Will there ever be and end to war?
November 11th 2018 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the ending of World War One. It had been confidently anticipated that the conflict would be over by the Christmas of 1914. Instead, it dragged on for over four years and proved to be by far the bloodiest conflict in human history to that point. By war’s end between eight and ten million military personnel had died.
They called it ‘the war to end all wars’. Surely such a conflict could never happen again! Less than twenty years later, however, and as a direct consequence of the earlier war, a second world war broke out. By the time it had finished in 1945, military deaths amounted to between twenty two and twenty five million, with estimated civilian deaths of between thirty eight and fifty five million.
Mercifully, there has been nothing on that kind of scale since. But wars have continued to be waged and are being waged to this day. There is conflict in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Yemen, and in Iraq (and that list is by no means exhaustive). People are being killed every day, millions have had to flee their homes, the suffering and loss are beyond all calculation.
The question asked in the title of this article, ‘Will there ever be an end to war?’, must first of all be answered negatively. For as long as Satan is loose and human hearts are wicked people will wage war. Right up to the end, to the day when Christ returns in power and glory to fully establish his kingdom, we must expect there to be conflicts in our world, and with them terrible atrocities. There will always be aggressors. It will always be necessary for some people to fight in their own defense. God, the righteous judge of nations, will continue to use war as a scourge.
But the end that Christ’s return will bring will not be the end of everything. Far from it. “According to God’s promise”, writes the Apostle Peter, “we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”. And when that promise is fulfilled (as it will be when Christ comes back) things will be radically and permanently different as far as war is concerned. From that day on, and forever, there will be no more war.
Seem like an idle dream? It will nevertheless come true. And here is why. From the hearts of all the citizens of the new world the last vestiges of badness will have been removed. The wicked who have rejected God will also be gone. So too Satan. Christ himself will reign in person over a wholly renovated world. It will at last, for all these reasons, be the scene of universal and eternal peace.
The end of all war then is ahead. It is the promise of God. The vision of the Apostle John of a world in which there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev.21.4) is destined to be wonderfully realized.
Let me appeal to believers in Jesus who are reading this to bring it to the Lord in prayer. What should we pray for? Pray that victims of war will come, through Christ, to have this hope. Pray that suffering Christians will know the comfort of it. And pray, above all, for God to hasten the fulfilment of it through sending Christ the King. It was the prayer of the first Christians, “O Lord, come!” Let it be ours as well.