Peace Through Christ’s Kingdom

“Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.” —Isaiah 9:7

WARS have long plagued the human race. The history of the world has been written in human blood. Wars increase, both in the number of people involved and in their power to destroy. In this space age there is real cause to fear the destruction that would result from another world war. Will there ever be peace?

Universal and lasting peace will ultimately be established in the earth, but it will not come by human efforts, nor will it be induced by mutual fear of destruction or by armament races. It will be established by the kingdom of Christ, and the kingdom of Christ will be a worldwide government that will exercise actual control in the affairs of men. Those who believe the promises of the Bible pertaining to the coming of Christ’s kingdom can look to the future with solid hope and blessed assurance.

The Bible says that “the desire of all nations shall come” (Hag. 2:7), and we know that fundamentally all nations of the earth desire peace. However, even in connection with the prophecies of the Bible there is misunderstanding. Some quote Jesus’ statement that there shall be “wars and rumors of wars” and add to it his words, “then shall the end come,” as proof that wars will continue on this earth until the “world” comes to an end, which to these students means the destruction of the literal earth and the end of all human experience.—Matt. 24:6,14

When Jesus spoke of “wars and rumors of wars,” it was in answer to a question his disciples asked pertaining to the time of his return and the end of the age. “What shall be the sign of thy coming,” they asked, “and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3) The King James Version translation of the disciples’ question is misleading, for it mistranslated the Greek words parousia and aion used in the text. With these words properly translated, the question is, “What shall be the sign of thy presence, and of the end of the age?”

When Jesus said that there would be “wars and rumors of wars,” after which the end would come, he simply meant that the interim between his first and second advents would be characterized by intermittent wars and that this would continue right down to the end of the age. But he did not mean that the end of the age would mean the destruction of the earth or the end of all human experience on the earth; for, as the prophecies of the Bible point out, the end of the age of “wars and rumors of wars” marks the beginning of a new age, the age during which Christ’s kingdom will be the controlling factor in the affairs of men. And, as our text declares, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”

Human Efforts Fail

While the whole world longs for peace, most people, even Christians, think that the only peace that will ever be realized will come as the result of human efforts. And, of course, many sincere efforts are being made to bring peace to the world. The hope of those promoting these efforts is that the uneasy peace of today will be transformed into a permanent peace tomorrow.

Years ago Sir Winston Churchill used the expression “peace by mutual fear.” His idea was that we should build up a great stockpile of munitions and that the other great nations should do the same. Thus, with all the nations realizing the terrible destruction that would be wrought by war, there would be a stalemate of fear, resulting in peace. This was Sir Winston’s theory of “peace by mutual fear.”

Actually, of course, peace by mutual fear was not a new idea. This idea had been utilized throughout the centuries. It was merely that Sir Winston dressed it in different phraseology. Peace through mutual fear is merely another way of saying “peace through a balance of power.” Many will remember the “Munich crisis” of 1938, when the Four Power Pact was formed, and Neville Chamberlain, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, flew back to England from Munich and, waving a peace document in the air as he alighted from his plane, announced that peace had been saved for our time. This new pact was but a new balancing of power with the age-old belief that one alliance of nations would be afraid to attack the other.

But this “fear pact” did not save the peace for our time, as Mr. Chamberlain had so enthusiastically announced. Within a year the much feared Second World War broke out in all its fury, leading to the destruction of great cities and terrible blood-letting throughout Europe and much of Asia and the Orient. The fear of war did not prevent the outbreak of war. It never has, and it never will!

Another vague hope for peace arises from the delaying action brought about by the great armament race that is presently proceeding, at stupendous cost, between the United States and the Soviet Union. Thus far this is causing a stalemate, due to the fact that neither of the great powers on the opposite sides of the Iron Curtain can be quite sure that it has a clear superiority in arms—whether hydrogen bombs, ballistic missiles, or other highly sophisticated weapons. But, again, the people of the world are being lulled into a false sense of security. Armament races have always led to war.

For a time after the formation of the United Nations Organization more than thirty years ago, there was the hope that it would in some manner find a way to true peace. Indeed, the United Nations was formed for the very purpose of maintaining peace. Posted at the UN headquarters, for all to see, is the scripture text: “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.”—Mic. 4:1-4

It was hoped, of course, that through the exercise of its influence for good, the United Nations Organization could make the nations of the world see the advantages of not going to war. The purpose of the UN is good and the motive sincere. Certainly the United Nations is, in certain areas of human relationship, accomplishing a great deal of good. It is helping to build up some of the underprivileged nations of the earth, especially in the fields of medicine and hygiene, and in other areas that contribute to human well-being and happiness. But can the UN keep peace? The fact is that since its formation there have been major wars in various parts of the world—in Korea, in Southeast Asia, in the Mid East, in Africa.

In the matter of political maneuvering of the great nations of earth, the UN has proved itself to be almost without power. The veto in the Security Council means that atheistic Russia can prevent what other nations may wish to accomplish toward peace through the United Nations. This means that the real moves on the international diplomatic checkerboard are being made outside of the UN. And outside of this world organization there is also NATO—the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—and the Warsaw Pact. These, again, are simply manifestations of the old “peace through fear” policy, and they cannot, and will not, in the long run, prevent war.

The lesson of history is that armament races and balances of power do not prevent war. With fallen human selfishness dictating the policies of nations, the only hope for true and lasting peace is in the establishment in the earth of an authority powerful enough to impose laws of justice and righteousness that transcend the petty jealousies and selfish ambitions of individual nations. Such an authority cannot stem from any existing nation or government of earth. Only the kingdom of God is capable of exercising such an authority and of executing justice and righteousness in all the earth.—Zech. 14:9

But in this connection many earnest students of the Bible have failed to realize that in the outworking of the divine plan for the blessing of mankind there is to be an actual government of righteousness established in the earth. Solomon wrote, “The earth abideth forever.” (Eccles. 1:4) The Prophet Isaiah also stated: “God himself … formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” (Isa. 45:18) And this government that will be established in the earth will be one that will effectively rule the nations and assure peace and happiness to all mankind.

But despite all the marvelous references in both the Old and New Testaments to this kingdom that is to rule from “sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth” (Ps. 72:8), many insist that God’s kingdom is merely a righteous spirit, or disposition, in the hearts of individuals. This false concept of the kingdom is based on the expression, “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) These are purported to be the words of Jesus. But they are a faulty translation of what he actually said. The Pharisees had asked Jesus “when the kingdom of God should come.” Replying, he said, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [marginal translation reads, ‘with outward show’]: neither shall they say, Lo here! or to there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you [marginal translation reads, ‘among you’].”—Luke 17:20,21

A more exact translation of this statement would be, “The King is among you.” This brings it into harmony with the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees. The Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the great King of the Old Testament prophecies. From their standpoint, how could he set up a kingdom in opposition to Rome, liberate Israel, and extend peace and joy to all nations? He had no army. His friends were not people of importance. What could embarrass him more than to ask him just when he expected to set up his kingdom?

Jesus knew what was in their hearts and answered accordingly. The kingdom of God, he explained, was not to come into power in the manner of other kingdoms or governments. There would be no outward show—no armies, no wars of conquest, and no display of armaments. As a matter of fact, as he pointed out, the King to be in this kingdom was even then in their midst, although they refused to believe it. Jesus’ work at his first advent was related to his future kingdom, but no soldiers were needed to accomplish it.

On the face of it, the expression “The kingdom of God is within you” could not be true, for Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, whom he had styled hypocrites, whited sepulchres, children of the Devil. (Matt. 23:27; John 8:13,44) How could the kingdom of God be within them? It was not; and later Jesus cast them off from ever having any share in the rulership of his kingdom.

Not of This Order

Another of Jesus’ statements which has also been greatly misunderstood is the one he made to Pilate when he said: “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” (John 18:36) This has been taken by many to mean that all the promises of God pertaining to a kingdom are to be fulfilled in the experiences of Jesus’ followers when they die and go to heaven. After all, say these, the kingdom promised in the Bible has nothing to do with this world of sin, because Jesus said so.

The difficulty here lies in the translator’s use of the word “world” to translate the Greek word kosmos, which means an order, or arrangement, of things. What Jesus said was that his kingdom was not of this present order of society. The Bible reveals that there are three “worlds,” or social arrangements, in the plan of God. The kingdom social order is the one that follows the present evil one, of which Satan is the ruler. (II Cor. 4:4) The new righteous social order is to be ushered in subsequent to the return of Christ and following the destruction of this present evil world, or social order, during the day of the Lord (Jehovah). (II Pet. 3:7-13) It is then that Christ’s thousand-year kingdom is to be established in the earth. It is then that the “government shall be upon his shoulder.” It is then that the promise will be fulfilled, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”—Isa. 9:6,7

The disciples did not understand this at first, so Jesus related a parable to illustrate it—a parable concerning a certain nobleman (who represented himself) who went into a far country to receive a kingdom and to return. (Luke 19:12) In his introduction to this parable, Luke explains that Jesus related it because his disciples thought that his kingdom “should immediately appear.”—vs. 11

All of Jesus’ teachings were related directly or indirectly to God’s promised kingdom. They do not all pertain to the blessings that will reach mankind through the agencies of that kingdom. Many of them relate to various aspects of preparation for it. Jesus’ death as man’s Redeemer is in this category, for the divine plan is that the Messiah of promise was to rule, not over a dying race, but over a race redeemed from death, so that to each individual there could thus be offered, on conditions of obedience, the opportunity to live forever on this wonderful, restored Planet Earth.

Jesus will be the King of kings and Lord of lords in that righteous kingdom. But the footstep followers of Jesus are offered the opportunity of reigning with him if they are willing to suffer and die with him. (Rev. 19:16; II Tim. 2:11,12; Rev. 20:4,6) The Gospel call to those willing to accept these terms of discipleship has been going out during the entire age since the first advent, and this has been in preparation for the kingdom. Many of Jesus’ parables relate to this Gospel-Age work, being illustrative from one standpoint or another of the joys, blessings, difficulties, and trials of these “children of the kingdom.”—Matt. 13:38

Not understanding the plan of God, it would be easy to conclude that all the kingdom promises of the Bible relating thereto simply referred to the enjoyment of a home in heaven for all eternity; for there are many heavenly, or spiritual, promises associated with the theme of the kingdom. These heavenly promises, however, are to those called to be rulers in that kingdom, and not to its subjects, who, if obedient to the righteous laws of that kingdom, will gain everlasting life on earth. When Jesus, the “King of kings,” was raised from the dead, he was highly exalted to the divine nature, having given his flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51); and the promise is that those who will live and reign with him in his kingdom will be made like him, and share his heavenly home and nature.—John 14:2,3

These spiritual rulers in the kingdom of God will have human representatives. The religious rulers of Israel thought they were to represent God in his kingdom, and they could have, if they had qualified through humility and obedience. These were in line to be the “children of the kingdom”; but when the kingdom is established, they will discover that through unfaithfulness they forfeited the right to any official position therein. Jesus explained this, saying, “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.”—Luke 13:28,29

The expression “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is descriptive of the chagrin and disappointment to be experienced by those who, while once in line to be used in the kingdom, find, when they are raised from the dead, that this desired position is occupied by “Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets,” who will also then be raised from the dead, in what the Apostle Paul speaks of as a “better resurrection.”—Heb. 11:35,40

These restored worthies of the ancient past are prophetically referred to in Psalm 45:16 as those who will be made “princes in all the earth.” We might speak of them as the earthly phase of Christ’s kingdom, which will represent and operate in conjunction with its spiritual phase, to be made up of the glorified Jesus and his faithful followers, who, in the “first resurrection,” are exalted to live and reign with him.

These two phases of the kingdom of Christ are symbolically described in Micah 4:1-4 as “Zion,” the spiritual, and “Jerusalem,” the human, or earthly. This prophecy also refers to Jesus and his followers, the “sons of God,” as the ruling “house of the Lord,” symbolized in this prophecy as the “mountain” (kingdom) of the Lord. The prophecy reads:

“In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills [controlling all nations, large and small]; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the Law shall go forth of Zion, and word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”

Thus will peace come to mankind through Christ’s world government. It will not be a peace through mutual fear but a peace so complete and enduring that there will be freedom from fear—for “none shall make them afraid.” But peace alone, even peace with economic security, as symbolized in this prophecy by the idea of dwelling under vine and fig tree, would not be wholly satisfactory. Even with these much desired and much sought after blessings attained, there would still be sickness and death. However, another Old Testament prophecy in which a mountain is used to symbolize Christ’s kingdom, assures us that even death is to be destroyed. We quote:

In this mountain [kingdom] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined, And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering [symbolic of superstition and ignorance of the true God] cast over all people, and the yell that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”—Isa. 25:6-9

What more could be asked? And how apparent it is that these inspiring kingdom promises mean more, so much more, than merely a righteous sentiment in the hearts of individuals—that they describe a literal and genuine government, which will rule the world in righteousness (Ps. 72:2), bringing peace and health and life to all mankind! It will be the rulership of this government that will bring the answer to the Christian’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
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