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The United States entered into the First World War hostilities in April 1917 when President Woodrow Wilson asked the American Congress for a declaration of war. President Wilson was good at moulding public opinion with his rhetoric and he appears to have coined such optimistic phrases as a war to make the world safe for democracy” and a war to end all wars”. In fact the latter phrase was already in public use, thanks to the British author H G Wells who wrote a series of newspaper articles in 1914 which were later published as a book with that title and it became a widely used catchphrase.

Pacifist Hopes

H G Wells was a pacifist but he clearly hoped that a war of this size might end war forever. The First World War was one in which each side fought on a scale hitherto unseen. All the resources of the countries involved were deployed – military, industrial and human. An estimated 10 million soldiers were killed, and another 10 million civilians, as modern weapons and technologies were used. The brutal horrors of the trenches were reported in news stories, photographs and even film, in a way people had never before seen or experienced. Wells wrote this optimistic assessment, which turned out to be totally wrong: This is now a war for peace. It aims straight at disarmament. It aims at a settlement that shall stop this sort of thing for ever. Every soldier who fights against Germany now is a crusader against war. This, the greatest of all wars, is not just another war—it is the last war!” How we all wish that he had been right and that thereafter the world had come to its senses, disarmed and concentrated its energies on peaceful pursuits that would have made the world a better place for everyone. But it wasn’t to be. Even at the Paris Peace Conference which settled the war, British field marshal Archibald Wavell is said to have dismissed the solutions drafted there by saying, After ‘the war to end war’ they seem to have been pretty successful in Paris at making a Peace to End Peace’”. David Fromkin wrote a book with that very title in 1989 in which he traced today’s problems in the Middle East to the way in which the Ottoman Empire was carved up and allocated at the Paris Peace Conference. He suggested that all the present rivalries and animosities originate from that somewhat arbitrary process. But they have a much earlier origin.


Bible Perspective

The Biblical narrative takes us right back to the time when the infant nation of Israel first entered the land that God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their inheritance.

In order to occupy it, the Israelis (as we now know them) had first to conquer the land from the people that were already there and thereafter there was often fighting and skirmishing with the nations around Israel. Some of those nations came from a branch of Abraham’s extended family, but they seldom behaved as relatives. Instead there developed an animosity and hatred that has continued right down to today. For, after Bible times the nation of Israel ceased to exist and the Jews were dispersed throughout the world until it pleased God to return them to their ancient homeland as He had promised: As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day (Ezekiel 34:12). God also foretold through his prophets that the restored Jewish nation would be surrounded by enemies, and that again there would be nations that resented the partitioning of the land and the re-creation of the nation of Israel. The same prophet who predicted the miracle of a Jewish return to the land also explained why God will judge those nations who oppose His purpose: I shall lay your cities waste, and you shall be desolate. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. “ Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end (Ezekiel 35:4–5).

Another Conflict

There is to be another war in the Middle East and again it will be a world war, but there will be some bizarre happenings. Consider this scenario. God is about to send His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from heaven to earth, for he is to reign from Jerusalem over all nations when God’s Kingdom is re-established here. The Coming King is the greatest man who ever lived. He was the best and kindliest person you could ever meet. He went about doing good and because he was empowered by God he could feed the hungry, heal the sick, raise the dead and save people from their sins. Wouldn’t you want someone like that to rule the world? Wouldn’t we all welcome a righteous and benevolent head of state with the power to solve all human problems and make the world a wonderful place in which to live forever? Yet the Bible predicts that when Jesus comes he will be opposed by people who are unwilling to surrender their power and they will wage war against him. Here’s an extract from the prophecy:

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision...

(Psalm 2:1–4).

Read the whole Psalm and you will see that this attempted attack will fail utterly, for God is determined to set His Son on My holy hill of Zion” (2:6). Jesus will reign from Jerusalem as God has promised and the world will be remade so that God’s glory will fill the earth. But here is the great news. That war, to try to oust Jesus from Jerusalem, will be the war we have all been hoping for: a war to end wars! For King Jesus is rightly named the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Tecwyn Morgan

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 A war to end all wars

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