No Peace for the False Messengers!
1. Why should we expect to find messengers, both true and false, in “the time of the end”?
MESSENGERS—false or true? There were both kinds in Bible times. But what of our day? At Daniel 12:9, 10, we read that a heavenly messenger told God’s prophet: “The words are made secret and sealed up until the time of the end. Many will cleanse themselves and whiten themselves and will be refined. And the wicked ones will certainly act wickedly, and no wicked ones at all will understand; but the ones having insight will understand.” We are now living in that “time of the end.” Do we see a sharp distinction between “the wicked ones” and “the ones having insight”? Certainly we do!
2. How is Isaiah 57:20, 21 being fulfilled today?
2 At chapter 57, verses 20 and 21, we read the words of God’s messenger Isaiah: “‘The wicked are like the sea that is being tossed, when it is unable to calm down, the waters of which keep tossing up seaweed and mire. There is no peace,’ my God has said, ‘for the wicked ones.’” How aptly these words describe this world as it approaches the 21st century! Some even ask, ‘Will we ever reach that century?’ What do messengers having insight have to tell us?
3 The apostle John had divinely inspired insight. At 1 John 5:19, it is stated: “We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” In contrast with this world are the 144,000 spiritual Israelites, an aging remnant of whom are still with us. Joining these today are “a great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues,” who now number more than five million, who also have insight. “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation.” And why are they rewarded? Because they too “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” by exercising faith in Jesus’ ransom. As messengers of light, they too “are rendering [God] sacred service day and night.”—Revelation 7:4, 9, 14, 15.
So-Called Messengers of Peace
4. (a) Why are the so-called messengers of peace in Satan’s world doomed to failure? (b) How does Ephesians 4:18, 19 apply today?
4 What, though, of the so-called messengers of peace in Satan’s worldly system? At Isaiah chapter 33, verse 7, we read: “Look! Their very heroes have cried out in the street; the very messengers of peace will weep bitterly.” How true this is of those scurrying about feverishly from one world capital to another, trying to bring peace! How futile! Why so? Because they tackle the symptoms of the world’s ills rather than grapple with the root causes. In the first place, they are blind to the existence of Satan, whom the apostle Paul describes as “the god of this system of things.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Satan has sown seeds of wickedness among humankind, with the result that the majority, including many of the rulers, now fit the description of Ephesians 4:18, 19: “They are in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the insensibility of their hearts. Having come to be past all moral sense, they gave themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.”
5. (a) Why do human agencies fail as peacemakers? (b) What comforting message does Psalm 37 convey?
5 No agency of imperfect humans can root out of human hearts the greed, the selfishness, and the hatred that are so prevalent today. Only our Creator, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, can do that! Further, it is only the meek ones, a minority among mankind, who are willing to submit to his guidance. The results to these and to the wicked of the world are contrasted at Psalm 37:9-11: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more . . . But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”
6, 7. What record of the world’s religions shows that they have failed to serve as messengers of peace?
6 Can messengers of peace be found, then, among the religions of this ailing world? Well, what is religion’s record to date? History shows that religion has shared in, yes, has even been the instigator of much of the bloodshed throughout the centuries. For example, the Christian Century of the week of August 30, 1995, reporting on the turmoil in the former Yugoslavia, stated: “In Serb-held Bosnia, priests sit in the front row of the self-styled parliament, and are also at the front lines, where units and even weapons are blessed before battles.”
7 A century of Christendom’s missionary work in Africa has brought no better result, as was well illustrated in Rwanda, a land reputedly 80-percent Catholic. The New York Times of July 7, 1995, reported: “Golias, a liberal, lay Catholic magazine published in Lyons [France], plans to identify 27 more Rwandan priests and four nuns who it says killed or encouraged the killings in Rwanda last year.” African Rights, a human rights organization in London, had this comment: “Even more than its silence, the churches must answer for the active complicity of some of its priests, pastors and nuns in the genocide.” This resembles the situation in Israel when Jehovah’s true messenger Jeremiah described the “shame” of Israel, along with her rulers, her priests, and her prophets, adding: “In your skirts there have been found the blood marks of the souls of the innocent poor ones.”—Jeremiah 2:26, 34.
8. Why may it be said that Jeremiah was a messenger of peace?
8 Jeremiah has often been called a prophet of doom, but he could also be called God’s messenger of peace. He referred to peace as often as Isaiah had done before him. Jehovah used Jeremiah to pronounce judgment on Jerusalem, saying: “This city, from the day that they built it, clear down to this day, has proved to be nothing but a cause of anger in me and a cause of rage in me, in order to remove it from before my face, on account of all the badness of the sons of Israel and of the sons of Judah that they have done to offend me, they, their kings, their princes, their priests and their prophets, and the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Jeremiah 32:31, 32) This foreshadowed Jehovah’s judgment on rulers and clergy in Christendom today. For true peace to prevail, these instigators of badness and violence must be removed! They are certainly no messengers of peace.
The UN as a Peacemaker?
9. How has the UN claimed to be a messenger of peace?
9 Could not the United Nations become a true messenger of peace? After all, the preamble to its charter, put forward in June 1945, just 41 days before the atom bomb devastated Hiroshima, stated its purpose: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The 50 prospective members of the United Nations were “to unite [their] strength to maintain international peace and security.” Today the UN has 185 member nations, all supposedly dedicated to the same cause.
10, 11. (a) How have religious leaders voiced their support of the UN? (b) In what way have the popes misrepresented “the Good News of God’s Kingdom”?
10 Over the years, the UN has been loudly acclaimed, especially by religious leaders. On April 11, 1963, Pope John XXIII signed his encyclical entitled “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on Earth) in which he stated: “It is our earnest wish that the United Nations organization—in its structure and in its means—may become ever more equal to the magnitude and nobility of its tasks.” Later, in June 1965, religious leaders, said to represent one half of the world’s population, celebrated in San Francisco the 20th birthday of the UN. Also in 1965, Pope Paul VI on a visit to the UN described it as “the last hope of concord and peace.” In 1986, Pope John Paul II cooperated in promoting the UN International Year of Peace.
11 Again, during his visit in October 1995, the pope declared: “Today we are celebrating the Good News of God’s Kingdom.” But is he actually God’s messenger of Kingdom good news? Speaking of world problems, he went on to say: “As we face these enormous challenges, how can we fail to acknowledge the role of the United Nations Organization?” The UN, rather than God’s Kingdom, is the pope’s choice.
Reasons for ‘Weeping Bitterly’
12 The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the UN failed to reveal any real prospect of “peace on earth.” One reason was indicated by a writer in The Toronto Star of Canada, who wrote: “The U.N. is a toothless lion, which roars when confronted by human savagery, but has to wait for its members to pop in its dentures before it can bite.” Too often that bite has been too little too late. The messengers of peace in the present world system, and especially those in Christendom, have been echoing the words of Jeremiah 6:14: “They try to heal the breakdown of my people lightly, saying, ‘There is peace! There is peace!’ when there is no peace.”
13 Successive secretaries-general of the UN have worked hard, and no doubt sincerely, to make the UN succeed. But the constant wrangling between the multipurposed 185 members about how to contain warfare, frame policy, and handle financing has stymied prospects of success. In his annual report for 1995, the then secretary-general wrote of the receding “spectre of global nuclear cataclysm” as opening the way for “nations to work together towards economic and social progress for the whole of humankind.” But he added: “Sadly, the record of world affairs over the past few years has largely belied those optimistic expectations.” Truly, the would-be messengers of peace are ‘weeping bitterly.’
14. (a) Why can it be said that the UN is both financially and morally bankrupt? (b) How is Jeremiah 8:15 being fulfilled?
14 A headline in The Orange County Register of California read: “The U.N. Is Financially, Morally Bankrupt.” The article stated that between 1945 and 1990, there were over 80 wars, claiming more than 30 million lives. It quoted a writer for the October 1995 issue of Reader’s Digest who “describes U.N. military operations as distinguished by ‘incompetent commanders, undisciplined soldiers, alliances with aggressors, failure to prevent atrocities and at times even contributing to the horror.’ Moreover, ‘the level of waste, fraud, and abuse is overwhelming.’” In a section entitled “The U.N. at 50,” The New York Times carried the headline “Mismanagement and Waste Erode U.N.’s Best Intentions.” The Times of London, England, headed an article with the words “Frail at Fifty—The UN needs a fitness programme to get back into shape.” Factually, it is as we read at Jeremiah chapter 8, verse 15: “There was a hoping for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but, look! terror!” And the threat of a nuclear holocaust still hangs over mankind. Clearly, the UN is not the messenger of peace that mankind needs.
15. How have ancient Babylon and its religious offspring proved to be both destructive and stupefying?
15 What will be the outcome of all of this? Jehovah’s prophetic Word leaves no doubt. In the first place, what lies ahead for the world’s false religions that have so often been extremely friendly with the UN? They are the offspring of one idolatrous fountainhead, ancient Babylon. Appropriately, they are described at Revelation 17:5 as “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” Jeremiah described the doom of this hypocritical conglomerate. Harlotlike, they have seduced earth’s politicians, flattering the UN and forming illicit relations with its member political powers. They have been major participants in the wars of history. One commentator stated with reference to religious warfare in India: “Karl Marx referred to religion as the opium of the masses. But that statement cannot be quite right because opium is a downer, it lulls people into a stupor. No, religion is more like crack cocaine. It unleashes tremendous violence and is a very destructive force.” That writer is not quite right either. False religion is both stupefying and destructive.
16. Why should honesthearted people now flee from Babylon the Great? (See also Revelation 18:4, 5.)
16 What, then, should honesthearted people do? God’s messenger Jeremiah gives us the answer: “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and provide escape each one for his own soul. . . . For it is the time of vengeance belonging to Jehovah.” Happy we are that millions have fled from the confines of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Are you one of these? Then you can well understand how Babylon the Great has affected the nations of earth: “From her wine the nations have drunk. That is why the nations keep acting crazed.”—Jeremiah 51:6, 7.
17. What judgment is about to be executed on Babylon the Great, and what follows that action?
17 Shortly, “crazed” members of the UN will be maneuvered by Jehovah to turn on false religion, as described at Revelation 17:16: “These will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.” This will mark the start of the great tribulation that is referred to at Matthew 24:21 and that will climax at Armageddon, the war of the great day of God the Almighty. Like ancient Babylon, Babylon the Great will meet up with the judgment pronounced at Jeremiah 51:13, 25: “‘O woman residing on abounding waters, abundant in treasures, your end has come, the measure of your profit making. Here I am against you, O ruinous mountain,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘you ruiner of the whole earth; and I will stretch out my hand against you and roll you away from the crags and make you a burnt-out mountain.’” Corrupt, warmongering nations will follow false religion into destruction as Jehovah’s day of vengeance catches up with them also.
18. When and how is Isaiah 48:22 yet to be fulfilled?
18 At 1 Thessalonians 5:3, it is said of the wicked: “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.” These are the ones of whom Isaiah said: “Look! . . . Messengers of peace will weep bitterly.” (Isaiah 33:7) Indeed, as we read at Isaiah 48:22, “‘there is no peace,’ Jehovah has said, ‘for the wicked ones.’” But what future awaits the true messengers of godly peace? Our next article will tell.
Questions for Review
□ With what strong words have God’s prophets exposed false messengers?
□ Why do human agencies fail in trying to usher in lasting peace?
□ How do true messengers of peace contrast with advocates of the UN?
□ What must the meek do in order to delight in Jehovah’s promised peace?
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Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel all foretold the failure of mere human peace efforts
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“The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”—The apostle John
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“They are in darkness mentally.”—The apostle Paul