpless infant, as some may picture him. Rather, he was to exercise “princely rule” as the “Prince of Peace,” to mankind’s eternal blessing.
There is more to Jesus’ rule. As “Wonderful Counselor,” having extraordinary understanding of human nature and superlative ability, he will be able to get to the heart of difficult issues and thus resolve the thorny problems that confront and frustrate worldly rulers today. (Matthew 7:28, 29; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 11:14-20) Then, as “Mighty God,” the resurrected godlike one, Jesus Christ, now enthroned in the heavens as Messianic King, will work for peace by repeating on a grand scale what he did while on earth—healing those with incurable diseases, providing multitudes with food and drink, even controlling the weather. (Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 4:36-39; Luke 17:11-14; John 2:1-11) As “Eternal Father,” Jesus has the power to bring back to life those who have perished in death and impart to them eternal life. And he himself will live forever, thus ensuring that his rule and the peace will have no end.—Matthew 20:28; John 11:25, 26; Romans 6:9.
Thus equipped, Jesus Christ is clearly the one capable of dealing with the deep-rooted causes of war and strife. He will not simply work out a peace pact or a plan for so-called peaceful coexistence for the nations, only to have it shattered by another war. Rather, he will remove every political, territorial, social, and economic inequality by bringing all mankind under one rule, that of his Messianic Kingdom. By leading all people in the worship of the one true God, Jehovah, he will eliminate what is often the underlying cause of war—false religion. There is no doubt that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, will accomplish all of this. The question is, When?
Events Leading Up to Lasting Peace
After his resurrection and ascension to heaven in 33 C.E., Jesus had to await the appointed time for him to take action. This was according to Jehovah’s decree: “‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’ The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.’” (Psalm 110:1, 2; Luke 22:69; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 10:12, 13) When does that happen? For more than 70 years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been proclaiming around the world the good news that Jesus Christ began to rule in God’s Kingdom in heaven in the year 1914.*
But you might say, ‘There has been no peace since 1914. On the contrary, conditions have gone from bad to worse since then.’ You are absolutely right. This actually proves that events are taking place just as foretold. The Bible tells us that right at the time when “the kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, . . . the nations became wrathful.” (Revelation 11:15, 18) Rather than submitting to the rule of Jehovah God and his Prince of Peace, the nations plunged into a frenzied struggle for world domination and expressed wrath particularly against Christians who were bearing witness to God’s established Kingdom.
The book of Revelation also reveals that as soon as Jesus Christ came into Kingdom power, he took action to remove Satan and his demons from heaven: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!” The result? The account continues: “On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:10, 12.
A Final Signal
This gives us insight into why the nations have not been able to bring about peace in spite of all their efforts. The Devil’s great anger, reflected in the nations’ own wrath, has kept the world agitated and in turmoil as never before in human history. When will all of this come to an end? The Bible provides an important clue: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.”—1 Thessalonians 5:3.
Do you appreciate the significance of this warning? World events such as those we have detailed in the previous article show that rulers and many people are talking about peace and reaching out for it as never before. Some feel that with the end of the Cold War, the threat of a nuclear holocaust is a thing of the past. Yes, the nations have been saying much about peace and security. But is the world situation really moving in that direction? Remember, Jesus said of those living through the last days, starting in 1914: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) Yes, peace will really come within this generation but not through the nations’ efforts. The firmly established, just, and righteous peace promised by Jehovah God can come only through the approaching rule of his Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.—Isaiah 9:7.
If you long to see the day when peace will really come and to experience it with your loved ones, then look to the Prince of Peace and bear well in mind his reassuring words: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:36.
For details on Bible chronology and fulfilled Bible prophecies, see chapters 12 to 14 of the book “Let Your Kingdom Come,” published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Today most people think of peace as the absence of war or strife. This, however, is a very narrow definition of the word. In Bible times the word “peace” (Hebrew, sha·lohmʹ) or the expression “May you have peace!” was used as a common form of greeting. (Judges 19:20; Daniel 10:19; John 20:19, 21, 26) Clearly, it is not just referring to the absence of war. Note what the book The Concept of Peace says on this point: “When the word shalom is used for peace, what those who used it originally had in view was a condition of the world or of human society in which there is completeness, unity, wholeness, fullness. . . . Where there is peace, both the whole and its constituent parts have reached their maximal and optimal levels of being.” When God brings peace, not only will men not “learn war anymore” but ‘each one will sit under his own vine and fig tree.’—Micah 4:3, 4.
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The absence of peace has been keenly felt since World War I