The apostle Paul is not generally thought of as a prophet, at least not like the Hebrew prophets that preceded him. Although his more than a dozen letters form the main part of the so-called New Testament, only a small portion of his work may be considered prophetic. That being said, much of Paul’s writing focuses on the coming of Christ and the parousia, so in that sense, the so-called Pauline letters are profoundly prophetic.
One fascinating facet of Paul’s prophesying is found at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5: “Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you. For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape. But you, brothers, you are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves, for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We belong neither to night nor to darkness.” – New World Translation
There are a number of questions that arise from this intriguing prophecy. One, Who will be saying “peace and security”? Secondly, who is it that the “sudden destruction” comes upon? (The answer to the first question automatically supplies the answer to the second) Who brings about the destruction? Is it a visitation of divine disaster, or does it come from some other source? Also, when is this prophecy to be fulfilled? Does it come about as an immediate precursor to the final battle at Armageddon, as Jehovah’s Witnesses commonly believe? Or is there some other time frame in which it will occur? Lastly, what is the significance of the phrase, “peace and security”?
Let’s consider the last question first.
The phrase “peace and security” does not appear in most English Bibles. The Catholic New Jerusalem Bible, for instance, renders 1 Thessalonians 5:3 thusly: “It is when people are saying, 'How quiet and peaceful it is' that sudden destruction falls on them, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there is no escape.”
The ever-popular King James and the New International Version (NIV) both use the expression “peace and safety.” However, both the lesser-known Holman Christian Standard Bible, as well as the English Standard Version, also phrase it “peace and security.”
The phraseology is significant in view of the fact that the exact phrase “peace and security” has become common political parlance. Consider the fact that “peace and security” is the primary political objective of the United Nations Organization. That organization’s very logo – the olive branches covering the earth – embodies the very concept of peace and security. Perhaps more significantly at this late stage of affairs, the American government’s official website touts its renewed commitment to work with the United Nations to bring about “peace and security.”
But the recent American peace and security initiative did not arise spontaneously. There are numerous foundations and NGOs that have been working behind the scene for many years actively promoting the policies now associated with America’s renewed drive for world peace. Consider, for example, there is an organization called The Peace and Security Funders Group, which is a collection of public and private foundations that presumably make grants to further their political objectives. Then there is The Peace and Security Initiative, which is a grouping of various NGOs working for global peace and security. There is Economists for Peace & Security, as well the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, in Washington D.C. NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has a website devoted to the Science for Peace and Security. There is even a Zionist’s Council for Peace and Security. Women have their own peace and security issues as well, reflected in the United Nations’ UNIFEM for peace and security; and associate NGOs called Working Group on Women, Peace and Security and WomenWarPeace.org.
How about the Compton Foundation for Peace and Security? If you are looking to invest your money in peace and security here is the Ploughshares investment group that does just that. Then there is the International Peace and Security Institute.
What is most striking is that the plethora of organizations that have been working for “peace and security” use the phrase exactly as it appears in the New World Translation. We never hear of the United Nations working towards “peace and safety,” as it is worded in the KJV and NIV. For that matter, whenever political leaders speak on the topic the wording is rarely even reversed to say “security and peace,” or some other variation. It is uncanny, but the precise expression “peace and security” seems to have become embedded within the political system itself.
For whatever it is worth, for that reason Jehovah’s Witnesses are in a better position to recognize the fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy when it does occur, whereas others who are under the influence of more popular Bible translations are not so advantaged.
Of course, the prophesied phrase may not have the same relevance and resonance in other languages, even in the NWT. But since English has become the accepted “universal” language, due in no small measure to the dominance of the Anglo-American world power, it is highly significant that the American president and the United Nations are increasingly talking about “peace and security.”
Obviously, though, the coming into existence in recent years of various organizations devoted to the peace and security of the world is not in itself the fulfillment of the prophecy, otherwise they would have already been visited with “sudden destruction.” Nor is the mere utterance of that phrase by prominent politicians – no matter how frequent – the fulfillment either. True, the apostle did prophesy, that, “Whenever it is that they are 'saying peace and security…” But, apparently, their “saying peace and security” is not the mere stating of their intentions to bring about such a condition, but rather, evidently, the realization of the prophecy will come about by their boasting about having actually accomplished some significant aspect of their ambitious agenda to make the world more peaceful and secure.
Now, consider the stated political aims of the American President, Barack Obama, as expressed in various outtakes of speeches in the video below, in which President Obama eloquently articulates his bold intentions to solve the myriad of problems disturbing the peace and security of the world; from melting icecaps, financial collapse, terrorism, poverty, pandemics, the Israeli-Palestinian situation and most of all – the unrelenting peril posed by nuclear weapons. (Click here for 10 minute YouTube version of the video below in case of slow streaming.)
Unlike the rhetoric of politicians who merely make empty promises, ostensibly Barak Obama is earnestly striving to accomplish his stated goals. For instance, shortly after taking office Obama declared that he would work to reduce nuclear weapons and keep them out of the hands of rogue states and terrorists. A small step was taken towards those ends with the recent signing of arms reduction treaty with Russia and the just concluded Nuclear Summit in Washington D.C. (Click here for relevant, up to the minute, news items on Google regarding "peace and security.")
It is also noteworthy that shortly after taking office Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. And although in his Oslo acceptance speech he did not use the exact phraseology of “peace and security,” in classic Orwellian, “war is peace” double-speak, Obama justified war, both past and future wars, as the means to maintain global security and peace.
On the Anglo side of the British and American alliance, Tony Blair, who is arguably the man most responsible for crafting the conquest of Iraq, is now a special “peace envoy” to the Middle East. As an appointed envoy for securing the peace and security of the Middle East, Blair has recently stated before the pro-Israel lobby that the world will “do whatever it takes” to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Presumably, that means launching war is a viable option – even war with tactical nuclear weapons. And it is no secret that the build-up to such an operation has been ongoing for many years and must be in the final stages at this late date.
Such an attack, while devastating to the targeted nation, would inevitably have a catastrophic “blow-back” effect as well – potentially triggering World War Three. (You Tube) It is the intention of the London-based financier oligarchy, loosely grouped around the British Crown, to use such a war to prevent substantive cooperation between the USA and Russia (YouTube) and to create chaos throughout the world in order to bring down America and the entire nation-state system and ultimately reduce the world’s population by a significant percentage.
At this stage of affairs, then, it appears as if the “they” who are destined by prophecy to be “saying peace and security” is the entire United Nations nexus of nations, led by the Anglo-American kingdom. The destruction that is to instantly come upon them is of their own making. It will be manifested in the collapse of the governmental and financial system of things.
The 13th chapter of Revelation portrays that event by symbolizing a seven-headed wild beast that receives a mortal head wound to one of its heads. The seventh head of the wild beast must surely symbolize the Anglo-American dual world power. How may it be determined that their “saying peace and security” is not an immediate precursor to the destruction God will bring on Armageddon?
Consider, now, the context in which Paul wrote his prophecy. In verses 13 through 18 Paul discusses the resurrection that is to occur during the presence (parousia) of Christ. Logically, Paul was pointing forward to the future coming of Jesus. So, it is in that setting that Paul foretold that the coming of Christ would be as unexpected as a thief in the night. In order to help Christians determine when Christ stealth-like parousia would commence the apostle foretold “whenever it is that they are saying peace and security.” That is the signal.
Elsewhere in the Scriptures it is recorded that Jesus Christ described his coming as a thief in the night to judge his household of slaves. Specifically, at Luke 12:35-40 Jesus stated the following: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps be burning, and you yourselves be like men waiting for their master when he returns from the marriage, so that at his arriving and knocking they may at once open to him. Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching! Truly I say to you, He will gird himself and make them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them. And if he arrives in the second watch, even if in the third, and finds them thus, happy are they! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief would come, he would have kept watching and not have let his house be broken into. You also, keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely the Son of man is coming.”
The context of Jesus’ illustration indicates that his coming as a thief in the night is to reward his faithful slave and punish the evil slaves. So it is, the destruction that is destined to come upon those “saying peace and security” will be brought on by the war, famine and pestilence Jesus said would mark the commencement of his presence. Jesus will evidently use the hardships of that bleak period as the means to winnow out the faithless and evil slaves from his household and to discipline and refine those judged to be faithful.
Similarly, Jesus warned the somnolent Christians in the symbolic Sardis congregation that he was coming as a thief, saying to them at Revelation 3:2-3: “Become watchful, and strengthen the things remaining that were ready to die, for I have not found your deeds fully performed before my God. Therefore, continue mindful of how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it, and repent. Certainly unless you wake up, I shall come as a thief, and you will not know at all at what hour I shall come upon you.”
Surely Jesus is not coming as a thief on multiple occasions. That being the case, the question for Jehovah’s Witnesses and their Watchtower leadership to consider is this: If Jesus judged his Father’s spiritual house in 1918, why was there no declaration of “peace and security” back then? Instead of directing people to consider the events of a bygone era, why isn't the Watchtower taking any note of the present developments? Is it because her watchmen have become like slumbering watchdogs that are unable to bark? (See Isaiah 57:10) No wonder Jehovah’s inspired word exhorts all the faithful to stay awake in anticipation of the Day.
Still, while no one knows the day or hour for Jesus to make his surprise visit to initiate the judgment of the world, the Apostle, Paul, was inspired to provide the sons of light with a vital marker to indicate the nearness of that day. All indications are that the day of Jehovah is about to erupt upon the world.
So, while political leaders have been talking and talking, and talking still more, about the global issues related to peace and security, we say to them: ‘Keep on talking.’
The recent upheaval throughout the Middle East seems to have conspicuously by-passed Palestine and Israel. Some observers believe the pressure to make an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is increasing, especially since the UN has mandated that Palestine will be recognized as an independent state in September, 2011. Too, given the place Israel occupies in Evangelical end-times prophecy, it seems likely that the "peace and security" trigger for sudden destruction may well center around some sort of declaration of peace and security in the Middle East.