The Last Days—‘Kingdoms Against Kingdoms’
“The conflict of nations from 1914 to 1918 was not some ‘dull rumor of some other war.’ The struggle ushered in a new scope of war, the first total war in the experience of mankind. Its duration, intensity, and scale exceeded anything previously known or generally expected. The day of mass warfare had arrived.”—The World in the Crucible, by Bernadotte E. Schmitt and Harold C. Vedeler.
THE war of 1914-18 was so great in destruction and loss of life that in France to this day, you can find monuments dedicated to the fallen in La Grande Guerre, the Great War. American writer Ernest Hemingway later called it “the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth.” The Great War was renamed World War I when the world was blighted with World War II (1939-45).
World War I was distinct from previous wars in many ways. Massive million-man armies slaughtered one another in the fields and woods of Western Europe. The machine gun held sway as it reaped great swaths of moving infantry. As Gwynne Dyer states in his book War: “Within two months [of the start of the war], over a million men were dead . . . Machine weapons—quick-firing artillery and machine guns spewing out six hundred bullets a minute—filled the air with lethal steel sleet.” The tank, the submarine, and the airplane changed thinking and tactics. Now death fell from the skies and rose up from the waters.
Trench warfare, with the added use of poisonous gases, pushed men to the limits of endurance, suffering, and degradation. The Great War was distinct in another way: “This was the first war in which prisoners numbered in the millions (8,400,000 altogether) and were detained for long periods of time.” (The World in the Crucible) It was also the first war that involved virtually the whole of the civilian population, either in defense and armaments production or as victims of invasion and battle.
Jehovah’s Witnesses back then in 1914 saw in that terrible war the beginning of the fulfillment of Jesus’ fateful prophecies. But worse was to come.
World War II—Unique Destructive Power
Another evidence that, even from a human standpoint, these could be the last days is man’s potential for self-destruction. Dr. Bernard Lown stated in his Nobel Peace Prize lecture: “The Second World War introduced total war—unprincipled in method, unlimited in violence, and indiscriminate in victims. The ovens of Auschwitz and the atomic incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki inscribed a still-darker chapter in the chronicle of human brutality.”
Did mankind learn compassion and mercy from this dreadful experience? He continues: “The prolonged agony that left 50 million dead [almost equivalent to the total population of Britain, France, or Italy] did not provide an enduring basis for an armistice against barbarism. On the contrary, arsenals soon burgeoned with genocidal weapons capable of the equivalent of many thousands of World War IIs.”—Italics ours.
No doubt about it, we have seen ‘nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom,’ and the rider of the fiery-colored horse of Revelation has spread slaughter across the earth. (Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:4)
The Last Days—A Unique Feature
“Oppenheimer [who helped design the atom bomb] was right in his basic perception that history changed its course in 1945. Never again can a major war be fought in the style of World War II.”—Weapons and Hope, by Freeman Dyson.
THE use of the atom bomb in 1945 changed the world. It marked another turning point in the history of war. That is how one of the bomb’s inventors, Robert Oppenheimer, saw the situation. When the test explosion took place in New Mexico, Oppenheimer quoted the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, saying, “I am become death, the shatterer of worlds.” Oppenheimer also stated, “The peoples of this world must unite, or they will perish.”
In 1949 an advisory committee of scientists to the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which included Oppenheimer, warned against developing the much more lethal hydrogen bomb. Their report stated: “This is a super weapon; it is in a totally different category from an atomic bomb.” This was because the hydrogen bomb’s destructive power could be multiplied by adding very inexpensive deuterium fuel. In a matter of four years, the atom bomb had become a mere toy.
Enrico Fermi and Isidor Rabi, also members of the advisory committee, gave an even stronger warning. “The fact that no limits exist to the destructiveness of this weapon makes its very existence and the knowledge of its construction a danger to humanity as a whole. It is necessarily an evil thing considered in any light.” (Italics ours.) They knew that man could now destroy himself. Their advice against developing the hydrogen bomb was ignored.
‘Prophecies of Doom With Scientific Basis’
The incredible power to destroy that man now has is exemplified in one fact quoted by Dr. Lown, copresident of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War: “A single modern submarine has approximately eight times the total firepower of World War II—sufficient to destroy every major city in the Northern Hemisphere.” Please note—that is the destructive potential of just one submarine! The great powers have dozens of submarines and surface ships carrying nuclear weapons. Adding to these the land and air weapons, it makes a total of over 50,000 nuclear warheads!
When before in history has man ever had such awesome and dreadful power in his hands? Dr. Lown admits that every historic period has had its unheeded prophets. What is the difference now? He explains: “Our era is the first in which prophecies of doom stem from objective scientific analyses.” If there should ever be a nuclear conflagration, he says, “it is sheer hubris [arrogance] to pretend that there would be human survival after such a man-made catastrophe.”
Increased “Anguish of Nations”
In 1945 man released the evil genie of nuclear warfare from his magic lamp of scientific knowledge and has no way of ever getting it back in again. He may destroy his nuclear weapons, but how will he annul the knowledge that can always lead back to them? Therefore, the actual events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki plus the development of super nuclear weapons have increased the potential for “fearful sights” and “great signs” from heaven, for “anguish of nations . . . not knowing the way out” since 1945.—Luke 21:11, 25.
Anguish of nations has also been multiplied by our ability to achieve instant communication. Only in this 20th century have modern systems of communication (radio, TV, computers, satellites) allowed all mankind to know instantly of wars and disasters, thus spreading fear and anguish of nations in a way that was never before possible. Not only does the world public know of them but by TV they can watch wars and bloodshed as they occur!
The Scars of War
In this year of 1988, there are millions of families all over the world that have experienced part of the proof that we are in the last days. How so? They have lost one or more loved ones in the two world wars or in one of the other major conflicts (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq-Iran, Lebanon, and so forth) that have decimated mankind. Perhaps your family is one of those that can remember a lost father, grandfather, uncle, or brother. Also, millions of mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts died in wars and in the European Holocaust.
In addition, during our generation, armies have raged back and forth across Europe and the Far East, raping and pillaging the civilian populations. Thus, the survivors, especially the women, carry the scars of their mistreatment with them to this day. Has man ever sunk so low on such a scale of degradation and stupidity?
The fiery-colored apocalyptic horse of war and slaughter and the pale horse of Death have surely trampled across the earth in an unprecedented way since 1914.—Revelation 6:4.