Updated: Dec 16, 2022
"Wars and Rumors," art design by Pete Garcia
So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately. Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. Luke 21:7-10 (my emphasis)
In responding to the questions posed to Him, Jesus lists out a series of signs that would herald the end of the age and His return in power. Interestingly, most of these signs are not signs in and of themselves, but rather, would be indicative of how they come. That is the sign. Not so much the what, but the how. They would come like birth pangs upon a pregnant woman, increasing in frequency and intensity and converging upon a single generation.
Of the items listed, and with respect to warfare, the Twentieth Century has been the bloodiest and most violent century on record. While skeptics will attribute this ghastly reality to the rapid population explosion, or the development of weapons of mass destruction, or the introduction of new kinds of warfare (e.g., air, space, subterranean, cyber, etc.), the mind-numbing body count simply belies the reality of something far more ominous; we are that generation.
I know some out there will say, "hey wait a minute Pete, there have always been wars! How is our century any different?"
It is true, wars and rumors thereof, have been a mainstay in the human condition since time immemorial. However, as I stated above, the 20th (and now the 21st) stands alone as the bloodiest and most terrifying on record for a reason. Modern technology has afforded mankind terrifying new levels of executing violence upon each other. Furthermore, while mankind has always existed in a sinful state and prone to violence on an individual level, it takes something more to rally whole nations to brutally murder each other. It takes large-scale motivation to galvanize the wrath of a nation into taking up arms against another. This motivation almost always comes in the form of some kind of state-sanctioned propaganda.
Propaganda: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person; ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause (Merriam-Webster)
Although propaganda has been around forever, it wasn't until the 20th century that it got a supercharge with the advent of mass communication platforms. What began as an extension of the First Amendment (free speech) and a check on government expansion in the 18th and 19th centuries, was soon coopted by the government in the 20th (and 21st) to do it's messaging for it.
With the advent of broadcast radio, it soon became easier than ever for governments of one nation to villainize the other. Movies would be coopted for large-scale propaganda (ex. Germany's Triumph of the Will and the American The Great Dictator) and later television (largely out of Hollywood) would get into the action serving as a fifth column for the US government. It has become an increasingly powerful and effective tool for the government to wield against an intentionally dumbed-down population in influencing a generation.
Nevertheless, while early 20th-century propaganda can be considered overtly crude, propagandists would continue to relentlessly refine their influence operations to the point where today, most people don't even realize they're being targeted. Regardless of the subtleties, if one simply looks at any message and asks the old Latin question, cui bono? (who benefits?) one could easily decipher who is pushing the message and to what end.
But how does government propaganda fit into Jesus' warning about wars and rumors of war? Propaganda is akin to the very oxygen by which the flames of war can be fanned. It feeds a steady diet of lies and half-truths which nurtures the necessary amounts of irrational hatred toward others, in order to dehumanize the other party. This provocation ultimately reaches a point where war (even civil war) becomes the only recourse.
First, we should know that not all wars are the same. See the below examples:
After sacrificing two generations' worth of young men by 1945, the 20th-century "powers that be" seemingly lost their appetite for large-scale warfare. "Peace at any cost" became the new mantra. However, with two ideologically opposed and nuclear-armed global powers dominating geopolitics (the US and the USSR) the policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) required war by other means be the new standard of warfare in order to keep each other in check. What would follow has evolved into one of the greatest psychological-intelligence operations in the history of the world.
(Courtesy Wayne Long)
Rumors of War
Thus, before the dust even settled in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this new "Cold War" was beginning to heat up. With Mao Tse Tung's defeat of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, a new post-war era arose. This multi-decade conflict indirectly pitted two superpowers (plus China) against each other most often fighting in what is known as proxy wars. We saw this to a lesser degree in places like the Taiwan Strait Crisis (1954-55), Suez Canal (1956-57), the Lebanese Crisis (1958), and the Tibetan Uprising (1959), and in a greater degree in the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan (the 1980s). This Cold War came to increasingly depend upon technology, shadowy intelligence agencies, and Tier-One military operators with seemingly bottomless black budgets to increasingly shape the 20th century. These clandestine agencies (both civilian and military) began to specialize in what is known as "Grey Zone" operations or "Asymmetric" warfare. These are military conflicts that are essentially wars without wars, that stay just below the threshold of declared war, and primarily operate in what Carl von Clausewitz once deemed the fog of war.
War is the realm of uncertainty; three-quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.
— Carl von Clausewitz, On War
They took what was one of warfare's greatest detriments (confusion), and exploited it. This is done intentionally so that any interested outside parties would have very little understanding of what was actually happening on the ground, or who was fighting who. This intentional confusion was created so as to add in both plausible deniability as well as quick exit strategies should they be required. Two recent examples of this are the Syrian Civil War and the 2008-2020 Ukrainian-Russian conflict. This kind of warfare was perfected during the 40+ years of the Cold War era and was also the same time the US created most of its 17+ intelligence agencies, as well as that of the Soviet KGB, Israeli Mossad, and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).
Intelligence agencies made it their mission to collect information on everyone as well as destabilize and overthrow hostile governments while installing friendly regimes (i.e., friendly to western interests). This meant that most (if not all) of the 20th-century coup d'état's and revolutions were either directly, or indirectly funded and managed by western and eastern intelligence agencies and their governments. With two powerful and diametrically opposed ideologies competing against each other, the new currency for the second half of the twentieth century was information.
Project Echelon- the largest and most clandestine information-gathering operation in the world is known as Echelon and is located at RAF Menwith Hill, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. The genesis for Echelon began back in World War II as the allies (US and UK) began to collaborate on how to break both the Nazi's secret code language (Enigma) and the Japanese (Purple). So secretive was this project, that most would never have known it existed had the US not revealed these capabilities in our justification to the UN for invading Iraq. While Menwith Hill is still a Royal Airforce Base, ownership of the mission was transferred to the American National Security Agency (NSA) back in the 1970s to cover the growing satellite communications that were beginning to develop.
In summary, Project Echelon is a global network of spy stations that collects millions of communication messages, bank records, internet records, satellite transmissions, metadata, etc. for analysis and action. All of this data though requires massive computer networks (created by Lockheed Martin no less) to store the data. While this mass surveillance project began in the UK (initially to bypass our Constitution), we know it works in conjunction with other information-gathering hubs around the world (Pine Gap, AUS; Titanpointe, NYC, etc.). This is being used to collect and sweep all electronic information from "high-profile targets" around the world.
Little did most Americans realize that those same intelligence agencies would become so powerful, that once they had said power, they would never let it go. They justified the Patriot Act after 9/11 by declaring a "war on terror," only later, redefining what terror meant to include anyone who disagreed with their globalist agenda. These unelected bureaucrats (whether American or otherwise) would not just collect information against their foreign enemies, but also their domestic ones. Furthermore, they would apply those same tried and true tactics of regime change, not just abroad, but at home as well. We got a full four years of this after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015.
Again, the justification for Cold War activities was (according to leaders then) to avoid war, especially nuclear war. Nevertheless, this kind of foreign meddling by 'sneaky' intelligence agencies and their special forces, usually ended up dragging in their regular army counterparts anyway to clean up their "special military operations."
Again, most of these Cold War operations were designed to contain Communism (or promote if you were Soviet) and influence foreign affairs without using declared war. Thankfully, the one thing both sides could agree on was that neither wanted world war three. Everyone knew that was a zero-sum game. However, in the Cold War, everything, including currency manipulation, blackmail schemes, bribery, anti-government propaganda, regime change, and targeted political assassinations, was still fair game.
Adding to the creation of all these intelligence agencies and the prolific use of propaganda by media and governments, was also the greatest expansion of technological advances the world had ever seen.
Satellite technology and the space race
The internet and computers
Advances in non-nuclear WMD
Energy and EMP weapons
Robotization and AI
The greatest challenge that has really come about from these 'rumors of wars' is not in the above-mentioned realities (although they bring their own complications into the mix) but that the relentless attack on truth and information which has added so much uncertainty and confusion in the last moments of the last days. The explosion of communication meant it was almost impossible to keep the hard-fought and potentially explosive secrets in, simply due to the number of ways people could now share them. Just for kicks, let us review the chronology of communication over the millennia and how accelerated it has now become:
From Ancient times to the 1800s
Word of mouth
Stone or leather parchment
Papyrus scrolls (with royal seals)
Books (Around the time of Julius Caesar)
Circulars and newspapers
From the 1900s to Present
From the 1990s to Present
From the 2000s to Present
Smartphones and devices
Social media (instant messaging)
3G - 5G Networks
Nation and Kingdoms
Part of Jesus' description of the last days would be the rise of conflicts between nations and kingdoms. From an English rendering of this passage, it seems rather redundant to state both. However, as many of you already know, when we look at this in the original Koine Greek, it makes more sense.
The Greek word for “nation” is ethnos. It simply means “people” or if used of a national group of people it means “nation.” 6 Our English word “ethnic” is derived from this Greek word. Since ‘ethnos is set against ethnos’ in this context, it must mean a “nation,” like Canada or Mexico. On the other hand, the Greek word for “kingdom” is basileia. This word simply means “the territory ruled over by a king.” 7 James Morison says, “Literally, upon nation. One nation shall rise in its anger to come down upon another.” 8 But what is the relationship between nation and kingdom?
At the very least nation and kingdom are synonyms for national entities. However, it appears to me from the context that there is a progression from nation (ethnos) to a confederation of nations that form a kingdom (basileia). Morison says that the notion of kingdom could include “greater communities, or empire, embracing within one political sphere various distinct nationalities.” 9 If this is the case, then the passage is saying that nations will be fighting against nations and groups of nations will also be fighting against each other. (From Dr. Tommy Ice)
If this escalation between nations and kingdoms is true, then it certainly causes one to pause and wonder whether these two great global conflicts in the first half of the 20th century are not a marked that marked departure from all previous wars before it. If WWI and WWII fit the category of the 'mother of all' multi-nation wars, then certainly the 70+ years of the Cold War suffices for the 'mother of all' rumors of wars.
Technological advancements, media, government mass propaganda, and information warfare have created an almost impenetrable fog of war that has become part of the new normal the world has endured for the past 70 years. There is an old Russian joke that says “The future is certain; it is only the past that is unpredictable.” Thanks to historical revisionism, faulty calendars, and newly discovered translations, it is not just the Russians who are wondering about the past any longer.
Nothing is what it seems. History is not what it was. The future is not what we think. There is so much confusion these days about where we are and where we are heading, that it seems this is exactly where Satan wants us to be; confused and beleaguered to the point of apathy. Satan has been busy sowing distress and perplexity amongst the nations, solely so he can bring them to the point of desperation where everyone will willingly trade their liberty for security. Therefore, for the born-again believer, living in these final years requires an incredible amount of discernment which can only come about through the Holy Spirit.
However, given the transformation of communication over the millennia and the rapid development of technology that can aid in this misinformation, Jesus prophetically identifies the greatest challenge to those living in the final generation. It would not be wars, pandemics, and earthquakes (although their birth-pang-like increase would be troubling), it would be deception. This is why Jesus sternly warns at least four times (Matthew's Olivet Discourse) that they (that generation) to take great care so as not to be deceived. In other words, keep your head on a swivel and know that these things must increase...but the end is not yet. Well, if the wars began in earnest in 1914 (with the onset of WWI) then certainly, the Cold War was the ultimate rumors of war. Now, if we are coming to the end of this particular pregnancy, what do these birth pangs produce?
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Romans 8:19-23 (My emphasis)