An important question was recently posted to an internet forum related to the matter of terrorism, universal conflict, and war: Can there ever be lasting peace among nations? From a scriptural perspective, peace is the ultimate objective, but war is unfortunately inevitable throughout the culmination of this age. Christ proclaimed it.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have
peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good
cheer; I have overcome the world.” – Jn. 16:33.
Although scripture records this angelic message at the birth of Christ,
“Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace,
good will toward men.” – Lk. 2:14.
Jesus also declared:
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not
to send peace, but a sword . . . Nay; but rather division”
– Mt. 10:34; Lk. 12:51 –
John further shared:
“Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”
– Rev. 6:4 –
Even though God has revealed that His will is for there to be peace on earth, it is NOT for this present age. It is NOT going to happen until ALL things prophesied have been completely fulfilled. This is a hard thing for some to grasp, and many consider it too harsh a reality to accept as truly God-breathed. But the “sword” and “division” Christ declared have obviously already been repeatedly fulfilled.
Wars and rumors of war have been the norm for every generation of mankind since the garden. The sad irony is that “peace” has always been declared at the END of a time of war; it is NOT the “normal” state of being.
Divisions perpetually exist, even between so-called friends and loved ones. When intolerance for such divisions reaches fervor, swords are drawn, and wars result. Jesus warned that there should be NO confusion about what His earthly purpose was.
“Do you suppose that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you,
NO; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in
one house divided, three against two, two against three. The
father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the
father; the mother against the daughter, the daughter against the
mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, the
daughter in law against her mother in law”. Lk. 12:51-53.
Divisions arise initially within one’s personal circles of influence – among loved ones. The CAUSE of these divisions will primarily NOT be over territory, but rather personal convictions, philosophies, and beliefs! It is NOT the restrictions or possessions of physical boundaries that cause war; it is the divisions that result from intolerance of beliefs opposed to one’s own.
“Jesus beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If you
had known, even at least in this your day, the things
which belong unto your peace! but now they are
hidden from your eyes.” Lk. 19:41, 41.
Jesus was referring to the reality that they could NOT see because of their spiritual blindness. The Prince of Peace (Christ) was living there among them, yet they failed to recognize Him and instead of the Kingdom of God coming into complete fulfillment in their day, it remains for a culmination at a time yet future. The parting words of Christ just prior to His physical return to heaven, proclaimed His ultimate intentions.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your
heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – Jn. 14:27.
But the “peace” that Jesus left with His followers is NOT the same peace that the world (unbelievers) perceives. It is a spiritual experience which perpetually abides within each true believer. It is far more than mere worldly peace, which is merely temporary because it is NEVER based on eternal spiritual principles, but merely the decrees of sinful men.
Jesus promised to true believers,
“The peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall
keep your hearts & minds through Christ Jesus” – Phil. 4:7.
Such peace is a spiritual ability to transcend physical tribulations and experience tranquility within in the midst of trouble.
The problem of WAR will never be universally resolved through conventional wisdom or the best efforts of humanity – apart from Christ. Indeed, a majority of wars have been waged by extremists and radicals who honestly think that they have been recruited by God to wage war against infidels. Such will continue to be the case until all come to the knowledge of the TRUTH. Until then, true believers can rest in their right relationship with God in Christ assured of His lasting peace within.
Therefore, it must be understood that real peace is an INTERNAL condition, NOT a binding treaty declaring a moratorium on war. Perhaps Rudyard Kipling captured this inner experience better than most in his poem entitled “IF”.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Jesus would have surely agreed with Kipling, evident by His Olivet Discourse.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they that hunger & thirst after righteousness: they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, & persecute you, & shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, & be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
– Mt. 5:3-12 –
The only remedy for lasting peace is for mankind to surrender to the authority of GOD rather than merely surrendering to mankind and this present world’s system. As long as the wicked rule, wickedness shall continue to reign in this physical realm as well.
“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” – Dt. 32:35.
This and similar scripture quotations are perceived quite differently by many believers. Some consider it a declaration by God that He alone should execute vengeance. Many who hold to this position associate it with Christ’s instructions as well and tend toward extreme non-resistance and absolute passiveness.
“But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps
you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” – Mt. 5:39.
“To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also;
from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your
tunic either.” – Lk. 6:39.
Jesus was NOT promoting passivism. To the contrary, He encouraged positive action at every level of human endeavor. The very core of the Golden Rule is a call to positive action.
“As you want men to do to you,
you also DO to them likewise.” Lk. 6:31
It must be emphasized however, that Christ was affirming POSITIVE action, NOT war. Physical aggression, hostility, and retaliation against wrong doing is NOT the preferred reaction by believers. As LOVE is the opposite of HATE, and PEACE the opposite of WAR. believers are called to love and peace.
Paul understood this important distinction when he shared his interpretation of Deuteronomy 32:35.
“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place
to wrath; for it is written,’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’
says the Lord.” – Ro. 12:19.
Although throughout the Old Testament God rallied the Israelites to war against heathen nations, the purpose then was to establish a land free from idolatry and the perversions of the wicked. Had the Jews ABSOLUTELY obeyed God’s instructions for war, things today could have been much different. But they did NOT. Rather than COMPLETE annihilation, they took “spoils of war”, which frustrated God’s holy purpose and allowed perversion and idolatry to remain among the people and ultimately corrupt Israel.
“Attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and
do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant
and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’
– 1Sam. 15:3 –
But Israel disobeyed:
“Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep,
the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and
were unwilling to utterly destroy them. Now the word of the
Lord came to Samuel, saying, “I greatly regret that I have
set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me,
and has not performed My commandments ” – 1Sam. 15:9-11.
The problem with war (from a spiritual perspective) is that it takes the authority away from the will of God and places it squarely in the realm of man’s authority and will. It is extremely important to realize that the wars that God commanded his people to engage in were to be waged under His direct command. As God maintained absolute control, victory was assured. Conversely, defeat was experienced whenever men circumvented God’s direct control, usurping His authority and implementing their own will and plans instead.
Since all mankind is born in sin, man’s perspective and continual thoughts are prone towards corruption. Unless man becomes born again, he has NOT the Spirit of Christ abiding in him, and therefore is NOT capable of rendering wise and prudent decisions.
Carnality is inexorably linked to the corruptible fruit that constantly results in war.
“Because the CARNAL mind is enmity against God; for it is
not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then,
those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are
not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God
dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of
Christ, he is NOT His. And if Christ is in you, the body is
DEAD because of sin, but the Spirit is LIFE because of
righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus
from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from
the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through
His Spirit who dwells in you.” – Ro. 8:7-11.
“You are still CARNAL. For where there are envy, strife,
and divisions among you, are you not CARNAL and
behaving like mere men?” 1Cor. 3:3.
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they
not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your
CARNAL members?” – Jas. 4:1.
When prayerful consideration of ALL these passages of scripture is sincere, a central revelation should be clear. God does NOT condone war but has allowed it in this present dispensation of human history. He had in times past provided a remedy through war which would have eliminated any further wars. But the people of God to which this remedy was offered, rejected it and opened the future for other than godly experiences.
God’s promise for everlasting peace remains however, for those who respond to His plan of salvation. But while His perfect peace becomes available to true believers, this natural physical realm remains in chaos and vulnerable to war at all times.
These passages sum it up best, so I offer them in conclusion:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the
earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of
the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly,
but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation
itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the
glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole
creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not
only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we
ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption,
the redemption of our body.” – Ro. 8:18-23.
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be
no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no
more pain, for the former things have passed away.” – Rev. 21:4.
Eternal life with God will become reality when God’s final decree against ALL enemies has been executed. The final enemy is DEATH.
“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God
the Father, when He puts an END to ALL rule & ALL authority
& power. For He must reign till He has put ALL enemies under
His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is DEATH. For
‘He has put ALL things under His feet.’ But when He says ‘ALL
things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things
under Him is EXCEPTED. Now when ALL things are made
subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him
who put ALL things under Him, that God may be ALL in ALL.”
– 1Cor. 15:24-28 –
In other words, a time is coming for the faithful, when ALL things that lead to war shall be forever removed from the realm of possibilities. Free from ALL strife and divisions, there will be no envy or discord. There will be instead perfect harmony and everlasting peace and unity in GOD. Therein lies the sole remedy for war.
Equally obvious, should be the understanding that these things are yet to be fulfilled at some time in the future. As we live in this present phenomonological realm ALL things have not yet been placed under Christ’s control. The free will expressions of mankind continue to produce actions inconsistent with the will of God. Beyond that, the mere fact that DEATH continues to be the destiny of ALL flesh, is sure evidence that the time has not yet come when ALL things contrary to the will of God shall be perpetually eliminated.