All around us, we see violence between nations and conflict between individuals. The Cold War is behind us, but fears of terrorism and global nuclear holocaust remain. Will mankind destroy itself? The Bible reveals that there will be a "World War III"—but offers a hope-filled message of our ultimate destiny.
Mankind continues to invent and produce weapons of mass destruction. The weapons of World War I killed ten million people. The weapons of World War II killed 55 million. Will humanity be able to survive World War III, or will it regress to Stone Age conditions? Bible prophecy reveals a hope-filled answer!
We in the Western world profess to value the life of each individual. But when we review the history of mankind, we count the millions of dead soldiers and civilians in the never-ending cycle of escalating war. Do we realize the numbers of casualties that nations have inflicted on one another, and on themselves? The United States' Civil War caused more than 630,000 deaths. World War I resulted in 10 million deaths; World War II saw 55 million deaths. The Iran-Iraq War caused nearly 1 million deaths. Man's inhumanity to man bloodies our history with genocide. Millions have died in the Holocaust of World War II, under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and as victims of atrocities in Rwanda, Bosnia and Kosovo, to name just a few.
Bible prophecy clearly reveals that, eventually, all nations will fight in World War III. That war would lead to total cosmocide—death to everyone and everything on the earth—unless God intervened. The earth and life on it will barely survive World War III. But God will intervene.
What will the earth be like afterwards? We need to know the good news beyond the bad. There is a new world coming: tomorrow's world. What will it be like? What will the future be, beyond World War III? The Bible reveals that you can have hope beyond the traumatic events that are yet to come. You can have a part in the wonderful world of tomorrow, full of peace, abundance and God's love.
But in the meantime, we must face the reality of perilous times ahead. Will you be prepared for the future? You can be, if you seek the God of the Bible and learn His ways. As you do so, you will be preparing for the coming age of peace, by bringing a foretaste of that peace into your own life now, even as the world around you moves toward the brink of disaster.
The nuclear age began during World War II. On August 6 and August 9 in 1945, the United States dropped the first-ever atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The age of potentially instant global mass destruction had begun.
Has the danger of nuclear war diminished? We need only to read our newspapers to understand that terrorists and rogue nations still threaten our world. Then add the threat of nuclear nations themselves. You may be acquainted with the "Doomsday Clock" kept by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It reflects the danger of living in the nuclear age. After years unchanged, the Bulletin in June 1998 moved the "minute hand" of its clock ahead five minutes to just nine minutes before midnight. This was a jump of five full minutes! Two more nations had joined the "nuclear club": India and Pakistan, which the Bulletin labeled a "failure of world diplomacy in the nuclear sphere."
Then, in February 2002, the Bulletin advanced the clock's minute hand from nine to seven minutes before midnight. They reported: "Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, this is the third time the hand has moved forward." The Bulletin warns of "troubling trends: More than 31,000 nuclear weapons are still maintained by the eight known nuclear powers, a decrease of only 3,000 since 1998. Ninety-five percent of these weapons are in the United States and Russia, and more than 16,000 are operationally deployed. Even if the United States and Russia complete their recently announced arms reductions over the next 10 years, they will continue to target thousands of nuclear weapons against each other." (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 27, 2002).
The ultimate war yet lies ahead of us. We experienced two world wars in the 20th century, and World War III looms in the 21st century! The next war will be catastrophic. The great scientist Albert Einstein once said: "I do not know with what kind of weapons World War III will be led, but the fourth world war will be fought with sticks and stones."
History documents the evil nature of human beings, and their insane destructiveness in war after war. Where will it all lead? Jesus of Nazareth, who will return to save the world from itself, stated this awesome reality: "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:21–22).
Here is the Savior's guarantee that life on earth will not end in World War III. Many years ago, during the Cold War, I personally worried about the end of the world. All I could see on the horizon was a total nuclear conflagration that would leave the earth as an incinerated relic. The good news is that Jesus Christ will return to stop World War III from causing total cosmocide. As He said: "For the elect's sake those days will be shortened." That news should be reassuring. But we need to know what lies ahead, so we can face the future with faith and courage.
What events lead up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? The book of Revelation describes the tribulations produced by the famous Four Horsemen and their ride. War and famine will directly devastate one-fourth of the earth, as it tells us in Revelation 6:7-8. The Apostle John used first century language to describe 21st century warfare. For example, in the latter phase of World War III, during the sixth trumpet plague, John describes a massive army invading west across the Euphrates River, which runs from Turkey through Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf. John writes: "Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.' So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them" (Revelation 9:13–16).
John sees in vision a massive invasion westward across the Euphrates River. What will this army do to the populations of the earth? It will kill one-third of mankind. At least two billion human beings will be killed in this phase of World War III! If we want to escape this calamity, we need to wake up now! We need to seek God for life, protection and salvation.
If the Western nations do not turn from their lawless and anti-God ways of living, God will punish us in a great tribulation. Regular readers of this magazine know that the American and British-descended peoples are among the descendants of the House of Israel. We are the descendents of the patriarch Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Jeremiah's prophecy directly refers to the Western nations: "Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it [this is a unique period in human history]; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7). God will punish the Western nations in World War III if they do not repent! Bible prophecy indicates that just a small percentage will survive, but God will save the remnant of the Western nations.
We can thank God that Jesus Christ will be coming back to save the earth, and to establish His kingdom. The world after World War III will be renewed physically and spiritually. There is hope for the future. There is a new world coming!
We live in a dangerous world. Human nature and warring nations will escalate those dangers into World War III. Bible prophecy reveals that, during this war, an army of 200 million from east of the Euphrates will kill one-third of all human life. Unless mankind repents from its rebellion against God and His ways, we will see the greatest tribulation that the world has ever experienced!
You can also read about the ecological devastation that takes place during the Day of the Lord. The first four trumpet plagues affect the environment: "So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water, because it was made bitter. Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night" (Revelation 8:6–12). The environment will be devastated. The fifth and sixth trumpets reveal military actions and events leading up to the return of Christ.
Finally, the seventh trumpet announces the news that all nations need. The Kingdom of God will bring lasting peace to this earth. "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).
This is the good news for which we all pray! Yet carnal, rebellious nations will not find it good news. Incredibly, they will fight against Christ at His coming. As Scripture tells us, "the nations were angry" at His return (v. 18). Revelation 19 goes on to describe that battle and its results. The nations will learn that they cannot win against the Commander of Heaven's armies, Jesus Christ.
What happens next? Everyone on the earth will see the return of Christ: "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen" (Revelation 1:7). Most human beings who survive World War III will come to understand that man's ways lead to death (cf. Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). They will repent, and will come to understand God's love for them. They will realize that Jesus Christ's crucifixion, and His shed blood, will pay for their sins. They will be teachable, and will learn a new way of life.
There will be a second Exodus. Captive survivors from the Western nations will begin a new life in a new land: "'Therefore, behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'that they shall no longer say, "As the Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt," but, "As the Lord lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them." And they shall dwell in their own land'" (Jeremiah 23:7–8).
Humbled by World War III, survivors will turn to God and accept His blessings and His ways: "For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God" (Ezekiel 36:24–28).
This is the time when all the resurrected and immortalized saints will rule with Christ. King David, a man after God's own heart, will rule over and shepherd these returning refugees. Remember the great tribulation is the time of Jacob's trouble, or Israel's trouble. What will happen then? "'For it shall come to pass in that day,' says the Lord of hosts, 'that I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them'" (Jeremiah 30:8–9).
Yes, the Kingdom of God will rule on this earth. "And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth'" (Revelation 5:9–10).
The immortalized saints will be kings and priests, ruling over nations and cities. They will teach the nations God's way of life. The coming world-ruling Kingdom of God will govern all nations on earth. The prophet Isaiah proclaims that coming government under the Messiah: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:6–7).
The ruined cities will be rebuilt. The desolate farms will be revitalized. "'Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations'" (Ezekiel 36:28–30).
The glorious Kingdom of God on earth will produce beauty and productivity the world has never known. We can get a glimpse of God's greatness, and a foretaste of tomorrow's world, in the creation about us. God has blessed the earth with awesome, majestic mountains, fertile valleys, and productive plains. We marvel at pristine lakes and churning oceans. We appreciate the variety of flowers, plant life, birds, animals and sea life. In tomorrow's world, the very nature of animals will change. Isaiah gives us this millennial vision: "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).
God created human beings for a wonderful purpose: to be a part of His divine family for all eternity. He created us in His own image. And He gave human beings the power, the freedom to choose between good and evil. Relatively few in the history of man have found the way to life, so freely offered by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Mankind has generally gone its own way, experimenting with every form of government, religion, philosophy, education, entertainment, science, technology, business and commerce. Where will it all lead? To World War III!
But the Creator God has a plan to save humanity. And that plan includes a new world, tomorrow's world. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, will govern all nations on earth and teach all peoples the way to lasting peace. The weapons of warfare will be turned into instruments of peace. All nations will come to the new world capital, Jerusalem. They will worship the true God, and they will learn that the laws of God—the Ten Commandments—will instruct everyone in the way of God's righteousness. "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem'" (Isaiah 2:2–3). That is the world to which we look forward. After the devastation of World War III, many peoples will be humbled, and they will be teachable. The King of kings will exercise loving power to ensure peace and prosperity around the world. Continuing, Isaiah writes: "He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (v. 4).
No longer will terrorists kill and destroy. No longer will tribes and nations fight one another. Human nature—the basic cause of war—will be changed. Human beings will learn the way of life taught in the Bible. Jesus said: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). We need to learn that way of life! Those who repent and are baptized, allowing Jesus Christ to live in them through the gift of the Holy Spirit, will help re-educate this devastated world. Today's true Christians will be teachers in tomorrow's world: "And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:20–21).
True Christians are now learning that way of life. We are called to be peacemakers, to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, as Jesus taught in Matthew 5. It is the way of love, of sharing, giving, helping and serving. Though this world continues to experience hate, God is love, (1 John 4:8, 16). The world beyond World War III will experience God's divine love, under the rulership of Jesus Christ, for a thousand years.
Christ taught us: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). May we all look forward to His coming Kingdom on earth, and may we all look forward with hope and faith, to tomorrow's world!