“He Maketh Wars to Cease”

LONG ago, in commenting on the ceremonies at the opening of the Kiel Canal in Germany, an editorial writer for the Chicago Chronicle said: “He who has a gun wishes to shoot with it. The nation which is fit for war wants to make war. The one serious menace to … peace today is the fact that every … nation is prepared for war.” Regretfully, that statement is no less true today than when it was first made.

The ceremonies that attended the opening of that waterway on June 20, 1895, purported to celebrate and to assure peace among the nations of the world. The means whereby this peace was to be maintained were grandly on display for all to see as there paraded through the canal the mightiest aggregation of international naval power the world had ever seen until that time.

Since that “peace-keeping” assembly of battleships passed through the canal in 1895, there have been two devastating world wars and numerous other lesser but hardly less bloody conflicts between various nations of the world, with but brief respite in between. And today the same false reasoning prevails. In the expressed hope of keeping the peace the nations of the world, great and small, have amassed the materials of war to a magnitude that literally dwarfs the naval might that was on display at Kiel.

The cost of the combined mighty fleets of fighting vessels then assembled at Kiel is said to have amounted to “hundreds of millions of dollars.” This was considered a staggering sum for those days, and it is, indeed, no inconsiderable sum of money. But, in comparison with the vast amounts lavished on present-day fighting equipment, it is dwarfed into utter insignificance.

In the year 1964 the United States alone spent $50.8 billion for defense. It is estimated that this country’s 1978 defense budget will come close to $110 billions. Between 1964 and 1978 the United States by itself will have spent well over one trillion (a thousand billion) dollars on defense. Without counting what other nations have spent during the same period, this sum alone would pay for over 3,000 such combined world fleets as gathered at Kiel. And what do we have to show for this staggering expenditure? A vast array of unproductive but terrifyingly destructive machines of war.

At the time of Kiel the newspapers were reporting on the invention by the United States of a new 20” gun that could throw a projectile loaded with explosives for a distance of ten miles, at which point a direct hit or near miss would probably destroy a battleship. Just half a century later (1945) the first atom bomb used in warfare virtually destroyed an entire city in Japan, killing or wounding 150,000 people. Today, a mere third of a century further along in time, the United States and Russia each possess intercontinental ballistic missiles that can travel many thousands of miles and lay waste the largest cities in the world together with all their environs, killing and maiming untold millions.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara has said: “There is a kind of mad momentum intrinsic to the development of all new nuclear weaponry. If a weapons system works and works well, there is strong pressure … to procure and deploy the weapon.” That Mr. McNamara knew what he was talking about is apparent from the unending flow of newer and ever more destructive weapons systems that constantly appear on the scene. The increase of knowledge that so clearly marks the day in which we live as the prophetic “time of the end,” is nowhere more visible than in the constant production of arms of war of one highly imaginative form or another.

Among these fearful but ingenious devices are the inter-continental ballistic missiles with their devastatingly powerful nuclear warheads and super-accurate guidance systems. The Minuteman Ill is one of these and is the present main “deterrent” weapon possessed by the United States. Each of these missiles has three separate warheads totaling an explosive power equal to 510 kilotons (510,000 tons) of TNT. It has a range of 8,000 miles and is said to be accurate to within 1,200 feet of target. With new warheads soon to be available, these missiles will be accurate to within a mere 600 feet of target. The United States has 550 of these ICBMs. It also has 450 Minuteman II missiles. It is further planned (1979) to replace the present warheads of these Minuteman missiles with new warheads that would double their present explosive yield.

This nation also has the so-called MARV missile, whose direction can be changed in flight to assure greater accuracy or to avoid antiballistic missile (ABM) defenses. The United States is also developing an advanced ICBM to be called the MX. Theoretically, this supermissile is capable of flying at a speed of more than 15,000 miles per hour and is designed to strike targets up to 6,000 miles away at an accuracy of within 100 feet. It would have 10 to 12 separate warheads compared to three for the Minuteman III and so could strike several times as many targets. It could be launched from railroad cars, bombers, or underground silos.

Still another awful weapon to be added to the United States arsenal is the neutron bomb, otherwise known as the “clean” bomb. Commenting on this bomb, U.S. News & World Report says (July 11, 1977): “Military strategists call it clean only because, if dropped on a city, it would do little damage to buildings and factories. Yet it would kill nearly all the inhabitants in range with a cell-destroying dose of both neutron and gamma radiation.”

Since these neutron bombs are nuclear weapons of relatively small size, the lethal effects of the blast and heat are greatly reduced in proportion to the number of deaths caused by radiation. The horror implicit in these neutron bombs may be judged from the fact that while some victims might receive sufficient radiation to bring death immediately, others could live on in agony for as long as a month. “When a neutron is released from the nucleus of an atom during a fission or fusion chain reaction,” explains U.S. News & World Report, “it rips through the cells of a living organism like a microscopic howitzer shell, destroying everything in its path.” President Carter has not yet decided whether he wants to deploy this cruel weapon but has indicated that he wants it in hand as a bargaining chip.

Another fearsome weapon soon to be operational is the cruise missile. This unmanned plane will carry a 200 kiloton nuclear warhead, and after being released from its host bomber plane it can fly for up to 2,000 miles to targets deep in enemy territory. Its unique military effectiveness lies in the fact that it can fly treetop low, following closely the contour of the land, thus escaping detection by enemy radar, to deliver its deadly cargo, amazingly, to within 30 yards of its target.

Already part of the so-called strategic triad of U.S. weaponry, along with long-range bombers and inter-continental missiles, is the Navy’s fleet of 41 nuclear-propelled Poseidon submarines, each armed with sixteen ICBM missiles, with each missile believed to carry ten mirved warheads. Thus, each of the 41 Poseidon submarines has the ability to strike 160 different targets, or a total of 6,560 different strategic targets.

Also in process of being deployed is the new Trident MIRV missile with a range of 4,600 miles. These will be fired from a new fleet of Trident submarines, not yet finished. Each Trident submarine will carry twenty-four Trident I missiles, each missile with a payload of up to ten nuclear warheads, each vastly more destructive than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Second World War in 1945. Thirteen Trident submarines are presently on order, at a cost of $1 billion apiece.

Beyond all this new and projected weaponry are the mighty ships of the navy, the sophisticated fighter planes, the numerous tanks, antitank missiles, and so on ad infinitum, plus some 2,100,000 men and women in the U. S. armed forces. Directing much of this great armory is the North American Air Defense Command from the NORAD Combat Operations Center sunk half a mile deep inside a mountain near Colorado Springs. Its purpose is to warn the United States and Canada of possible missile or bomber attacks and to order appropriate counter action.

We have here been discussing only the American potential for war. But if we add to all this the vast and probably equally powerful fighting equipment of the Soviet Union, the NATO allies, and all the rest of the nations of the world, then we begin to get an inkling of how much of the time, talent, and substance of this good earth is being misused in the making of machinery to destroy the land and environment and to kill and maim our fellow human beings. It also tells us something of the unimaginable suffering, death, and devastation that can be wrought by a major modern war.

An account in The New York Times of February 27, 1977, stated: “According to calculations of the Department of Defense published 10 years ago, 100 nuclear weapons landing on the Soviet Union would kill 37 million people—15 percent of the population—and destroy 59 per cent of the industrial capacity. The United States now has 9,000 such weapons that can be delivered by missiles or bombers and many thousands more that could strike Soviet territory from forward bases.”

Truly, the power of present-day weapons to seek out and to destroy and to kill is monstrous and appalling. No longer do these hideous weapons exist only in the imaginative minds of science-fiction writers. They are real. They are in place. They are operational. Indeed, they are the stuff of which an Armageddon could be wrought. And one constantly reads of yet newer weapons, yet deadlier devices, some already in existence, others in high state of development—death-dealing laser guns, hunter-killer space satellites, armed space ships, all of which will surely make any future war the most terrible ever experienced by a long-suffering world.

Recently, hopes were raised that the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) held in Geneva in May of this year would result in a lessening of the pace of the futile arms race. But at the conclusion of these talks between the United States and Russia, Foreign Minister Gromyko of the Soviet Union, in departing for Moscow, was quoted as saying that “major and serious difficulties remain.” Indeed, even as the SALT meetings were about to begin, Time Magazine reports (May 30, 1977) that “steps were … taken … to counter the U.S.S.R.’s continuously expanding conventional war machine.” This was done at a meeting in Brussels of the NATO partners, when U. S. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown persuaded them to increase the amounts they had planned to spend for mutual defense.

It has often been remarked (accurately, no doubt) that each of the two superpowers already possesses the ability to destroy the other several times over and that this circumstance by itself should be sufficient to support the hope that neither will attack the other. But since neither side seems certain beyond all doubt that it has such ability to defeat the other, the mad and futile contest continues. And so also the shameful waste continues.

This fact deeply bothered former President Eisenhower, himself a soldier. He once remarked, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

The anxious preoccupation that widely exists concerning this subject was pointed up in a recent issue of Time Magazine (May 23, 1977) which presented a special article headed “Arming for the 21st Century.” There followed a revealing discussion, illustrated with pictures, of the varied and powerful weaponry already in existence or planned by the United States. The article was timed to coincide with the then forthcoming meeting in Brussels with America’s European allies “to discuss ways of strengthening the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”

Shortly thereafter, in a letter to the editor of Time Magazine (June 13, 1977) a concerned reader wrote, “How tragic that your cover story on defense, titled “Arming for the 21st Century,” could not be titled “Disarming for the 21st Century.” How tragic, indeed!

But can we hope that men and nations are about to lay down their arms voluntarily and learn to love and trust and serve one another unselfishly, as our Lord instructed us to do? Will men come to their senses and abandon their evil and wasteful ways before it is too late? Before the catastrophe strikes?

It seems not. We quote from a recent letter to the editor of the U.S. News & World Report (June 20, 1977), which reveals the thinking and the fears of so many in this troubled and perplexed world. The writer says: “In a predatory world, Christian compassion on an international scale is only operable where there is a firm exhibition of military strength to back up those objectives. Unless we are at the millennium, it is a false premise to assume we can let down the bars at any time in the guardianship of freedom-loving countries to whom we are committed, as well as in our own nation.” Along much the same line of thinking, a writer for The New York Times Magazine (February 27, 1977) has said, “Until swords are beaten into plowshares, military might will have political effect.”

Man in his present fallen condition does not love his neighbor as himself, nor does he trust in God. He trusts only in the arm of flesh and the armor of steel. This is sadly true even of so-called Christian nations. Thus the futile race to accumulate arms to “preserve the peace” gains mad momentum, even as Mr. McNamara said.

But the arm of flesh will surely fail man. World conditions are approaching a crisis that eventually will result in the foretold final phase of the great time of trouble, which the Scriptures describe as Armageddon. Then, and then only, will mankind learn the utter futility of sin and selfishness. Then, and then only, will mankind finally look to their Creator for help.

We do not know the precise details of that final great cataclysm that will come upon the earth. The Scriptures are clear, however, in stating that the land of Palestine will be the scene of a great battle. They state that a powerful force from the “north quarters,” “clothed with all sorts of armor,” and accompanied by many allies, will descend upon Israel after she has been regathered to her homeland in Palestine, even as she is this very day.—Ezek. 38:11,16

The mighty attacking forces, however, will be destroyed by the Lord; Israel will be saved; and the slaughtered of the attackers will be so numerous that it will prevent travelers from passing through the land. Indeed, the prophet says that for “seven months shall the house of Israel be burying them, that they may cleanse the land.”—Ezek. 39:11,12; 38:15 – 39:6

“Thus [says the Lord Jehovah] will I magnify myself, and sanctify [vindicate] myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they [the attackers and the whole world] shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek. 38:23) This awesome display of God’s unmatched mighty power on behalf of justice will be an everlasting lesson to all humankind. “I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.”—Ezek. 39:21

Then will the Jews themselves discern that Jehovah God has never forgotten them but has long been directing their ultimate destiny—lovingly, faithfully, and wisely, even as he did in the days of old. By this miraculous deliverance of the tiny nation from seeming certain defeat at the hands of the mighty enemy, the Jews will come to know and truly appreciate God’s love for them.

“When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen; but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God.”—Ezek. 39:27-29

Then will come the establishment in the earth of Christ’s millennial kingdom for the blessing of all the families of the earth. All who are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth and have an opportunity to gain life everlasting here on earth.

In that glorious kingdom war will be forever abolished. “He [God] maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” (Ps. 46:9-11) All will joyfully beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks. “Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” In that kingdom of peace, hunger, one of the major causes of wars, will no longer stalk the land. There will be plenty for all, for “they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.”—Micah 4:1-5

So be it, Lord!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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