Bible Study Tools / Feast Of Trumpets

Christ's Return: Ending the Ravage of War

by Charles Desgrosseilliers

Can humanity ever do more than just dream of universal peace on this planet they inhabit? The absence of warfare and associated suffering is what most of the estimated 6.5 billion citizens of the earth today want. The majority would welcome the fulfillment of Isaiah 4:4:“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Before we embrace the abolishing of armed conflict pictured by the Festival of Trumpets, a penetrating look at the effect of war can help strengthen our resolve against it.

One constant in our lifetime is that war is part of every single year. The death toll from wars in just the last century is estimated to be in excess of 216,000,000. The human suffering for war survivors is incomprehensible… and still human beings fight on. Man’s ever more deadly conflicts have brought us such terms as “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “crimes against humanity,” “shock and awe,” “weapons of mass destruction,” “terrorism,” and “post traumatic stress disorder.” They all translate to agony and anguish for too many inhabitants of our planet.

Modern war has evolved from the stereotypical confrontation of battle-trained “knights” meeting in a clear battlefield setting to defend the honor of their country, or their leader or a cause, to being most often fought in densely populated “residential” areas. More and more the dead and other casualties are unarmed civilian “bystanders.” Women, children and the elderly have comprised a high proportion of the victims of war since 1945. In their book, Crimes of War, What the Public Should Know, Gutman and Rief make the following statement: “In World War I, nine soldiers were killed for every civilian life lost. In today’s wars, it is estimated that ten civilians die for every soldier or fighter killed in battle.”

Dr. Paul Grossrieder, onetime Director of General Affairs, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), detailed some of the horrors of war upon civilian populations in his public lecture presented at Lancaster University on 13th July, 2002: “How can any sense be made of the 24 million people displaced within their own countries, or of the 18 million forced to flee to foreign lands… According to a survey carried out by the ICRC in a dozen countries, more and more wars are being fought against civilians, especially unarmed civilians.”

Dr. Grossrieder spoke of the restriction of civilian movement due to landmines, military roadblocks and snipers making the acquisition of food and water exceedingly dangerous. According to his information, women were especially exposed to these and other dangers as they were expected to perform tasks traditionally falling to men, such as farming and conducting business. One profound conclusion he makes is that the worst consequences of war are connected with the break-up of the family and the collapse of the educational system.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), which asserts a claim to be the largest human rights group based in the United States, offers a synopsis of child soldiering as follows: “In dozens of countries around the world, children have become direct participants in war. Denied a childhood and often subjected to horrific violence, some 300,000 children are serving as soldiers in current armed conflicts.

These young combatants participate in all aspects of contemporary warfare. They wield AK47s and M-16s on the front lines of combat, serve as human mine detectors, participate in suicide missions, carry supplies, and act as spies, messengers or lookouts.”

HRW concludes that the recruitment and use of child soldiers cannot produce any future good for them or their societies of origin: “Because of their immaturity and lack of experience, child soldiers suffer higher casualties than their adult counterparts. Even after the conflict is over, they may be left physically disabled or psychologically traumatized. Frequently denied an education or the opportunity to learn civilian job skills, many find it difficult to rejoin society. Schooled only in war, former child soldiers are often drawn into crime or become easy prey for future recruitment.”

Long after wars have been fought, people, and especially children, have to deal with the dangerous remnants of battle. Conservative estimates place the worldwide number of landmines waiting for detonation in war zones or former war zones to be over 90,000,000. Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) maintains that landmines kill or maim approximately 26,000 civilians every year.

UNICEF calculates that 30 to 40% of all landmine victims are under the age of 15, and that mines kill and mutilate between 8,000 and 10,000 children annually. The toll of war on human beings must include the psychological effects of personal or indirect suffering. Dr. Grossrieder in his lecture cited examples of “psycho-social suffering”: “In Mozambique, 44% of women have witnessed a murder, 25% have been separated from their children and 30% have been tortured. Men, women and children who have experienced war suffer among other things from the deep personal wounds resulting from the loss of family members or friends, and of personal objects and sources of income, the impact of which generally cannot be measured in strict economic terms. For such people, life can lose all meaning, and beliefs and ideals can be called into question. The survivors may feel guilty that they have survived or suffer from not having done more to prevent acts of violence against others. All this can cause unbearable trauma.”

An increasing number of American military personnel returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq cannot shake the effects of what they have experienced.

From an article by M.L. Lyke, (August 27, 2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer), a young Marine reservist who served in Iraq is interviewed: “If a battle scene from Iraq rolls on the TV news, he freezes. ‘I know that I should change the channel, get away, but I can’t move.” Pictures of Iraq wind and rewind in his mind. “It’s a complicated past, tied to an unreadable future. ‘I just don’t want all of it to be for nothing. This took a big chunk of my life away – and I want it to count for something.’ There is a heavy price to pay for even the most prosperous of nations that become embroiled in armed conflicts. Ron Paul of Texas before the U.S. House of Representatives offered this assessment in a speech on June 14, 2005: “The cost of war is always more than anticipated. If all costs were known prior to the beginning of a war, fewer wars would be fought.” Other observations Mr. Paul made were about the negative economic effects of war. “Just when human tragedy becomes evident to the majority of citizens, other costs become noticeable. Taxes are raised, deficits explode, inflation raises its ugly head and the standard of living of the average citizen is threatened.”

As terrible as war has been in the modern age, and in our immediate future, the good news is that Christ’s return will end it forever!

No more unparalleled human suffering through warfare! The Messiah and His armies return to vanquish the enemies of God, those who hate their fellow man and those who harm the earth. Finally there is universal peace on earth and nation will no longer lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore!

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