Peace On Earth?
The holiday time of the year is filled with greeting cards that people send to family and friends. Typically, they have tranquil scenes, often with some snow on the front cover or they will have a Nativity scene showing the wise men with their gifts as well as some shepherds at the manger. Very often the cards will say, “Peace on Earth,” as did the one I got in the mail. Inside it said something about glad tidings, joy and peace on Earth at Christmas. But in looking at the past few years in particular, our world has been filled with wars in December ... Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Yemen as well as a long list on ongoing armed conflicts. [Wars and Conflicts]. In fact, after 2000 years of Christianity, we'd be hard pressed to find true peace anywhere on planet Earth. What's going on, then?
Was Christ lying? Did Christ come to bring “Peace on Earth” as these greeting cards and many in the ministry joyously proclaim every December, or not? Well, seeing as how this sentiment is attributed to Christ, let’s read what he said. In Luke 12, we read, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on Earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.” Then in Matthew 10, Christ said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Three times in two verses Christ said he didn't come to bring peace on Earth. And both verses are references to his first coming. And we should not forget that "The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name." [Exd. 15:3]. And in Joel, " ... the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executes his word ...." [Joel 2:11].
Well, Christ is very clear that not only did he not come to bring peace, he came to take it away. How in the world does Christianity claim something so contrary to the word of Christ? And it's obvious that Christ is correct, not Christianity. Therefore, it's starkly apparent, Christ and Christians have two very different perspectives about his first century purposes. Christmas cards and our pastors say peace on Earth. Christ says no peace. Who are we going to believe? Of course, all we need do is watch the news or read the headlines daily to see, that indeed, we don’t have, and haven’t had peace on Earth, particularly in the Middle East. Just maybe Christ knew what he was talking about?
Initially, Christ brought division amongst the Jewish establishment as John relates in his chapters seven through ten. Today the House of Judah and the House of Israel remain divided as Paul explains in Romans eleven. And regarding Luke’s account about division, Christ said, “Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
So not only was Christ being truthful about his bringing division, he gave specific examples. All we need do is ask ourselves, "Has the Christian religion caused division and strife in families?" You bet. And on top of this, today, there are more than 30,000 recognized Christian denominations according to the various sources who track these things. [30K Plus]. One message from the first century has fractured into more than 30,000 versions. I believe this qualifies as division just as Christ said.
But what about Christ saying he came not to bring peace, but a sword? Let’s take a look at Revelation 6. “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder … When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see. Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the Earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.” [Rev. 6:1-4].
Wow. Christ was right again. The Lamb here in Revelation 6 is Christ. See John 1:29. Christ took peace away from the Earth that people should kill one another. This sounds nothing like Christianity's message to the world. However, it's all part of our daily headlines, the great tribulation that occurs between Christ's first coming and the second. It's obvious, this is not the Christ of Christmas cards. This is not the image we have of “baby Jesus” every December. But he is the first century Christ he said he would be, and what we read about in the prophecies. What Christ said is extremely relevant to our lives today in the 21st century as it has been for Christians from the first century forward. It's just that we aren't listening.
The opening of the second seal, as with all of the first five seals in Revelation 6, is not a future reference to his second coming as many mistakenly assume. They were opened by Christ after his resurrection in the first century. In the book of Mark, Christ was on the mount of Olives talking with Peter, James, John and Andrew telling them they shall hear, in the first century, of wars and rumor of wars, but not to be troubled, for such things must be, but this is not the end, but the beginnings of sorrows. The word for sorrows here is odin in Greek and refers to the pain of childbirth. The implication being that mankind will travail in pain and sorrow until the kingdom of God is established, i.e., born, on Earth. The time between Christ's first coming and his return is the period commonly referred to as "the last days" of our age, or the Christian age, a great time of tribulation. What Christianity commonly thinks of as the "Apocalypse" begins with the opening of the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12.
Killing in the name of religion, Christianity in particular, began in the first century almost immediately after Christ’s death and resurrection. And if you scan through the history books, this has been an ongoing theme, which continues daily as we can read in the headlines, including new wars and hot spots, like Yemen recently, that keep popping up here and there. [See the Feature article, The War Dispatches]. Wars in the name of religion have killed more people than just about any other cause throughout history. And it will continue up to the establishment of the kingdom of God by Christ, just as he said. All this is quite relevant to us in the 21st century, particularly with the wars in the Middle East. [See the Feature article, Damascus A Heap Of Ruins].
Christ was and is correct. He did not come to bring peace on Earth at his first coming. He came to bring a sword, war, that men should kill one another. As it reads in the Greek Textus Receptus, c. 1516, "καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἄλλος ἵππος πυῤῥός καὶ τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ λαβεῖν τὴν εἰρήνην ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἵνα ἀλλήλους σφάξωσιν καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ μάχαιρα μεγάλη," In English, "And there went out another horse that was red: and it 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."
We should be mindful that our Lord and Savior also is the LORD of hosts. The Hebrew word host, tsaba, means an army. "Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the Earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger." This quote from Isaiah 13 is repeated in Revelation 6:12, the beginning of the end of the great tribulation that began in the first century exactly as Christ said, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
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