The Prophecy of Angels

“The angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. … And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
—Luke 2:10-14

FOR MANY YEARS IN Palestine, and since Israel became a nation in 1948, there have been wars and terrorist attacks by Arabs trying to drive Israelis out of the land. Israel has desired peace and would be happy if assured that the terrorist attacks that killed scores of Israelis in the mid 1990’s would cease.

They were glad to attend peace talks arranged by President Clinton at Camp David in July of this year. Two thousand years after the angels brought their message and prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus and the promise of peace on earth, the news media tells us that peace is as elusive as ever.


In this land, where the angels brought their message, peace talks held in the year 2000 between the land’s occupants, the nation of Israel and the PLO representatives reached an impasse in late July and the talks were broken off.

The impasse concerned control of the city of Jerusalem. Israel wants to retain all of the city as an eternal and undivided capital of the nations. The Palestinians want the city’s eastern districts for a future Palestinian state that would be set up as a consequence of these negotiations.

When Israel and the PLO reached an interim agreement in September 1999, the two sides set September 13, 2000 as the date for finishing a peace treaty. Although negotiations failed and a peace treaty was not in sight for September 13, Arafat said that he had the right to declare an independent Palestinian State after that date. Israeli Prime Minister Barak warned that a unilateral declaration would provoke Israeli countermeasures and violence.

These countermeasures were not specified by Barak, but other Israeli officials have mentioned annexing parts of the West Bank, blocking entry of Palestinian workers, and stopping trade, effectively choking the Palestinian economy.

England in 1948 recognized that the British mandate granted to it for controlling the Palestinian territory by the League of Nations was not working any longer and they gave the task to the newly formed United Nations. The UN permitted the territory to be divided into Israeli and Palestinian states. There were nearly twice as many Muslims living in Palestine at that time compared to Israelis. Israel immediately declared and organized an independent state, which was recognized by the United States and the USSR. The Arabs had the opportunity to set up a Palestinian state, but did not do so. Instead they said that they would push Israel into the Mediterranean Sea and take all the land as their own. Encouraged by the Arab League, many Palestinians left Israeli territory to encamp on its borders as war broke out between the Arab League and the newly formed Israeli state.

These wars which raged off and on into the 1970’s resulted in phenomenal victories by the Israelis and loss of territory by states of the Arab League. Parts of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria became Israeli territory, and Jerusalem, whose eastern districts were occupied by the Palestinians, was completely gained by Israel. Now they do not want to give any of it back even though concessions have been made to relinquish land gained in the wars with the Arab League. No dove of peace resides over this land.


Peace is elusive in other parts of the world, as well. Warfare has raged off and on in Northern Ireland for decades. Civil wars erupted in Yugoslavia as that country’s ethnic and religious groups declared independence, the country splitting into Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The civil wars took the form of minority Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina enlisting the aid of Eastern Orthodox Christian Serbs for genocide of Muslim Bosnians. Roman Catholic Christian Croatians also fought both Bosnians and Serbs. Peacekeeping troops of the UN have forced a shutdown of hostilities for the present, though some eruptions continue in Kosovo.

Chechnya, an autonomous republic in the USSR, attempted independence from Russia, but Russian resistance has devastated that country. Resistance to Russian rule continues as the guerrillas have moved into the mountains with their arms. Although the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan some years ago after a costly devastating attempt at subduing that country, civil strife continues in Afghanistan in spite of the Taliban getting control of that country’s government. India and Pakistan continue to war over Kashmiri secessionism, and in Sri Lanka, the Tamil separatists have not given up in taking that country over by force of arms.

Iraq and Iran fought a costly war spanning eight years with much loss of lives. Though Iraq, as the aggressor, has been subdued in this and other ventures, rumors are that Iran may attack Iraq, and is preparing to do so. The Vietnam War is still a painful memory for the United States, and reminders of the unrest in that part of the world continue as the strife in Cambodia has now moved into Thailand. The lack of freedom in Myanmar (Burma) continues in the news about a woman prodemocracy leader and Nobel Prize laureate’s restricted movement in that country. Indonesia recently quelled a revolt in Timor.


Revolt and rebellion are everywhere, many with arms and warfare. The Shining Path guerrilla warfare continues in Peru. Drug warlords continue to tear Colombia apart. The Kurds in Turkey and Iraq seek independence. Civil eruptions have devastated Sierre Leone and Liberia in Africa. This continent has some of the worst outbreaks of civil unrest, which border on anarchy. Angola warfare has subsided, though all is not peaceful. The Sudan also has quieted, although Eritrea, Somaliland, and Ethiopia have warfare raging even though severe drought has caused famines in that area.

The worst sector is in Central Africa. Rwanda had a terrible civil war because of the rule by the Tutsi minority over the Hutu tribes who were the majority. A peace deal was signed in Tanzania in 1993 by the warring factions, and the Hutu took control of the government. The authority of the Hutu president dwindled, and Hutu militias formed starting a genocide against the Tutsi minority in 1994, killing at least 500,000 people. An uneasy rest presides over that country.

Rwanda’s neighboring country, Burundi, where Hutus and Tutsis have taken turns massacring each other by the thousands for the last forty years, has had a civil war for seven years. A serious attempt is being made by both Mandela of South Africa, and President Clinton of the USA, to end this civil war. In Burundi the minority Tutsis are ruling and these oppose a peace accord. Because of what happened in Rwanda, the peace accord has many stipulations which may not be acceptable to all. Meanwhile, a prolonged war of over five years in Congo is a direct target for sending peacekeeping forces from the UN. Problems of accepting the UN peacekeeping forces by the Congo government, and the conflict drawing five other countries into the fray, have complicated negotiations.


There can be no peace as long as weapons of war continue to be manufactured. The Congressional Research Service, an arm of the Library of Congress, compiles a report on international arms sales, releasing the information around August of each year. The report for the sales of the year 1999 showed that arms sales surged to nearly 30.3 billion dollars, the highest since 1996. The United States, whose goal is to make peace, paradoxically sold 11.8 billion, more than one third of the world’s total. Also significantly, Russia, who has had economic problems, more than doubled its business and was second to the U.S. with 4.8 billion. Not until nations learn war no more, and “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,” will permanent peace come.—Isa. 2:4


But the promises of God will not fail of fulfillment. The Lord himself assures us of this, saying, “As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”—Isa. 55:10,11

Over and over again, God has declared that it is his purpose, by means of the kingdom of Christ, to establish peace—universal and everlasting peace—on earth. One of the outstanding promises of God assuring us of this reads, “He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall 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. But 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.”—Mic. 4:3,4

‘For the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.’ Herein we may rest our hopes for a better world, a peaceful world, a world in which ‘none shall make them afraid.’ Because the Lord has decreed it, no longer will the whole world be filled with fear of the destruction which may almost any time be wrought by human foolishness and selfishness.


It was the Word of the Lord which came to the shepherds on the night Jesus was born, announcing that through him as the world’s Savior and King there would come ‘peace on earth.’ Because it was the Lord speaking through the angels, we need have no doubt that what they proclaimed will, in God’s due time, become a reality. One of the beautiful and comforting prophecies of the birth of Jesus is Isaiah 9:6,7. In this prophecy the great objective of his birth is explained. It declares that he is to be the “Prince of Peace,” and that “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” But it does not leave the accomplishment of this wonderful purpose of God in human hands, for it concludes with the reassuring statement, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

All the prophecies and promises of the Bible concerning peace on earth reveal that this Divine purpose will be accomplished by means of the setting up of Christ’s kingdom in the earth. Concerning this Messianic government the Prophet Daniel declares, “In the days of these kings [represented by the ten toes of the humanlike image which pictured Gentile dominion] shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom.” (Dan. 2:44) Many efforts have been made throughout the centuries, some by ambitious men, others by the well-meaning and sincere, to set up governments which would assure peace to the people. They all failed because this was not the Lord’s way for his peace plan to be carried out. It was to be done by ‘the God of heaven.’

Jesus was born to be the King in the kingdom which the ‘God of heaven’ had promised to establish. Satan tempted him to accept and to cooperate with a different plan for ruling the world, saying of the kingdoms of this world, “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me”; that is, acknowledge Satan as the supreme ruler. (Matt. 4:9) But Jesus did not yield to this temptation. Instead, he waited for God’s time and way to exalt him as the ruler of earth. Meanwhile, his enemies killed him—one of their excuses being that he was a traitor to the Roman Empire because he claimed to be a king.


When brought before Pilate, this Roman ruler asked him if the charge were true. The Master replied, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36) What could be plainer than this? All the kingdoms and governments of this world have been established and maintained by the force of arms. Humanly constituted governments are still resorting to this method. It will prove just as true now as it has always been, that those who “take the sword shall perish with the sword.”—Matt. 26:52

The reason we can have confidence that Christ’s kingdom will bring peace to the people is that it is ‘not of this world.’ Christ’s kingdom will not be made up of the selfish elements of what the Apostle Paul describes as “this present evil world.” (Gal. 1:4) Nor will his kingdom employ the methods of this world to gain and maintain its power and authority over the people. That there could be a king whose kingdom was not of this world was difficult for Pilate to understand, so he asked Jesus further, “Art thou a king then?” How could there be such a kingdom?

Jesus replied to Pilate, saying, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37) Then Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (vs. 38) Jesus did not reply to this question, but as to the truth concerning God’s plan to establish a kingdom in the earth and through it to give peace and life to the people, he had already answered it. That great truth was, and still is, that the ‘God of heaven shall set up a kingdom.’ The fulfillment of his promises has not been left in the hands of men, nor to human methods—‘My kingdom is not of this world.’


In Isaiah 2:2 we read: “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established.” The ‘last days’ referred to here are not, of course, the last days of time, nor of this earth, nor of human experience, but simply the last days of the reign of sin and death in the earth, the last days of ‘this present evil world.’ It is in this period that the mountain of the Lord is established. By consulting Daniel 2:35,44, it will be found that this ‘mountain’ is in reality the kingdom of the Lord, the kingdom which the God of heaven will ‘set up’ or ‘establish’ as the prophets Isaiah and Micah state it—Mic. 4:1-4

It is said to be the mountain, or kingdom of the ‘Lord’s house.’ This is God’s way of telling us that his kingdom will be made up of a Divine ruling house, or family. The Scriptures make it abundantly clear that Jesus, God’s own beloved Son, will be the ruler supreme in this ‘house,’ the ‘King of kings, and Lord of Lords.’ There are to be other sons of God associated with him. These are referred to many times in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. Paul, speaking of a work of the Holy Spirit, wrote: “The Spirit [of God] itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”—Rom. 8:16,17

“It is a faithful saying,” wrote Paul, that if we “be dead” with Christ, we shall also “live with him,” and if “we suffer,” we shall also “reign with him.” (II Tim. 2:11,12) These Spirit begotten sons of God, who suffer and die with Jesus, are described in Acts 15:14 as “a people for his name,” and the explanation is given that the Divine purpose in proclaiming the Gospel to the Gentiles was to take out of them this people to be members of the Divine family. The further explanation is given that it will be after this work of God in the earth is accomplished that both Jews and Gentiles will receive their promised blessings. All will then have an opportunity to ‘seek after the Lord.’


The work of God in the earth throughout the centuries since the peace prophecy of the angels was given, has not been the converting of the world. Men have tried to do this and have failed. God’s work during this Gospel Age has been the selection and preparation of that small group whom he has called to be sons. Their worthiness to live and reign with Christ has been demonstrated by their faithfulness in suffering and dying with him. Each one of them has been given the assurance, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10

But how can these reign with Christ, since they have all died? The answer to this is simple, for the Bible assures us of their resurrection. At the same time, this fact highlights the meaning of the promise that the ‘God of heaven shall set up a kingdom.’ Twenty centuries ago, and in the exercise of his mighty power, God raised Jesus from the dead to be the King supreme in his kingdom. At this end of the age, God again exercises his mighty power to raise the true church of Christ from the dead—those who have suffered and died with him—that they might be associated with him in his kingdom. They are said to come forth in “the first resurrection” to live and reign “with Christ a thousand years.”—Rev. 20:4,6

Consideration of this helps us to grasp more fully the meaning of the statement, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:7), for it emphasizes that his zeal is manifested in the use of his mighty power, even to the extent of raising the dead; even to exalting Christ and his church to the Divine nature and to his own right hand of authority, in order that his ruling ‘house’ might be established.


We can have every confidence, then, that the ‘mountain of the Lord’s house’ will be established in the ‘last days.’ Conditions around us in the world are clearly in fulfillment of the prophecies which testify that already the kingdoms of this world are being removed. The old world, dominated by sin and selfishness, is to pass away, and the new is about to be manifested. And David declares, “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth [the social order] be removed.” (Ps. 46:2) If we can exercise faith in God’s providence, and confidence in his ways, we will not fear at this time when the hearts of so many are filled with dread.

To us the angelic message of peace on earth will take on a new and brighter luster, despite present chaos in the world, if we are able to grasp and believe the thought that its fulfillment is certain because the Lord has promised it and his ‘zeal’ will perform it. Not only will the kingdom established by the God of heaven bring peace to the people, it will also bring health and life; for Jesus was also announced to be a “Saviour.” (Luke 2:11) Paul tells us that Christ must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet, and that the “last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”—I Cor. 15:25,26

Let us rejoice in confidence that this dark night of human experience is soon to terminate in a wonderful morning of joy! While rejoicing in this knowledge ourselves, let us tell the whole world these blessed tidings. No gift could bring greater joy to hearts filled with fear than the assurance that God has a plan which is soon to reach fruition in the blessing of all the families of the earth, that the prophecy of the angels is really true!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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