WE ARE living at a time when many bow low before the throne of those seemingly magical words love and peace. Somehow these two words are used as if they were something new to be sought after, something the world has never desired before.
But just the opposite is true. Sincere people from the beginning of history have desired love and peace. The quest seems to be part of human nature. There is a problem, however, not only in achieving these great goals but in defining them.
The Scriptures give us insight into these two words that we can relate to current events and perhaps to Biblical prophecy. In John 14:27, John wrote of Christ, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." And concerning love, 1 John 2:15 says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
On the one hand, then, there is the drawing Spirit of God, who points us to Christ, our justifying Saviour. Our individual acceptance enables Him to begin the process of internal peace and love. On the other hand, there is an external love and peace that the world might offer. History demonstrates that the latter is transient, however.
True love and peace come from God, not from man. Isaiah 48:18 proclaims, "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea." And 1 John 5:3 declares, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous."
Is it not fair and factual, then, to say that anything that is not in harmony with the perfect law of liberty, the Ten Commandments, is not love? We may call it love, we may wish it to be love, but it is not love. We may grow in true love only as we walk after Christ daily.
I believe that this concept of love and peace is significant in the light of our understanding of last-day events. Either our concepts of love and peace will be based on worldly definitions and will lead to identification with the world or they will be based on the word of God and written in the fleshy tables of our hearts. Here is the central issue in the last great call to come out of Babylon.
John 16:33 predicts, "In the world ye shall have tribulation." 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 adds, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body."
Even though the Christian may be subjected to external trouble, he may still enjoy internal peace. The moments of peace and love most dear are those internal fruits of the spirit that can come only as we walk with Christ, looking to the blessed hope we have in Him.
The peace that the world continually desires is one that is based upon changing external social, environmental, or material concepts, which supposedly result in internal love and peace. These external efforts may be important, but as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:8, they are "dung" without the indwelling of Christ. Work or effort without total surrender to Christ is vain, no matter what the apparent motive, for such only deepens self-righteousness, which leads to force and coercion.
More and More Visible
The differences between Christian and secular love and peace will become more and more visible in the future. As circumstances become more difficult, true faith will become manifest. Those without this kind of faith will grasp after those things that men point to as bringing peace and security.
Satan is aware of this and tries to counterfeit the genuine love and peace of God by carefully contrived external situations and words which he hopes will create emotion rather than reason.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 tells us that when men cry, "Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them." Does God have anything against peace and safety? Or has He sent this warning for our admonition?
God, the author of true peace, has nothing against peace if it is the external result of His internal work upon individuals. "Righteousness exalteth a nation," according to Proverbs 14:34, but never does a nation exalt righteousness. That is a very significant difference because in the latter situation men and nations play God.
So what will be wrong with the final secular peace movement? Jeremiah 23: 17 informs us, "They say still unto them that despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you." This peace cry has traditionally been the mark of both the beast and the false prophet of Revelation.
Satan Manipulates Our Concepts
How can Satan use these circumstances? The great oppressor, the great liar and deceiver of souls, cultivates the lusts and excesses that result in wars. He creates and aggravates social, environmental, population, and economic problems, trying to create fear, hate, and strife in the hearts of men and women. Perhaps, as in the days of the great world wars, he offers apparent solutions for the very problems he has caused. In so doing, he manipulates our concepts of love, peace, and brotherhood.
On pages 554 and 558 of The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White wrote, "He [Satan] enlists the affections by his eloquent portrayals of love and charity." "Love is dwelt upon as the chief attribute of God, but it is degraded to a weak sentimentalism, making little distinction between good and evil. God's justice, His denunciations of sin, the requirements of His holy law, are all kept out of sight. The people are taught to regard the Decalogue as a dead letter. Pleasing, bewitching fables captivate the senses and lead men to reject the Bible as the foundation of their faith. Christ is as verily denied as be fore; but Satan has so blinded the eyes of the people that the deception is not discerned."
Would it be any great shock, then, to see the nations unite and follow after the beast if they felt that would solve their ever increasing problems (see Rev. 17:12,13)? Did Isaiah have similar circumstances in mind when he warned, "Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid" (Isa. 8:12)?
The formation of such a confederacy might be somewhat coercive, but surely, the nations would argue, a little coercion is acceptable if the result would be world peace, international cooperation, and brotherhood. Surely, no one would be so selfish and unloving as to not want to save humanity from wars and environmental and economic disasters.
This is the philosophy of materialism and humanism that, I believe, will lead to the day when "no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark" (Rev. 13:17). The essence of this mark will be faith in man and this world rather than the Creator. The Sabbath at that time will become the sign of obedience to the Creator, rather than to man.
When Christ returns, will He find faith on the earth; or will He find a world where men have forgotten Him by whom "all things consist" (Col. 1:17)? Will the desire of all for external "love" and "peace" lead to the universal persecution of those who have experienced these principles internally?
Prophecy seems to point in that direction. Our only hope in these days of increasing counterfeit concepts and satanic deceptions is to turn completely and unreservedly to the source of genuine peace and love. "Peace on earth" is a false promise to those who seek it externally; but it is found by all whose hearts are fully yielded to the Prince of Peace.