If a global poll were taken asking how the world might be made a better place in which to live, no doubt near the top of the list would be: “The elimination of violence.” Just about everyone’s vision of Utopia is a place of nonviolence.

But how to achieve this Utopia has eluded mankind for over 6,000 years.

As a matter of fact, it seems that the increase of violence in the earth has pretty much kept pace with the growth of population. This does not look good for the future.

Is there an answer?

What does the Bible say?

A Rulership of Nonviolence

“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.” —Isaiah 11:9

VIOLENCE is so much a part of the world that it is almost taken for granted. It has been often said that without violence there would be no news. A noted psychiatrist connected with a university center for the study of violence once observed: “Little children go ‘bang-bang’ with their fingers even before they’re old enough to hold toy guns. ‘Bang-bang, you’re dead!’ This is the chant of childhood in America.”

The children have learned their “Bang-bang, you’re dead,” game from watching scenes of violence on television, in the entertainment programs, and the scenes of war. Violence manifests itself in many ways—in crime, in riots, and in war. Generally speaking it is condemned by upright men and women; but legalized in war when it is thought that one’s country is in danger of being attacked. Nor is legalized violence restrained until a nation is actually attacked. It is practiced many times by nations attempting to expand their sphere of power and influence by conquering other nations.

But violence is by no means a modern innovation for dealing with those who are not liked, or who may stand in the way of that which another may wish to accomplish. The first manifestation of violence among humans was motivated by jealousy. This was when Cain slew his brother Abel. Cain was displeased that God had accepted Abel’s offering of “the firstlings of his flock,” and had not accepted “the fruit of the ground” which he had offered to the Lord in sacrifice, so “Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.”—Gen. 4:3-8

The Bible tells us that just before the Flood of Noah’s day “the earth was filled with violence.” (Gen. 6:11) While there have been brief periods in the experience of the human race when war and violence have been to some extent kept under control, every generation of man has experienced its blood baths of violence in one form or another. Sometimes these outbreaks of violence have been within nations, and at other times between nations—and sometimes, as is true today, it has been both.

Beginning with Moses, the Old Testament deals largely with the natural descendants of Abraham—the chosen people of God—their inward struggles, and their efforts to defend themselves against the non-Jewish nations with which they were surrounded. The record of their experiences is preponderantly one of violence. An example of this is found in Habakkuk’s description of conditions within Israel in his day. We quote:

“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear? Even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dolt thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? For spoiling and violence are before me: and there are [those] that raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.”—Hab. 1:2-4

While, as we noted, this is a description of the social situation within Israel in the days of the prophet, it is a fairly accurate description also of the situation in the world today. Violence and lawlessness are found everywhere—and among essentially all classes, even as in ancient times. It seems worse to us now because the news media are so effective that the acts of violence are brought right into our living rooms by newspaper, radio, and television.

All the great empires of the past, beginning with Assyria, were built by violence inflicted by conquering armies. The destruction of these empires was accomplished by violence. The Jewish nation was destroyed by violence inflicted by Titus and his army. The conquering armies of Rome later forced nominal Christianity upon one European country after another, by the power of the sword. Meanwhile those truly loyal to Christ were tortured and burned, and otherwise destroyed.

There were the unholy wars of the Crusades—more violence. The viewpoint of worldly men and nations has always been to destroy, by violence if necessary, anything or anybody that got in the way of the plans of those entrenched in positions of power. Violent attempts were made to destroy the Reformation, and later Protestant groups became violent against other Protestant groups. John Calvin caused Michael Servitus’ death because he did not agree with some of his theological views.

And in America there has been the war with the British by which the Colonial States won their independence. There has been the War of 1812; the Spanish American War, and the Civil War. All of these represented outbursts of violence which were believed to be justified by those involved.

Later, Americans went overseas to take part in the violence which we now call the First World War. Essentially the whole world was sucked into this seething pot of violence, and millions of lives were lost, and other millions maimed for life. American soldiers were sent overseas to help prevent that carnage from spewing over the Atlantic to our own shores.

Then came the Second World War, which by far was more violent than the first. By then it was no longer thought advisable to limit the destructive violence of war to the armies of the various opposing nations, so millions of civilians were bombed to death, or maimed; and their homes and cities destroyed.

Since then, America alone has been involved in the Korean War, and later the Viet Nam War; other countries have had their own problems with wars; and so the violence continues. Besides, the virus of violence has permeated the nonmilitary institutions of the world. The Civil Rights movement is now divided into violent and nonviolent activities. Increasingly the viewpoint of the people is that it is right to use violence to obtain that which is considered to be good.

What this evidences is that violence, as a means of obtaining desired objectives, is no longer limited to military organizations of earth, or to the criminal element which has always been a blight to human society. But it is being adopted more and more generally by those who have a “cause” to win, or who wish to prevent someone else from winning their “cause.”

Terrorists and terrorism are two words much in use today. They describe that which has come to be considered a political philosophy by certain groups which advocate the taking of innocent people hostage, and then using the threat of their torture and death as a means of gaining from other governments something for their “cause.” While this is certainly not new to the world, it nonetheless seems to be growing, and adding to the violent nature of our present situation.

There is an ever-increasing number of people today who do not think that violence is ever legal, even in wartime. On the other hand it is often difficult for a soldier who has been encouraged to kill his fellows in war, not to adopt violence as a way of settling personal grievances when he returns home from the conflict. So the cancer of violence spreads, as the social structure of earth and the higher moral standards of the people are gradually crumbling.

The outlook for better days to come would be a gloomy one indeed were it not for the assurances of the Word of God that this present sickness of the world is in fulfillment of prophecies which describe world conditions just prior to the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. One of these prophecies (Dan. 12:1) speaks of a “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” The growing destructiveness throughout the world is one aspect of this prophetic time of trouble.

In this prophecy of Daniel we are informed that at the time of its fulfillment “shall Michael stand up, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people,” and that it is as a result of this standing up of Michael that the great time of trouble comes upon the world. The Michael of this prophecy is undoubtedly the long-promised Messiah. His ‘standing up’ denotes his exercise of authority in the earth, an authority that results in the overthrow of all its institutions of selfishness, and ultimately the cleansing from the hearts of men all their evil ways, including violence.

Another prophecy pertaining to this exercise of authority reads, “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. Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”—Ps. 46:8-10

In this prophecy the desolations said to be made by the Lord are the making of wars to cease, and destroying the instruments of war! This will seem like desolation to all those who depend upon violence as a method of forcing their will and way upon other people. The rule of force at the point of a gun, whether it be by nations over other nations; or whether it be in self-defense—real or imagined, either nationally or individually—will be brought to an end by the agencies of Christ’s kingdom. This will indeed seem strange to those who have known no other way to live in this world of chaos and fear.

But actually it will be the greatest boon ever to reach the human race. By nature, few have loved violence. Most people would rather live at peace with their neighbors whether as nations or as individuals, than feel that they have to resort to violence. One of the prophecies referring to this good time of Christ’s kingdom now so near, reads, “Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and the needy. … He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.”—Ps. 72:11-14

There are plenty of poor and needy in the world today, even as millions are being subjected more or less to violence. Seventy-five percent of the world’s population are underfed. All this will be changed through the powerful agencies of Christ’s kingdom. But the authority and power of that kingdom will not be implemented by munitions of war. The threat of nuclear warfare will be removed; and the world will be filled with peace, prosperity, and happiness.

The power of the great Creator of the universe will be utilized to fulfill all his wonderful promises. When Jesus came to earth nearly two thousand years ago, he used divine power to heal the sick and to raise the dead. At that time they put the Son of God to death, but this was essential in the plan of God that man might be redeemed from death. Divine power raised Jesus from the dead, that he might, in due time be the king of earth. At this end of the age divine power is again exercised to raise Jesus’ faithful followers from the dead in the first resurrection, to live and reign with Christ a thousand years.—Rev. 20:6

Jesus and his associates in the rulership of the kingdom will be invisible to man, but the ancient servants of God will be restored to life as humans to be their representatives. These will be brought forth in what the Bible calls a “better resurrection.” (Heb. 11:35,40) And then, through these spiritual and earthly phases of the kingdom, divine power will continue to function to heal the sick and raise all the dead; to provide the wonderful blessings which all the promises of God describe.

There will then be a program of education through which the people will learn the Lord’s ways. And when they learn the Lord’s ways they will do away with their instruments of violence, and will pursue the ways of peace. Then, every man will sit under his vine and fig tree, and none shall make afraid.—Mic. 4:1-4

In our text, the kingdom of the Lord is symbolically described as a mountain—God’s holy mountain—the righteous government of the Messiah. That is why we read, “They shall not hurt nor destroy, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Violence will then be at an end.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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