Now, in our generation, the entire world empire of false religion stands face-to-face with disaster. Once again “encamped armies” are preparing to execute divine judgment. Like the Roman armies of the first century that were designed to maintain the Pax Romana (Roman Peace), the encamped armies of today are also a peace-keeping instrument. Bible prophecy indicates that militarized forces among UN member nations will be Jehovah’s instrument in finally settling accounts with modern-day Jerusalem, Christendom, as well as with the rest of Babylon the Great.—Revelation 17:7, 16.
When will this occur? First Thessalonians 5:3 answers: “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.”
“The Peace Epidemic”
During 1988 former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz said that “peace is breaking out all over.” A foreign policy expert spoke of a “peace epidemic.” The prestigious German weekly Die Zeit asked: “Could it be, in a century so well endowed with catastrophes, that its final decade might mark an end to destruction and the beginning of an era of peaceful construction?” And Time magazine said: “Peace is threatening in Iran-Iraq, Kampuchea, Afghanistan, southern Africa and even Central America.”
The year 1989, now drawing to a close, has also been full of peace talk. In February the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung editorialized: “Since about 1985 we have been living in a phase in which the superpowers have done more than just pull in their claws. . . . Today there is scarcely a place on earth where the two superpowers are not converging. . . . At any rate, never before have portents been so favorable, both sides been so serious, and so many steps been taken at the same time in the right direction.”
As recently as six years ago, things did not look so bright. Journalist Roy Larson observed that “throughout 1983 religious leaders around the world cried ‘peace, peace,’ but there was no peace.” Are the surprising world events since then a fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 5:3? We cannot say. Nevertheless, it is obvious that today, in December 1989, “peace and security” is closer to realization than before.
Religious Leaders Working Hard—For What?
As Larson shows, religious leaders have not been inactive in pursuing peace. Continuing his appraisal of 1983, he mentions the “pilgrimage for peace” to Central America and the Caribbean that John Paul II made. Also during the year, the U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops adopted a pastoral letter entitled “The Challenge of Peace.” Shortly thereafter, representatives of more than 300 churches from 100 countries met at the sixth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches and approved a similar resolution. Many Protestant evangelicals were also involved in what Larson called “the global preoccupation with peace.”
At its founding in 1948 and at its 1966 conference, the World Council of Churches spoke out strongly against the use of modern weapons of annihilation. Accordingly, dozens of clergymen and theologians have taken up arms for peace, men like German Protestant theologian Helmut Gollwitzer. Earlier this year, on the occasion of his 80th birthday, he was praised by a Swiss Protestant weekly as a “politically engaged theologian, always striving for peace,” who “by means of his teaching and political commitment has strongly influenced many theologians and also the peace movement within the church.”
Thus, it comes as no surprise that Babylon the Great actively supported the 1986 International Year of Peace, designated as such by the United Nations organization, the charter of which calls on it “to maintain international peace and security.” During that year, the Catholic pope, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, and 700 other religious leaders, including professed Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, African animists, native Americans (Indians), Jews, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Shintoists, and Jains, met together at Assisi, near Rome, to pray in behalf of peace.
More recently, in January 1989, the Sydney, Australia, Sunday Telegraph wrote that members of “the Buddhist faith, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Unitarian, Baha’i, Confucian, Jain, Shinto, Tao, Raja Yoga and Zoroastrian” had met in Melbourne for the fifth assembly of the World Conference on Religion and Peace. Significantly, the “more than 600 delegates from some 85 countries . . . acknowledged that tensions caused by religious differences were long misused as one of the major causes of war.”
Religious involvement in the search for peace confirms what Dag Hammarskjöld, former secretary-general of the United Nations, once said: “The [UN] Organization and the churches stand side by side as participants in the efforts of all men of good will, irrespective of their creed or form of worship, to establish peace on earth.”
Notwithstanding, Babylon the Great’s protest marches, her public demonstrations, and her other more subtle forms of religious meddling in political affairs will lead to her undoing.* Already it has caused considerable friction, as Albert Nolan, a Dominican friar from South Africa, recently admitted, saying: “The only effective way to achieve peace in accordance with God’s will is to get into the fight. . . . To achieve armament reduction, conflicts with the government are almost unavoidable.”
Let Babylon the Great continue to cry for peace. Let the pope continue to offer his traditional Urbi et orbi (to the city [Rome] and the world) blessing at Christmas and Easter. Let him continue to suppose—as he did last May—that the present easing of political tensions is God’s answer to “Christian” prayers. Mouthing words of peace and arrogating to herself God’s blessing cannot absolve Babylon the Great from her bloody past. It brands her as being the greatest hindrance to peace between humans, as well as between humans and God, that has ever existed. Directly or indirectly, mankind’s every problem can be traced to her door!
How ironic it is that false religion continues to strive, in conjunction with the UN, to bring about the very “peace and security” that will precipitate her destruction! False religion’s end will vindicate the God of true religion, who says: “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”—Galatians 6:7.
The Quest for Peace and Security
Most individuals have a natural desire for peace and tranquillity, but that desire has been frustrated throughout much of human history. Recent years, however, have seen some remarkable gains in man’s quest for peace, as the following list shows.
1985: (October) United Nations celebrates 40th birthday and proclaims 1986 as the International Year of Peace.
(November) First superpower summit in six years as Gorbachev and Reagan meet; Reagan speaks of a “fresh start.”
1986: (January) Gorbachev calls for banning all nuclear weapons by the year 2000.
(September) Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe (35 nations, including the United States, Canada, the Soviet Union, and all of Europe except Albania) signs treaty to reduce risk of accidental war.
(October) Reagan and Gorbachev summit in Iceland fails, although Gorbachev says they were on the verge of “major, history-making decisions.”
1987: (January) Policy of glasnost (openness) appears to be pointing to new era in the Soviet Union.
(March) First visit of a British prime minister to Moscow in 12 years.
(December) Gorbachev and Reagan sign INF (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces) treaty to eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
1988: (March) Nicaragua and anti-Communist contras sign cease-fire, beginning negotiations to reach a permanent settlement.
(April) Soviet Union announces withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by February 1989; Ethiopia and Somalia agree to end conflict.
(May) Vietnam announces withdrawal of 50,000 troops from Kampuchea before end of year, the rest by 1990.
(June) Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke says of Gorbachev-Reagan summit in Moscow: “For the first time in the whole postwar period, there are real signs of emergence of a world that can live constructively in peace.”
(July) Iran announces acceptance of UN resolution calling for cease-fire in eight-year-old Iran-Iraq war.
(August) The United States agrees to pay withheld dues to UN, a course already taken by the Soviets, thus helping end UN financial siege and giving it renewed stature.
(September) Morocco and Polisario guerrilla forces accept UN plan to end 13 years of war in Western Sahara.
(October) The UN peacekeeping forces are awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace; Libya and Chad formally end long-lived state of war.
(December) At UN, Gorbachev announces large unilateral reduction of Soviet forces within two years and a pullback of troops and tanks from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the German Democratic Republic; South Africa, Namibia, and Cuba agree to implement UN resolution on April 1, 1989, granting Namibian independence and ending 22 years of war; half of the 50,000 Cuban troops in Angola to be withdrawn by November 1, the rest by July 1, 1991; the United States agrees to talk with Palestine Liberation Organization after Yasser Arafat guarantees the right of Israel “to exist in peace and security.”
1989: (January) 149 nations attending Paris Conference on Chemical Weapons call for rapid action to ban development, production, storage, and deployment of chemical weapons.
(February) Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala sign agreement on securing peace in Central America; Colombia’s largest rebel group, FARC (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces), announces cease-fire, raising hopes that 35 years of guerrilla warfare may be coming to an end.
(March) Foreign ministers from 35 nations begin talks in Vienna on CFE (Negotiations on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe), designed to reduce military forces in Europe.
(April) Vietnam announces total troop withdrawal from Kampuchea by September 30.
(May) Hungary begins scrapping its 40-year-old barbed-wire barrier on Austrian border; at first meeting of Soviet and Chinese leaders in over 30 years, Soviets announce reductions in Asian armies; Soviets start unilateral troop and armor pullback from Eastern Europe.
(June) Bush’s call for deep cuts in troops, tanks, artillery, and aircraft in Europe by 1992 leads newsmagazine to say: “It may really open the door to the most significant arms reductions since the end of World War II.”
(August) Five Central American nations agree on a plan to bring an end to the hostilities in Nicaragua.