Is world peace really possible? The quest for peace seems endless. It is in the news almost every day, yet our world grows more brutal by the minute!
Is world peace really possible? The quest for peace seems endless. It is in the news almost every day, yet our world grows more brutal by the minute! The two world wars fought in the 20th century did not bring peace, nor did the end of the Cold War; they brought only a more divided and troubled planet. Every year at Christmas, religious leaders speak of the Christ-child and peace on earth, yet violence and war continue to escalate!
Religious people light candles and say prayers for peace. Idealists sign petitions, stage marches and organize conferences to seek peace. Pragmatists build bigger weapons to enforce peace. Yet all these efforts have failed to bring peace. Is peace a mirage, an unrealistic, unattainable goal, an impossible dream? Why is the peace process so frustrating and difficult?
Many in our modern world do not realize that Bible prophecies are coming alive in today's news headlines. The Bible not only predicts the major challenges of our age, it also reveals why human efforts have not produced peace. Scripture also explains the way to peace, and how peace on earth will ultimately come. Few today understand what the Bible says about peace.
Preachers often say that the message of Christmas is: "Peace on earth and good will toward men." But this is a mistranslation of what the angel actually said. Properly translated, the angel's announcement at Christ's birth was: "Glory to God, and on earth peace, toward men of good will" (Luke 2:14). It could also be worded: "Glory to God, and on earth, peace among men who please God" or "among men with whom God is pleased"—which gives a very different meaning to the statement (see The New Testament in 26 Translations). The Bible does not indicate that peace will come from good intentions or by everyone working together for peace. In fact, it says just the opposite!
We often hear that the gospel is about Jesus, love, peace and harmony. Yet Jesus plainly said: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). He indicated that political, religious and philosophical differences would divide human beings and generate strife, until the end of the age. Jesus also said that one of the signs His Second Coming is near would be the constant news "of wars and rumors of wars… for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom… all these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:6–8). Jesus did not say that prayers, candle-lightings, negotiations or atom bombs would bring peace. He predicted that world conditions would grow worse and worse, culminating in a period of great tribulation that would mark the end of the age (see Matthew 24:9–23).
Many religious leaders gloss over—or ignore—this sobering aspect of Christ's message. Yet it permeates Scripture! The Apostle Paul wrote: "In the last days, perilous times will come." These times would be characterized by selfish materialism, skepticism, blasphemy, disobedience, brutality and the mad pursuit of pleasure, with many having a form of godliness but denying that religion has any real authority in their lives (2 Timothy 3:1–5). What an accurate description of our age! The Hebrew prophets predicted a coming time when well-intentioned but misguided civil and religious leaders would cry out "'Peace, Peace!' when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14). They will say that "we looked for peace, but none came" (Jeremiah 8:15). Isaiah warned, in the context of the end-time, that "the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly" as they see their plans and efforts come to nothing (Isaiah 33:7). Ezekiel prophesied that "they will seek peace, but there shall be none. Disaster will come upon disaster" (Ezekiel 7:25–26). Jesus predicted that as we approach the end of this age, human civilization will face the threat of annihilation, and that "unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:22). Bible prophecies, coming alive today, reveal that human efforts to find peace will ultimately fail. Scripture also reveals why!
Describing human efforts to find peace, the Bible states: "The way of peace they have not known" (Isaiah 59:8). Human efforts fail because the world has largely ignored or rejected what the Bible says about peace. King David wrote: "Great peace have those who love Your law" (Psalm 119:165), yet most professing Christians today believe that the law has been done away! David also wrote: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). The laws of God point the way to peace. Jesus told His disciples: "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15), yet many believe that this is no longer necessary! If we keep the commandments of God, we will not kill, steal, lust, lie, commit adultery, practice fornication or disrespect parents or those in positions of authority. This is how really to love your neighbor and avoid conflict! If we love God, we will avoid the idolatrous worship of other gods or physical things. We will not follow religious practices the Bible condemns. We will keep the Sabbaths God has designated, rather than days that we decide to observe. The way to peace involves learning to obey and live by the laws of God. Reasoning around the commandments, lighting candles, praying to saints, joining marches or seeking United Nations negotiations will not bring lasting peace. Jesus Christ is called the "Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). He said: "I am the way" (John 14:6). There is no other way to peace!
Jesus preached a gospel about the coming kingdom of God (Mark 1:14–15). The gospel is not about a baby in a manger who is waiting patiently for people to give their hearts to Him. The kingdom is not a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart. It is not the church, or a semi-peaceful ecumenical community that the church will establish on earth by compromise and consensus. Bible prophecies state that Jesus Christ will return and take over the kingdoms of this world, and that He will rule with great power (Revelation 11:15–18). He will set up in Jerusalem a world-ruling government that will bring peace to this earth (Isaiah 2:2–4; 9:6–7). The saints will reign with Christ (Revelation 1:6; 5:10) and teach mankind to follow the laws of God (Isaiah 30:20–21). As human beings learn a new way to live, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks… neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4). This is how peace on earth will be achieved! These prophecies will come alive in the years just ahead. This is the real biblical message of peace, and what the true gospel is all about!