When You Say PRINCE OF PEACE Do You Really Know What You're Talking About?
'TIS THE SEASON when it seems like everyone goes around talking of peace. All of a sudden, people are quoting the Bible. Because Christmas is supposed to celebrate Christ's birth, who hasn't heard these two passages quoted widely? — "For unto us a child is born... and his name shall be called... Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). And "... on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14). Men identify Christmas with their longing for peace. Even normally hardheaded journalists become quite sentimental at this time of year. For example: "Someday the spirit of Christmas will mean more in national and international affairs than it does today. "Someday there will be peace on earth. "Someday there will be good will toward men." Those words were written 25 years ago in U.S. News and World Report by the late editor David Lawrence. But as is obvious, that "someday" is not today. We have not yet reached that biblically prophesied millennium of world peace. Consider a popular folk song that says that man can create a peaceful world by himself: "Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before; I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war."
Peace Without God?
Man believes he can create a peaceful world. The idea, most often put forth by the religious leaders of this world (who of all people should know better!), is that if only the nations can agree to put down their weapons and be nice to each other, war can be ended. Of course, such fluffy idealism has never worked in the last near 6,000 years of human history. But that doesn't seem to make any difference to them. In 1979, for example, at the World Conference on Religion and Peace, in Princeton, New Jersey, there met 337 representatives of the world's religions Christian, Buddhist, Confucianist, Hindu, Jewish, Jainist, Moslem, Sikh, Shintoist and Zoroastrian. Their declaration showed their high expectation for what man can accomplish by himself in this world: That "the power of active love, uniting men and women in the search for righteousness, will liberate the world from all injustice, hatred and wrong." That "modern civilization may someday be changed so that neighborly good will and helpful partnership may be fostered." That "all religions will increasingly cooperate in creating a responsible world community." Funny that religious leaders should leave God out as a necessary part of any attainment of a peaceful world! (But then, they cannot even agree on who or what God is!) The same kind of thinking also makes itself known in the annual Christmas messages of prominent world religious leaders. They generally believe the way to peace is through human efforts toward disarmament, "teaching peace" and human use of "moral weapons" like international law.
The Way to Peace They Have Not Known
War is rooted in the nature of man. The Bible, unlike many of the religious leaders of this world, reveals a realistic view of human nature — the way human beings as a whole are! "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.... Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known" (Romans 3:10, 15-17). If it were not so, there would have been no crime and no war. But our world is filled with both! That's among the reasons why the Bible condemns those who say "peace, peace, when there is no peace." To talk of peace apart from understanding man's nature is empty and hollow. When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, he caused the forthcoming human family to be susceptible to the spiritual influence of the devil. There is, then, naturally, a "bit of the devil" present in all mortals to a lesser or greater degree. Since the very first war was started by the devil when he staged an attack on God's headquarters in heaven (see Isaiah 14:13-14), it is no surprise that nations, under his influence, also go to war. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:21). The only thing that stops men from going to war-like the only thing that stopped the devil in lust for conquest and power — is superior force! You don't have to believe the Bible to realize all this. A few years ago a professor of international relations at the University of Hawaii did a remarkable computer study. For 12 years, Professor R.J. Rummel and his associates fed into a computer millions of bits of 'information on hundreds of international activities. These activities included such things as exports, treaties, diplomatic conferences, alliances and wars. The computer then mathematically compared the relationship of those activities to various countries' national characteristics, such as their wealth, kind of government, kind of political ideas, power, education, race, religion and literacy. What did the computer find? There was only one national characteristic that is related to peace — power! Not trade, not education, not the willingness to negotiate — but power and power alone. And what is it about power that caused peace? The computer revealed that when two countries have equal power (as do the Soviet Union and the United States today — frighteningly enough!) they are most likely to go to war. It is only when one country had much more power than the other that there was peace! As Professor Rummel said, in academic language, the maintenance of peace "requires a dominance of power; peace is a condition of power inequality." The computer confirms what we know from the Bible about human nature. The real cause of peace — harsh as this sounds at a time of year when even cynics are allowed to be sentimental — is superior force. No superior force, no peace. But the big question is: Whose superior force? Given man's nature, superior force may mean peace, but it also means tyranny. Europe could have had peace in the 1940s, for example, if it had been willing to accept the domination of Adolf Hitler. The plain truth is that what man calls "peace" is not good enough. The one who wields superior force must also have right character with which to wield that power for the benefit of the governed. And that can only mean a government of God, not man.
Return of the King
Christ's message was nothing so wimpy (to use a word currently in vogue) as going around to people preaching sweet nothings about peace. Christ knew — and knows — human nature. He announced that as long as man is subject to Satan's attitude, peace can come only when one party overpowers another. And that is the way peace will be restored to this earth. One who already has the right character needed to wield superior force will exercise that force to bring peace. Christ Himself leading an army of angels; from heaven, will literally have to militarily subdue the nations of earth: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called the Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and Clean" (Revelation 19:11-14). This is not the weak Christ of the world's conception who has no practical, hardheaded way to peace. This is the picture of a military commander who knows He must put down resistance by force if there is ever to be peace — a conquering, returning King. This is why the true Gospel — the good news of God's soon-coming government — reflects the kind of hard-headed realism that this world's religious leaders do not reflect in their own statements on peace. And it is also why the Gospel is good news. The public — unlike many religious leaders — knows that empty platitudes of "peace, peace" will not bring peace. Just a few years ago, for example, 66 percent of the public told a Harris poll that it did not foresee "lasting peace in my lifetime," and a majority said wars could not be avoided. But when the conquering King returns, wars will be avoided. They will be avoided because Christ will have all power, and so none will be left over to fight with: "And he [Christ] shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4). Yes, as David Lawrence wrote more than 25 years ago, "Someday there will be peace on earth." It is prophesied in your Bible.