Peace, Be Still :: By Terry James
Authors note: Today’s lengthy article is from a chapter I wrote many years ago for one of my books. I find stage-setting for fulfillment has progressed to this time (2023) in a way that validates God’s prophetic Word, from which I derived conclusions back in that earlier time. We can be sure. Jesus Christ will yet bring a cessation to all the violence and evil we see all around us at present. –Terry James
Peace, Be Still
Planet Earth was near cataclysm. The atomic structure of all creation strained to explode while the One for whom and by whom all things were created descended the Mount of Olives riding on the donkey.
Apparently, all that kept the building blocks of the universe from flying apart were the hosannas of praise shouted by the people who spread the palm fronds before Jesus.
The indignant Pharisees, seeing and hearing the worshipful adulation, implored Jesus to tell them to stop their praising. The Lord knew their jealous, sin-blackened hearts – that they, in their unbelief, considered the praise blasphemy. As He always did, Jesus spoke truth that out away all superfluous side issues.
“I tell you the truth that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40).
The King of kings moved toward the holiest of all places on Earth to present himself as Israel’s Messiah and King. In a short time, those people would reject Him and demand that He be put to death by the cruelest method of execution known in that day. When the praises turned to cursings and the Lamb of God was slain in the once and for all sacrificial act that provides redemption for lost mankind, the skies darkened to midnight black at midday. The earth convulsed mightily and split apart. Corpses came out of their graves and walked the streets of Jerusalem. Nature itself must have screamed in agony when the Son of God and God the Father separated because of humanity’s sin, which Christ became in that awful moment the Trinity was split.
Before Jesus voluntarily gave up His spirit to death, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Could Jesus have been asking the Father to restrain the geophysical elements from taking vengeance on that generation of rebellious Earth dwellers?
All of creation no doubt spasmed with the pain the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit experienced. Legions of angels leaned forward, ready for battle if the Son of God had called. But Jesus’ words reflected only compliance with the will of His Father in heaven: “It is finished” (John 19:30). And the upheaving geophysical universe settled when the veil in the Holy of Holies ripped from top to bottom.
Neopaganism and Its Consequences
Practically every indicator within the scope of human affairs points to restlessness, turmoil, and to wars and rumors of wars. Jesus’ words as recorded in Matthew 24:5-8 could easily be applied to our times. The Lord said in that account:
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled, for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Although He was referring specifically to the Tribulation period, that seven-year period of apocalypse which will conclude with His second advent at the time of Armageddon, He also said in Luke 21:28 that “when these things begin to come to pass” we are to “look up, and lift up [our] heads; for our] redemption draweth near.” Jesus said that these indicators would be “the beginning of sorrows” or birth pangs.
The Lord warned that these symptoms of the end time will increase in frequency and intensity as the time of His return approaches, like the labor contractions a woman suffers when the birth of her child nears. His words seemed to emphasize that man’s rebelliousness and wickedness will again be at levels like in the days of Noah and the days of Lot (Luke 17: 26-30). Mankind’s incorrigible rebelliousness will bring God’s wrath.
Certainly, this generation of Earth dwellers cries out for peace. Most conspicuous in this regard is the global outcry for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. The hue and cry for peace, however, can be heard from every quarter on Earth. From nations in conflict with each other, from ethnic groups warring one against another, from communities experiencing ever-increasing violence, from families in turmoil, from individuals who murder and maim each other, every hour of every day, they cry peace, peace! when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11).
This generation seeks to calm the rage but does so through anything and everything but the one and only source of true peace, Jesus Christ. The poorest among our number seek comfort, solace, and sustenance from governmental bureaucracies. The middle class seeks to keep its noses above the flood of taxes those bureaucracies issue forth. Yet at the same time, the middle class gropes for temporal pleasures, entertainment, and material goods that might provide moments of peace that never seem to come. The wealthy and elite grasp for satisfaction they perceive as attainable through the pursuit of money, power, and self-aggrandizement.
Idolatry of every sort rules throughout every strata of every culture and society today. God is pushed farther and farther from the thoughts of men who seek only to praise their gods of this age.
Fires of discontent are the result of man’s refusal to give God the praise and worship He alone deserves. That fire will soon produce seven years of hell on Earth. As Jesus warned the Pharisees, “the very stones will cry out.”
The Stones Begin to Shout!
When the 22-pound Mars rover named Sojourner began its work shortly after landing on that planet on July 4, 1997, scientists began proclaiming almost with one voice that the geological pattern was telling the story of a catastrophic planetary flood. Many of these same scientists could discern and exclaim loudly that a planetary flood had occurred millions of years ago on the planet Mars 119 million miles distant. They cannot, however, bring themselves to admit that the catastrophic global flood reported in God’s Word ever occurred on Earth. They deny the flood of Noah’s day even though the geological record attests to the truth of the biblical account and is readily observable all around them on their own planet.
The stones cry out from 119 million miles away, making manifest the foolishness of those who profess themselves to be wise. The so-called scientific community can claim with absolute authority that microbial life once existed on Mars because of formations they think they see inside a meteor fragment they speculate came from Mars. They can say with certainty that man evolved out of primordial soup without producing a single link of proof that one specie has ever made the evolutionary leap to become another specie. Yet when millions upon millions of sea life fossils (seashells, etc.) are found on the highest peaks on Earth, the so-called empirical method is thrown out the door.
Rather than admit that these mountain ranges were once under water due to a great flood that covered the whole earth, they choose to believe and put forth the unsubstantiated claim that the mountains have been somehow rising for many millions of years from a starting point below sea level.
Human beings lie because their foolish hearts are darkened. God’s marvelously made creation cries out the truth where mankind fails to do so. The apostle Paul, writing under inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, spoke to the heart of man’s disbelief and its consequences.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse; Because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves, Who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 18-25).
Our generation voraciously devours the evolutionary dogma with the same gusto the ancients hungered for their self-fashioned beastly gods. Idolaters of today differ from ancient idolaters only in that neopagans worship gods that are a bit more interactive. They excitedly praise Hollywood entertainers and shout their adoration to sports stars and sports teams from pews at the temple-like stadiums and arenas and through television altars in their homes. They fashion their objects of worship into shiny automobiles, pleasure boats, and other usable forms. Like the pagans of old, they give their hearts, time, and money to their idols, which they name after birds, four-footed beasts, and creeping things.
Evolution has become the foundational undergirdings upon which humanistic agendas are built. God has been kicked out of our classrooms and our courtrooms. He has been replaced by relativism, which makes the individual a god unto himself.
Evolution says that all began in chaos but is getting better and better as the human animal progresses toward becoming the ultimate man. But in actuality, evolution creates chaos because it puts forward “values clarification” that says everyone has a right to know and do what is right in his own eyes. The ultimately evolved man will be the incorrigibly wicked and rebellious people of the apocalypse. The Antichrist will personify the lies wrapped up in the false faith so-called scientific minds of today term evolution.
Total chaos, the opposite of true peace, is unregenerate mankind’s destiny. America’s decline since the 1960s Supreme Court decisions to legalize abortion and outlaw God in classrooms and courtrooms and many other public places proves that chaos results from a godless, humanistic system.
Perilous Times in America
Often, in discussions involving the state of the world, it is said that societies such as those in Communist China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, or the various brutal regimes in Africa have no regard for human life. Such accusations imply that America and Western Europe are the truly civilized societies and cultures of planet Earth. However, with more than one million children legally murdered while still in their mothers’ wombs every year in the United States, the assertion that America honors life more than do the barbarous nations of Asia or Africa is hypocrisy. The hypocrisy is magnified many times over when we consider that this nation has had God’s grace shed upon it in ways no other nation, with the possible exception of Israel, has ever experienced.
Darkness has not come upon America because of wicked regimes suppressing gospel truth. Darkness is engulfing us because we, as a people, are turning our backs on God. We are deliberately and methodically turning off God’s light so that we can do our self-sinful deeds under cover of darkness.
American money has inscribed on it “In God We Trust.” Today, it would be more accurate to say that our slogan is “In Money We Trust.”
With the Dow Jones stock market figure over the 8,000 mark as of the time of this writing, we live under the euphoric bubble of economic prosperity that causes national irrationality. While leaders at the highest levels of the United States government are examined in congressional hearings for alleged influence peddling to communist China and other avowed enemies, polls show that same leadership enjoys high approval ratings among Americans.
National news media, unlike during the Watergate hearings three decades ago, push information about the influence peddling to the back pages and middle of broadcasts when indeed they cover them at all.
The troubling statement “character doesn’t matter” seems to sum up the majority of opinion in America so long as the economy continues to give us the good times we want as an entertainment, recreation, and pleasure-seeking people.
America’s governmental leadership is not the source of America’s problem. Rather, America’s leadership is a manifest symptom of the sin-darkened hearts of a growing majority of our citizens.
God’s Word speaks bluntly to a people who reject Him and choose instead to do what is right in their own eyes.
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished; But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they; self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities…. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their own corruption, And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to revel in the daytime.
“Spots they are and blemishes, reveling with their own deceivings…. Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children, Who have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray…. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever… For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them …” (2 Peter 2:9-21).
America’s founding fathers determined to set this nation upon a foundation of God-given principles. Yet one federal judge can command that those godly principles, the Ten Commandments, be removed from a schoolhouse or courtroom wall. The Supreme Court of the land can declare God’s Word null and void and His Son, Jesus Christ, a nondesirable entity by declaring Christianity too narrow and bigoted to be presented within America’s educational process alongside pagan deities and pagan forms of worship which, in many cases, have governmental approval. The results of such foolhardiness are inevitable.
This disregard for God’s Truth is disregard for life. Such disregard is, in some sense, worse than atrocities committed by those we consider barbarians in regions that have not been so blessed by God as ours. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). To reject and blaspheme the only begotten Son of God is to display the ultimate disregard for life. Rejecting Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, brings the opposite of peace-chaos and war.
War in the Home
Humanism, the system embodying man’s determination to construct the world in his own image totally apart from God’s authority, is making an indelible imprint upon American family life. Homes are ripped apart by selfish actions that cast aside the notion of personal responsibility.
A generation has arisen from the chaos of evolution-based education. Man is but the highest evolved form of animal life, the hellish doctrine goes, and, like the lower animals, has needs that supersede any obligation to some nebulous concept of morality.
Hollywood portrays the supposedly liberated man or woman as a sexual creature not unlike a dog in the street who can simply mate on the spur of the moment, then separate after having satisfied their primal urges. There are no consequences, only self-satisfaction and contentment until the next primal urge wells within.
Sexual innuendo and outright reference are every-night fare on sitcoms and regular TV programming. It’s just good fun, the defenders offer when critics speak out. There is no real harm, they proclaim. Yet many who create the sexually oriented programs are among those who cry the loudest in the fight against sexual harassment in the military, in business, and in society. This sort of convoluted reasoning – that it is okay to program the minds of men with scenes of sexual debauchery in the name of “fun” entertainment, but it is not okay for these same programmed men to put their fantasies into action by assaulting women in the workplace – God’s Word calls reprobate thinking.
Growing numbers of men are following the “if it feels good, do it” tenets taught by humanism and vividly portrayed by Hollywood. Divorce rates continue to climb, the majority of them due to men leaving wives and children to pursue relationships that require of them little or no responsibility. This is not to say that women are not culpable as well. Statistics show a growing number of women deserting husbands and children for the same self-centered reasons.
Why get married? is another attitude that pervades American culture today. Single mothers who have never been married constitute a rising tide of irresponsible behavior that portends great trouble in the near future. Gangs of youth without fathers to nurture and discipline them cling to each other and rage against a society that neither understands nor seems to care except when crimes committed by the gang members on occasion directly touch our lives.
Abortion proponents give unwanted children (such as those who end up in gangs and who might predictably produce future gang members) as good reasons for ending pregnancies. Such children, if allowed to be born, they say, will only suffer the abuse of America’s gang culture or worse. The truth is, however, that abortion imprints upon the minds of our children the idea that human life is a commodity like any other commodity and can be discarded without a second thought. Man, not God, it is implied, has authority over life and death. The message clearly has gotten through to the young gang members who slaughter each other each night across America.
War in the Streets
Americans have for decades heard of civil conflicts in Third World countries where people face bodily injury and even death because of bloody fighting in the streets of their neighborhoods. Such murderous rampages continue to inflict millions of casualties. Wars resulting from civil unrest are perhaps more horrendous in nature than those in which uniformed armies oppose each other on battlefields. Helpless women and children who carry no weapons most often fall victim to roving marauders in these civilian versions of war. Jesus’ prophecy that there will be wars until His return certainly has been proven accurate.
Rumors of war, the second part of Jesus’ prediction about deadly fighting that will mark human history as His return nears, rumble ominous warnings from America’s inner cities. Although fighting in the streets of this nation has so far been confined to youth gangs sporadically shooting it out in our larger cities, troubling reports of increased drug dealings and other criminal activities in suburban and even rural areas should serve as a wake-up call. Rumors of wars threaten to turn into actual wars if peace is not forthcoming.
So-called “gangbangers ” – inner city youth gang members – sometimes now receive something akin to diplomatic recognition by city officials and other leaders who desperately wish to negotiate an end to gang crime and gang war. Although such overtures to these juvenile thugs are well-intentioned, they serve to give gang leaders and the gangs themselves increased prestige, power, and authority, thus making the gang life more attractive to youngsters. Rarely is peace made, and never is peace maintained through these “summit” negotiations.
The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3 that in the last days, perilous times will come. He wrote in that account that many people will be fierce in those closing moments of human history. Death dealing carried on by the gangs and the drug dealers who rove our streets late at night and make thousands of new gang members through death threats and thousands of new customers through addictions indeed prove we live in a time when a growing number among us are of fierce demeanor. How long can it continue at the present rate of increasing ferocity until every street in America becomes a battle zone like those streets in so many Third-World countries?
The Seas and the Waves are Roaring
“There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).
The Lord alludes to man’s intense interest in and preoccupation with things taking place in space. It seems hardly necessary to ask whether that prophetic reference fits this generation. All eyes turned heavenward when Sputnik first traversed the space above Earth. Then Uri Gagarin’s trip into space sent the U.S. Congress, the news media, and many worried citizens into orbit, and America was pronounced woefully behind in the space race. U.S. scientists were given carte blanche to pursue the Soviets. Then came Alan Shepard, John Glenn, and all the rest. America’s space program reached its zenith when Neil Armstrong dropped onto the moon’s surface and issued the now-famous proclamation, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Telescopes in space have recorded spectacular stellar events, for example, comet fragments slamming into the planet Jupiter with stupendous impact. The space shuttle program routinely draws our attention to the fact that man’s future points toward the stars. We witnessed the awful yet awesome spectacle of the Challenger exploding, then falling ten miles to the ocean’s surface, plumes of death streaming behind it.
Man’s progress toward reaching into the heavens hardly skipped a beat, however, and now the great enemies of the Cold War, Russia and the United States, are supposedly allies in the quest for reaching those stars with cosmonauts and astronauts sharing the Mir space station and shuttle rides on a regular basis. Great plans are in the works for manned missions to Mars and beyond.
Jesus’ prophecy has already been fulfilled, and He was foretelling events scheduled to be most pronounced during the seven-year Tribulation period.
The next part of the Lord’s prophecy, “and upon the earth, distress of nations with perplexity,” could be used as a bold headline on the front page of every major newspaper in the world on any given day to encapsulate the present state of world affairs. No nation on Earth is without distress. Leaders are perplexed as to how to remedy the overwhelming distress.
The United Nations, supposedly instituted to deal with such problems, is proven ineffective time and time again. The nations continue to cry peace, peace, when there is no peace.
U.N. leadership vies for power and influence within that confused body. More often than not, the most horrendous distress among nations goes unnoticed because the oppressed are overlooked by the heady, high-minded diplomatic elite who seek first and foremost to secure funding for their bureaucratic power bases.
The southern part of Sudan in North Africa, for example, is perhaps the greatest point of human stress on the planet. According to Kevin Turner, a missionary with the Voice of the Martyrs organization, millions of Christians have been murdered in that region and continue to suffer such horrific deaths as crucifixion and being buried alive. He reports that children are routinely taken from Christian parents and are sold into slavery and prostitution. Turner said he recently gave slave traders $1,000 for 15 children, stating that although it distressed him to in any way encourage slave trading, his higher duty was to see to it that the little ones were redeemed.
He then reported in a trembling voice and with a breaking heart that some slave traffickers are now engaging in the hellish business of harvesting the organs of the children they take from Christian parents.
Is it any wonder that God’s wrath is building while the seas and waves of human depravity crash upon this world? How terrible the judgments described throughout the book of Revelation will be upon the generation who turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to such atrocious inhumanity.
Jesus himself described the plight of the generation of apocalypse:
“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26).
Waves were breaking over the little vessel that rolled in the violent sea of Galilee. The terrified men did all they could to keep the boat from being swamped, probably shifting their bodies to offset the buffeting from one side and then the other. The storm got worse, and all appeared to be lost. Despite their best efforts, they had lost control of their circumstances. Finally, they turned to the One who, astonishingly, was sound asleep in one corner of the boat.
Jesus of Nazareth awoke and calmly surveyed the heaving, tumultuous sea which threatened to destroy the tiny craft. (Read Mark 4:35-41.) You and I stand today within a sea even more violent than that stormy sea nearly 2,000 years ago. It will get worse. Much worse. As a matter of fact, it will become so violent, God’s Word says that if Christ Himself did not return, all life on Earth would end. Man would destroy himself.
Half of Earth’s population will die during the seven-year Tribulation period. Many will be killed through man’s own murderous efforts when God removes His restraining hands for a time. Billions will die as a direct result of God’s wrath during the last three and a half years of the apocalypse. Great armies will march and roll and fly into the Valley of Jezreel. More than 200 million men will come from the east while millions upon millions more invade from west, north, and south of Jerusalem. All of unregenerate humanity will, through sin-engendered insanity, determine to battle to the final breath of the last man standing. Blood will literally flow and pool for many miles at depths up to three or four feet, according to God’s prophetic Word.
When the rage intensifies to a level God can no longer tolerate, the dark, sulfurous clouds blanketing Earth’s atmosphere because of the terrible carnage of that dark hour, the very fabric of space itself will scroll apart. A blinding laser-like path from heaven to Earth will thrust forth. Heaven’s armies will descend, led by the King of kings and Lord of lords.
While the sea of humanity on the planet’s surface viciously roars in an attempt to prevent the heavenly intervention, those warring forces will turn from battling with each other to curse God and all His righteousness. Then Jesus Christ, mounted upon a stunningly white steed, will speak words sharper than a two-edged sword.
I am convinced they will be the same words Jesus of Nazareth spoke to that raging sea of Galilee nearly two millennia ago. They are the same words He speaks today to everyone who turns to Him, acknowledging that there is nothing and no one but Christ who can save them. He speaks those words to all who accept Him and trust Him to save them from their sins and to make them born-again children of God.
Just as His words instantaneously calmed that violent sea, thus saving the men in the little boat, Jesus’ words will instantly end the warfare and rebellion at Armageddon. Christ’s words to your troubled heart likewise will bring tranquility and joy to your soul. You will never be the same when He speaks those life-changing words:
“Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).
Revelation’s thunder rumbles in the distance. Before the coming storm is full-blown, Christ will come for those who trust Him and Him alone for salvation. It will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.