War is often glorified when absent and abhorred when present. During times of peace, nations take pride in how their soldiers of the past have fought to maintain freedom and security for their country. Memories quickly move from the blood and horror of the killing fields to the celebration of victory and patriotism. This is true regardless of the country of origin, the ethnicity of the people, or the region of the world involved. The people of all nations want to think of their country as being powerful and victorious in battle, able to defend the homeland against all threats.
Through our actions, we continually prove that we are people of conflict—bound to return to the day of battle again and again. History books do not relish the records of quiet people living simple lives. Rather, they describe the greatness of an Alexander in battle or the unmatched strength of the British Armada on the high seas. The heroes and victories won in the wars of yesterday only serve to mask the reality of war.
No generation can say they are completely free from the threat of war. Jesus spoke of the inevitability of conflict when he prophesied of the signs of his coming. He said in the Gospel of Matthew:
“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.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places.
“All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Since the day Cain killed Abel, wars between countries have been simply the outgrowth of personal conflict. As long as hatred and arguments among individuals continue, wars and fights between nations will go on as well. The Lord said that as time moves closer to the day of his return, the world will not change this violent habit. On the contrary, he indicated that battles will actually increase as we approach the end. The word translated as “sorrows” in the previous passage is really the word for “birth pains” in the Greek. Therefore, Jesus predicted that all the catastrophes of life—wars, famines, diseases, and natural disasters—will be in the last days the labor pains for the birth of a new age.
Though the people of the world continue to spend an incredible amount of time and money trying to prevent war, this effort will become increasingly hopeless as we get closer to Christ’s return. Just as a pregnant woman who draws near to the moment of her delivery experiences labor pains of growing intensity, so will the battles between nations increase. This will happen despite the best efforts of politicians or peace movements. Not even a more effective United Nations organization or a one world government will be able to bring true peace to this planet. The world is moving toward violent chaos that will soon catapult out of control in a final spasm of war that will consume the entire world.
The history of the world since the time of Christ certainly speaks of the accuracy of his prophetic words. A comprehensive list of all the conflicts over the past 2,000 years would go on for volumes. No one could ever hope to completely catalog all the death and destruction that has resulted from these wars. The previous 100 years is certainly no exception to this rule. For an age that prides itself on diplomatic initiatives and peace conferences, reality speaks of anything but peace.
The world had never known the likes of twentieth-century wars. Using weapons of destruction never before dreamed possible, almost 100 million people have lost their lives while two continents have experienced devastation beyond imagination. Since the end of World War II, there have been over 150 wars resulting in the deaths of more than 10 million people. As you read these words, between 50 and 60 conflicts currently rage—either as limited civil battles or as full-scale cross-border wars. However, the stakes have changed dramatically over the course of the last generation. With nuclear weapons proliferating at an ever increasing rate, the very survival of the human species is now threatened. How long will it be before some madman decisively ends a small skirmish by “nuking” his opponents out of existence? How long will it be before terrorist groups hold the world hostage by planting a single nuclear weapon in a major city?
Meanwhile, peace movements cry out for reason and superpower summit meetings convene to negotiate settlements to one international crisis after another. Despite the best efforts of mankind, the world still remains engulfed in armed conflict. This is precisely the age of trouble Jesus spoke of long ago. Though the nations will seek peace with all their hearts, peace will continue to flee from them. As the end draws near, the world will become so weary of the ever growing danger of war along with the constant threat of nuclear destruction that they will be ready to try anything to solve the problem—even if that means accepting the peace plan put forth by a dynamic leader and his vision for a New World Order.
Incredibly, for a brief period the Antichrist’s new system will seem to make a difference. The unification of the world’s 10 major regions (see The New World Order), including the total integration of their economies and military powers, will promise to bring about one of the longest periods of peace the world has ever experienced. In that day, it will seem like the human race has entered a new era. Crime will be dramatically reduced through the elimination of paper money and the institution of the Mark (see The Mark of the Beast). The danger of renegade nations like North Korea and Iran will be hamstrung by the united front of a global empire willing to back up words with action.
It is important that you are not ignorant about how this final empire will come into being. The followers of Christ through prophecy will know its true character of evil; however, the people of the world will respond to the rise of the New World Order with open arms and great enthusiasm. It will not seem evil; it will seem fantastic. The deception that Satan will bring about through the great oratory skills of the Antichrist will make the final world empire appear to be the ultimate in peace and salvation for all of mankind [“by peace (he) shall destroy many”, Dan 8:25]. If you don’t know the Lord, you will be deceived and caught up in this excitement to your ultimate destruction.
The Apostle Paul, however, was not fooled by man’s promise of peace on earth and neither should you be deceived. He saw the end of the age through God’s eyes, and prophesied the ultimate destruction of this empire:
“When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape”
1 Thess. 5:3
Just when everything seems to be going well for the Antichrist, something unexpected will happen to change his undisputed rule forever. Remember, the book of Revelation says that the Antichrist’s kingdom will survive for only 42 months (Rev. 13:5). We’re about to learn the real reason behind its short life-span!