Elusive Peace

“Saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”
—Jeremiah 6:14

ONE OF THE STRONGEST desires of mankind is to live in peace. The world has grown from the time of Adam to the present where there are many nations and over 6 billion people. In this group of over 6 billion people are many ethnic groups and religions which have caused differences in customs, beliefs, aims, and ambitions to arise and conflict with each other. Misunderstandings, coupled with ambition, have caused wars to erupt all over the earth, large and small. Terrorism has arisen to rob mankind of peace in normal living, causing him to fear while encountering the simplest experiences of life. Little wonder that man is despairing of life itself.


Early this year the Los Angeles Times reported on the assembling of the world’s religious leaders joining the Pope in a peace prayer. Billed as a response to terror, the article title was “World Religious Leaders Join Pope in a Peace Prayer.” The sub headline was, “Italy: About 200 clerics gather to denounce violence and pledge tolerance. The event was organized as a response to the September 11 attacks.” The article reported:

“Leaders of Islam, Christianity, Judaism and the world’s other major faiths joined Pope John Paul II here Thursday to pray for peace and condemn ‘every recourse to violence and war in the name of God or religion.’

“The solemn, daylong retreat—called by the pope to answer last year’s terrorist attack on the United States and its aftermath—brought together about 200 leaders of 12 religions for what is believed to have been the most broadly representative encounter of its kind.

“Huddled in a tented arena on a cold, drizzly day, the polyglot assembly of imams, patriarchs, monks, cardinals and rabbis lighted candles and found common ground against what the Roman Catholic pontiff called ‘the dark clouds of terrorism, hatred and armed conflict that … have grown particularly ominous on humanity’s horizon.’

“Their 10-point communal pledge for peace avoided mention of the Sept. 11 attacks or the U.S. counterstrikes against Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network and Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.

“Instead, the clerics called for attacking the root causes of terrorism, siding with the poor and the helpless and urging leaders to create ‘a world of solidarity and peace based on justice.’

“The Vatican-drafted appeal, read one point at a time by a succession of clerics speaking different languages, committed the world’s religions to preach mutual tolerance and address their differences through ‘frank and patient’ dialogue. They pledged to forgive one another for ‘errors and prejudices’ that have fueled violence and terrorism, which they called ‘incompatible with the authentic spirit of religion.’

“‘Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again!’ John Paul declared in a strong voice, reading the final section to the spirited applause of more than 2,000 spectators.

“The 81-year-old pope met fellow clerics at the Vatican and rode with them on the 110-mile trip to this hill town aboard a special seven-car train provided by the Italian government. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi met the train at Assisi and attended the gathering.”


There were other similar occasions to this one that the Pope has convened. The article told of some of his previous efforts, saying:

“The Day of Prayer for World Peace took place outside the Basilica of St. Francis, the burial site of the thirteenth century Catholic pacifist. The event was bigger than two previous worldwide religious gatherings convened here by John Paul, who drew plaudits Thursday for pursuing interfaith understanding more actively than any papal predecessor.

“In 1986, John Paul convened a groundbreaking interfaith gathering here to protest the nuclear arms race and returned in 1993 to lead a similar appeal against ethnic bloodshed in the Balkans. Catholic conservatives accused him of ‘syncretism’—the blending of different religions, as if all were of equal value—but their criticism has faded.

“As at those gatherings, the pope took pains Thursday to stress that the religions were joining behind a goal but praying separately, respecting their differences. Separate prayer services took place at midday, after a round of speeches and before the peace pledge. Christians prayed together in the lower basilica, while non-Christian groups gathered in separate rooms of a convent from which crosses had been removed.


“‘It’s a simple fact that other religions exist, and we have to take note of that,’ Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican’s chief theologian and a critic of the 1986 gathering, said on the train. He welcomed Thursday’s meeting as ‘a strong signal for peace’ but added, ‘I don’t think we can expect a politically concrete result.’”

It is not surprising that Cardinal Ratzinger would say this. He was the one who recently tried to derail the Pope’s efforts at ecumenism by saying that Roman Catholics could never be a sister religion to any other church since she was the mother church and all other churches eventually have to become Roman Catholics.


In the vein of the Pope’s attempts at bridge building between different religions the article said:

“John Paul called Thursday’s gathering out of fear that the September 11 attacks would doom his bridge-building between Christians and Muslims. Aides say he is tormented by the attacks and distressed by calls from Bin Laden, the accused mastermind, for an Islamic holy war against the West.”

The article reported on an interview of a Muslim on this matter:

“Asked by reporters whether Bin Laden is a good Muslim, Mahmoud Hammad Ibrahim Sheweitah of Italy’s Islamic delegation said, ‘We don’t know. We know about him only from television.’

“Just one speaker, Singer, acknowledged that members of his faith have used religious teachings as a guide for battling enemies. Perhaps because no one else was so forthcoming, the American Jewish leader skipped that part of his prepared speech but said the audience could read it in the text that had been distributed.

“He finished with an impassioned plea for the Middle East: ‘Peace shouldn’t be left to generals; it’s too important. … You should tell your people, and we should tell ours—all of us—to question whether land or places are more important than people’s lives. And until we learn to do that, there will be no peace.’”


The Middle East meanwhile has reverberated with warfare as terrorists have continued attacks with suicide bombers and Israel has used military force trying to stop it. Right after the gathering of the clerics to pray for peace, the Middle East had the first female bomber. As the newspaper “USA Today” reported on the incident:

“Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a woman—perhaps slight of build, perhaps a young mother—piloting American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. Imagine her praising Allah as she hurtles into the building while savoring her achievement of personal glory. Imagine her committing mass murder without regret.

“Hard to picture, isn’t it? But it can happen, and we need to think about the possibility, because the use of a least likely suspect is the most likely tactic for a terrorist group under scrutiny. Israel discovered that Sunday, when a Palestinian woman easily eluded security checks and detonated a bomb on a busy Jerusalem street.

“Contrary to initial media reports, this was not the first time a Palestinian woman has proved capable of terrorist violence. Far from it.

“Last summer, on Aug. 3, a young Palestinian woman was arrested by the Israeli police as she was preparing to detonate a bomb at a Tel Aviv bus station.

“Another woman, Dalal Maghrebi, was more successful in her mission. She was involved in one of the worst terrorist incidents in Israel’s history, in which more than 30 passengers were massacred in a bus hijacking in 1978.

“Still another, Leila Khaled, tried to hijack an El Al flight to London in 1970, but was foiled. Her attempt was one of several hijackings that day by her organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”


In April of this year, the Daily Telegraph of London summarized the situation well in their article entitled “In Search of a Fair Agreement,” saying:

“The faces of the dead are everywhere: pictures of Palestinian martyrs peeling off the walls of Palestinian cities, portraits of dead soldiers on Israeli television, newspaper photographs of ordinary Israelis wiped out in suicide attacks, and valedictory video messages of the bombers themselves.

“The Holy Land has long been a place of violence, but rarely has blood been spilt so casually.

“‘Too long a sacrifice,’ wrote W. B. Yeats, ‘makes a stone of the heart.’ Liberal Israelis have turned into advocates of total war against the Palestinians; moderate Palestinians cheer the suicide bombers. Israelis see this as their own war on terrorism. Palestinians regard it as their belated war of independence. It is also a war between Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat in which each wants to destroy the other—politically if not physically.”

There seems to be no end to the bombings. The lives of the people of Israel have been severely shattered. It reminds us of the punishments of the Lord against Israel because of their failure to follow the precepts of the Law. Just prior to the 70 year captivity of Judah and Benjamin by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Jeremiah said to them, “O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction.” (Jer. 6:1) The words spoken at that time to Judah by the prophet that they would say ‘Peace, peace; when there is no peace’ would seem to apply to them today. We know that the punishment of the 70 years is past, and their longer period of dispersion is past, and that favor has truly been restored to Israel in spite of the warfare and aggravation she has suffered by the suicide bombings. The Lord will resolve the matter eventually. How, remains to be seen.


We know that Jeremiah’s prophecy has a secondary important fulfillment. Natural Israel in the days of Jeremiah pictured the present Christian nations. The corruption that occurred in Israel then is what is occurring in Western civilization and the Christian nations today. “From the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”—Jer. 6:13,14

The prophecies pronounced against Judah then are applicable now to Christianity. “Now, because ye have done all these works [steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely—vs. 9], saith the Lord, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name [Christian], wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.”—Jer. 7:13-16


As noble as the gathering of the clerics was to pray to God for peace, the words spoken to Israel by Jeremiah apply to them. So also do these words apply to all Christian nations (and all other religions) of today. God will not hear their prayers. There is a prayer that the Lord hears. One that is uttered by many sincere Christians worldwide. Some utter it not knowing its meaning but do so faithfully because Jesus told them that they should pray in this manner. Some do so knowing what it entails. Whether uttered consciously, unconsciously, or subconsciously, it is a prayer that God will answer. That prayer is, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) Only through the fulfillment of that prayer will peace come.

Jesus and the church are to be the rulers of that kingdom and Jesus has clearly been given the title “The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6) As Isaiah continued to say of him, “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 for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:7

Isaiah declares later concerning the approaching time when the world would know God saying, “Therefore shall my people know my name in that day, for I am he that speaks: I am present, as a season of beauty upon the mountains, as the feet of one preaching glad tidings of peace, as one preaching good news: for I will publish thy salvation, saying, O Sion, thy God shall reign.” (Isa. 52:6,7, Septuagint Translation). This is a most interesting and inspiring scripture translated into Greek. It tells of the presence of the one who will be ‘The Prince of Peace,’ and recognized and known only to those watching and waiting for him. It assures them that true peace is coming. It assures them of their salvation. It assures them that the good news announced when the babe Jesus was born, which will be to all nations, is about to be manifested to all the world. It is our privilege to tell others of these glad tidings and prepare them for the time coming soon when “The Lord shall reveal his holy arm [the glorified Jesus] in the sight of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation that comes from our God.”—Isa. 52:10, Septuagint Translation

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |