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We Shouldn’t Be Shocked

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People often wonder: Will war ever end? The Bible says it will—do you want to know how?

I confess: I’m shocked! But before I tell you why, let me take a very related side trip

Movies present a distorted image of reality, yet they shape our views on many subjects, such as history and culture. I grew up on military bases where theaters charged as little as 15 or 25 cents to see a new feature every day or two. So, I’ve seen my share of “D-rated” movies. No, this rating is not a competitor of the Motion Picture Association’s G and R ratings, which only began in 1968. The unofficial “D” rating meant that a movie had a suboptimal plot and mediocre actors. An example would be a prison escape picture filmed in black and white.

Some action flicks were staged to look like they took place in Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Canton. One of the better ones was Soldier of Fortune with Clark Gable and Susan Hayward, but Asia, one way or another, was usually a backdrop for scenes of gangsters and shady characters running around crowded streets. I considered those places exotic danger spots—because the movies told me so.

In the years that followed, I learned that another alarming place to travel was Israel. Newspapers and television news conveyed this, but when I had the opportunity to travel to Israel in 1978, I truthfully felt more secure there than I did in New York City. And in 1984 I found Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities in China very different from what I had expected. I didn’t find any gangsters—just curious people who were not used to seeing foreigners. Since then I have traveled to Guangzhou (formerly Canton), Hong Kong, and other cities in China and Asia, and have felt safer there than in some parts of Chicago, Los Angeles, and even Kansas City.

Today’s Horrific Violence

Of course, feeling safe and being safe are two different matters. We quickly adapt to familiar surroundings. Generally speaking, most—but certainly not all—Americans feel safe where they live (“Most Americans feel safe in their own community, big cities still scare many,” Today.YouGov.com, September 8, 2020). Clearly, the United States of America is still the desired home for many—just ask the thousands of immigrants flooding its southern border—but what about people in more prosperous countries? Does the “land of the free and home of the brave” more and more resemble one of those movies with gangsters running around a mysterious and dangerous city? What do outsiders think of America? Are they wondering why anyone would want to venture in?

The year 2021 has been a violent year in America. It seems that we hear of a mass shooting every other day, but that is not what the facts reveal—it is far worse than that. Gun Violence Archive documents more than 350 shootings during the first six months of this year in which four or more persons—not including the shooter—were wounded or killed in a single incident. That’s an average of about 1.8 mass shootings per day—close to 13 per week! As of June 30 this year, there had been 30 shootings with eight or more victims, and there were already 25 mass shootings in the first five days of July! We can only imagine what the rest of the world is thinking—“Those crazy Americans and their guns.” This is why I confessed at the beginning of this Personal that I’m shocked at how bad it really is (“Mass Shootings in 2021,” GunViolenceArchive.org, accessed July 8, 2021).

The U.S. has the most guns per capita by any standard of measurement, yet Switzerland, with nearly 46 guns per 100 people, has not had a mass shooting since 2001. Obviously, the gun cultures of these two countries are different, but the U.S. is not the only country where gun violence is out of control. “The Mexican National Security System… reports that 29,406 cases of murder occurred in 2019, affecting 34,588 victims” and much of this was gun violence (“Justice in Mexico releases 2020 Organized Crime and Violence in Mexico Report,” JusticeInMexico.org, July 30, 2020).

Tomorrow’s Peaceful World

Though we are shocked when our fellow man shows so little regard for human life, this should not come as a total surprise if we read what the Bible says about the time in which we live. I grew up attending a generic Protestant church, but in all that time I never heard a sermon on biblical prophecy. Why, when at least a quarter of the Bible is prophecy? It is true that churches today talk more often about prophecy than they did during my formative years—but those who do so almost never use the proper keys to unlock prophecy.

By contrast, the Tomorrow’s World magazine and telecast boldly and accurately proclaim the return of Jesus Christ to rule over mankind. That must seem strange to anyone lacking full faith in the reality of God, but should it be strange to those who truly believe Jesus was resurrected from the grave? Is one more difficult to believe than the other?

Further, unless He does return, we are all doomed. If we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, do we believe His words? Jesus warned that mankind would come to the brink of annihilation and only His intervention would prevent it (Matthew 24:21–22). That was not possible when Jesus made this prediction, but since the invention of the nuclear bomb and other technologies, it is now possible. The return of Christ is crucial to putting an end to the carnage we see today—crucial to our very survival.

On the evening before He was taken to be crucified, Jesus told His disciples, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). And where will He be? The biblical answer is unambiguous.

For 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to many witnesses. Finally, on the Mount of Olives, His disciples asked when He would set up His kingdom. His answer? They were not to be concerned about when, but were to do the Work for which He had called them. After giving this response, He rose into the air and disappeared in a cloud. As the startled Apostles stood watching, two angels appearing as men spoke and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

We also read that “the Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:9). And we are told that when the seventh trumpet sounds, there will be “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). Prophecy after prophecy describes the return of Jesus Christ to this earth and what His kingdom will be like.

In front of the United Nations headquarters building in New York City, there is a statue titled “Let Us Beat Swords into Ploughshares,” which was made in the 1950s by an artist from the Soviet Union. It is a “bronze statue representing the figure of a man holding a hammer in one hand and, in the other, a sword which he is making into a plough share, symbolizing man’s desire to put an end to war and convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of all mankind” (“Let Us Beat Swords Into Ploughshares,” UN.org, accessed July 8, 2021).

It is remarkable that the UN website, along with several others that mention this statue, neglects to mention the source of its inspiration. It symbolizes more than “man’s desire to put an end to war.” The inspiration for the statue comes directly from the Bible, which gives a rock-solid promise that this will happen when Christ returns to save mankind from itself. Speaking of His return and reign, we read, “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 any more” (Isaiah 2:4; cf. Micah 4:3). This is what Tomorrow’s World is all about!

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