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4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse
THE RED HORSE
In the book of Revelation we find a disturbing vision of four fearsome horsemen (Rev. 6:1-8). Each of these horsemen is a symbol of the four major punishments to be inflicted upon a rebellious mankind — probably in the not-too-distant future! Each represents the final, end-time culmination of the major crises with which the world has been confronted for centuries — false religion, war, famine and disease epidemics. This series of booklets will make the prophecies of Revelation 6 come to life. You will learn the significance of each symbolic horse and rider. This message is one of the most frightening in all of the Bible. You need to be informed and prepared for what's ahead in Bible prophecy!
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Table of Contents
The Grim Specter of Total War
Teetering on the Brink of Global Cosmocide
The Grisly History of Armed Conflict
Man's Futile Search for Peace
The War That Could End It All
Chapter One — THE GRIM SPECTER OF TOTAL WAR
On the surface it was another placid, sultry summer day in the Western Caribbean. The citizens of Kingston were just returning to work after their normal midday break. Over 700 miles to the west, it was business as usual for the inhabitants of the Yucatan Peninsula.
But beneath the surface of the shimmering waters that separated Jamaica from the Central American mainland, things were anything but routine. Several fathoms down, a steely blue cigar-shaped submarine silently nosed its way through the warm, murky-green waters of the Caribbean.
Inside the control room, the skipper's face reflected the tension that seemed to permeate all parts of the vessel. He nervously paced back and forth with half an eye cocked on the luminous dials and gauges that bathed the room in a subdued fluorescent glow. His silent concentration was interrupted by the navigator, who informed him that they would be on station in another ten minutes.
Further aft, a team of technicians methodically but somewhat hurriedly completed the last stages of their prefiring ritual.
Absorbed by tiers of gauges, dials, levers and safety interlocks, they failed to notice the presence of the weapons officer who stood passively to the side of the compartment watching their activity. Seeing everything was well in hand, he paused for a moment before returning to the control area. He gazed somewhat admiringly at the twin rows of massive hollow steel columns that housed the sub's missiles.
Just thinking about the destructive power they contained was enough to give anybody on board nightmares.
Sixteen upright missiles, each one with a range of 3000 miles. Each one equipped with ten independently targeted warheads. Each warhead packed with fifty kilotons of destructive power. Each warhead 2½ times more powerful than the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima.
Sixteen missiles — 160 warheads — the equivalent of eight million tons of TNT. More explosive power than the entire Allied air forces dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II — all neatly stowed on that one single submarine. But at this point there was little time for him to reflect on the overall implications of what they were about to do. The public address system blared out two minutes to launch. Missile technicians, sonarmen, quartermasters and engineers became that much more attentive to their duties. The weapons officer hurried back to the control room.
The captain rechecked with the navigator to see if the ship was exactly in position. Any deviation in their station-keeping now would mean their preprogrammed missiles would be off target later on down range. Missile control reported all missiles ready for firing.
Satisfied that everything was in order, the captain nodded to the weapons officer. At this point everything that followed was almost automatic.
A circular hatch clanged open on the outside of the hull. The weapons officer squeezed the trigger on a pistol-like grip attached to his console and instantaneously a blast of compressed air sent the first missile racing for the surface of the ocean several fathoms overhead.
The midsummer calm of the Caribbean was suddenly and violently interrupted as the first missile thrust its rounded nose upward through the tranquil surface. Once the missile had cleared the surface, the first-stage booster kicked in with a mighty roar and 500,000 tons of death went hurtling toward its target.
The first missile didn't have that far to travel — only about 1000 miles until its plutonium warhead struck paydirt. Its targets were located in the south-central United States — New Orleans, Montgomery, Mobile, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Chattanooga and Jackson. One missile fired, and ten cities about to go up in flames.
In a few seconds a second missile was also arcing high over the Caribbean. Unlike its predecessor, it was headed for more distant targets. Seattle, Portland and eight other major Pacific Northwest cities were preprogrammed into its ten warheads. Even though this submarine was located a thousand miles south of the U.S. Gulf Coast, there was no part of the country that could escape its lethal arsenal.
One by one, like some science-fiction monster giving birth to her strange offspring, the submarine divested herself of the sixteen missiles.
One hundred and sixty American cities were ticketed for destruction that day. Cities that weren't all that big as cities go. Places like Lubbock, Texas; Roanoke, Virginia; and Lexington, Kentucky were on the submarine's target roster.
One hundred and sixty cities were destined to go the way of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But this time it would be worse. At least those two Japanese cities had had some kind of warning. They were already in a state of war. Their people had the benefit of air-raid sirens. Their streets and sidewalks weren't crowded with traffic and pedestrians when the bomb exploded.
But for the submarine-launched missiles there was no warning — only an initial blinding flash and explosion that instantly incinerated, blinded and maimed millions of Americans.
One hundred and sixty atomic bombs rained down on America that day — but that was only the beginning of a well-planned and carefully orchestrated attack. As the submarine was in the process of disgorging its cataclysmic cargo, electronic signals were simultaneously transmitted to a group of satellites orbiting high over the North American continent. Harmless objects floating in space were suddenly transformed into armed and activated one-megaton hydrogen warheads. Another signal triggered a group of preselected retro-rockets and in a matter of seconds several former satellites were plummeting earthward.
These one-megatoners — each twenty times more powerful than the submarine-launched warheads — were destined for some of America's choicer metropolitan areas: New York, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, Boston, St. Louis and Washington. In three to four minutes they would reach their intended targets.
Again, defense was out of the question. Even if land-based radars had detected these small, distant objects, their electronic appearance could hardly have aroused anyone's suspicions. To all intents and purposes these H-bombs would have looked like any run-of-the-mill satellite.
So nobody paid much attention to them until they began to drop from the sky like falling meteorites. By then it was already too late. No one could be sure exactly what these strange objects were. And nothing the Americans had could respond to an attack with only a three to four minute warning.
So eight more cities were added to the nation's growing casualty list.
Los Angeles received its own special baptism of fire. It started with a ten-megaton weapon neatly buried in an obscure sewer line near the Colosseum. A signal relayed from an overhead satellite triggered the detonating mechanism, and downtown Los Angeles was instantly engulfed in a blazing, blinding ball of fire 2½ miles wide.
Within seconds after the fireball subsided, the entire Los Angeles Basin began to smolder and burn. Anything combustible within 25 miles of the Colosseum exploded in smoke and flames. From Long Beach to San Fernando, and Pasadena to Santa Monica, the exposed populace were seared with painful third-degree burns.
The shock wave of that explosion spread rapidly outward from ground zero. Thousands of tons of fuel were added to the already burning fires. Cars were lifted, spun around, and came crashing to the ground covered in flames. Filling stations, refineries and oil wells exploded like massive Roman candles, spewing molten petroleum in all directions. The initial suction created at ground zero generated swirling winds of hurricane force that uprooted trees, overturned autos and ripped the roofs off still-standing houses. Soon the Southland was engulfed in a raging firestorm that would only abate when there was nothing left to burn.
But there was more to come. Seconds after the explosion, the tinder-dry brush covering the nearby San Gabriel Mountains erupted in a solid sheet of flame. Goaded onward by prevailing winds, this massive wall of fire rapidly spread to the north and east. Like an unstoppable juggernaut, it quickly leap-frogged from one peak to another. It spread eastward along the rim of the mountains and was soon threatening San Bernardino, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.
It overran the San Gabriels to the north and rampaged through the Antelope Valley, advancing inexorably toward Bakersfield and Palmdale. All of Southern California became a flaming cauldron. Before it was all over nothing would be left but a charred and blackened landscape.
While Los Angeles was undergoing its trial by fire, San Francisco's moment of truth came by way of the sea. Thirty-five miles off the coast a remote-controlled submarine glided to a stop in the mud 600 feet below the surface. It wasn't very big as modern submarines go, but it was big enough to carry a monster 100-megaton weapon snugly in its hold. Like the bomb planted in the Los Angeles sewer, nobody knew it was there until its firing mechanism was triggered.
In that instant some 800 billion tons of sea water vaporized. What had been a tranquil ocean bottom was suddenly transformed into a boiling, pulsating, expanding fifty-million degree fireball that thrust its way upward until it towered almost four miles above the surface of the sea.
For a few fleeting moments people in San Francisco saw what they could only conceive of as an instant sunrise — coming from the wrong direction. But compared to the real thing, that "instant sun" appeared almost thirty times larger and was infinitely brighter — so bright, in fact, that for many it was the last thing they ever saw.
As the initial fireball subsided, a mammoth wall of water was kicked up by the explosion. Like a circular ripple caused by dropping a pebble in a pond, it began its deadly advance on the Bay Area. It was only a few hundred feet high at first. But as it rapidly approached the shoreline, its waters piled up until it loomed almost a thousand feet above sea level.
The Bay Area didn't stand a chance. The last thing the remaining survivors saw bearing down on them was a roaring, thundering wall of water five times higher than Niagara Falls. The Golden Gate Bridge was ripped from its moorings with cars, trucks and motorists flung indiscriminately into the raging torrent.
The beautiful skyline of San Francisco ceased to exist. Most of its taller buildings were snapped in half like matchsticks as the water cascaded on toward the east side of the Bay. Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond met the same watery death as their sister city.
But even worse than the brute destructive force of the bomb was its radioactivity. It couldn't be measured in thousands of roentgens, but millions. It left virtually nothing untouched. It was in the water that made up the massive tidal wave, in the mushroom-shaped cloud that was beginning to spread eastward and in a misty shroud of water vapor that had been formed at the base of the explosion. That harmless-looking fog, which billowed a thousand feet above ground level, turned out to be the most lethal of the three. Like the tidal wave, it advanced inland immediately after the explosion and claimed the lives of many who had not already succumbed to the other effects of the bomb. All it took was a brief exposure, and death from acute radiation poisoning came within ten minutes.
Propelled by the westerly Pacific winds, both the fog and the mushroom-shaped cloud spread inland, leaving death and destruction in their wake. California's lush central valleys, the nation's main fruit and vegetable producing areas, were decimated. So were hundreds of miles of crop and grazing land in the Western United States — including portions of the wheat and corn fields in the Great Plains region. Cities in Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Wyoming were transformed into modern-day ghost towns — rendered unfit for human habitation for weeks to come.
America had been destroyed in a most unconventional way. Defense and military officials were dumbfounded. They were caught, so to speak, with their "Maginot-Line" pants down. Not one radar contact had been reported by the ballistic missile early warning system in Greenland and Canada. Not one ICBM had been launched. Spy satellites over the Eurasian land mass sent back negative reports. There were no massive overflights of long-range bombers. Just one submarine, a handful of satellites, and a few strategically placed hydrogen bombs.
Across the United States and around the world, surviving Army, Navy and Air Force men stood by with itchy trigger fingers.
Their ABM's could be launched in seconds. The Minuteman missiles and Polaris submarines were ready to unleash a devastating nuclear barrage on the enemy. The Navy's attack carriers could dispatch squadrons of nuclear-armed jets to practically any strategic location in the world.
But there were a few questions that had to be resolved first. While defense and military officials pondered these questions, their men impatiently waited for orders to fire. But no orders were forthcoming. Nobody could figure out who the enemy was!
We all know this kind of nuclear nightmare never took place. The events described were pure fiction — but fiction based on fact. The hardware and technology for such an attack are basically already in existence. The submarine described was similar to the Poseidon model, already operational in the U.S. Navy. The orbiting nuclear bombs could be put aloft by any nuclear-armed nation capable of launching a satellite. And given the know-how and materials, thermonuclear weapons can be covertly planted in strategic underground or underwater sites.
The chilling aspect of this scenario is that it only required a tiny fraction of the total nuclear weaponry that is now in existence. With this in mind, Chapter 2, which describes some of the world's awesome overkill capabilities, should be much more meaningful.
[Photo Caption — MISSILE launched from beneath the sea could be the first shot fired in a nuclear holocaust.]
[Photo Caption — HIROSHIMA. The Japanese called it "the place of suffering": 100,000 people died; 13,937 were declared missing; 37,425 died later, horribly disfigured.]
Chapter Two — TEETERING ON THE BRINK OF GLOBAL COSMOCIDE
Never before in the annals of history has mankind possessed the means to exterminate the entire human race. Never, that is, until a fateful day in July 1945 when the United States exploded the first atomic bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Since that time some remarkable things have been accomplished in the field of nuclear weaponry. Today the United States has a defense force that can deliver the equivalent of 369,769 Hiroshima-sized bombs. Russia has 718,538 Hiroshimas ready for instant dispersal.
Together, Russia and the United States have over 7000 times the destructive power of all the bombs the Allies dropped on Germany and Japan in World War II. That's the equivalent of five tons of TNT for every man, woman and child on the face of the earth.
Delivery systems have improved, too. Gone are the days when it took a lumbering four-engined B-29 bomber hours to deliver its lethal cargo. Now the job can be done in minutes — from practically anywhere in the world. One U.S. Poseidon submarine can lob 160 warheads (each with 2½ times the destructive power of a Hiroshima-type bomb) at targets 3000 miles away. Land-based ICBM's with 250 Hiroshima's can devastate cities one-third of the way around the world.
But cold hard overkill statistics only tell part of the story. The impact nuclear warfare could have on the environment can only be described as supercatastrophic. According to a report submitted to the Secretary General of the U.N. several years ago: "Given a sufficient number [of bombs exploded], no part of the world would escape exposure to biologically significant levels of radiation. To a greater or lesser degree, a legacy of genetic damage could be incurred."
Harrison Brown, a leading Cal Tech scientist, and James Real explained what could happen if high-yield H-bombs were exploded high above the atmosphere: "Were it not for the fact that a substantial fraction of our country is, at all times, covered with clouds, an enemy could completely scorch our earth by exploding about 600 ten-megaton bombs, evenly spaced, at an altitude of thirty miles. On a clear day, forests, grasslands, and crops would ignite or wither, as would the flammable structures of the cities, towns and villages. All exposed living creatures, except those living in the water, would perish. A substantial fraction of the human beings who were protected from the initial thermal flash would perish in the resultant thermal holocaust."
All-out nuclear war could also wreak havoc with the earth's life-preserving ozone layer. According to Fred C. Ikle, a leading disarmament expert: "We do know that nuclear explosions in the atmosphere would generate vast quantities of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants which might deplete the ozone layer.... It might be imperceptible or it might be total... It might merely increase the hazard of sunburn. Or it might destroy the critical links in the food chain, and thus shatter the ecological structure that permits man to live on this planet" (Chemistry, Dec. 1974).
Proliferation on Earth
The specter of overkill is made all the more terrifying by the fact that doomsday weapons are no longer restricted to the major powers. Gone are the days when the U.S., Russia, France, England and China were the sole members of the nuclear club. India has already detonated a Nagasaki-sized device. Israel is thought to have a modest stockpile of six to twelve atomic weapons, and the potential to launch nuclear-tipped tactical missiles.
Other countries such as Egypt, Argentina, Brazil, Pakistan and South Africa are on the nuclear weapons threshold. Spain, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran aren't far behind in terms of their technical capabilities.
Once nuclear proliferation gets started, it's like opening a modern-day Pandora's Box. After India's home-grown A-bomb had exploded, the prime minister of neighboring Pakistan vowed: "We will eat leaves and grass, even go hungry, but we will have to get one of our own." The Shah of Iran commented recently that "If small nations arm themselves with nuclear weapons, Iran will seek possession of them sooner than you think."
And now that India has smashed the nuclear bomb barrier it promises to help other nations such as Argentina get started. But if Argentina has the bomb, Brazil can't sit still for that. And obviously, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia will soon have to follow suit.
Plutonium is the key catalyst in the proliferation formula. Prior to the spread of nuclear power, about the only way a country could make a bomb, even if it had the technical know-how, was to acquire enriched uranium (U-235). But U-235 could only be produced in quantity by huge gaseous diffusion plants that were located in the U.S., Russia, England, France and China. Peaceful nuclear power changed all this. All it takes is about 22 pounds of plutonium, the technical know-how that is basically available in many unclassified publications, and presto — a Hiroshima-sized atomic bomb can be produced.
As the worldwide production of plutonium grows over the next few decades, the number and spread of nuclear weapons is almost certain to accelerate accordingly. Argentina, for instance, will be producing enough plutonium a year for ten bombs by the late 1970s. Egypt likewise will have the capacity to manufacture fifty bombs a year. All told, it has been estimated that nuclear reactors outside the original atomic club will be producing some eighty tons of plutonium a year — enough for over 7000 atomic bombs.
Walking the Nuclear Tightrope
With small as well as big nations strapping on their nuclear gunbelts, one can't help but feel somewhat apprehensive about the survival prospects for the human race. For instance, what if Israel had her back to the wall in a renewed conflict with Egypt and Syria? Would she not feel justified in using her nuclear weaponry on her enemies? And how long before Egypt, Syria, or some other involved nation would repay in kind? How long before the next local war in the Middle East turns into a nuclear war around the world?
And what of potential conflicts between an India and a Pakistan or an Argentina and a Brazil? What would happen if a nuclear-armed Japan suddenly found herself victimized by a new oil embargo, or if a nuclear South Korea were invaded?
Even more chilling is the prospect of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization. Which city would they hold for ransom? What government would they blackmail? Or what kind of mind-bending nuclear kamikaze raid might they embark on?
How long can nations of the world continue to live under such hair-trigger conditions before the gun goes off? Will the world indeed someday erupt in the ultimate doomsday war that could erase all life from off this good green planet? Is World War III around the corner? And if it is, could we survive such a holocaust? Or is there some way that man will find to live at peace and harmony among his own kind? In other words, can mankind put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind?
Before we answer some of these questions, let's go back in history and examine some of the key events in the history of warfare that led the human race to its current precarious state of affairs.
[Photo Caption — THREE minutes after an atomic bomb hit Nagasaki (Aug. 9, 1945), a smoke column towered more than 20,000 feet over the city.
[INSET — The Silent Killers]
Nuclear weapons are only part of man's mass annihilation arsenal. Nerve gas, while not as ostentatious, noisy, or spectacular as the H-bomb, can be just as lethal. A miniscule ten milligrams of the nerve agent Sarin, if sprayed over a ten cubic meter area, will dispatch a man within ten minutes. Even more potent is the agent known as VX. One small drop on the skin quickly turns a person into a quivering, uncontrollable, nauseated spastic. Death comes within minutes unless immediate treatment is available.
All it would take would be one airplane, the right wind conditions, a heavily populated metropolitan area, and millions of people would gasp their last wondering what hit them.
Even more effective are the biological agents. Botulinus toxin is one of the more potent examples. A microscopic dose either inhaled or ingested brings on excruciating death within six hours. A few pounds would be more than enough to dispatch the entire world's population if uniformly dispersed.
Botulism is only one among many diseases that can be spawned by germ warfare. Others include anthrax, brucellosis, tularemia and Q fever. Even rare and exotic maladies such as glanders and melioidosis are on the list. Many of these agents would make the andromeda strain look tame by comparison. The textbook description given for melioidosis is particularly chilling: "normally fatal fever, producing mania and delirium. Vaccines: unsatisfactory. Therapy: difficult."
Propagation of such virulent agents can be done cheaply but quite effectively. One submarine or surface vessel operating under cover of darkness could saturate thousands of square miles of enemy coastline. Germs can be dropped from aircraft, missiles, or even satellites. Biological weapons can be used to covertly contaminate a city's drinking supply. Or vectors such as mosquitoes, rabbits, or rats can spread the disease. The really devastating aspect of a biological attack is that nobody knows about it until it's too late. The first indication would only come after mass segments of the populace were stricken in epidemic proportions.
[INSET — Statesmen and Scientists Wonder: Is Doomsday at the Door?]
Adlai Stevenson: "No physical peril greater than atomic war has confronted mortal man since the Flood."
Sir Bertrand Russell: "Never since human beings first existed have they been faced with so great a danger as that which they have brought upon themselves by a combination of unrivaled skill and unrivaled folly."
John F. Kennedy: "Together we shall save our planet — or together we shall perish in its flames!"
Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at the door."
Kenneth E. Boulding: "I believe the present international system to be one which has a significant probability built into it of irretrievable disaster for the human race."
Dr. W. H. Pickering: "In half an hour the East and the West could destroy civilization."
Dr. Albert Einstein: "There is no defense in science against the weapons which can destroy civilization."
Dr. Herbert F. York: "…The arms race is a steady open spiral down toward oblivion."
Charles de Gaulle: — "...The great powers are facing their 'last moment'..."
Barbara Ward: "The greatest institutional gap in our world is created by an inescapable, planetary interdependence which breeds common grievances and creates common needs and opportunities, yet is matched by virtually no instruments of worldwide order and welfare. And it is through this gap that mankind can tumble into annihilation."
Chapter Three — THE GRISLY HISTORY OF ARMED CONFLICT
Aggressive behavior has always been an intrinsic part of the chronicle of man. Ever since the time Cain killed Abel, human history has been one long chronicle of contentions, controversy and conflict.
But organized, systematic aggression, or warfare, didn't really get started until men began to incorporate themselves into city-states. Naturally the question of "Who's in charge here?" was a big one in those bygone days. And it was usually answered in a very straightforward way — with simple brute force.
Erich Fromm, writing in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, explained how: "The possibility of coercion was one of the foundations upon which the power of kings, priests, and the dominant elite rested once they had succeeded in replacing or, ideologically speaking, 'representing' — the social will" (p. 162).
In most instances it was the local hunter who had the most going for him in this regard. He had an ace in the hole — hunting weapons. And back then, superior weaponry a kingdom did make. According to Lewis Mumford: "The unscrupulous use of the weapons of the hunt to control the political and economic activities of whole communities was one of the effective inventions of kingship" (The Myth of the Machine, p. 169).
Once a hunter began to dabble in local politics, it was only natural for him to demand compensation from those he "served." Again Mumford relates: "This passsiveness, this submissiveness [on the part of the local citizenry], to say nothing of the lack of weapons, made it easy for small bodies of hunters to draw tribute — in present-day usage 'protection money' — from much larger communities of farmers" (ibid., p. 217).
An example recorded in the Bible was Nimrod. He was called a "mighty hunter before the Lord." And he apparently used his hunting prowess to great political advantage. He was also referred to as a "mighty one in the earth" (Gen. 10:8).
But it took more than force and coercion to establish a man-made hegemony. The ordinary citizen had to be convinced that the hunting hero turned king was God's chosen representative and thus worthy of his highest devotions. A bona fide religious certification was essential. That's where the local priesthood came in. In return for their ecclesiastical stamp of approval, the king amply rewarded the clergy with high-rise temples, community status and magnificent domestic dwellings (see Lewis Mumford, The City in History, p. 38).
Once the hometown hero had clearly established a domestic power base, he often found himself confronted with problems of a more external nature. Somewhere along the line he was bound to lock horns with competing potentates of neighboring city-states. Mumford again explains: "For in the act of establishing law and order within the sacred territory of their gods, kings came into conflict with rival kings and foreign gods, equally arrogant in their imputed divinity, who also claimed the same kind of blind loyalty and awestruck obedience. Too often they were tempted to assert their superior power by encroaching on neighboring states and despoiling their inhabitants" (The Myth of the Machine, p. 178).
Local kings were also tempted to fight in order to collect large consignments of slaves. Since practically everything ran on muscle power, slaves were an essential factor in the economic life of the community. They were also badly needed to support a flourishing and expansive temple system. According to Isaac Mendelsohn, writing in Slavery in the Ancient Near East: "The Babylonian temple... was the largest landowner, the greatest industrialist, the richest banker, and the biggest slave-holder in every city of the country.
"Its landholdings... included in addition to the temple precinct, large tracts of land outside of it..." (p. 100).
As custodians of the local temple, the priesthood was often instrumental in exacerbating local rivalries. According to Mumford: "Under their leadership the local urban deity matched his magic potencies against each threatening foreign deity: the temple became both the starting point and the object of aggressive action. Thus, incited by exorbitant religious fantasies, ever greater numbers with ever more effective weapons for siege and assault were drawn into the insensate rituals of war" (The City in History, p. 44).
Peaceful Paradise Lost
What in effect was happening in early antiquity was that our ancestors were opting for human misgovernment rather than choosing to live under the government of God. Instead of relying on their Creator for protection and safety, they were opting for human kingship, backed by pagan deities.
The first man, Adam, had a golden opportunity to live under his Creator's rule, but he summarily rejected it in the Garden of Eden. His descendants lost no time in following in his footsteps.
There was one group of people that could have reversed this trend — the children of Israel. God had offered not only to be their ruler, but to fight their battles for them (Deut. 1:30; 3:22; 20:4).
As long as Israel trusted in God for their protection, this system worked and worked well. However, it wasn't long before the Israelites began to demand a human king like all the other nations around them (I Sam. 8:4-7).
God reluctantly granted their request, but also gave them a warning along with it. More than anything else it accurately described the fateful consequences of their precipitous actions. Notice how God portrayed the war-making activities of man's government in I Samuel 8:11-12: "This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them... to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots."
From that time on it was almost inevitable that things would get worse before they got better — especially when it came to armed conflict. By the time the nation of Israel went into captivity, powerful warlike Gentile empires were dominating the world scene. The prophet Daniel referred to them as "wild beasts," which was certainly a befitting title. One in particular, the future Roman Empire, was cited as being exceptionally destructive. Daniel wrote: "...I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it..." (Dan. 7:7).
Subsequent revivals of that empire managed to carry on many of the war-making traditions that had been the founding principles of numerous ancient city-states. It was responsible for some of the bloodiest and most protracted wars that have been waged in history. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the Thirty Years' War were among some of its more notable achievements during the Middle Ages.
[Photo Caption — NAPOLEON, here seen retreating from Russia, was a military genius whose stock in trade was destruction.]
A War-Making Revolution
In the years that followed, few fundamental changes were made in the field of armed conflict. As late as the eighteenth century war continued to be basically an affair of kings and statesmen. By today's standards armies were relatively small — usually numbering in the tens of thousands. Most of the fighting was done by either trained mercenaries or professional soldiers. Because of continual logistic problems, campaigns often were limited in terms of time and space. Generals, fearful of losing precious men and equipment, tended to be overly cautious and were reluctant to commit their troops in battle. The general who could outmaneuver rather than outgun his opponent was held in high esteem. "The absolute kings supplanted wars of annihilation with wars of attrition. Rather than crush their enemy, they sought to exhaust him" (Robert Leakie, Warfare, p. 14).
All of this changed with the French Revolution. Suddenly the common man thrust himself into the arena of national, political and military affairs. Frenchmen, freed from the fetters of the Bourbon monarchy, took the lead in continental Europe. As von Clausewitz put it: "War had again suddenly become an affair of the people, and that of a people numbering thirty millions, every one of whom regarded himself as a citizen of the State." No longer was the ordinary soldier merely a paid professional. Now he was a newly enfranchised national citizen fighting for his hard-won freedom.
Napoleon was the first great general to capitalize on this emerging national fervor. According to Anatol Rapaport, a leading military expert, Napoleon "nurtured and intensified the enthusiasm of the man in the ranks by dramatic speeches." Wartime propaganda had come of age.
To further capitalize on this wave of mass enthusiasm, universal military conscription was introduced. Now the entire weight of the nation would stand behind its army. The concept of no-holds-barred, total warfare was beginning to take shape. And Napoleon Bonaparte, perhaps more than any other individual in modern times, was instrumental in developing, exploiting and accelerating the process. He was no longer content to play the traditional cat-and-mouse maneuvering games with enemy generals. Nothing short of mass annihilation would do for him. The more physical destruction he could wreak the better.
And destruction was Napoleon's stock in trade. He was truly a genius at it. His use of massed artillery was unsurpassed up to that time. In the Battle of Freidland, Napoleon's legions managed to wipe out 25,000 Russians mainly through the brilliant utilization of raw, explosive cannon power.
Under Napoleon national armies mushroomed in size. In the 1812 Russian campaign, he employed half a million men. And by 1813 one million Frenchmen were in arms. Massive armies in combat meant mass casualties would follow. Napoleon once boasted to Prince Metternich that he lost 30,000 men a month in the course of his campaigns. By contrast, during the entire American Revolutionary War, fought only a few years earlier, total U.S. casualties came to only 10,500 men.
Within decades after the Napoleonic period, the techniques of total war again went through another momentous transformation thanks to the Industrial Revolution. The machine age quickly found its way onto the battlefield with the introduction of the locomotive, the steamship, the machine gun, and the repeating rifle. With vastly improved transportation systems, large bodies of troops could be rapidly mobilized at strategic points. Land battles began to encompass even wider expanses of real estate and chew up more men in the process.
Weapons rapidly improved in their ability to mete out death and destruction. Rifled ammunition proved its worth in the Civil War. Soon afterwards, machine guns which could spew out 450 rounds a minute hit the front lines.
As the advances of science and technology began to accumulate, the time it took to develop new weapons was drastically compressed. In many cases the armaments turnover was so rapid that a weapon would be obsolete by the time it reached the battlefield.
All of these changes were reflected in the mass carnage and bloodletting that came to be known as World War I. Generals often attempted to fight twentieth-century battles with nineteenth-century tactics. The results were appalling and often catastrophic. A day's worth of fighting would sometimes produce more casualties than an entire war had in the past. In the Battle of the Somme 500,000 English soldiers were needlessly sacrificed in an attempt to capture a few square miles of useless mud. One million men, the equivalent of two entire Napoleonic armies, were killed in the Battle of Verdun.
Before it was all over, 62 million men had been called up and over half of that number ended up dead or wounded. France alone lost a staggering 1.4 million men; Germany and Austria combined over two times that number.
A Rain of Terror
World War II made its predecessor look tame by comparison. By the time Hitler's panzers rolled into Poland in 1939, another fundamental breakthrough in military technique had occurred. The airplane had been perfected as an instrument of mass destruction. Civilian and soldier alike were victimized as the Axis powers indiscriminately bombed densely populated cities. Citizens in London, Rotterdam, Shanghai and Leningrad were among the first to feel the weight of the Axis air offensive. But as the war wore on, the Allies also got in on the saturation bombing act. Seventy thousand citizens of Hamburg were blasted, burned or crushed to death after 728 bombers leveled the city. The results in Dresden were even more cataclysmic in terms of human life. One hundred forty-five thousand people perished in the flames of a huge firestorm. Tokyo suffered the same fate. One hundred thousand people were incinerated following a massive B-29 raid.
The technique of raining destruction from the skies allowed attackers to bomb indiscriminately while feeling few if any pangs of regret. Erich Fromm, writing in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, explains: "The men dropping the bombs were hardly aware that they were killing or burning to death thousands of human beings in a few minutes. The air crews were a team; one man piloted the plane, another navigated it, another dropped the bombs. They were not concerned with killing and were hardly aware of the enemy. They were concerned with the proper handling of their complicated machine along the lines laid down in meticulously organized plans" (p. 346).
Massive air raids that slaughtered thousands of civilians were one thing. Deliberate mass murder of millions of helpless humans was quite another.
Six million Jews became human fodder for Hitler's engines of mass extermination. Four million Europeans, including Russians, Poles, Ukranians, and Slavs, were also ticketed for destruction. Some were brutally beaten, bludgeoned, burned, shot, tortured, starved, or worked to death. But over the long haul the Nazis found these "primitive" methods too inefficient and costly.
So the combination gas chamber-crematorium was developed as the "final solution." Everything was done on a production-line basis. The prisoners marched in, placed their clothes and belongings in orderly piles, and filed into the gas chambers. The executioners didn't have to witness the final few seconds of their victims' lives. It was all part of the neat, orderly wartime business of death.
In spite of the grim legacy of destruction, heartache and misery that was written during World War II, few if any nations seem to have learned anything from it. Since 1945 the world has yet to experience its first year of genuine peace. More than sixty full-fledged wars have dotted the globe since the Japanese signed the final surrender documents on the decks of the USS Missouri. And some, like the Indochina conflict, have continued almost nonstop ever since.
A Lesson Yet Unlearned
Today most countries that aren't actually involved in a war are in the process of busily arming themselves "just in case." Every year that passes seems to bring fresh impetus to the rapidly escalating arms race, as nations vie with one another in the military hardware marketplace.
After over 14,000 wars in the last five-and-a-half millennia of recorded history, one can't help but wonder if man has it within himself to bring genuine and lasting peace to this troubled earth. That question will be discussed in the next chapter.
[Photo Caption — SOLDIERS in trench in France during World War I — then called "the war to end all wars."]
[INSET — War, Disease and History]
War is often a harbinger of more than just violence and physical destruction. It often paves the way for rampant disease epidemics. History is replete with tragic examples.
According to Herodotus, plague probably cost Xerxes 300,000 men and a possible chance to conquer Greece during the Persian Wars. The rampaging Huns were also forced to abandon their advance on Constantinople in A.D. 425 because of an outbreak of some deadly pestilence.
During the Crusades, disease was often an army's deadliest enemy. A European army of 300,000 men was decimated by an epidemic in the campaigns of 1098 and 1099. Many of the remaining soldiers were forced to go it on foot because 7000 horses had expired as well.
Disease might have contributed more to Napoleon's real Waterloo than did the Duke of Wellington. Of the 25,000 men he sent to quell a revolt in Haiti in 1801, only 3000 returned. Most of the remaining 22,000 were felled by a deadly rash of yellow fever.
Disease was also the primary factor that led to Napoleon's debacle in Russia. Wracked by the harsh winter, bad water and lack of food, his troops came down with dysentery, typhus, and later pneumonia. When Napoleon began his infamous retreat from Moscow in 1812, only 80,000 men out of an original army of half a million were fit for combat.
During the Crimean War typhus and cholera laid the armies of both sides low. Of the 309,000 Frenchmen who were sent into combat, 150,000 were hospitalized by disease. A few decades later, 20 million cases of typhus broke out in Russia following the October 1917 revolution and ensuing civil war. When it was all over, two-and-a-half to three million Russians had perished.
It's no wonder, then, that in John's vision of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse the black horse of famine and the pale horse of pestilence come hard on the heels of the red horse of war.
Chapter Four — MAN’S FUTILE SEARCH FOR PEACE
In many ways the subject of peace has a lot in common with the weather. Everybody talks about it, but nobody knows what to do about it. But after World War I, things promised to be different, or at least so men thought.
In 1928 sixty-two nations ratified the Kellogg-Briand peace pact. This treaty did something unprecedented in the annals of world diplomacy — it "outlawed" war. Hopes ran high during this heady post-war era. President Calvin Coolidge publicly proclaimed: "It [the Kellogg-Briand Pact] holds a greater hope for peaceful relations than was ever before given to the world."
The League of Nations also came into being as another important deterrent to war. In theory and on paper the League worked fine. But its performance under fire left a lot to be desired. In June 1936 Haile Selassie made an impassioned plea for help as Mussolini's Black Shirts overran his borders. He was greeted by jeers and catcalls from the Italian journalists sitting in the League's press box. The Japanese delegation walked out in protest. And the League stood passively by while Mussolini carved out his new Roman Empire in the deserts of Ethiopia. End of peace and finis for the League.
The World's Last Hope?
World War II failed to dampen men's desire for a world peace-keeping organization. During the waning days of the war, delegates from around the globe gathered in San Francisco for the first charter meeting of the United Nations. Again statesmen were optimistic. Speaking of the newly ratified U.N. charter, U.S. Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius exclaimed, "With it now rests our hope for good and lasting peace."
Hope springs eternal, but it doesn't always make for a lasting peace. Diplomats discovered this dismal truth as a chilling climate of cold war spread over the globe. All the while the old national, racial and ideological animosities continued to smolder and burn.
Some twenty years and fifty wars later, most of the hopes for an era of world peace under the auspices of the U.N. had vanished. Richard C. Hottelet, a veteran U.N. analyst writing in the Saturday Review, summed up the situation at that time as follows: "Politically the U.N. appears to have been reduced to a state of impotence or at very least, to a condition in which it can act only in occasional, auspicious concatenations of circumstance. Wishful hopes at its birth that the U.N. might be the key to the millennium of peace were dashed all too soon."
But worse was yet to come. In 1972 the Palestine Liberation Organization capped off a wave of worldwide terror by brutally massacring eleven Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympic Games. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim urged that the U.N. address this volatile issue. Certainly, in the face of the senseless slaughter of innocent victims, this seemed the least it could do.
But Waldheim's original resolution didn't stand a chance. Arab delegates, with the help of other Afro-Asian representatives, effectively blocked it at every turn. Even compromise measures were voted down. In the face of such tenacious opposition it was impossible to even bring the issue up for debate in the General Assembly, much less do anything about it.
After days of wrangling over the issue, a frustrated U.S. ambassador to the U.N., George Bush, made the following penetrating statement: "If the nations of the world here assembled in general session cannot debate the pressing global problems of the day and seek their solution, what can we do? What purpose do we serve here?" And when it was all over, Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah referred to the defeat of the resolution by committee vote as "a further indication that the United Nations have reached a point of virtual incapacity to deal seriously and constructively with principal problems which today confront the international community."
The Limits of Nations
Hobbled by a powerful and vocal bloc of Afro-Asian nations, the U.N. sunk to even lower depths in the following years. It invited one of the architects of the Munich atrocity, Yasser Arafat, to speak before the General Assembly — and not as just any run-of-the-mill speaker, but as a head of state. Arafat's exalted visit has to stand as the supreme irony for a body supposedly saddled with the responsibility of promoting world peace. But to some observers the abject failure of the U.N. hardly came as a surprise.
Secretary General Kurt Waldheim explained why: "You must not expect the United Nations to accomplish miracles. We are made up of sovereign nations. We can only accomplish what our member nations allow us to accomplish."
Therein lies the root of the dilemma. No world body composed of a disjointed, divided and discordant group of sovereign nations can ever hope to achieve anything meaningful in the way of lasting peace. Hans Morgenthau, writing in Politics Among Nations, sheds further light on this perplexing problem: "The overwhelming majority would put what they regard as the welfare of their own nation above everything else, the interests of a world state included. In other words, the peoples of the world are not willing to accept world government, and their over-riding loyalty to the nation erects an insurmountable obstacle to its establishment."
Loyalty to a nation above all else has not only been one of the basic causes of war throughout history, but also is a major roadblock to peace. As Norman Cousins put it: "The nations have insisted on retaining for themselves ultimate authority in matters of security. They want the right to possess greater physical force than they are willing to invest in the organization charged with the maintenance of world peace. They have provided no specific or adequate machinery to prevent aggression" (In Place of Folly, p. 114).
[Photo Caption — DESPITE efforts at detente throughout history, lasting peace has not been achieved.]
[Photo Caption — UNITED NATIONS Security Council. Despite efforts of the U.N., over sixty wars have been fought since World War II.
A Man-Made Muddle
Even apart from the national sovereignty question, world government in the hands of man would be nothing short of mind-boggling. For instance, who or what decides who is in charge? Would four billion human beings cast ballots in a worldwide election? Or would the old "might-makes-right" formula come into play once again?
Would the type of government used be democratic, totalitarian, communistic, or capitalistic? Under what system of laws or mores would such a body operate? Would it be Mao's little red book? The Koran? Marxist theory? Or Roman Catholic dogma? And even if there were some type of international consensus on various issues, that consensus or majority would be very, very fallible.
Before any nation would bow the knee to such a world-ruling institution, an inordinate amount of power would have to be concentrated in the hands of a very few human beings — power that would lead to the establishment of a totalitarian state of the worst magnitude. As the Wall Street Journal put it some years ago: "It follows that for a world government to be effective, it would have to possess powers of compulsion undreamed-of in history's worst nightmares.... No matter who were the magistrates of the world-state, they would have to trample on so many national and individual aspirations and attitudes, would have to deploy such an army of enforcers, that the most probable upshot would be a police-state on a colossal scale..." (Wall Street Journal editorials, November 14, 1963 and September 14, 1965).
Obviously man's approach to the question of peace leaves much to be desired. Nothing in his limited repertoire of feeble solutions has even come close to addressing the fundamental causes of the world's continuous wars.
Millennia ago, the prophets of Israel saw the same failing in the people of their day. Jeremiah wrote: "They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14). Isaiah was even more emphatic: "The way of peace they know not" (Isa. 59:8). Perhaps Robert J. Donovan, associate editor for the Los Angeles Times, was voicing similar sentiments when he recently commented: "Thirty years after D-Day, it is clear that mankind has not yet found the key to peace, if there is such a thing."
A Long-Overlooked Solution
Fortunately there is such a thing as a "key to peace," but most men have been unwilling or unable to recognize it. President Luis Echeverria of Mexico put his finger on the problem when he recently observed: "Nuclear arms are a preparation for war, and I don't believe that anyone, objectively speaking, can believe that atomic equilibrium is going to assure peace indefinitely. Only a new conscience can achieve that."
General Douglas MacArthur, speaking shortly after the Japanese surrender in Tokyo harbor, put it this way: "The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past 2,000 years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh" (Reminiscences, p. 459).
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram also put the problem of world peace in proper perspective in a 1965 editorial: "The beating of swords into plowshares throughout the world is a laudable objective, and one whose pursuit we would in nowise seek to discourage. But in all realism its achievement will require the shaping of fairly unmalleable human nature into a different and more responsive pattern."
And the apostle James also got right to the heart of the matter in the fourth chapter of his epistle: "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" (James 4:1-2).
Man's nature lies at the heart of the world's war-and-peace problems. The only way it can be changed is by a process of conversion that was described by the apostle Peter in the third chapter of the book of Acts: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Peter wasn't talking about mere penance or a momentary religious experience, but the real thing. Conversion, by God's standards, requires the total change of repentance (of breaking God's laws), baptism, and the receiving of God's Spirit (see Acts 2:38; 5:32; Rom. 8:7-9). But under present world conditions the average man in the street or the average head of state is not about to voluntarily make such a radical about-face. As Sir Bertrand Russell once wrote: "Some people pin their hopes to a universal change of heart. Certainly this would prevent war, if it happened, but I do not see the rulers of the U.S.S.R. adopting the principles of the Sermon on the Mount in any near future."
Therein lies the problem with man's present system of government. No self-respecting head of state could make such an abrupt departure from the traditional standards of power politics and hope to remain in office. To turn the national cheek and trust God for protection would be out of the question as far as the vast majority of world leaders are concerned.
That's why the present system of man's government can never achieve a state of permanent peace. As Erich Fromm put it: " 'Sadism will disappear when exploitative control of any class, sex, or minority group has been done away with.' This can be done 'only if the whole [social and political] system as it has existed during the last 6,000 years of history can be replaced by a fundamentally different one' " (Time, January 7, 1974).
The question is how and when? "Can such a new approach become operative in time to liberate man from war itself?" Lewis Mumford asks. "Admittedly it may take an all-but-fatal shock treatment, close to catastrophe, to break the hold of civilized man's chronic neurosis. Even such a belated awakening would be a miracle" (Saturday Evening Post, April 18, 1959).
Just such a miracle will be discussed in the final chapter.
[Photo Caption — "WE SHALL beat our swords into plowshares" — statue near United Nations building]
[INSET — Needed to Abolish War — World Government]
Winston Churchill: "Unless some effective world supergovernment can be brought quickly into action, the proposals for peace and human progress are dark and doubtful."
Albert Einstein: "In the light of new knowledge, a world authority and an eventual world state are not just desirable in the name of brotherhood, they are necessary for survival."
Dr. Charles E. Osgood of the University of Illinois: "What we need, and that most urgently, is an enlivened search for new alternatives to war as a means of resolving human conflicts. A world government may be the only permanent solution.
Julian Huxley: "One of the factors which makes war more possible is unrestricted national sovereignty. If we want to reduce war from the status of a likely to an unlikely phenomenon, we must not abolish nationhood by any means, but subordinate it to world sovereignty."
Dr. Edward Teller: "International law hardly exists today. Yet it is one of our most vital needs... We must work for the establishment of a world authority sustained by moral force and physical force — a world government capable of enforcing worldwide law."
Earl Attlee, former Prime Minister of Britain: "Some rule of international law in the world is necessary if we are not to perish."'
Professor Joseph Rotblat, Polish-born physicist who helped develop the first atomic bomb: "Some sort of world authority must be found. I can't see any other way of the world surviving."
Harold C. Urey, nuclear physicist: "There is no solution [to disarmament] except world government."
Barbara Ward: "Undiluted national sovereignty is no longer an efficient or sufficient instrument of government."
Chapter Five — THE WAR THAT COULD END IT ALL
Where is it all going to end? That was the question the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ posed in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. Christ's answer, known as the Olivet Prophecy, is quite revealing. "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars," Christ said, referring to one of the prophetic signals that would herald the end of an age (verse 6).
Certainly there have always been wars. And certainly Christ's words had particular meaning for that day and age. Within a few short decades Roman legions under the command of Titus sacked, burned and pillaged the city of Jerusalem.
But Jesus' warning about war was also applicable to another period in history. In the book of Revelation, Christ, speaking through the apostle John, amplified some of His previous prophetic statements. In the sixth chapter, John writes: "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" (Rev. 6:4).
John was not speaking about the fall of Jerusalem. That war was already some twenty years behind him. John was referring to future events that would bring 6000 years of human history crashing to a cataclysmic close.
The context of the book of Revelation alone demonstrates this. In chapter 9, verse 16, John writes of an army of 200 million men. There were barely that many men, women and children on earth in the days of Christ or the apostle John. Until the nineteenth century it would have been impossible to field an army this big, even if all the nations of the world had pooled their manpower resources.
During the height of World War II the combined armies of both Allied and Axis forces were only a fraction of this total.
So John is referring to a time yet ahead of us when "peaceful coexistence" will be a thing of the past. But specifically what is it that leads to this intensified period of global wars and conflicts?
In the twelfth chapter of Revelation, John gets right to the heart of the problem. He describes the fall of a great archangel, Satan the Devil: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Rev. 12:7-9).
A Demonic War Maker
This is the same great being who took peace from the earth back in the Garden of Eden. This is the same Satan who had a face-to-face confrontation with Jesus Christ over the eventual rulership of the world. In that particular encounter the devil offered Christ rulership of "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them" (Matt. 4:8). Satan had them to offer and Christ didn't dispute that fact.
It is this super archangel known as "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2) who stands as the power behind every national throne (see Dan. 10:12-13). He has been responsible for the war-making machinations that have gone on in virtually every world capital since the beginning of recorded history. But this time he pulls out all stops. Satan with his great perverted intellect can read the signs of the times. He knows that his six-thousand-year-old world dynasty is almost over, and he's not about to give it up without a titanic struggle.
That means things are going to get extremely hot for the inhabitants of this world. As John writes: "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time" (Rev. 12:12).
But that's only the beginning of the devil's desperate eleventh-hour campaign. The following chapter continues the narrative of John: "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.... And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (Rev. 13:1, 4.)
Satan's last-ditch stand centers around his favorite instrument of destruction — a revitalized Roman Empire. It is the same system described in the seventh chapter of Daniel, now raising its ugly head for one final fling at world power. Like the ancient empires of old, this one will also be centered around the familiar church-state partnership with the nation, the ruler, and the governing system held in idolatrous esteem (Rev. 13:11-15).
Once it decides to wage war, virtually nothing will stand in the way of this gigantic military juggernaut. Like its predecessors, it will quickly roll up an impressive string of military victories with lightning-like thrusts, this time in the Middle East. Speaking of this yet-future campaign, the prophet Daniel wrote: "And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land [Palestine], and many countries shall be overthrown.... But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many" (Dan. 11:40, 41, 44).
A Decidedly Unconventional War
Even more terrifying is the way these wars will be fought. Again the apostle John paints a grisly picture in the ninth chapter of Revelation: "And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.... And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months" (Rev. 9:3, 7-10).
Could John have been poetically referring to modern-day weapons such as jets, rockets, or missiles? Why would men be tormented and not die? Could they be suffering from radiation sickness or the effects of germ warfare? What John was referring to is almost impossible to ascertain — but it certainly wasn't normal, conventional warfare.
Whatever it was, it was only the beginning of man's future wartime woes. Using stark apocalyptic language, John goes on to describe a massive army of 200 million men in verse 17: "And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone."
Notice the awesome toll these weapons take: "By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths" (verse 18).
Could the lethal smoke John describes be radioactive fallout from future nuclear weapons? And could the fire be the thermal radiation effect? Again, all we can do at this point is speculate on what could happen. But the end results speak for themselves — one third of all humanity dead.
Joel likewise graphically portrays an unprecedented period of chaos and war. "...There hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in the battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness" (Joel 2:2-6).
It's no wonder that Jeremiah, in referring to these tumultuous times, stated: "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble..." (Jer. 30:7).
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." And were this military madness allowed to continue on to its final bitter conclusion, Christ went on to say that "there should no flesh be saved [Moffatt adds 'saved alive']: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:21, 22)
VIEW of Jerusalem (Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock in foreground) as seen from the Mount of Olives. Headquarters for Christ's world-ruling government will be in Jerusalem.
The Last Great Battle
Unless God put a sudden stop to man's misguided activities, Christ plainly states there would be no hope for the survival of the human race.
God's dramatic, eleventh-hour intervention in world affairs does not come without warning. It is announced by the blowing of the seventh trump in Revelation 11:15: "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever." After 6000 years of human misrule, world power is finally restored to its rightful owner — Jesus Christ of Nazareth. At one stroke this event removes one of the basic factors that has led men to war throughout all of recorded history. It means the final end of divisive, petty, narrow-minded national sovereignty. It means the beginning of the end for human misrule, intolerance and misunderstanding. Here at long last is the real way to peace mankind has rejected.
You would think with this monumental announcement the nations of the world would throw down their arms, shout hallelujah, and receive Christ with open arms. At long last here is the peaceful solution they have desperately needed, but haven't been able to find. But nothing of the kind — they do just the opposite. "And the nations were angry" (Rev. 11:18). Satan the Devil is angry. He knows he's about to lose his cherished seat of power. He figures his only recourse is to fight God. So he gathers his forces for one final all-out battle with the returning Jesus Christ. Again John writes: "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils [demons], working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.... And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (Rev. 16:13-16).
[Photo Caption — KIDRON VALLEY (near Jerusalem), over which many battles have been fought.]
[Photo Caption — IN BIBLICAL symbolism, locusts apparently represent modern mechanized warfare.]
The Battle of Armageddon
The location for this last climactic battle will apparently be well-chosen for its strategic value. Armageddon, or the "mount of Megiddo," sits astride three important mountain passes that allow for quick access across the length and breadth of Palestine. It was at Megiddo that Josiah was slain attempting to block passage of Pharaoh Necho of Egypt northward to fight the Babylonians. Gideon and Barak won impressive battles here during the period of the Judges. And General Allenby's forces surprised the Turkish armies at Megiddo in 1918.
But this time there is no real contest. John records in Revelation 19:19 and 17:14: "And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse [Christ], and against his army.... and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings...."
Other prophets described the battle in more graphic detail. Zechariah, for instance, states: "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.... And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth" (Zech. 14:2, 12).
At the same time, Jesus Christ will put a final end to the power-hungry church-state system that has wracked the world with war for 6000 years. John records this earthshaking event in the fourteenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation. It's interesting that in speaking of this resurrected system John writes: "And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth" (Rev. 18:24).
Peace at Last
Jesus Christ will then go about the business of establishing real world peace. With Satan the Devil bound (Rev. 20:2), his destructive church-state combine out of the way, and with the nations no longer governed by fallible men, remarkable things will begin to happen. Isaiah writes: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain [government] of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isa. 2:2-4; see also Micah 4:14).
For the first time the vast majority of people will learn what it means to live according to God's laws. No longer will they be motivated to fight and quarrel, but will learn to love their fellowman. There it is — the final solution to war.
For the sake of all humanity, the sooner it arrives the better.