That there are wars yet today is a fact of which we are painfully aware. In spite of constant cries for peace, although many “prayer days for peace” have been observed—there is yet war. The United States agonizingly and slowly seeks to remove herself from Vietnam. Tension continues and even grows in the mid-east. Trouble continues in East Pakistan. Thousands dies daily because of starvation—one of the sorry results of the war there. Many others, according to report, are cruelly killed. War threatens between India and Pakistan. “Civilized” mankind has, obviously, not rid itself yet of wars. \
Wars as a sign of the end of time
There are several important passages in Scripture which speak of wars as part of the signs of the end of time. We read of this in Matthew 24:6-8 (and in the parallel passages of Mark 13:7 and Luke 21:9). Jesus says to His disciples, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”
We might notice a few significant points presented here. First, we must remember that Jesus is answering the question of His disciples, “When shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (vs. 3). Jesus presents wars as one of the clear indications of His return and of the end of the world.
Secondly, Christ reminds His disciples that although wars are a sign of the end, their existence does not mean that the end is immediately at hand. Jesus says, “The end is not yet.” There have been wars throughout the history of the world. These all point to the approaching end. Wars are, as Jesus again declares, the “birth-pains” of the new creation (this is the idea of verse 8). Each new war serves as another reminder that the end comes.
Finally, Jesus emphasizes that “these thingsmust come to pass.” The idea of necessity is presented. Wars do not just happen to be. These are part of the eternal plan of God. How else could this “must come to pass” be understood? God has His purpose with these wars—and that purpose must be served,
The second important passage concerning the place of wars is to be found in Rev. 6:3-4, “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.”
Concerning this passage too, we can derive several truths pertaining to the subject of war, In the first place, this “second seal” is part of the seven seals presented in Revelation. These seals represent the “average” or “normal” happenings upon the earth. They represent not “consecutive” events in the history of the world (for obviously the first “horse” of Revelation continues to run even when the others are called forth), but present that which is always occurring in this present dispensation. War, then, is what one can also expect throughout this age.
Secondly, there can be no doubt but that the second horse of Revelation 6 does represent the fact of war. The color of the horse shows this (red—the color of wrath and blood). The power given to the rider was to “take peace from the earth and that they should kill one another.” And also a great sword was given the rider.
In the third place, this second horse (war) comes forth when Christ opens the seal. Further, that horse is called forth by the second beast (representing part of the creation of God). We must not lose sight of this fact.
In the fourth place, the rider on the horse indicates plainly that the horse is regulated and controlled. He can not freely run indiscriminately over the earth. He is directed to go where Christ would have him to go.
Finally, we can not help but notice that the white horse (the cause of God’s kingdom and the preaching of the Word) is first—and is followed by the remaining three horses. The second (and subsequent) horse serves the first. One might say: in some way wars must also serve the purpose of the salvation of the church and the final glorification of the saints.
History of wars
We can, too quickly, maintain that there were always wars. Yet there is no indication of wars before the time of the tower of Babel. I think there were not wars then. This accounts, in part, for the rapid development of the world till soon God destroyed it with the flood. There was bloodshed. Scripture records the first murder. But wars seemed unknown. The reason was that mankind was one. Before the flood there was a division between the descendants of Cain and those of Seth. The former grew in power and in numbers, the later decreased in size till but eight souls remained just before the flood. But there was no war. The wicked were united. They committed wickedness—but in unity. The same situation continued after the flood till the time of the tower of Babel. Men built Babel not to save them from some future flood, but to serve as a visible basis for their unity. These boasted in their unity. Then God intervened by confusing man’s language. In this act, God made it impossible for man to interact and unite. The result was a division which gave rise to strife between tribes, races, and nations. Rev. 13:3 speaks of this: “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed.” That head belonged to the beast arising from the sea—representing the political aspect of the kingdom of antichrist. At Babel that head was wounded unto death—and is finally healed at the very end of time when nations again unite under the antichrist as one world-power.
From Babel till now, wars continue. Man strives to end wars. Mediators there are in abundance. Yet wars continue. Finally, the antichrist will, for a short time, cause wars to cease. For this reason he will be greatly admired by men. For we read again in Rev. 13, “And all the world wondered after the beast . . . and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?'”
The cause of wars
Any who have studied history, know that historians are very concerned about studying the causes of war. These will trace the various factors which led to any particular conflict. These will suggest, by way of hindsight, what should have been done to prevent a particular war.
This, of itself, however, fails to recognize the basic cause of all wars. War is one of the consequences of man’s disobedience, in Paradise. God had spoken to Adam that he would die in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit. Adam ate—and died. Wars which arose later were part of that sentence of death. Man, in hating and rebelling against God, also reveals hatred and envy towards fellowman.
James states in James 4:1-2, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not; ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” That lust, seen first at Paradise, continues to cause wars and rumors of wars. I could frankly also state that man, with all of his social philosophies directed toward the ending of all wars, can not basically succeed in his attempts. Until lust is rooted out of the heart, wars and hatred will continue. The necessary change which leads to true peace takes place not through social action but through regeneration.
The purpose of wars
Wars do not just happen. These are under the direction and control of the Sovereign God. God says concerning Babylon who warred against Judah, “Thou art my battle-axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms” (Jer. 51:20). Or again, it is God Who sends peace: “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth. . . .” (Ps. 46:9).
How do wars serve God’s purpose? First, these serve as His tools to punish the wicked. Jer. 51(above) shows that. The wicked will not “get away with” their sins. The wrath of God is upon them.
Secondly, from the time of Babel, wars serve as the means to perpetuate divisions among mankind. Wars serve to prevent union which would be the realization of the kingdom of antichrist. Wars among nations delay, until the appointed time, the action of wicked nations which rise against Christ and His church to destroy it (Rev. 11:7; Rev. 17:14).
In the third place, during these times of wars, the church continues its unimpeded growth and labors. It is true that many within the church also suffer as a result of the wars among nations. The sons of the church must also take up arms, and some must die. Yet the glorious fact remains: while the world continues in its evil confrontations, the church is left relatively alone. They can continue to preach the gospel. Instruction of covenant youth can continue. The church is being gathered. The last of the saints are brought in. When this is finally accomplished, then the world can briefly unite—revealing its utter godlessness. And Christ shortly returns thereafter.
Youth for whom?
A California reader sends in a gruesome picture taken from the local newspaper which presents two evil-looking young men looking fiendishly at a bloody, living head of a girl lying apparently on a platter. This was part of the “Scream in the Dark” Halloween program presented for those 12 and older. Proceeds of the program would be “for continued youth activities.” Who presents this ghoulish program? The “Campus Life, a division of Youth for Christ.”
Yes, Ma’am, that is a horrible caricature of Christian activity and definitely a sign of the times: a sign of the terrible apostasy of our day when anything can go under the name of Christian.
It reminds us again: “. . . The Lord is at hand.” (Phil. 4:5)