Beyond World War III
Our planet suffered two devastating world wars in the last century, in which tens of millions died, both soldiers and civilians. In World War II alone, estimates indicate that more than 40 million civilians perished, along with more than 20 million soldiers.
Since the end of World War II, regional wars have claimed further millions of lives. From the “killing fields” of Kampuchea to the bloodied deserts of the Sudan, lives have been lost as men have sought to gain control of nations.
Will there be a World War III? And, if so, what will it do to our planet? Physicist and Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein famously stated, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
How serious is the threat of world war and global destruction? Many secular experts believe the threat is real, and is increasing. On January 10, 2012, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists released an announcement concerning its symbolic Doomsday Clock: “It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.”
Your Bible reveals that another world war is ahead. But it also guarantees that—after this war of unprecedented proportions—there will be a new civilization that will bring peace and harmony to all the world’s nations. Yes, troubling times are ahead, but there is hope for the future of planet Earth.
Most people will say that they desire world peace. Yet history has demonstrated that mankind does not know the way to peace. Nations continue to use modern technology to invent more weapons of mass destruction. At the end of World War II, the United States was the planet’s undisputed superpower. The Atomic Age began in 1945, on August 6, when the United States dropped the first-ever atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima in Japan. The prophesied end-time era of mass destruction had begun. Eventually, the Soviet Union exploded its own nuclear bomb, and now at least nine nations are known to possess nuclear weapons.
Can mankind solve the world’s conflicts, wars, and problems? Your Bible gives the answer. The Apostle Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah: “And the way of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:17). Why not? “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (v. 18).
No nation has consistently demonstrated a reverence and love for the Creator of all nations. And so, apart from God, they have not learned the way to peace! The Creator of all peoples reveals in His word, the Bible, the true way to peace: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
Today, nations around the world continue to neglect and reject God. As the world struggles with the global financial crisis, and as we see prophetic events leading up to World War III and beyond, we need to know the way to individual peace, and the promise of world peace—as promised in your Bible! Remember that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, preached the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God. “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14–15).
The word “gospel” comes from an old English expression signifying “good news.” Christ’s good news is that mankind’s way of selfishness, sin and destruction will be replaced by God’s way of peace and prosperity. Jesus taught us all to pray “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). God’s Kingdom is coming to this earth soon, in which Jesus Christ Himself—the Prince of Peace—will rule planet Earth and teach all of humanity the way to peace and prosperity. Your Bible describes the glory of the coming Millennium, a thousand years of peace on earth. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, will return to Jerusalem, which will become the capital of planet Earth. “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.’ Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets’” (Zechariah 8:3–5). Yes, the elderly will no longer be victims of abuse, and the young will live in safety.
Farms will prosper, yielding abundant crops with sustainable agriculture. Read this inspiring prophecy: “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:13–15).
Yes, our polluted planet will be renewed—but not through even the best of mankind’s efforts. What lessons have human beings learned during the last 6,000 years of war, conflict, suffering and death? Have we learned the way to peace? At the end of World War I, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proposed a League of Nations that would work together for peace. After World War II, in 1945, the United Nations was formed for the same purpose. Yet the League of Nations failed, and neither have the 192 member-states of the U.N. found the way to lasting world peace. Indeed, when historians Will and Ariel Durant examined our record of war and peace, they concluded, “In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war” (The Lessons of History, p. 81).
When The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists issued its warning last January, the statement included a sobering reminder. “The world still has approximately 19,500 nuclear weapons, enough power to destroy the Earth’s inhabitants several times over.” Will humanity have the restraint to choose not to use those weapons? Jesus Christ foretold that His return would be necessary in order to save mankind from itself. He warned, regarding the end-times, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:22).
How will we know we are in “those days”? Jesus gave an important sign. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). You have been reading that gospel in this magazine. It is the good news of the coming Kingdom of God on this earth.
Consider another vital sign Jesus gave to signal His imminent return to planet Earth. “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15–16). We need to be alert to the signs of the times. The end-time abomination of desolation will be carried out under the authority of the Antichrist. “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).
The “Olivet Prophecy” of Matthew 24—so named because Jesus spoke it on the Mount of Olives—reveals three additional key signs, occurring over a three-and-a-half year period before Christ’s return. These signs can be understood in the context of the book of Revelation, which also describes them. In sequence, these are the Great Tribulation, the Heavenly Signs and the Day of the Lord. While these signs are unfolding, Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles for 42 months (Revelation 11:2). The two witnesses will prophesy for 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3). The “Philadelphian” remnant of God’s Church will be taken to a safe place in the wilderness (Revelation 12:14). All through these 42 months, the Beast power will continue to wield its authority over the nations of the earth (Revelation 13:4–5).
Near the end of this prophesied time, the last of seven trumpets in heaven will sound. Remember that the year-long Day of the Lord will consist of seven “trumpet” events during which God will bring His judgment down on the nations. The last three of the trumpets will herald major phases of “World War III” as the world’s armies rise up under the direction of the Beast, in direct opposition to the true God. The sixth trumpet will introduce a massive military attack as Eastern powers will march toward the Middle East: “Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths” (Revelation 9:16–18).
This is a description of “weapons of mass destruction” that will destroy one-third of mankind. As horrible and tragic as the millions of deaths were during World War I and World War II, these events will come to seem almost insignificant in comparison to the coming devastation of World War III. But there will be hope just ahead. Notice the announcement of the seventh trumpet. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15).
True Christians’ prayers for God’s coming Kingdom will be answered! The returning King, Jesus Christ, will execute the final judgment on planet Earth’s warring nations. The seventh trumpet of Revelation consists of the seven last plagues. The Apostle John introduces these plagues: “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete” (Revelation 15:1). Remember that the Day of the Lord is the period of the Lamb’s judgment and wrath upon the nations. It is called “the great day of His wrath” in Revelation 6:17.
Amazingly, the world’s military forces will combine to fight against the returning Christ. Armies will gather at Har Megiddo (Hebrew for “Mount Megiddo”), also known as “Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16). “The kings of the earth and the whole world” (v. 14) will then march on Jerusalem. But they will be no match for the King of kings and His army. “And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:14–16).
This violent battle between good and evil will end with Christ’s awesome victory. He will cast the false prophet and the Beast into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Revelation 19:20). God will send an angel to bind Satan the devil and cast him into the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1–3). When this has come to pass, the returned Jesus Christ will have victoriously brought an end to World War III.
Beyond World War III, planet Earth will enter into a time known as the “Millennium”—a thousand-year period during which today’s true Christians will rule with Jesus Christ. Here is how Scripture describes that wonderful time: “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4–6).
Yes, despite the great turmoil that is ahead of us, there is good news beyond. God declares: “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9). The Kingdom of God will replace the failed governments of the past 6,000 years. And you can have a part in that glorious future! Notice how Scripture describes the destiny of faithful Christians: “And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10). Faithful Christians, who will be resurrected at Christ’s return, will be Spirit beings—glorified and immortalized kings and priests—assisting the King of kings in teaching the nations the way to peace.
This is an amazing future that God has promised today’s faithful Christians! The future beyond World War III will be glorious and exciting! God reveals that wonderful time in many prophecies portraying the Millennium. Consider: “The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing” (Isaiah 35:1–2). And: “For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes” (vv. 6–7).
Not only will God renew and restore the land, but He will also heal fragile human beings of all their infirmities. “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.’ Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isaiah 35:3–6).
There is hope for the future—and specifically for your future! Isaiah describes life during the coming Millennium: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6–9).
Today’s Christians are called to be a part of that wonderful time beyond World War III. Are you staying close to your Savior, making yourself ready as you watch and pray for His coming?