continued from above
Acts 5:29 explained that God’s servants must always “obey God rather than men.” If one is a citizen of a kingdom that is waiting in heaven to come to earth and replace all of the governments of earth, then he cannot stand with his feet resting in two opposing governments—God’s and Satan’s.
Look closer at this principle. How can a Christian obey the Sixth Commandment, along with Christ’s much additional instruction, and at the same time obey his national government’s instruction to fight and kill other people? In the end, he must choose whether his allegiance is to his spiritual Master in heaven or physical earthly “masters.”
God Hates Division
God hates division and discord between people. He wants them to live together in unity and harmony. Fighting and war would bring division directly into His Church. But how?
Psalm 133:1 states, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” It is wonderful when people get along—when they agree. Read Romans 16:17 and Proverbs 6:19. God says He hates “[him] that sows discord among brethren.”
Paul asked, “Is Christ divided?” The obvious answer is no! Christ is NOT divided and neither is His Church (I Cor. 1:10, 13). We have seen that Christ also said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (Matt. 12:25-26). It is interesting that even the devil has figured this out! He leads a vast kingdom of fallen spirits and recognizes that he cannot let it become divided.
War always divides those who engage in it. Division would be introduced into God’s Church the moment fighting and war were practiced by its members. Amos 3:3 asks, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” Whether division is between people or nations, the painful answer is always no! And war always involves intense disagreement!
What if Christians from two different countries, fighting for two different purposes, participated in the same war? Brothers in Christ would be fighting each other in a kind of civil war. This is exactly what happened to many physical brothers who fought each other in the American Civil War of the 1860s.
War always breeds more division and hatred between individuals or nations. It would do the same to the Church of God if its members participated in it.
By Their Fruits
In Matthew 7:16, Christ stated, “You shall know them by their fruits.” He repeated in verse 20, “Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” Matthew 12:33 says, “...for the tree is known by his [its] fruit.” These verses are primarily speaking about leaders, but they apply to almost any individual or organization. God’s servants are told to examine the “fruits”—the by-products!—of any given matter, system or person.
What about war?
The first paragraph of this booklet listed the fruits of war as terror, destruction, economic upheaval, orphaned children, population displacement, widespread devastation of the land, atrocities, hunger, disease, untold suffering, misery, despair, injuries, death and even genocide—in other words, CHAOS! This is because war is inspired and influenced by the god of this world and his wicked spirits in high places (Eph. 6:12). These fallen spirits sit at the real throttle of power behind the visible governments of nations.
The conclusion: War, as a means of addressing problems, has never worked, and its fruits are always disastrous.
Warfare, But Not After the Flesh
Study the entire New Testament. You will not find a single instance where God’s people participated in men’s wars. We have seen that James 4:1-4 refers to and condemns those who were drifting into “wars and fighting.” However, there are many verses that indicate Christians are called to spiritual battle—spiritual war—in their Christian struggle (I Tim. 6:12; Eph. 6:12-17). To overcome sin, they must battle the flesh, the pulls of the world and Satan.
Paul told Timothy to “war a good warfare” (I Tim. 1:18), and later explained, “You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who has chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:3-4).
Truly, Christians are soldiers, but in a spiritual war. This does not include involvement in the carnal wars of nations. Paul wrote, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [physical])” (II Cor. 10:3-4). So, all God’s servants are soldiers, but they fight on a spiritual level.
“But Ancient Israel Went to War…”
Many have sought to justify war by citing the Old Testament wars of ancient Israel. Those who ignore the facts of scripture suppose that their fighting and warring represent God’s will—or at least His license—for modern nations today. We will see that this is simply not true. It was never God’s intention that Israel defend itself from its enemies.
Here are the facts!
Soon after Israel’s exodus from Egypt, God gave them His law, the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:4-22). Just as the Sixth Commandment has always been “Thou shalt not kill,” the Ten Commandments have been God’s law from the very beginning. (Read our article “Did The Ten Commandments Precede Moses?” for proof.)
At Mt. Sinai, God made a covenant with Israel, promising them blessings of good weather, good health and healing, sufficient food and water, and protection from aggressors. Immediately after giving them His law and judgments, in chapters 20 through 23 of Exodus, here is what God promised: “Behold, I send an Angel before you, to keep you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared…if you shall indeed obey His voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto your enemies, and an adversary unto your adversaries. For My Angel shall go before you, and bring you in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off” (Ex. 23:20-23).
God expected His nation to keep the Ten Commandments, including the sixth, as “their end of the bargain.” He thus bound Himself to protect Israel as long as they obeyed Him.
Israel’s acceptance of God’s terms is found in Exodus 24:7: “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord has said will we do, and be obedient.”
Faith and Obedience Short-lived
Their obedience, however, never lasted very long. All through the period of the judges, Israel was “on again, off again” in their submission to God. Each time they rebelled and forsook Him to serve the gods of the nations around them, God sent them into captivity.
After a period of time, Israel would cry out for deliverance and promise to do better. God would send a judge (Jud. 2:16-18) to deliver them, and they would remain on track for a short while. As soon as the judge died (Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jephthah, Samson, etc.), the pattern would repeat itself.
This continued for hundreds of years, until the time of Samuel. Eventually, the country had become so corrupt and immoral that the book of Judges ends with “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Jud. 21:25).
As Samuel’s life drew to a close, his sons having departed from worshipping God, the leaders of Israel approached him with a demand: “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, ‘Behold, you are old, and your sons walk not in your ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations’…And the Lord said unto Samuel, ‘Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them’” (I Sam. 8:4-7).
Israel wanted to “be like everybody else.” They refused God’s rule and form of government and, in so doing, directly rejected God. The rest of mankind had rejected God’s government long before Israel, and has continued rejecting it ever since. Now, with their own king, Israel could better “fit in.” As you can see, peer pressure did not begin in the modern age.
Israel continually lacked the faith to believe that God would keep His promise. They wavered constantly and began to establish their own standing army. Even as they departed from Egypt, with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit, God told them through Moses, “Fear you not, stand still and see the salvation of the Eternal, which He will show to you today…the Eternal shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Ex. 14:13-14).
Of course, the Red Sea parted and God swallowed Pharaoh’s army with no need for help from Israel. Even the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fights for them” (Ex. 14:25). Verses 27 and 31 explain that “the Lord overthrew the Egyptians.”
It was always God’s intention that Israel “stand still…holding their peace,” and watch Him fight and win their battles!
Deuteronomy 1 is a long account of Israel’s continual faithlessness and rebellion in the face of God’s willingness to fight for them. (See verse 30.)
Israel: Sometimes God’s “Executioner of the State”
God did not want Israel to be led by a physical king (Saul and David were the first two). He permitted it because Israel made this choice. Samuel warned them in great detail not to do this and why, but they rejected his advice and did it anyway. Israel rejected virtually everything God told them to do, in order to follow their own ideas and customs. Since Israel was determined to have their own king, God gave them instructions for how to do it.
The same thing happened regarding war. God instructed Israel that He would protect them—that they did not need to fight and protect themselves. However, they rejected this instruction—and protection—so that they could participate in the adventures and conquests of war waged by the nations around them. Again, God allowed them to do this, but gave them instructions—rules of war—that they were to follow if they did. These rules are found in Deuteronomy 20.
Notice, none of them involved the actual teaching of war skills, strategies and tactics—the art of war—to Israel. They also allowed for certain ones to receive military exemptions (vs. 5-9). Study the chapter. God said (twice) that He would now fight “with” them (vs. 1, 4) at the same time they actually went to war. He would no longer exclusively defeat Israel’s enemies.
But this did allow Israel to be able to drive out certain degenerate, idolatrous peoples from the Promised Land. Yet, Acts 7:45 reveals who was really responsible for their success. Stephen, before he was stoned, referred to “the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers.”
God created life. He has the right to take it. He can use any tool to do this if that is what He wishes. It was not Israel that defeated, and sometimes annihilated, the peoples that God wished them to dispossess. It was God who did this through them.
Capital punishment was practiced in the Old Testament for certain offenses. Israel did not do this of her own choice—God’s Word instructed, indeed commanded, them to do this under certain circumstances. God holds the prerogative, as the Giver of life, to decide that certain utterly degenerate, rotten nations should be put to death, wholesale.
We must ask: Did Israel execute capital offenders when they were following God’s direct instructions, or did God execute them through Israel? Similarly, did Israel go to war against and execute specific nations that God instructed them to remove, or did God execute them? You see the point.
Only God has the right to give or take away life. He relinquishes this authority to no one, and anyone—any leader or nation—who presumptuously takes this prerogative is in direct rebellion against God.
What About David?
God called the great King David “a man after My own heart, which shall fulfill all My will” (Acts 13:22). Yet, David was a warrior of great renown. How is this explained?
Here is what David said to his son Solomon near the end of his life. He was speaking of his desire to build God a “house”—a temple: “My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God: But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, You have shed blood abundantly, and have made great wars: you shall not build an house unto My Name, because you have shed much blood upon the earth in My sight. Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest [peace]; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for My Name; and he shall be My son, and I will be his Father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever” (I Chron. 22:7-10).
God made it very clear to David that He was displeased with David’s constant war-making. The Bible shows David eventually repented of this. Though he often “sinned big,” he also “repented big.” Psalm 51, among others, describes the depth of David’s repentance and sorrow for some of his greatest sins. Though God loved this quality, and praised the purity of David’s heart, his tendency and practice of going to war prohibited God from allowing him to build the temple.
David repented of war! Nations can also repent of war!
Going to war, fighting and killing are choices that nations make. Whole countries, like people, possess free moral agency. All people and nations do everything that they do because they made the choice to do it! They can either choose to trust God or to “perish with their sword.”
Ancient Israel chose war and never repented. They were eventually taken into captivity (721-718 B.C. by Assyria), and the result was that ten of the twelve tribes have lost their identity to this day. David chose to go to war, but repented—and, as a result, numerous prophecies show he will one day rule over all the tribes of Israel at the Return of Christ.
Some Cases in Point
The history of ancient Israel contains several dramatic examples of how God delivered them from powerful aggressors who otherwise could have easily defeated them.
First, in Exodus 14, God miraculously delivered Israel from certain destruction at the hand of the Egyptian army by parting the Red Sea. Israel quickly forgot this, just three chapters later, when they were ready to fight the Amalekites.
The second example has to do with King Asa of Judah when he faced an enormous army of one million Ethiopian soldiers, with 300 chariots! II Chronicles 14:11-12 relates this account. Take time to read it and see how “The Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled.” This is an astonishing statement about the power of God. How many nations TODAY have armies of such tremendous size? Yet, for God, it was no problem.
Sadly, not long after this account, Asa neglected to rely on God. Instead, he sought out and hired an ally (II Chron. 16:1-3) when he felt threatened by the nation of Israel (the other ten tribes that had split away from Judah during the reign of Solomon’s son). Because of Asa’s faithlessness, God said, “Therefore from henceforth you shall have wars.” God told him that he had done foolishly and that his “heart [was no longer] perfect toward [God]” (vs. 7-9). In other words, because Asa sought war, God sentenced Him and Judah to non-stop war.
The third account involves Asa’s son Jehoshaphat, also the king of Judah. This entire account is found in II Chronicles 20. It is a fascinating story and worth careful study. Jehoshaphat and Judah faced three huge armies that had formed an alliance and come against them. Verse 12 describes Jehoshaphat saying to God, “our eyes are on You.” Verses 15-17 show how God told them, “You shall not need to fight in this battle…for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
Jehoshaphat instructed all of Judah to sing to and praise God. And as “they began to sing and praise,” God intervened and utterly destroyed the army. The account records that “none escaped” (vs. 24).
Can you imagine a modern-day general or national leader demonstrating this kind of faith in God? Yet, if one did, and truly repented of all that he was doing to displease God, it would yield the same result. God says to all nations today, “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6).
Nations may not choose to repent and change, but individuals can. Jehoshaphat’s faith, mixed with courage, allowed him to break away from his father’s pattern.
The fourth example is found in II Chronicles 32. Once again, it involves a king of Judah, Hezekiah. A huge and historically fierce Assyrian army came against Judah and Jerusalem and besieged them. Hezekiah told his subjects that God will “fight our battles” (vs. 8). The people believed him, and God utterly destroyed this army. Verse 21 says, “the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men…and the leaders and captains in the camp…of Assyria.” The king, with a few other survivors, slipped home in defeat.
The account goes on to add that, during Hezekiah’s reign, Israel was given peace for a number of years.
Like the Ninevites, who repented due to Jonah’s warning, nations today are free to seek, yield to and obey God. But prophecy shows that this will not happen until Christ’s Return and the abolition of war.
Paul said that the events in the Old Testament stand for us “for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:6, 11).
Will you be part of copying ancient Israel’s mistakes, or will you learn from David and copy his righteousness?
Message About Government
Like a newscaster born way ahead of His time, Christ came announcing a complete change in the way the world will one day be governed. Everywhere He went, He spoke about the coming kingdom of God. It was the subject of most of His parables. But when He used the term “kingdom,” what did He mean?
Prior to the birth of Christ, an angel appeared to His mother, Mary. The following extensive passage describes this encounter and what she was told. Notice:
“The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto…Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, you that are highly favored…You shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:26-33).
The History of Conscientious Objection
A conscientious objector is a person who, on the grounds of conscience (primarily religious, not simple preference), stands firm against a person or influence—especially in regards to military service.
Conscientious Objector status has been granted to those who can prove by their convictions that they will not kill for any reason and are willing to undergo great hardships to avoid military service. In the past, they had to suffer ridicule, contempt, persecution, imprisonment, torture and even death.
Members of the Church of God do not claim any government of this world as their sole authority. Their citizenship is in heaven. Jesus stated in John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight…but now is My kingdom not from hence [here].”
Conscientious Objection can be traced back many hundreds of years. In A.D. 173, an official of the Roman Empire, referring to those who refused to serve in the military, stated, “If all men were to do as you, there would be nothing to prevent the emperor from being left in utter solitude and desertion and the forces of the empire would fall into the hands of the most lawless barbarians” (Catholics and Conscientious Objection, James H. Forest, 1981).
Conscientious Objection has been a long tradition in the Church of God. Before the United States was established, there were “historic peace churches” stemming from the Protestant Reformation. The most dominant were the Brethren, the Quakers, the Mennonites and the Anabaptists. Although the Church of God can trace its roots to well before this time, most historians group it with these other churches.
For the most part, these historic “peace churches” were small, unorthodox assemblies with an unvarying position against war. The Anabaptists (some of whom were members of God’s true Church) separated themselves from the concerns of the world, choosing to live away from the worldly activities of society. Because their ways were considered unorthodox, both Catholics and Protestants persecuted them. (For more information on who some of these Anabaptists were, read our book The History of God’s TRUE CHURCH.)
Conflict arose between militias and pacifists shortly after the first Quakers landed in North America. The early colonial militias were run independently from each other. Members of the peace groups were anti-war and ran into trouble almost immediately with the local officials. Punishment for not joining the militia ranged from forced service, fines and/or imprisonment. For example, in 1666, the fine in Virginia was 100 pounds of tobacco (Conscience in America, Schlissel, p. 30).
When a group of Quakers was brought before George Washington for not complying with local authorities, he said, “They choose rather to be whipped to death than to bear arms.” Seeing their dedication and conviction, he released them (New Conscientious Objection, Moskos and Chambers, p. 27).
Among the early peace groups was the Rogerenes: “The divine commands regarding religion as set forth in the New Testament they would strictly obey, but they would, ‘for conscience’s sake’ obey no command of men in this regard. The purely civil laws they held themselves bound to observe, according to Christ’s command…At a period when no men were more in favor of war than those who preached—in parts—the gospel of Him who bade His followers to forgive their enemies, to love them and pray for them and to return good for evil, the Rogerenes stood for uniform peace and good will on the part of Christians, according to the spirit and the letter of the Master’s teachings…Driven by the tolerance of their times to protect their obnoxious sect from extinction at the hands of powerful enemies, as best they could, the Rogerenes employed, at critical periods, a peaceable yet effective mode of defense, in the line of the gospel testimony, which engaged their opponents while it kept them fairly at bay. This was the climax of their tolerance” (The Rogerenes, Anna B. Williams, pp. 12-13).
One of the earliest laws exempting men from combat on religious grounds took effect in Rhode Island, 1673. Those exempted had to serve in other ways, including taking care of “weak and aged impotent persons, women and children, goods and cattle.” However, this law was revoked four years later under a different government. In 1701, Quaker William Penn passed laws stating that no conscientious objector “shall be in any case molested or prejudiced” (New Conscientious Objection).
On Jan. 16, 1704, Prussia’s King Frederick decreed, “those persons…shall not be recruited by the regular army nor be pressed into service by the use of force or physical violence…nor also by any other means shall such be enlisted” (www.ncl.ac.uk).
The U.S. Civil War brought with it the first nationwide draft of its young men. With it came the need to address the Conscientious Objector issue on a national scale. In Iowa, a small Church of God congregation petitioned the state government for their church to be exempted from military service. Primarily due to this petition, a law was passed in their favor. This is one of many small groups to which the Church of God today can trace its roots.
From the early days of the U.S. to the Civil War, the conscientious objector was required to pay a fine or hire someone to serve in his stead. Imagine not wanting to kill, but hiring someone to kill for you! Many who viewed this as still contributing to the act of killing refused to pay fines or hire a substitute. Instead, they were imprisoned. However, some Advent groups did pay the fines in order to buy exemptions for their members.
On Feb. 24, 1864, an amendment providing for Conscientious Objector status was passed. It stated as follows: “Members of religious denominations, who shall by oath or affirmation declare that they are conscientiously opposed to the bearing of arms, and who are prohibited from doing so by the rules and articles of faith and practice of said religious denominations, shall, when drafted into the military service, be considered noncombatants, and shall be assigned by the Secretary of War to duty in the hospitals, or to the care of freedom, or shall pay the sum of 300 dollars” (Statutes at Large, 13, 1864).
This only allowed members of historic peace churches to claim Conscientious Objector status. Neither the North nor the South honored any request from members of mainstream churches or for secular reasons. Members of churches that allowed for going to war and would not back up an individual’s request for exemption did not qualify.
On the night of April 15, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. As the nation mourned, the Church thanked God that Lincoln had signed laws grant-ing Christians exemption from war!
At the beginning of the 20th Century, there was trouble in Europe. The U.S. again implemented the draft. The Draft Law of 1917 allowed exemptions for anyone from any religion as long as its “existing creed or principles forbid its members to participate in war in any form” (Statutes at Large, 40, 1917, p. 78). Again, this only applied to members of the historic peace churches. President Woodrow Wilson opened the door to others who claimed conscientious objection but could not claim association with one of these groups. Roughly 76.5% of those who applied were found to be insincere and did not qualify for exemption. (Conscription of Conscience: The American State and the Conscientious Objector, Mulford Q. Sibley and Philip E. Jacob, p. 12).
Between 1940 and 1945, approximately 5,000 persons claiming conscientious objection in the U.S. were imprisoned. The Selective Service Act of 1948 stated that conscientious objection must be based on religious convictions and the belief in a Supreme Being. But in 1970, the Supreme Court removed that requirement. This allowed objection based on an ethical system with no reference to a Supreme Being. A 1971 ruling by the same court refused to allow an objection to a specific war. An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 men left the United States in order to avoid serving in Vietnam.
The following occurred in Turkey, in May 1998: A Turkish citizen “is the first conscientious objector in Turkey openly to declare his refusal to perform military service for reasons of conscience…charging him with ‘desertion’ and ‘insubordination’…unless there is a change [he] will be condemned to endlessly repeated convictions for the same ‘offence’—effectively life imprisonment” (www.amnesty.org).
On Dec. 23, 1998, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the government to cease granting draft exemptions to thousands of ultra-Orthodox students. This was said: “The precedent-setting decision is likely to have a far-reaching impact on Israel’s delicate religious-secular balance of power. It is also likely to exacerbate the dispute between religious and secular leaders over the Supreme Court’s right to rule at all on controversial religious issues…Ultra-Orthodox leaders vowed to battle the decision …Should the Knesset…fail to pass such a bill, ultra-Orthodox youths would go to prison or leave the country rather than enter the military” (The Christian Century Foundation).
Once again, the U.S. is leaning in the direction of drafting young men, and possibly young women, into the armed services. If this happens, and because of the scope of uncertainty in the world, the exemption for conscientious objectors may be challenged. Governments may even do away with “alternative service” and simply throw individuals into prison—or worse!
Recall that in John 18:36, Jesus stated, “My kingdom is not of this world.” In this account, He stood before Pilate, on trial for His life. Pilate asked Him, “Are you a king then?” Christ responded, “You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (vs. 37).
Jesus Christ was born to be a king!
Here is what was prophesied about Christ in Isaiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever” (Isa. 9:6-7).
When Christ establishes God’s government on earth, it will bring peace to all nations! But, in order to bring peace, He will have to literally “declare war against war.” After He does, permanent peace will “break out.” (Read our booklet How WORLD PEACE Will Come to learn how and when this will happen.)
Fighting God’s Punishment
The last phases of God’s great plan are now being carried out at the end of mankind’s rule. It is possible to directly fight against God’s unfolding prophesied purpose. Christians must be very careful to both understand and remain in harmony with it. They must never consciously or unconsciously work against it.
The United States, along with the generally English-speaking democratic peoples of the Western World, are the modern-day nations descended from the ten “lost tribes” of ancient Israel. Today’s Israelis represent one of the twelve tribes (Judah) that descended from the patriarch Jacob (later named Israel).
(Take time to read our book AMERICA and BRITAIN in bible prophecy to learn where these tribes are found today.)
These nations, with the entire world, have rebelled against God. Their sins have cut them off from Him (Isa. 59:1-2). They rejected and disobeyed the wonderful laws that He had once given them! In addition to a few others, the modern nations of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and the United Kingdom will be the special recipients of a prophesied time of terrible national punishment for their spiritual crimes, lawlessness and sins against God!
Carefully examine this extensive prophecy concerning our peoples’ short-term and long-term future. It begins with bad news, but ends with a wonderful picture of good news. Let’s read the prophecy before discussing it:
“And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning ISRAEL and concerning JUDAH. For thus says the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask you now, and see whether a man does travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it…Therefore fear you not, O my servant Jacob, says the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you: though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet will I not make a full end of you: but I will correct you in measure, and will not leave you altogether unpunished. For thus says the Lord, Your bruise is incurable, and your wound is grievous. There is none to plead your cause, that you may be bound up: you have no healing medicines. All your lovers [allies] have forgotten you; they seek you not; for I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy [our enemies are merely tools in God’s hands], with the chastisement of a cruel one [certainly this is the very essence of war and terrorism], for the multitude of your iniquity [lawlessness]; because your sins were increased. Why cry you for your affliction? your sorrow is incurable for the multitude of your iniquity: because your sins were increased, I HAVE DONE THESE THINGS UNTO YOU. Therefore all they that devour you shall be devoured; and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil you shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon you will I give for a prey. For I will restore health unto you, and I will heal you of your wounds” (Jer. 30:4-7, 10-17).
First, notice that this remarkable prophecy pertains to both Israel and Judah. These are not one and the same! Then notice how many times God speaks of “fear,” “trembling,” no “peace” and “faces turned to paleness,” in what He describes as the “great…time of Jacob’s trouble.”
Next, notice how many times God describes these nation’s incurable “wounds,” “bruises” and “sorrow,” and our loss of “lovers” (allies). Now notice how many times God says that all of this has come upon us because of our “iniquities”—our “sins.”
Further, notice how God repeatedly says that HE is the One doing this to Israel and Judah—“I have scattered…I have wounded…I will correct…I have done these things…” These verses bluntly describe that what is happening—and will continue to happen—to our lands is God’s doing!
Finally, notice how many times God says that He will “restore…heal…save…” Israel and Judah. God absolutely promises a time of restoration, healing and deliverance—as surely as He promises a time of terror, wounds, punishment and correction to precede it.
These prophecies are certain. God keeps His promises and fulfills His purpose!
In the end, the good news is that America, her Israelite allies and the rest of the world will finally have world peace when Christ returns and establishes the kingdom of God.
World Peace—But Not By Human Effort
Those who go to war invariably believe themselves to be serving some higher purpose. But they are directly contradicting God’s purpose and the prophesied punishment in store for both mankind and the modern descendants of Israel.
God’s people are not activists seeking to “make this world a better place”—to bring world peace. They have their “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). They walk with their “feet” covered in the knowledge of how the true gospel spells the way to final world peace. They understand the certainty that the kingdom of God is coming. They know what lies ahead for this world.
They do not go off to serve and kill in the endless, futile wars of men and nations. They do not take matters into their own hands, thereby effectively seeking to thwart or neutralize God’s purpose, which is to show man that he is not capable of governing himself.
Paul wrote, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they [leaders and religionists] shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (I Thes. 5:2-4).
All who understand the truths in this booklet need never again be in the dark about God’s Plan!
It is interesting that Paul also wrote, citing Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings [the good news of the gospel] of good things” (Rom. 10:15). In verse 16, he went on to cite another passage from Isaiah: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report?” (53:1).
Most people will not believe “God’s report” of what is ahead for the world. And they will not believe that they are unable to bring world peace through human effort. Many will shout, “Peace, peace!”—“when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14; 8:11, 14-15)—and most will eagerly believe their false predictions.
Millions of professing Christians will continue desperately striving to bring about world peace. Deceived religious leaders will tell them that this is their “Christian duty.” Some will see this as the sole mission of their church. They will seek happiness, abundance, peace and security around every corner, but will be terribly disappointed. This is because world conditions, leading into a final devastating period of global calamity, will get much worse before they ultimately get better.
Faith in the Promise of Protection
The Bible is a book of many distinct promises. Every time a person demonstrates faith in God, it involves a specific promise. It can involve healing, answered prayer, blessings (Jms. 1:4-8), guidance in a difficult decision and, most importantly, receiving salvation. In every instance, faith involves claiming a specific promise made by God in His Word. Therefore, it is important to search His Word to find what He promises.
Consider! Paul recorded, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16). Now notice this Proverb, inspired by God: “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add you not unto His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar” (Prov. 30:5-6).
When put together, these two verses show that God, through faith, becomes a shield to all who trust in exactly what His Word says. To doubt His Word, or to alter it in any way, is to call God A LIAR! That is serious!
When God makes a promise, He keeps it. While human beings may break their promises, God does not! If He tells you that He will do something for you, He will perform His promise—if you meet certain conditions. You have faith as an assurance that He will.
Browbeating yourself into faith is silly, because it suggests that there is doubt that God will do His part after you have done yours. Faith is relaxed. It is calm. It is sure. Whereas most people might have great doubt, the person led by faith is confident that God is always guiding the final outcome of matters.
When you claim one of God’s promises, expect Him to carry it out. Do not try to figure out when or how He will do it. I have learned two things about answered prayer. First, God always answers my prayers, if I seek His will. And secondly, He almost never answers it in the way that I expected. This is why walking by faith cannot include sight (I Cor. 5:7). “Looking” for God to answer prayer in a certain way or in a certain time frame is a waste of energy. Besides, it is far more important that God does answer our prayers and fulfills His promises than HOW He does it.
It takes faith to personally reject the practice of war and national self-defense and rely solely on God. But this is possible (Matt. 19:26). (You may read our booklet What is real FAITH? to truly understand what faith is.)
You Need Not Be Terrified of Prophecy
In Matthew 24, Christ warned of a time of “wars and rumors of wars” to intensify just prior to His Return. Paralleling this account, Luke records, for all true Christians living at the time of the end, “But when you shall hear of wars and commotions [extreme and ongoing forms of terrorism is at least a “commotion,” if not a “war”], be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not [yet]. Then said He unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: And great earthquakes shall be in various places, and famines, and pestilences” (21:9-11). (Read our booklets And there shall be FAMINES and And there shall be PESTILENCES to learn more about how these prophecies are beginning to accelerate.)
Those who know the truth and are in harmony with God, His laws and His plan, do not need to worry. They do not need to be “terrified” or frightened of prophesied events. God promises a place of safety to those individuals who humble themselves, and yield to and obey Him. You can escape (vs. 36) the far worse calamities and horror that still lie ahead for America, the other modern-day nations of Israel and, eventually, the whole world! (Another vital booklet, God’s Promised Protection – PLACE OF SAFETY or Secret Rapture?, reveals God’s plan for those who obey Him.)
When War Will Not Be Taught
I grew up in a family filled with Army and Navy officers—some of them senior career officers. Even both of my “girl” cousins married Navy officers. Another step-cousin was an army officer. His brother attended Annapolis, and I was appointed as well, though I declined the appointment because God was calling me into His truth at that time. My uncle (on my mother’s side) has studied the Civil War most of his life and has an enormous Civil War library. My father was an Army officer and pilot in WWII, and his brother was a Navy officer and pilot who was present at Pearl Harbor during the attack. Their father (my grandfather) fought in WWI. I was born on December 7, 1948, and my mother always referred to me as her “Pearl Harbor child.”
In short, I am a classic example of how some grow up hearing and learning much about war.
Understand! People must learn about war. They are not born knowing about it or skilled in it. Of course, this is true of virtually everything in life. Children must learn to walk, talk and ride a bicycle. People learn to feed and dress themselves, master subjects at school, play instruments, drive a car or use a computer. With practice, all of these things can become “second nature.” The same is true of war. While people must first learn it, war has now become second nature to the entire world!
An amazing prophecy is found in two separate places in the Old Testament. It pictures a time when God’s government will have been established over all nations. The “art” of war will no longer be taught, or learned.
“But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the LAW shall go forth [all of God’s law, including The Ten Commandments] of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it” (Micah 4:1-4 and Isa. 2:1-4).
There is coming a time when the entire world will no longer “learn” war. But it has not yet come. Therefore, because men also do not know the way to peace, peace is impossible now.
Today, people are taught, in some cases from the crib, to be constantly suspicious of others, and to hate, in an almost routine fashion! And many are taught anger and revenge as an everyday way of life. Millions more are taught by experts to refine their killing to a cold efficiency.
But this will all soon change!
Eventually, military academies around the world will be closed. There will be no more “boot camps” and no more “GI’s.” Terrorist training camps will be dismantled. All warships, attack aircraft and military vehicles will be converted or scrapped. Every weapon of conventional or mass destruction will be melted down, and either made into something productive or destroyed. And all the weapons manufacturers will either go out of business or manufacture something else. Military bases will all be closed or redesigned—including buildings like the Pentagon. National defense budgets will be apportioned for different and better purposes. All prisoners of war will be released. Every soldier on earth will have to get another job. No more treaties, rules of war or “non-aggression pacts” will ever be necessary. The fear and sadness caused by war will vanish. There will be no more ethnic or religious rivalries and no more enemies. All forms of killing and hatred will be outlawed, because God’s law will be taught around the world!
This extraordinary prophecy of Micah and Isaiah is another towering proof that God opposes war. When His government arrives, all forms of war will disappear and, with them, all of the learned knowledge of how to practice it! When war disappears forever, so will its many destructive and terrible fruits.
What a wonderful future. World peace lies just over the horizon!
Christ is AGAINST War
This final quote comes from the conclusion of Mr. Herbert Armstrong’s previously cited booklet, MILITARY SERVICE and WAR, under the subhead “God’s Government Will End War.” It is an extraordinary summary of a long booklet:
“Jesus Christ came preaching the good news of the government or rule of God. That rule is based on the Ten Commandments—God’s spiritual Law.
“Jesus magnified that Law and showed its spiritual intent and purpose. He taught that if we even hate our brother, we are spiritually guilty of murder! Jesus taught that men should obey the laws of God and prepare for His coming kingdom by yielding themselves to let God’s laws—His character—be placed within them.
“When God’s government does come very soon now to this earth, His law will go forth as the standard of conduct of all nations (Micah 4:1-2). At that time, God alone will wage war to punish rebellious nations in perfect wisdom and justice.
“As for the peoples of the world themselves? ‘Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’ (verse 3).
“War involves learning to hate and kill! Young men will no longer be forced to learn an attitude which is diametrically opposed to the rule of God’s law of love!
“But meanwhile, true Christians must work and pray for God’s kingdom of peace, and we must realize that the spirit of war is the spirit of murder—and avoid it with all of our strength.” (From this point, the quote continues under the subhead, “Jesus Christ and War.”)
“Speaking before the League of Nations, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick put this thought in a very powerful way: ‘We cannot reconcile Jesus Christ and war—that is the essence of the matter. That is the challenge which today should stir the conscience of Christendom. War is the most colossal and ruinous social sin that afflicts mankind; it is utterly and irremediably unchristian; in its total method and effect it means everything that Jesus did not mean and it means nothing that He did mean; it is a more blatant denial of every Christian doctrine about God and man than all the theoretical atheists on earth ever could devise. It would be worthwhile, would it not, to see the Christian Church as her own this greatest moral issue of our time, to see her lift once more as in our father's days, a clear standard against the paganism of this present world and, refusing to hold her conscience at the beck and call of belligerent states, put the kingdom of God above nationalism and call the world to peace? That would not be the denial of patriotism but its apotheosis.’ (Emphasis is Mr. Armstrong’s.)
“The essence of the matter is that Jesus Christ is against the spirit of war in every form. He is against war—and someday He will put an end to it forever!
“He is against all malice and envy and hate. Jesus Christ taught the dignity of man and the sacredness of human life—‘Created in the image of God.’
“And the great Father of Jesus Christ, the Almighty God who governs the universe from His throne in heaven, that God thunders at an age of violence and rebellion: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”
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Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2004 David C. Pack.
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