War has been a scourge of the worldand mankind since time immemorial, but no period in history has witnessed a greater number of wars or greater destruction brought about by them than has the last hundred years.
Prior to 1914, war had never been universal, but in both World War I and II, global war was waged. In the latter, all but 12 small nations of the world were militarily or technically involved, and 93 million people served in the armed forces of both sides. Of these, 25 million died. Civilian casualties were unprecedented: In the Soviet Union alone, over 20 million civilians died as a result of the war. The Washington Post noted:
Other newspapers and commentators have also described the carnage:
Since the War on Terror was declared after 9/11, till July 2007 an estimated 832,962 people were killed, and 1,590,895 seriously injured in Afghanistan and Iraq, regarded as the two principal theaters of that war. That is 16 times as many people as have been killed in all terrorist attacks in the world since 1968.7 Further studies put the death toll in Iraq alone at 1.2 million.8
The world hoped that the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 would not only signify the end of the Cold War between the superpowers, but usher in a new era of global peace. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
Ethnic Cleansing and Tribal Terror
The Greek word for “nation” originally used in this prophecy, “nation shall rise against nation,” is ethnos, which is more accurately translated “a race” or “a tribe.” In other words, Jesus was saying that ethnic groups would rise against each other. This has been tragically fulfilled in recent times. Pulitzer prize-winning historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917–2007) warned, “The 20th century [was] a century of the warfare of ideologies: democracy vs. fascism, democracy vs. communism. But the end of the Cold War has released long-buried national, racial, ethnic, and linguistic antagonisms around the world. … The 21st century promises to be a century of the warfare of ethnicities.”9
The Associated Press (AP) reports that during the 20th century the murders perpetrated by nations against their own people exceeded the deaths caused by wars with rivals outside their borders. Citing Stalin’s purges, Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot’s killing fields, the so-called ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the horrors of Rwanda, etc., the grim verdict is reached:
Conflicts within states now make up more than 95% of all conflicts.11 Prominent among this type of conflict is the perennial Palestinian/Israeli conflict that has now gone on for sixty years, resulting in thousands of deaths, many more casualties, and millions of refugees, some displaced now for generations.
Although the outlook may appear bleak, the day is soon coming when God Himself will intervene in this violent world, and war shall be forever abolished. The Bible tells us that when Christ returns to rule the Earth, “He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).
More about this future reign of world peace later, but now, back to the pressing realities of the present.
(Footnotes for this book are in the last chapter.)