World War I, known as “the Great War,” officially ended when the “Treaty of Versailles” was signed on June 28, 1918, in the palace of Versailles outside of the town of Versailles, France. Fighting, however, ceased seven months earlier when an armistice–temporary cessation of hostilities–between the allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of “Armistice Day” with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” The original celebration involved parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m. An act approved on May 13,1938, made Nov. 11th a legal holiday–a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be therefore celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” It was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of WW I, but in 1954, after WW II and the Korean War, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veteran’s service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by replacing the word “Armistice” with “Veterans.” On June 1, 1954, Nov. 11th officially became “Veterans’ Day,” a day to honor American veterans of ALL wars, for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. Later that same year, on Oct. 8th, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first “Veterans’ Day Proclamation.”
World War I was a great war that was supposed to end all wars, but many wars have followed and there is still no real peace in the world. In fact, the world, especially the Middle East, is a powder keg just ready to blow at any time. The fact is, there can be no lasting peace between men and other men or between nations, until there is peace between men and God. Zechariah of the Old Testament prophesied concerning the coming of the Messiah into Jerusalem, riding on a lowly donkey’s colt: “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on the foal of a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). That prediction was fulfilled by Jesus as He came into Jerusalem on that last “Sunday before His death and resurrection (Mt. 21:4-5). But, the prophecy in the next verse, Zech. 9:10, reads: “And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; and His dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.” This was definitely not fulfilled with Jesus first coming to earth, for there have been wars somewhere in the world practically every year since Jesus came. Nevertheless, the day will come when He shall indeed “speak peace” to all the nations. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can make such a peace, for He alone is the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Indeed, He has already paid the price to make such true and eternal peace, for “…He made peace through the blood of His cross…” (Col. 1:20).
As world-wide conflict escalates to a climax at the end of the period the Bible calls “the Tribulation” (Mt. 24:21,29), all the armies of the world will gather in Israel at a place called “Har-Magedon” (or “Armageddon”), for “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 16:14). Then the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:16) returns to earth with the armies of heaven which will conquer the enemies of God and of the Jews and of Christians and establish His kingdom, “Making wars to cease to the end of the earth” (Psa. 46:9), “And the pride of man will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will be abased, and the LORD will be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:17). That will be “The War to End All Wars,” and until that time, no matter the efforts of the United Nations, no matter the efforts of the United States or the United Kingdom, there will continue to be “wars and rumors of wars” (Mt. 24:6).
Meanwhile, as we live in this chaotic world of sin and wars and destruction, we can individually be at peace with the “Prince of Peace,” by trusting Him as the Sacrifice for our sin “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro. 5:1). We can also have a peace in our heart. The Apostle Paul, wrote this exhortation/promise to the believers at Philippi: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phi. 4:6,7).
We want to thank all the veterans (as well as those on active duty today) for their service for our country, sacrificing their time and often their health or lives to maintain the freedoms we so cherish. And, although they cannot provide the lasting peace we long for, we give all glory to our God who can. He conquered sin and death through the cross and the resurrection, and will one day return to establish peace to this war-torn world. “Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 20:20).