Will Plans for International Security Succeed?
“THE Cold War, which has gripped the world for over 40 years, appears in God’s mercy to have ended,” states One World, a magazine of the WCC (World Council of Churches). “Significant happenings in Central and Eastern Europe . . . seem to bode well for peace and security in Europe and the rest of the world,” adds Anglican writer John Pobee, of the WCC’s Programme on Theological Education.
Representatives of the WCC are not alone in linking God with man’s plans for international security. In April 1991, shortly after the Persian Gulf war, Pope John Paul sent a message to then UN secretary-general Javier Pérez de Cuéllar in which he said: “The bishops of the Catholic Churches of the Middle East and the West have confidence in the work of the United Nations . . . They hope that, through the United Nations and its specialized organizations, those whom the recent war has placed in a situation of acute need will not fail to find international sensitivity and solidarity.”
Furthermore, the Vatican was one of the 35 States that formulated and signed both the 1975 Helsinki Agreement and the 1986 Stockholm Document. When the United Nations declared 1986 to be the “International Year of Peace,” the pope responded by inviting representatives of the world’s major religions to participate in a celebration of the “World Day of Prayer for Peace.” In October 1986, representatives of Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Shinto, Anglican, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, and other faiths sat together in Assisi, Italy, and took turns praying for world peace.
Some years later, in a sermon he gave in Rome, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury recalled the above occasion. “In Assisi,” he said, “we saw that the Bishop of Rome [the pope] could gather the Christian Churches together. We could pray together, speak together and act together for the peace and well-being of humankind . . . At that initiative of prayer for world peace I felt I was in the presence of the God who said ‘Behold I am doing a new thing.’”
Other religions, although not represented at Assisi, are also optimistic about man’s plans for international security. An editorial in Die Kerkbode, the official journal of South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church, said: “We are experiencing the transition into a new world order. What seemed inconceivable a few years ago is happening before our very eyes. The reconciliation taking place on the greater world scene between the Soviet Union and the West has wide regional implications. In our part of the world, traditionally opposing parties and sworn enemies are talking to one another, and the urge toward ‘peace’ is surfacing everywhere . . . From a Christian standpoint, all efforts to bring peace between people should be welcomed. We can pray for peace in our time.”
Is God blessing man’s plans for international security?
What Does the Bible Say?
When it comes to relying on human endeavors, the Bible offers a straightforward warning: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.” (Psalm 146:3, 4) Present-day progress toward peace may seem encouraging. But we have to be realistic. Men’s powers are limited. Often, events are bigger than they are. They can rarely discern the undercurrents, the hidden forces, that upset their best-laid plans.
Seven hundred years before the time of Jesus, in the days of the prophet Isaiah, Jewish leaders were planning for security through international treaties with neighboring countries in a way comparable to what is happening today. In those days too, the religious leaders supported what the politicians were doing. But Isaiah warned: “Plan out a scheme, and it will be broken up! Speak any word, and it will not stand.” (Isaiah 8:10) Their scheme turned out to be a disastrous failure. Could the same thing happen today?
Yes, it could, since through that same prophet, God announced that He has His own way to bring security to the earth. It will be, not through any human organization, but through a descendant of the Israelite king David. (Isaiah 9:6, 7) This Heir of King David is Jesus Christ, who, when interrogated by Pontius Pilate, admitted that he was a King but said: “My kingdom is no part of this world.” (John 18:36; Luke 1:32) In fact, Jesus’ Kingdom was to be heavenly. And it—not the United Nations or any earthly political nation—was to bring lasting, dependable security to this earth.—Daniel 2:44.
Jesus Christ predicted that his Kingdom would start ruling from the heavens at a time when there would be “wars and reports of wars,” with ‘nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom.’ The fulfillment of prophecy marks 1914 as the time when that happened and identifies the years since then as “the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 24:3, 6-8.
What does this mean? That the time remaining for this present world setup is limited, and it will soon run out. Is that a cause for concern or sadness? Not if we remember the cruelty, the injustice, the oppression, the warfare, and all the suffering that have marked this system of things. It will surely be a relief to be under a ruler about whom God’s Word, the Bible, says: “Upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.”—Isaiah 11:2.
Real Security on Earth
In truth, there will not be real security on earth until, under God’s Kingdom, the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled on a worldwide scale: “I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” (Isaiah 65:17) No matter how many prayers religious leaders offer in behalf of this world, human plans for international security cannot replace God’s way for bringing peace and security.
The worldwide, permanent security that God’s Kingdom ushers in will be glorious. Here is just one of the descriptions found in the Bible: “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore. And they will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”—Micah 4:3, 4.
Only security guaranteed by God himself can be permanent and reliable. Hence, rather than putting your trust in nobles, why not put your trust in him? Then you will find that the psalmist’s words are true: “Happy is the one who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Jehovah his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, of the sea, and of all that is in them, the One keeping trueness to time indefinite.”—Psalm 146:5, 6.
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The Catholic Church and International Politics
“Although Christ said that his kingdom was ‘not of this world,’ high-ranking ecclesiastics and the papacy as an institution have participated intensely in international and national political struggles since the time of Constantine.”—The Catholic Church in World Politics, by Professor Eric Hanson of the Jesuit Santa Clara University.