You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
They thought it would be the war to end all wars.
They hoped it would make the world safe for democracy.
It did not.
It did cost the lives of over 16 million people in uniform. The total number of military and civilian casualties (dead and wounded) is normally estimated at around 37 million.
WWI never officially ended. It paused. An armistice was signed in 1918 on November 11th at 11:00 AM. The guns went silent until the next generation of combatants opened up with their weapons. Authorities estimate some 68 million casualties fell before that second war ended after two atomic bombs killed as many as 210,000 just a few days apart.
America did not enter WWI when it began in 1914. Nor did it jump into WWII when the first Nazi tanks crossed the border into Poland in 1939. But eventually, it felt compelled to join both wars, sending combat troops across both the Atlantic and Pacific.
Afterward, Americans were called to arms in faraway places such as Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.
Today, our troops are standing at the ready once again across both oceans.
People are frustrated. People are afraid. And some of them are angry.
“Why must there be war?” they ask. “When is it going to stop?”
Those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth, those who look to the Lord of nations for answers, find the future of warfare is not left in doubt.
“Such things must happen.”
The question, “But why?” is answered for us already in Genesis. There is something wrong with mankind. Evil exists in this world and within every person. There has been only one exception, and he was executed by his countrymen who feared the wrath of a foreign nation too powerful for them to defeat.
Jesus of Nazareth carried no weapon. He issued no call to arms against the Roman soldiers deployed in Judea or Galilee. Instead, he announced, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
He had been named the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). But his peace does not come at the end of a weapon. As he explained to Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36).
The Bible tells us about this “another place.” It is the place where the holy God dwells in his magnificent glory with his holy angels. It is the place where no sin, no sorrow, and no fear reside.
This is the place of perfect peace that he will bring his people to at the end of their stay on earth. The final transfer will take place on the day that this creation comes to an end.
Until then, his people will have to endure the days of evil when desires for wealth, power, or glory ignite into firestorms of war.
We are not to panic when we see that happen. We are not to think that evil has gotten out of control. We are not to believe that evil will win. Not in the end.
Even while wars are raging, the Holy Spirit is winning—winning hearts. He brings the peace that surpasses all understanding.
His people share that peace with others. The promise of God is, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18).
When Jesus comes on clouds of glory, that will be the forever end of all wars.
Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, we thank you for watching over America as she faced wars and rumors of wars. We pray you will remain her strength and stay. We request this, not because it is deserved, but because your mercy is great. Lead our nation back to you, the only source of true and lasting peace. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- Why would people think that prosperity brings peace?
- Does God allow wars in order to demonstrate just how sinful human nature is?
- Can war ever be a blessing?
Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.