This year marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. In Britain at least, a lot of time, effort and money is being spent to remind the nation of the events of that terrible conflict.
The sheer scale of the fighting was staggering; 65 million fighting men were mobilised by the various armies involved. Of these an estimated 10 million lost their lives and a further 20 million was seriously injured. Such were the horrors of trench warfare that it was described as “the war to end wars”. It was widely regarded as a human disaster that should never be repeated.
Despite that sombre assessment, and less than a quarter of a century after the conclusion of the “war to end all wars”, another global conflict engulfed the world. This time an estimated 15 million people lost their lives including a much higher proportion of the civilian population. The weapons of war grew evermore powerful as waging war became industrialised.
But mankind has still not learn the lesson. Although global wars have not returned to blight the planet, there has been a series of local conflicts that have brought misery to millions in every decade. Today we are helpless witnesses of the horrors of the civil war in Syria and northern Iraq, not to mention the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, and many other smaller conflicts in parts of Africa and Asia.
So will there ever be an end to war and the accompanying human misery that is its inevitable outcome?
If we read the Bible we are privileged to know God’s purpose with the earth. We know that there will indeed be “a war to end all wars”. It will be another world war, but this time with a major difference. It will not be waged between opposing human superpowers competing for global dominance. The Bible describes a war to be waged by Christ and the saints, with the purpose of ending the centuries of human misrule, greed and oppression that have been the cause of war.
God’s kingdom of peace justice and security will not be possible without a final global conflict, because most men have not and never will submit to God’s authority. As the Psalmist wrote:
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord against his Anointed (Christ) saying, ‘Let us break their bonds in pieces’” (Psalm 2:2-3)
Human governments and institutions will not accept Christ’s authority to reign as King. With their jet fighters and laser guided missiles they think they are invincible. But, as the Psalmist also writes:
“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; lord shall hold them in derision. Then he shall speak to them in his wrath, and distress them in his deep displeasure” (Psalm 2:4-5).
Recent weather events and natural disasters have highlighted the awesome power God has at his disposal. As the Bible records, it brought Pharaoh’s Egypt to its knees, while Moses and the children of Israel were delivered. That same awesome power of God devastated Sennacherib’s invincible army and delivered King Hezekiah and his people from the privations of the siege of Jerusalem. It will also destroy the weapons of modern warfare:
“You shall break them with a rod of iron; you shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9).
That destruction of our current world will also see a final and complete deliverance for those who have shown their belief in what the Bible tells us and have been baptised. It will be the “war to end all wars”, as the prophet Isaiah tells us:
“Nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4)