Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.—Acts 3:20-21 (New American Standard Bible, NASB)
It was a decade that came to be called, “The Turbulent Sixties.” And, while growing up in those days, I remember it well: The Vietnam War, violent protests, the civil rights movement, political assassinations, rise of the counterculture and “the generation gap.” It was, indeed, a period of unrest and many were tired of it. So called, “peace signs” were everywhere. By the end of the decade, the cry for peace was growing louder.
Then, in 1969, along came a popular singer who wrote and sang a song about peace—a song that seemed to speak for everyone at the time. John Lennon, a member of the famous group, the Beatles, wrote and sang, “Give Peace a Chance.” It was basically an antiwar song with political and social overtones.
The words, “Give Peace a Chance” has become a theme for those discontent on account of division, destruction, and even death due to violence and war. We know that as ideal as it is to want peace, not everyone is willing to give peace a chance. It’s hard for peace lovers to understand, but there are some who thrive on violence and war. Ironically, not even John Lennon himself could escape the hand of a violent man who gunned down the famous musician in the archway of his New York residence that fateful day, December 8, 1980.
ATTEMPTS FOR PEACE
As generations come and go, peace among one another continues to be longed for, even while war rages on throughout regions of the world. In fact, at this writing, it’s being reported that after 18 years, America’s longest war may be approaching the end in Afghanistan.
Just recently, a deal was signed between the United States and the Taliban that could open the door for peace in that war- torn nation. After thousands of lives have been killed and many more wounded, plus devastation of property, and trillions of dollars spent, many are hopeful for an end to the conflict even though talks remain fragile with many potential snags along the way. At present, it’s reported the Afghanistan government is refusing to cooperate in the negotiations. But leaders are still moving forward to come up with solutions of peace.
WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR
To Christians, Afghanistan and other volatile places of the world such as the Middle East, are signs that there will never really be world peace until the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-7) reigns on earth. In fact, Jesus said there will be, “wars and rumors of war” and conflict among nations until he sets foot on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem:
“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…” (Matthew 24:6-7a).
Jesus indicated this is only the beginning of sorrows, growing closer together like birth pangs of a woman about to deliver a baby (Matt. 24:8). More and more people will disregard law and order as their love hardens like wax and grows colder (Matt. 24:12). It appears that rebellion against law officials will get out of hand while their authority is ignored. And, of all things, corrupt leaders will allow it (cp., Matt. 24:37-39; Romans 1:18-32). Sounds a lot like today, doesn’t it?
The Bible indicates it will be in midst of world unrest that many shall cry, “Peace and security.”
“For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape,” (2 Thessalonians 5:2-3, New Living Translation, NLT).
One of the key areas of the world where a World War III has the greatest potential of breaking out is the Middle East. And while many attempts have been made toward achieving peace, there still remains the threat of a major war that would affect all nations.
If a peace deal is established that would appear to bring peace and security say, between Israel and the Palestinians, then this could truly start the prophetic ball rolling toward a major world war. This “peace deal” will ultimately turn out to be false peace and security for then, when everything appears to be going well, sudden disaster will come when the nations will turn against Israel and all those who worship the true God (Daniel 8:23-26; 9:27; Zechariah 12:1-3; Revelation 17:3-18).
THE FINAL WAR
In the end, the war of all wars known as the Battle of Armageddon will be fought in the Valley of Jehoshaphat in Israel (Joel 3:1-3, 9-13; Revelation 16:13-16). When all the armies of the nations are gathered in war against Israel, that’s when Jesus Christ will come to intervene, putting an end to the conflict once and for all. In Revelation 19, it says Jesus will,
“…smite the nations; and he will rule them with a rod of iron; and he treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on robe and on his thigh he has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS,’” (vss. 15-16, NASB; also, Psalm 2).
With “the brightness of his coming,” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10) Jesus will defeat the antichrist and false prophet (Revelation 13) as well as the nations who go against him. Psalm 2:9 predicts that he will be given the nations as his inheritance (v. 8), that he “shall break them with a rod of iron [sign of authority],” and he shall “shatter them like earthenware,” [victorious power] (v. 9).
WHEN PEACE WILL COME
When Jesus rules the world as King of kings and Lord of Lords during his 1,000-year reign (the Millennium, Rev. 20:1-6) he will forge world peace. He will start out in Jerusalem, the world’s capital, where he will sit on the throne of his father, David (Luke 1:31-33). The name of this city, in itself, is unique because “Jerusalem” literally means “the city of peace.”
Ironically, as history shows, Jerusalem has never become a city of peace. Countless wars have been fought there even before King David conquered it over 3,000 years ago. Today, it continues to be a bone of contention amidst talks of peace and security. In fact, the Bible says the city will be a “burdensome stone,” (Zechariah 12:3, King James Version, KJV). The New International Version (NIV) calls Jerusalem, “an immovable rock to all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” Jerusalem has indeed been a roadblock to peace, especially these days as attempts are being made to resolve issues between Jews and Palestinians.
This is why devout Jews and Christians pray for the peace and security of Jerusalem, just as the Bible exhorts us to do (Psalm 122:6-7). For we know that when Jesus, the Prince of Peace, comes to establish final peace to the City of Peace then peace will emanate throughout all the world. Jesus also had this scene in mind when he lamented over the future of his beloved city and his people and how they will finally accept him the day he comes back to save them (Matthew 23:37-39).
We pray for the peace of Jerusalem with anticipation of the peace Jesus will bring when he triumphantly rules from his throne there: No more battles; no more violence; no more unrest. It will be a complete transformation and renovation of peace that the world has never known since man sinned against God in the Garden of Eden and brought violence on the earth.
Just think of it: There will be no more need for the military, law enforcement, and their officials because Christ will see to it that there will be an abundance of peace to the people:
“Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills in righteousness…In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more,” (Psalm 72:3, 7).
When Jesus reigns, all weapons of war and violence will be turned into tools for true peace and security. No one will be able to take up arms against another person because there will be no more weapons for causing harm and danger. Isaiah 2:4 says,
“And he will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”
In fact, people will actually be taught the ways of peace. In our last post, I spoke of education renovation. Well, an important part of that education is training the people to abide in the ways of peace instead of war. At least, this is the idea we can get in Micah 4:3 where it says, “they will learn war no more”:
“And He will judge between many peoples, and render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they train for war,” (Micah 4:3).
Instead of being trained for war, it’s reasonable to think they ‘ll be trained for peace, “that he may teach us about his ways,” (Micah 4:2) which logically will include the way of peace (John 14:27). In fact, they will learn how to live according to God’s law and order, which we know consequently brings peace, progress, and prosperity. That’s why peace will need to be spoken to all the people the world living during that period:
“…And the bow of war will be cut off. And he will speak peace to the nations; and his dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River (Euphrates) to the ends of the earth,” (Zechariah 9:10).
Imagine how wonderful it will be at that time—when justice or righteousness is enforced resulting in peace and productivity. It’s the same peace and good will toward men the heralding angels envisioned and praised God for when Jesus was born, in Luke 2:13-14.
Isaiah describes the scene this way,
“And the work of righteousness will be peace, and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places; And it will hail when the forest comes down, and the city will be utterly laid low. How blessed will you be, you who sow beside all waters, who let out freely the ox and the donkey,” (Isa. 32:17-20).
The prophet Micah states that as people no more train for war (Micah 4:3), “Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken,” (Micah 4:4). Here we get a vivid picture of the way people will live peacefully on their own land without the interference of someone coming in violently and stealing it from them.
You talk about giving peace a chance. When Christ comes in all his glory, this chance will become a lasting reality. No one will be able to take it away. For it says that when the Prince of Peace rules, there will be no end to the increase of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).
To enter into this peaceful renovation period and be a part of Jesus’ rulership, one must invite Jesus into one’s heart now. Through faith, repentance, baptism and holy living through his Power (Acts 2:38-39; 3:19), we look forward to that day when world peace will be established for good. With the peace of Christ in our hearts today, we prepare for that peace coming tomorrow.
In our next post we’ll take a look at the Coming Restoration—A Physical Renovation.
Good News to YOU!
P.S. Here’s the late Tennessee Ernie Ford singing on old Gospel favorite, “Peace in the Valley”: http://youtu.be/qqzdl775xKc