Violence and War: The Second Horseman | Tomorrow's World

Violence and War: The Second Horseman

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Jesus said at the end of the age the Second Horseman—riding a fiery red horse and waving a great sword—would "take peace from the earth, and… people should kill one another" (Revelation 6:3–4). The sobering reality of modern world news indicates that end time prophecies—of increasing violence and wars—are coming alive today!

Many have been told that Jesus Christ could return at any moment—perhaps even tonight! Yet the Bible reveals something very different! Jesus told His disciples to watch because His second coming would be preceded by a recognizable series of events. Jesus used symbols of Four Horsemen to picture major global events that would escalate out of control just before His return. Jesus said at the end of the age the Second Horseman—riding a fiery red horse and waving a great sword—would "take peace from the earth, and… people should kill one another" (Revelation 6:3–4). The sobering reality of modern world news indicates that end time prophecies—of increasing violence and wars—are coming alive today!

When Jesus was asked by His disciples, "what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3), He responded, "you will hear of wars and rumors of wars… nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom… these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:6–8; Mark 13:7–8; Luke 21:8–10). Wars have raged throughout history, yet in the last century the scope and magnitude of destructive warfare reached unprecedented levels. Historian Phillipe Gigantes offers this summary of the 20th century: "There were two world wars; a cold war; many smaller wars; one great depression; two monster regimes and their fall—Nazism and communism; decolonization; mass carnage; warplanes; atomic bombs…" (Power and Greed, p. 187). The death toll for World War I was more than 8.5 million; for WWII it was more than 14 million soldiers and 27 million civilians. In addition, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong each killed at least 50 million of their own countrymen as they established communist states. Never before have wars been fought on a global scale and so many lives lost!

Jesus' prediction that "nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom" is an accurate description of what is happening today. The biblical Greek word for nation—ethnos—refers to a people, race, tribe or ethnic group. The biblical Greek word for kingdom—basileia—means a nation, realm or empire. Jesus prophesied that ethnic strife and wars between nations would dominate the news at the end of the age. Harvard professor Samuel Huntington has observed that "the rivalry between superpowers is being replaced by the clash of civilizations… between peoples belonging to different cultural groups… the central and most dangerous dimension of the emerging global politics [will] be conflict between groups from differing civilizations… clashes between civilizations are the greatest threat to world peace" (The Clash of Civilizations, pp. 13, 28). Religious and ethnic strife is at the heart of many of the violent clashes during the last 20 years—in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, across Asia, in the Pacific and in South America.

The Apostle Paul warned that "in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud… unloving [callous], unforgiving [irreconcilable]… brutal" (2 Timothy 3:1–5). These words describe what we have seen in recent years on a global scale—tribesmen in Africa raping, mutilating and hacking neighboring tribes to death (including women and children); rape and gruesome ethnic killings in the Balkans; human bombers detonating themselves on crowded buses; airplanes carrying civilians blown up in mid-air or deliberately flown into office buildings! International terrorism came into its own with the dawning of the 21st century. Never before have a few individuals armed with high explosives or biological weapons been able to intimidate major powers. Weapons of mass destruction have become household words today!

Against this background of international terror and threats of nuclear blackmail from rogue states, once formidable nations are beginning to rearm! Japan is altering its constitution to permit Japanese forces to be deployed outside Japan. Germany has already begun to participate in military actions outside Germany. Europe—the site of numerous bloody conflicts—is creating its own army under the auspices of the European Union. While these beefed-up forces are being organized for "peace-keeping" duties, they will be capable of fighting wars! A disturbing parallel development is that modern nations are increasingly willing to intervene militarily in the affairs of other nations under the label of "pre-emptive strikes."

In another end-time prophecy, Paul foretold that "the day of the Lord will come as a thief [unexpectedly] in the night. For when they say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them" (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3). In recent decades, we have witnessed peace conferences, prayers for peace and marches for peace. The pope has urged lighting candles for peace, yet the world becomes more dangerous every day! This is exactly what Jeremiah predicted more than 2,500 years ago. In prophecies that apply both to Jeremiah's time and the future, he wrote that "from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely… saying, 'Peace, Peace!' when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:13–14; 8:10–11). We are witnessing this today!

Jesus made other predictions about conditions that would prevail just before his return. While He cautioned that no one would know "the day or hour" of His coming, He warned that "as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:36–39). Scripture reveals that in the days of Noah, "the earth was filled with violence… all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth" (Genesis 6:9–13). Today, our society is permeated with violence—in the media, in homes, in schools, in communities and on the world scene: it is everywhere! Jesus explained that because of escalating violence, war and the erosion of godly values, "unless those days were shortened [by the return of Christ], no flesh would be saved" (Matthew 24:21–22). Jesus clearly foresaw the possibility of cosmocide, which became a real danger with the advent of the atomic bomb in the mid-20th century!

Today, students of international affairs echo these same concerns. Shortly after the invasion of Iraq, Canadian journalist Robert Harvey (a former member of the Canadian Parliament) commented: "Has the Fourth World War broken out?… The world is a much more dangerous place than it has been for nearly half a century… without a new world order there will be no world order… Doomsday—global anarchy… is a real possibility if America and its allies do not rise to the occasion… the consequences of not acting in time are terrifying" (Global Disorder, pp. xiii, xxxii, 456).

We are living in perilous times, but the news is not all bad! Jesus concluded His prophecies of the end of the age on a positive note, saying that "when you see these things happening know that the kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21:28–33). In the days of Noah, God intervened with a flood to put an end to human corruption and violence, yet He saved Noah and his family to repopulate the earth. In the years ahead, God will intervene again to put an end to corrupt human behavior and global violence. This time, Jesus Christ will return to establish the kingdom of God on this earth. The sobering prophecies about events that will occur just before Christ's second coming are coming alive today! Do you recognize the signs? Will you be ready?


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