“The Earth Was Filled With Violence”

TURN on the radio or television at the end of any average day to catch the news, and what are you likely to hear? Along with the latest war news, sports, and weather reports, and the listing of intolerable restaurants, it could go something like this:

An off-duty policeman attempts to break up a midnight brawl in a ghetto bar. As a reward for his efforts he is stabbed to death. In an affluent suburb a middle-aged matron, loaded down with her marketing, is returning to her car. Two teenagers wrestle her to the ground, while a third seizes her purse. As timid onlookers go callously about their business, all three youths disappear. The occupants of a speeding car open fire with sawed-off shotguns on a corner restaurant in a quiet neighborhood and race away in a cloud of smoke. Casualties: one man with known underworld connection seriously wounded, one innocent diner killed before the eyes of his family.

Would this be an unusual evening’s serving of news? Not at all! Rather, it is more and more becoming the daily diet of the news-hungry public—so much so, that even among the dissenter of our people these outrages are losing some of their power to shock. Murders and muggings, hijackings and hold-ups, robberies and rape—all, according to late statistics, are on the increase. Violence of all kinds, degrees, and description, it seems, is becoming with many a way of life.

“Violence Is in the Air”

Indeed, a recent article in one of the nation’s foremost newspapers was headed, “Violence Is in the Air.” The writer went on to describe recent events in Argentina: the assassination of a general in the city of Rosario; the subsequent foiling of an attempt by guerrillas to murder still another general, and an incident which is now referred to in that nation simply as “Trelew.” Trelew involves a jail-break in which six guerrillas reportedly escaped from prison, hijacked a plane, and flew to Cuba. But nineteen others did not make it to Cuba; sixteen of them were fatally shot, according to official reports, while trying to effect their escape.

The three survivors, however, deny there was any attempt to escape, and claim that their guards opened fire on them without provocation. On the vary day of this incident the government imposed a strict censorship on the news media. But Trelew is not dead—it could well be the rallying cry of revolutionists in that troubled country for a long time to come.

Revolutionary Violence

Almost simultaneously, news came of an attempt on the life of the Defense Secretary of the Philippine nation. As a result, martial law was declared in the land, and radio stations and newspaper offices were ordered closed in an effort by the government to control terrorist activities which were at least partially motivated, it is believed, by the poverty and injustice resulting from inept government and the abuse of economic power by the ruling elements in that country.

The timing of this attempted assassination was probably related to the disastrous, widespread summer floods that wrought great havoc in the richest part of the nation, multiplying the already woeful plight of so many of the people. Although the government actions just taken seem to have brought the situation under control, the longer term outlook for the Philippine nation is not a happy one, and the feeling prevails, in the words of one writer, that there exists “the possibility of radical, even violent, change.”

Religious Violence

Meantime, the ugly religious war in Northern Ireland between two segments of professed Christians continues drearily, almost monotonously on with its bombings and murders, bathing the city streets and country lanes with blood, intensifying rather than removing centuries-long hatreds. There seems to be no indication of a practical solution to this difficult problem; and such is the temper of the human mentality that news of further cruel developments in that pitiful strife hardly stir more than a ripple of interest in the minds of the general public.

And what can we say of the man-wrought horrors and atrocities of the recent Pakistani Civil War? Or of the unspeakable brutalities of the Vietnam War?

And Individual Violence!

But, as we noted earlier, it is not necessary to go abroad to observe such incidents, for there is no dearth of them in our own country, though they are generally on a more local scale. A typical example has just been reported in which a kindly, sixty-five-year-old professor of law in New York City’s Columbia University was fatally stabbed by three youths in broad daylight on a busy street within a few blocks of the university. In discussing this occurrence, one newsman referred to the area as one in which “violence is part of life’s routine.”

This unsavory episode had hardly been digested when, the following day, and in the same general area, a sixty year-old psychiatrist on his way home (as had been the professor) was dragged into a hallway, beaten and stabbed in the process of robbing him of his money. “That’s the way they usually do it,” was the casual comment of a neighborhood worker.

Murder at Munich

Into this devil’s brew of universal violence there was thrust an incident which shook even the dulled sensibilities of the civilized world—the murders at Munich. Perhaps it was the bizarre approach to this savage episode that captured the minds of the world. Perhaps it was the cold viciousness with which it was designed and executed. Perhaps it was the dramatic setting of the incident, wherein nations from all over the world were gathered to engage in friendly Olympic contests of speed and strength for the purpose, ostensibly, of fostering international good-will and co-operation.

It was against the background of this festive setting that a group of Arab terrorists invaded the living quarters of the Israeli athletes, murdered two of them outright, and held nine others hostage pending the hoped-for release of some two hundred Arab terrorists incarcerated in Israeli jails. In the course of efforts by the German police to effect the release of the Israeli hostages, all were killed by the terrorists, while five of the Arab extremists also died under the guns of the German sharpshooters. When the terrible news was belatedly announced, shock waves of dismay and horror spread around the world; and the illusions of amity and good will, built up over the years of preparation for the games so carefully and at so great expense, were shattered.

Israel’s reaction to this outrage was predictable. Twice within two weeks following the incident she launched raids into Lebanon with planes and tanks, serving notice, it would seem, on the Lebanese government to crack down on terrorists who are finding refuge, if not aid and comfort, in that nation. Israel’s foreign minister has made it clear that every act of Arab terrorism against Israel will bring its “eye for an eye” counterpart of retaliation.

And Now—Death by Mail

In the aftermath of Munich a newer form of violence has come into use by the extreme radical Black September group of Arab terrorists. It is a form of “death by mail” wherein a small explosive device, usually about the size of an average tea bag, is enclosed in an ordinary envelope which detonates when the letter is opened by its unsuspecting recipient.

This devilish device was mailed to Israeli officials in many lands, and one Israeli official in London was so killed. Others were also received by Israeli officials in New York City, but these were defused harmlessly by the New York City police. It has been reported, ironically, that these devices have been used by the United States forces in Vietnam, where they have been released from planes in great numbers.

But the tragedy at Munich aroused the whole world to a realization of the magnitude of the threat to an ordered world society that is being posed by the proliferation of violence, whether by the few or by the many. It served to bring the issue of terrorism sharply before the minds of all responsible people, and the subject was placed, though not without difficulty, on the agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations. To some, it was surprising that any nation in this troubled world would oppose the consideration by that body of so important a matter; but China and certain Arab and African nations did so, joining in an attempt to block the move.

The position of these nations is that terrorism is a tool that may be properly used under certain circumstances. Said China’s representative at the General Assembly, “It is perfectly just for the oppressed nations and peoples to use revolutionary violence against the violence of imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, racism and Israeli Zionism.” The representative of one African nation said that putting the item on the agenda would lead to more violence, rather than to less.

Is God Unaware?

And thus, even the United Nations organization, whose avowed purpose is to bring harmony and co-operation among the peoples of the world, could not unanimously agree on so basic a requirement to the attainment of world peace. National interests and national hatreds, long standing and widespread social and economic injustices, ideological differences and religious intolerance, personal ambitions—all combine with human imperfection to frustrate human efforts to achieve the goal of universal peace and good will. Where, then, will it all end? Is man to be forever seeking, and never finding, his paradise on earth? Will the Almighty God of love forever look upon man’s inhumanity to man with seemingly disinterested eyes?

The Scriptures tell us that he will not. In Genesis 6:3 it is recorded that the Lord said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” The circumstances surrounding this statement are most significant. At the time, Noah was five hundred years old, and we are told that “it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”

It is agreed by most students of the Scriptures that these sons of God were angels who “kept not their first estate.” And “the daughters of men … bare children to them” who became “giants in the earth,” and “mighty men which were … men of renown.” (Gen. 6:1-4) The account goes on to say that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”—Gen. 6:5

Because of the sin of disobedience, man had been driven out of that lovely paradise in Eden which could have been his peaceful, everlasting home; and now in the course of time the whole earth had become corrupt before God. Indeed, so evil had conditions in the earth become that God said unto Noah, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

We are not told just what form of violence filled the earth. Neither are we told whether it was directed by the “giants,” the “mighty men … of renown” against the weaker inhabitants of the earth. But we are left in no doubt that it was of such character and magnitude that the Lord of the universe saw fit to eradicate it from the earth with a cleansing flood, and to begin the human race anew with Noah and his three sons and their wives. The Apostle Peter describes this historic event as the destruction of a world. He writes, “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” (II Pet. 3:6) Thus did God see fit to deal with that first world order, which had become overrun with violence.

And now, again, the earth appears to be approaching much the same condition. Corruption, dishonesty, and immorality are rife throughout the entire fabric of so-called civilization. And violence! how frequently that word recurs in our newscasts, our daily newspapers, our magazines. Violence of every form and description, perpetrated by corrupt individuals, by evil institutions, by selfish nations. It is rampant in the home, on the streets, in the air, on the battlefield. The selfish misuse of devices created in our “enlightened” civilization has made it frighteningly possible for one man or a small group of men to affect, to control, and to dictate the actions, lives, and well-being of untold numbers of their fellows. And the Scriptures indicate that once again the time in approaching when the Lord will take a strong hand in the affairs of men. Indeed, we believe that he has already begun to do so.

“Lawlessness Brought to the Full”

Toward the close of his ministry Jesus’ disciples asked him what would be the signs of his second presence and the end of the age. In describing the events and conditions that would come about before that time, he included the statement that “iniquity shall abound.” (Matt. 24:12) The English word for iniquity is translated from the Greek word anomia—a, no; nomos, law; hence, no law—or lawlessness. It is so translated by some authorities, e.g., Rotherham has it as “lawlessness being brought to the full” (also see Diaglott, New English Bible, Amplified Bible). Luke describes this same time as one of “perplexity,” from a Greek word meaning “no way out.” The violence and lawlessness which is increasingly corrupting the earth, and the apparent inability of decent men to control it, would seem to indicate that we are in the last days of the age. Concerning this time, Jesus said, “When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”—Luke 21:31

Speaking of his second advent, which would precede the establishment of the kingdom of God in the earth, Jesus said, “As in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, … and KNEW NOT until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the presence of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:38,39) As the inhabitants of that first world failed to realize the imminence of its destruction in the flood, so are the people today oblivious to the fact that our Lord has indeed returned, and is even now, as the Arm of Jehovah, directing the forces of destruction which shall bring this second world, this present evil world of lawlessness and violence, to an end.—Isa. 13:9-13; II Pet. 3:7,10,12

“They Shall Not Hurt nor Destroy”

Once more, the Lord, so to speak, will wipe the slate clean—but this time he will establish his kingdom in that new world “wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Pet. 3:13) The lesson to humanity of the exceeding sinfulness of sin will have been ended. During that thousand-year-long reign by Christ and his glorified followers—the faithful of this Gospel Age—all forms of evil will be put down, and “violence shall no more be heard in the land.” (Isa. 60:18) No longer will the wicked flourish like a green bay tree, but the righteous will be rewarded with everlasting life.

In that wonderful new world Jesus will judge the poor with righteousness, and “reprove with equity for the meek of the earth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” And of that glorious, long-promised kingdom it is written that “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”—Isa. 11:4,9

Dawn Bible Students Association
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