Armageddon—Space Not Spared

WITHIN a few short years after the ships of Columbus had plied their way to what was called the new world, vessels flying flags of many nations were following in their wake. Principal among their cargos were guns, cannons, and soldiers. Civilization was forging its way into this continent amid the flash of flintlocks and the boom of cannons, banners flying for God and country, tainted with the acrid smell of gun smoke. Soon the plundered and ravaged aboriginals were forced to withdraw for their very survival. In the mad scramble of world powers to stake out their land-claims and consolidate colonial defenses, they turned their guns and arms on one another, and two centuries of greedy, bloody territorial wars ensued, blighting the bright promise of this new frontier.

History was repeating itself. The old, old story of greed, imperialism, and control, which has tended to rule the actions of men and nations since the dawn of history, had found a new stage and once again was playing its tragic role. It is often said that we learn from the past. This is no doubt true, but the question is, What do we learn? Has history shown us how to avoid making the same pathetic mistakes, or, on the contrary, taught us to relive them with greater sophistication and more harmful results?

A little over two decades ago, some brave, young astronauts and cosmonauts flew their crude ships out into the uncharted oceans of space, while the world stood in awe and wonderment. Overcoming numerous hazards, they returned with glowing reports and vivid descriptions of yet another new frontier. Larger and better ships were launched. Men walked on the moon, talked from the moon, and brought back rocks from the moon. Unmanned spacecraft began probing planets, and charting the far reaches of our solar system. For one brief moment in history, the world, it seemed, was drawn together in a common interest. The efforts of all were cheered, information shared, and it was asserted that space knew no national limits, no territorial rights, and the terrible problems which shake our earth down here should not be allowed to encroach on the new frontier beyond the sky.

Sad but true, the neutrality of space is ending. This shocking fact was brought home to us by a startling headline in a recent issue of U.S. News and World Report. It read: “Space-War Era—It’s Already Here.” The related article described the very rapid orientation of space technology to military applications by the superpowers. They observed: “So advanced is the military thrust into space, say the experts, that the heavens would be a crucial battleground if war were to erupt tomorrow between the Soviet Union and the United States. In any future conflict the first blow is likely to be struck in space.” It was noted that the ability from space to direct troops, observe enemy positions, snoop on communications and guide nuclear missiles, is already a reality. Plans for defending these space systems involving laser power weapons, killer satellites, super velocity guns, etc., are already in the development stage. The article concludes, “Regardless of the arguments over the wisdom of an extraterrestrial arms contest, few experts seriously expect that the militarization of space will be reversed any time soon, either through superpower arms negotiations or domestic, political, and economic pressure. Once the high ground of the heavens is seized, neither side is likely to give it up readily.”

More need not be said as evidence that men’s hearts have not changed from the past, and with today’s technology there is an added dimension of fear that impels the world to these destructive ends.

Throughout all the centuries of human experience, the noble-minded have sought ways and means of abolishing war, and of bringing about the destruction of the weapons of war, but all these efforts have failed. They have failed because of the preponderance of human selfishness. There have always been those who could not be satisfied until they had seized the holdings of others; there have always been those who were greedy for power over their fellows. Because of their ruthlessness, men such as these have been able to establish themselves in positions of authority and power, and in these positions have embroiled the nations in war, the more to further their selfish aims. Only occasionally, and in limited areas, have the rulers of nations been promoters of peace and goodwill. Most of the time the majority have been otherwise, with the result that every generation of humans has felt the blight of war. How glad we should be that there is to be a reversal of this way of greed and selfishness; that the whole concept of war as a way of life for nations is to be destroyed, made desolate!

Education has not removed selfishness from the human heart. Science and invention have helped to implement selfishness. Formerly the greedy and power-hungry rulers of nations were limited to bows and arrows and chariots, as the means with which to equip their armies. It is against this background that the prophecies of our day are written. Today, with the human heart unchanged, the world possesses modern implements of destruction so unspeakably powerful and horrible that the entire human race is threatened with annihilation.

Jesus said that it would be so; and that unless those days be shortened, there would be no flesh saved. (Matt. 24:21,22) He assured us, nevertheless, that those days would be shortened. Today selfish man has reached his extremity, and it is God’s opportunity to intervene to save the human race from the result of its own selfishness and foolishness. After assuring us that he will make wars to cease unto the end of the earth, the Lord declares to the raging nations, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”—Ps. 46:10, RSV

The expression, ‘be still’, contrasts with the picture of the raging nations, or people, which, according to the Scriptures “make a noise like the noise of the seas.” (Isa. 17:12,13) God’s voice of authority will be heard by mankind through the agencies of the messianic kingdom. The great objective of that kingdom is to establish the will of God throughout the earth, and to fill the earth with his glory.

Today the will of God is seldom considered among the rulers of the earth. Indeed, half the world denies that there is a God. But this situation will change when, with power and great glory, the kingdom of Christ manifests itself as a dominating factor in the affairs of all mankind. The Lord’s kingdom is symbolized by a mountain—Mount Zion, in Jerusalem—and we read that “the mountain,” made up of the Lord’s ruling house—Christ and his faithful followers—will, in the last days, be established “in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.”—Isa. 2:2,3

Yes, when the Lord issues his command to the nations to be still, they will hear, and will obey. By then they will have recognized, in part at least, the futility of war, since it would have led to the destruction of all mankind, including the rulers, and they will be ready to recognize the authority of Christ’s kingdom, and will seek to be taught the Lord’s ways. And when they are thus taught, instead of continuing to learn war, they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks.

This program of education under the authority of the kingdom will continue until the knowledge of the Lord fills the whole earth as the waters cover the sea, and nothing will be permitted to hurt nor destroy in all this “holy mountain,” or kingdom. (Isa. 11:9; 65:25) To ‘know’ the Lord is to see and appreciate his glory, so the earth will thus be filled with his glory. (Isa. 6:3; 40:5; Ps. 72:19) Truly it is a bright prospect that spreads out before us as, through the prophecies of God’s Word, we look beyond the world situation today!

This is the reason that we do not need to fear! True, much hardship is still ahead for the distressed and fear-filled world of mankind. Some of this distress will be experienced by the Lord’s own people. He has not promised to spare us from suffering, but he has given us assurance of his grace to help in our every time of need. The greatest help we will receive in this time of trouble will be our deliverance, through death, into the kingdom as joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus. Speaking of the time in which we live, and of the events now taking place, he said that when we see these things “begin to come to pass,” we are to lift up our heads knowing that our deliverance “draweth nigh.”—Luke 21:28

So it is, that instead of fearing what we know is coming upon the earth, we are glad to realize that we are living in this period when the old social order is passing away, and Christ’s kingdom is nearing its establishment. Instead of our hearts being filled with fear, the Scriptures admonish us to proclaim a message of comfort to those who are fearful. We read, “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.”—Isa. 35:3,4

God has tolerated selfishness throughout the earth during all the centuries while he was preparing the agencies of his own kingdom; so, in his own way he is making a desolation of man’s warlike rulership.

With this in mind, how meaningful are the words, “Fear not, behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.” This is our message to a fear-filled world. We are to proclaim the fact that God’s vengeance is being manifested against the wickedness and selfishness in the earth. However, we are also to assure the people as we have opportunity that our Heavenly Father is not a vindictive God—that he is not manifesting his displeasure against the world merely to cause suffering; that in reality the time has come for him to offer salvation to all mankind—“He will come and save you.”

Today the world is filled with fear; a fear that is increasing as the danger of world conflict among the nations increases. The tension is mounting with the planned military intrusion into space and the secretive development of space weaponry. The enlightened public know that developments of this nature can easily draw all the major powers of the earth into a final conflict, producing a carnage of destruction such as has never before been known on earth. Such a war none could win; all would lose.

Whether such a potentially suicidal struggle will break out is uncertain to the world, but the general impression seems to be that eventually it will take place. True, many of the leading statesmen hope against hope that with patience in restoring detente, ways of keeping the peace will be found. Their strongest hope for this lies in their strength of armaments, the theory being that enemies will fear to attack lest they be destroyed. This is a slim hope, and thus far in this world of selfishness the philosophy of keeping the peace by being prepared for war had never proved to be true.

The hope of Christians, who are enlightened by the prophecies of God’s Word, is not based upon the effectiveness of military strength, or the defense of a star wars program, but upon the power of the Lord. “God is our refuge and strength,” Psalm 46:1 declares, “a very present help in trouble.”

So let us remember that God is our refuge in this time of trouble, and that he has enlightened us with the truth concerning his position in the great tribulation, and that therefore we do not need to fear. Rather, we should in every way possible, be messengers of comfort to those whose hearts are filled with fear, binding up the brokenhearted on every suitable occasion and opportunity. Happy Zion, what a favored lot is thine!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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