It’s a beautiful message: “Peace on earth, good will toward man.” Here is why man has never been able to make it come true – and how it will be brought to earth in our time!
Spring weather doesn’t usually come to Washington, D.C. until about mid-April. And Friday March 27, 1970 was no exception. That day, a cool breeze gently swayed the still barren trees that lined Arlington National Cemetery, the largest military burial ground in the United States.
Through the endless sea of white and gray grave markers moved a funeral procession. The color guard and precision drill team, followed by seven beautiful white stallions pulling a flag-draped casket, resembling the ceremony held for the late John F. Kennedy. Only this was March instead of November, and almost seven years later.
Why did he have to die? It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s so insane, such a tragic waste! Why do men have to fight? Why can’t men settle their differences some other way? Why do men have to have differences? Why can’t men live together in peace? Why can’t we achieve peace in the Middle East?
Countless fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, brothers, and sisters have asked the same nagging questions down through history as war after war has taken its bloody toll in human lives. Think of the countless times they have been left with only questions and the futile empty search for a peace that never comes.
These questions are more piercing than ever today. Why can’t men achieve peace? Why can’t men find the way that produces peace? Why is there so much tension and turmoil here in our country today? Does such a way even exist?
It’s about time, particularly during the so-called season of “peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” (Christmas time is rapidly approaching) that we face these most urgent questions, and find the answers! It’s time we find out why there is so much turmoil and confusion in today’s world, why so little peace at every level of human endeavor.
Let’s start by examining our greatest failure in the search for peace – war. War is the most catastrophic of mankind’s follies. It is an incredible waste which accomplishes little, if anything, that is positive. Its price is enormous in terms of wasted money, resources, land, property, and, in terms of lost human lives. And yet, despite the fantastic wastes, nations find themselves either at war or continuously preparing for it. On an international scale, it amounts to nothing less than mass lunacy.
You’d think that with so much conflict, men would at least settle for some periods of meaningful peace, just as a change of pace. Yet, the insanity of war has plagued man ever since Cain slew Abel.
In fact, the overall global situation has, in this “enlightened” twenty-first century, deteriorated. World War I was supposedly the “war to end all wars.” That is, until World War II, which – had to be the “war to end all wars?” Further conflict culminating in nuclear World War III will mean not only “ending all wars,” but everything else, including the human race! Peace has now become a must for humanity. The alternative is ultimate catastrophe.
Despite this urgent situation, the nations since 1945 have fought over “100 wars and other major conflicts.” More than 30 military conflagrations and civil disruptions are raging somewhere in the world at this very moment.
And so today, the killing and the destruction continues unabated. Armies continue to march off to war only to return and bury their dead. And families grieve. And nations pick up the pieces in preparation for the next conflict. And on and on would go the endless bloodshed, except today, there’s the BOMB and plenty of them. In fact, there are enough bombs to wipe out every man, woman, and child on earth up to 150 times over. (Is it rational to even consider blowing apart civilization more than once?) And so, we have finally come to the tragic place where, for the first time in history; as the late John F. Kennedy warned, “Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.”
Meanwhile, as the nations’ Armageddon draws nearer with each passing day, men sit around the peace tables, groping for solutions, plaintively asking: “Why can’t nations live together in peace?
After international nuclear insanity, maintaining domestic peace and tranquility within individual nations is almost as grave a problem.
In the generation or so since 1945, the nations of the world have been torn by some 160 social revolutions, 75 rebellions for independence, and over 40 political assassinations – all within separate, individual societies! Currently, some two dozen nations are confronting chronic international strife, ranging from disorders to all out civil war.
No matter where you may look in today’s world – no matter which society you are to observe-- you see precious little internal peace.
Take a quick glance at the societies of the world as 2013 draws to a close. The United States is at war with Afghanistan, and maybe with Syria; a growing undercurrent of disillusionment with the “establishment.” Then there are the internal disorders in Japan, China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Central and South America, and in virtually all the nations of Africa.
On and on goes the endless list of turmoil – whites against whites, whites against blacks, blacks against whites and blacks against blacks. Protestants against Catholic, Arabs against Israelis, workers against management, children against parents, dissidents against the establishment, etc., etc. And so, as men continue to hate, fight, and kill one another, you can’t help but wonder, “Why can’t men within nations live together in peace.”
“Do it unto thy neighbor first before he pulls it on you.” “Turn the other cheek – away from thy neighbor, that is.” “Hate thy neighbor.” These precepts, codes of conduct, or whatever, seem to sum up the way people tend to feel toward each other in society today.
Genuine friendliness, hospitality, even a smile, once considered normal, seem strange and odd today, especially in public. Even the appearance of friendliness is greeted with suspicion as if it were a sign of inherent weakness or abnormality. With practically everybody else reacting with truculence and hostility, most people seldom think of being warm and considerate.
Nowhere does this creeping cancer of no emotionalism seem to be more prevalent than in the crowded, decaying urban centers of the world. Here, in the dehumanized steel and concrete jungles, the disease festers and grows. Courtesy and kindness become increasingly punished while apathy and haughtiness are rewarded by acceptance. As one psychologist described it, city-dwellers seem more and more to “interpret rudeness and belligerence as a sign of power – the kind of conscious flaunting of the rules’ that is taken to signify superiority.”
The population implosion into these cities makes the problem snowball. As more and more people crowd into the smog-choked urban megalopolises, more and more streets, freeways, downtown business centers, housing projects, shopping centers, etc., become cluttered! Increasing numbers of people find more and more of their time taken up in the competitive struggle against their fellow man. Hard-core urban life has often deteriorated into little more than a nerve-shattering existence. And a man’s hatred for his neighbor grows deeper and deeper as a result.
This makes you want to stop your neighbor and ask, “Why can’t we get along together?”
Nowhere does the growing lack of peace have a more damaging, devastating effect than in the home. Society’s most basic building block appears to be literally coming apart at the seams – the combined result of growing turmoil from within and a relentless attack from without.
Those families not already torn asunder by divorce or separation often find themselves confronting an increasing array of difficulties on the inside. “Cold war,” punctuated by occasional moments of “hot confrontation,” seems to be the trend on the husband-wife front. Parents don’t talk much to their kids, or each other. Children don’t communicate with Dad and Mom. Fathers and mothers seem unable to understand the increasing pressures (drugs, sex, bullying, etc.) on their teens. Teens can’t understand why parents get so uptight about what they do. And the gulf between them grows wider and wider.
Preying upon the family unit and the home are numerous pressures exuding from an increasingly permissive society. With the miniskirt, the Pill, a growing apathy and contempt for marriage, the continuous bombardment from the mass media of sex, sex, sex, amid growing permissiveness, is it any wonder increasing numbers of men, women, and teens find themselves involved in growing sexual activity before and outside of marriage – none of which helps maintain peace on the home front?
You look at society; you look at your own family, and wonder: “Why are we doing this?”
With so much confusion, turmoil, and discord extant in the world, it should not come as a great shock to find peace of mind also rare.
Some 15 to 30 percent of the world’s population suffers from one form or another of serious mental or emotional disorder. According to the World Health Organization, over 1,000 people kill themselves every day. Schizophrenia, paranoia, and a host of other psychotic afflictions are on the increase everywhere. According to one study, every other adult in New York City is in need of psychiatric help. Another study found that only 12 percent of the children in that city were what could be termed as mentally healthy. One could go on, endlessly cataloging the effects brought about by the lack of peace in the world today. But why go on? You don’t need to be reacquainted with the problems unless you are told the solutions, too.
That is the whole purpose of this article – to uncover the basic causes of the turmoil, discover why there is so little peace, and explain what the solutions are. Because, believe it or not, solutions do exist! They always have. It is just that mankind in general, and possibly you in particular, haven’t been looking in the right direction.
Actually, the causes for the turmoil and discord as relatively simple. These causes interact with each other to produce conditions under which peace is virtually impossible. The simple causes are the inherent attitudes and behavior of human beings, the faulty structure of a degenerating society, and the influences emanating from an unseen, wrongly motivated spirit realm. In other words, simply put, the reason why men can’t achieve peace is due to the pulls of human nature and society – both influenced by Satan the Devil.
Or, putting it another way, we will never, I mean never, achieve peace internationally, nationally, ecologically, collectively, or personally until we first establish peace with God! Only God is capable of altering and removing the causes which prevent peace.
Mankind has yet to learn this lesson! Peace will never come unless there is peace with God first – and on His terms-- not ours. Any way, other than God’s way, that attempts to bring peace will not, cannot, work. As the popular song goes: “It’s impossible” – it is as simple as that.
Of course, you hear so much today about making your “peace with God,” brother.” Religionists talk about it. So-called Jesus Freaks proclaim it. But do they really know what they are talking about? The sad truth is, men have never really discovered what real “peace with God is – from God’s point of view. Not that they couldn’t have, because they could have, if they had only believed and obeyed the Book that reveals God’s point of view – the Bible!
Actually, the Bible is the key to the whole question of peace. It, and it alone, provides the reason why men have been unable to achieve peace, what the real and lasting solution is, and how that solution is soon to come to this war-torn earth. It alone reveals how the nature of man, society, and the Devil have combined to prevent peace. But it also reveals just how these causes can be controlled and altered God’s way to usher in peace at every level.
Adherence to an absolute standard or law is the first cause of peace. That Law, referred to in the Bible as God’s Law, the Law of liberty (James 1:25; 2:10-12), produces peace as the automatic result or effect of obedience.
Men have never followed that way. They call it a yoke of bondage. Therefore, they have never had peace. It’s just that simple. Let me cite a few examples of how God’s law operates.
How could nations, on an international level, continue to fight and kill if forced to obey the one simple injunction. “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13)? Just think of the countless millions of lives that would have been spared by unconditional obedience to four simply words.
Obedience to God’s standard guarantees peace and tranquility on the domestic scene. Notice Leviticus 26:6: “And I will give you peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.” Notice that the promise is conditional – obedience must come first (v. 3).
Peace between neighbors? What about the second great commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self” (Matt. 22:39)?
Peace in the family? Three of the Ten Commandments are designed to directly protect the sanity of marriage and home (Ex. 20:12, 14, 17).
God’s law is the only way to peace of mind. Those who are careful to continuously walk down, or follow, the pathway of that law find peace at every turn (Prov. 3:7). Those who live and obey God’s law experience great peace of mind as a way of life (Ps. 119:165). On the other hand, those who refuse or neglect to obey it, find peace of mind an impossibility (Isa. 57:21).
The fact remains, unless and until we get into harmony with God’s law, we will never have peace. But there must be more.
The precepts and principles of God’s law stand as little more than empty, meaningless words on the pages of the Bible unless actuated by a frame of mind or attitude that earnestly desires to put God’s law into practice. The Bible refers to this kind of mind as a mind guided by and imbued with the Spirit of God, the Spirit of peace.
If all men in all nations were imbued with the power of this Spirit, they would be capable of controlling the innate drives and lusts that lie at the root cause of war (James 4:1). Similarly, if men within individual societies were motivated by this great gift, the same peace would ensue on a domestic scale.
The human emotions produced by God’s Spirit in a man’s life are concern, kindness, consideration, a desire to contribute to the welfare of others – and peace (Gal. 5:22-23). Buy having God’s Spirit, a man is able to live genuinely and sincerely at peace with his neighbor, his family, and himself.
Obeying God’s law through the Spirit of God enables a man to resist the causes which prevent peace in his own life. And yet, for the dream of “peace on earth” to become a reality on a worldwide scale, a third condition must be met.
That requirement involves acknowledging God’s government of peace. The Bible reveals that in just a few short years, just before mankind is about to annihilate himself, God is going to supernaturally intervene to prevent such insanity and finally establish His government on this earth as the ultimate solution to peace (Rev. 11:15). It will be the greatest act of peace in history!
At that time, when Jesus Christ the Messiah – the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6) – returns to this war-wracked earth, the horrendous cycle of war after war after war will at last be broken, never to resume again! Nations will be forced to beat bayonets, tanks, guns – even spears into tractors, plowshares, pruning hooks, and other useful farming implements (Isa. 2:4).
God’s government will usher in domestic peace within as well as among nations. People living in society will dwell together harmoniously or face painful, yet loving, correction (Rev. 2:27).
Men, who naturally love themselves an awful lot, will strive to love their neighbors just as much as themselves (Matt. 22:39). Government-sponsored educational programs will teach everyone the great sanctity and importance of the basic unit of society – the home. Peace of mind through God’s Spirit will finally be available to all men the world over.
God’s government will also remove from office the malicious spirit being, Satan the Devil, who has so cleverly led mankind away from every path that produces peace. Soon after God’s government is established, this diabolical “author of confusion” (I Cor. 14:33) will be incarcerated and kept away from mankind (Rev. 20:1-3) while God and men carry on the task of procuring peace – forever!
God is a God of peace (Rom. 15:33). But peace can come only if pursued His way. Let’s lay aside selfishness and begin seeking real “peace on earth, good will toward men,” God’s way.