“He Maketh Wars to Cease”

“He 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.” —Psalm 46:9

FOR sometime the news media have been keeping the world informed about the progress of SALT II (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) negotiations between the two superpowers of the world, the United States and the Soviet Union. Both nations have stockpiled enough nuclear bombs to stagger the human mind in its effort to comprehend the potential destructive force involved. The firepower of these bombs is measured in megatons. One megaton is equal to one million tons of TNT. In World War II days the blockbuster bomb had a striking force of one ton of TNT. How can we visualize a bomb that has the equivalency of millions of tons of TNT?

Although actual figures have never been published (and are kept secret by both nations), it is generally supposed that the United States has nuclear bombs equivalent to one hundred trillion tons of TNT and the Soviet Union has the equivalent of sixty trillion tons. These figures boggle the mind and the imagination. Professor Einstein, shortly after the first atomic bomb was used in World War II and before the advent of the hydrogen bomb, said, “The annihilation of all life upon earth has now become a technical possibility.” Today, if we could properly comprehend (as Einstein was able to comprehend), we would be frightened at the contemplation of what would happen if the explosive power that these two nations have stockpiled was ever used in an all-out war. The materials on hand far exceed the power necessary to destroy all life upon earth. Can we wonder, then, why our Lord said, as recorded in Matthew 24:22, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.”

How will those days be shortened? Will it be because of the success of SALT II, which would limit the delivery of nuclear bombs through deployment of missiles and bombers? Will it be because the prospect of nuclear war is so terrible that it in itself has become a deterrent? Not at all! It becomes evident when we review what was accomplished as the result of SALT I that such treaties serve only as screens for double-dealing by the respective parties. The intent of SALT I was to stop the escalation and multiplication of arms and weapons that would be used specifically to carry nuclear warheads. It failed to do so. For example, the treaty limited the United States to 1,054 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and the Soviet Union to 1,607. Both countries have equaled or exceeded these limitations. The treaty also said that the U.S. could increase its submarine missile total from 656 to 710, and the U.S.S.R. from 740 to 950, if they retired one land-based missile for every additional submarine missile. The Soviet Union has exercised this option; the United States has not. But since SALT I limited the number of missiles delivering a single nuclear warhead, both sides proceeded to develop a missile carrying multiple warheads, each warhead capable of going to a separate target; and this, of course, made the treaty meaningless.

The new SALT II, which is awaiting signing by both sides, now includes heavy bombers in the count of missiles and calls for a total of 2,250 for each nation. The U.S. has a total of 2,058 (ICBMs and heavy bombers). The U.S.S.R. has 2,500. Other features involve rules on cruise missiles and multiple warheads.

The United States Congress has been asked by President Carter to become involved in studying the treaty. It is expected that it will produce greater equality in arms and hence stability. This would mean, therefore, that neither side would be tempted to launch a first strike.

The big problem facing both sides is the lack of ability to make accurate verification. Political changes abroad may reduce the number of American systems for verification. Already a critical location has been lost because of the change in governments in Iran. In that country, important strategic intelligence-gathering equipment was deployed by the CIA. This equipment was used to track the flights of Russian missiles and to monitor electronic signals reporting the missiles’ performance. With the change of administration in Iran, the equipment has been dismantled and removed, or lost. The events in Iran have made consideration and acceptance of the treaty more difficult.

It is the conviction of the U.S. critics of the treaty that the Russians have been able in the last five years to evade verification. Even with all the monitoring systems in operation, both sides agree that verification will be difficult.

It is clear that neither nation trusts the other. Without a treaty, each will spend billions for more weapons. With a treaty, they are likely to spend even more. Treaties are a paradox. Essayist E. B. White once described an arms control treaty as a “document that is generally regarded as so untrustworthy we feel we must hold arms in order to make sure we’re not disadvantaged by its being broken.” We should not wonder, then, that news correspondents in writing about SALT say that it causes “men’s minds to turn, none too lightly, to Armageddon.” They also say concerning SALT, “The question is the balance of terror.” One article mentioned how strange it was that every time a treaty was signed to limit arms, the spending on new arms by both nations signing the treaty increased.

But the concern about nuclear war and nuclear terror is not restricted to the acts of the superpowers alone. Today every small nation in the world buys arms, and many produce and sell arms, too. The business in arms is greater in dollar volume today than ever before in man’s history. Recently, one thousand people gathered in Chicago outside the O’Hare Exposition to protest an international arms exhibit and conference. The conference, called “Defense Technology ‘79” by its sponsor, was called “Death Exposition” by the protestors. The exhibition was closed to the news media and the public but open to manufacturers, diplomats, and heads of State and their representatives. Visitors from the Middle East, Indonesia, and Latin America were among those attending the first day of the four-day conference. Demonstrators shouted, “Murderer” and “Death Merchant” to those entering the hall.

Even the nation of Israel considers arms sales a necessary evil. A recent article said:

“Before the 1973 war, Israel was a minor arms merchant with sales averaging $60 million a year in a market dominated by the United States, the Soviet Union, France and Britain. Since then, Israel’s military merchandise for sale has increased by at least six times, with sales this year estimated at $400 million.

“Israel’s sales are shrouded by censorship and self-imposed restrictions in the industry. But Defense Ministry officials hasten to remind inquirers that the Israeli arms industry is important for a small nation with a staggering balance-of-payments deficit, and accounts for at most two percent of the global traffic in weapons.

“Israeli officials are also close-mouthed about who their clients are and what they buy, but according to foreign press reports and sources such as the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the highly successful Uzi submachine gun is sold to more than 60 countries, including the United States, which equips its Secret Service with the weapon.

“According to these sources, Israel’s customers include Nicaragua, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Greece, Taiwan, Honduras, Chile, Iran, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Mexico. Prime Minister Menachem Begin has made no secret about Israel’s arms aid to Christian militiamen in south Lebanon. This represents a political decision related to Israel’s concern about Palestinian guerrillas regrouping at its northern border.

“Israel still relies heavily on the United States for much advanced equipment but it produces about 40 percent of its light ammunition needs. A brochure published by the Defense Ministry in French, English and Spanish offers a wide variety of equipment for sale. The items include the Galil, a light-assault rifle that converts into a submachine gun or grenade launcher capable of firing antitank or anti-personnel ammunition; the Gabriel sea-to-sea missile; the Shafir air-to-air missile, and communications and scanning devices.”

The people living in this world have come to accept war as inevitable, even though they hate it and long for real, lasting, secure peace. Christian nations are sometimes regarded as capable of leading the way toward peace. Unfortunately, these so-called Christian nations have waged as much war as the heathen nations, if not more. How can these truly say that they espouse the cause of the Prince of Peace?

What did the Prince of Peace, Jesus, say concerning our time and concerning war? In the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells about the signs dealing with the end of the age. His disciples had asked him to tell them of his second presence and the nature of events at the end of the age. Jesus said, among other things: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (vs. 6) We note that Jesus used the word “must.” “These things must come to pass.” In other words, he was saying that wars must come to pass. Wars and threats of wars would be man’s lot until brought to an end by the power of the Prince of Peace. And so it has been. Wars and the threat of wars have grown in intensity, leading us to the present troublous times. The prophet Daniel prophesied of this time. (Dan. 12:1) Jesus quoted him, saying: “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.”—vss. 21,22

Jesus did not expect that peace would come in our day. Rather, he expected that the time spanning his first and second advents would be characterized by warfare of all types. His words recorded in Matthew 10:34-37 are: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword [to make war]. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

The implication of this prophecy is that sin and selfishness would be prevalent in these last days and that those who would become his followers would endure trouble. The spirit of war would be everywhere.

This frightening picture will not change until the Prince of Peace, Jesus, establishes his kingdom. Isaiah’s wonderful prophecy of the birth of the Messiah said: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6) A key point in this prophecy is the phrase, “the government shall be upon his shoulder.” It is necessary, for the abolishing of war, that there be established a worldwide government which is not influenced or swayed by sin, but which will supervise, overrule, and control the affairs of all earth’s inhabitants for their good. This can be accomplished only by the establishment of God’s kingdom.

Another requirement for the prevention of war is the conversion of all nations from a condition of hardness of heart, selfishness, and sin to a condition of tenderness of heart, generosity, and righteousness. These will be the exact accomplishments of Christ’s government. A prophecy by Jeremiah reads: “I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jer. 31:33) Isaiah’s prophecy continues: “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:7

When Jesus came to earth at his first advent, he came as the Lamb of God, to be the ransom for father Adam. He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isa. 53:7) Jesus is also identified as the Lamb of God in the Book of Revelation, “the Lamb that was slain.” But here the picture changes: the Lamb does not behave like a lamb but rather like a lion or a bull. He displays such anger that all who oppose him are forced to try to hide and are very fearful. They say to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us … from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Rev. 6:15-17) A lamb is usually thought of as being meek and docile. In this picture we see a lamb full of wrath.

The Lord is conveying to our minds an important feature of his plan in this picture of a “wrathful lamb.” First, he wants us to remember that Jesus died for us, as the Lamb of God. Second, he wants us to know that Jesus will establish his kingdom and will make war against all of the institutions of selfishness and unrighteousness. Later in Revelation we see Jesus riding at the head of his army, bringing about the complete destruction of this present evil world. At the conclusion of that chapter we read of the final victory gained by him who is rightfully “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”—Rev. 19:11-21

In other places in the Scriptures we have remarkable prophecies telling us of the ways in which God will bring an end to war. One prophecy (Isa. 2:2-4) shows the voluntary action by those who want to be in God’s kingdom. This prophecy foretells the establishment of God’s kingdom, in the last days, over all kingdoms in this world. Those who observe the blessings given to the people already in the kingdom are glad to “go up to” the mountain of the Lord. They willingly convert all the resources for war into productive tools: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” It is noteworthy that the key to making wars cease is not learning war anymore. The kingdom will foster this desire of peace that even now beats in the hearts of most men.

Those unwilling to give up war will be restrained. A dramatic prophecy in the Old Testament, the 46th Psalm, tells of another way in which God brings an end to war. The psalm says: “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He 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.”—vss. 8,9

This is real disarmament. No treaty ever signed was willing to include the destruction of all war materials. But God will forcibly destroy all weapons as if they were playtoys crushed by His great power. And so it will be that “He maketh wars to cease.” Blessed be our God and his Son, our Lord and Savior.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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