Wars and Rumors of Wars: Elusive Peace

by Ellen Foell, International Specialist of Heartbeat InternationalWars and Rumors of Wars

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  - Matthew 24:6-8

In early October 2023, Hamas attacked Israel on the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In September 2023, both Serbia and Kosovo moved troops to their borders in a standoff. In February 2022, the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine.

Wars and rumors of wars. And that is not all.

Did you know that according to the Geneva Academy1 (which classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law), there are currently more than 110 armed conflicts around the world? Some of these conflicts make the headlines while others do not. Some of them started recently, while others have lasted for more than 50 years. Here is a map showing the locations of current armed conflicts.2

World Map

One does not need to study the map for very long to see that the geographic locations where armed conflict is occurring far outnumber the nations where there is some semblance of peace.

Of course, as soon as any war or conflict erupts, leaders start to talk about “calm heads,” and pursuing peace; they begin to argue about who started it, but mostly, their loudest cry and call is for peace—even though hardly anyone dares to talk about what that would look like. It is the cry not only from those engaged in the war but from those who lead powerful nations, and those who have influence. Throughout history, and in the context of hundreds of previous conflicts and wars, great leaders in the world and history have spoken about world peace: Alexander the Great, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Helen Keller, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Men and women—black and white—of every generation has had its spokespersons for peace. Everyone wants peace.

As a “world community,” prizes are even given to those who advocate for peace as if the advocacy for peace had a magic dotted line to actual peace. It doesn’t. And even if we think it does, the prophet Jeremiah wrote: 

“From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.”

– Jeremiah 6:14

The phrase “peace, peace,” when there is no peace is found in Jeremiah 6:14 and Jeremiah 8:11. It is also found in Ezekiel 13:10 and 16. In all four places, it has the same meaning in the same historical context: a cry for peace for a nation, for a people, amid conflict and oppression.

We want peace, and we cry for peace. As we look at the nations at war, the ethnic and regional conflicts, that are occurring right now in our world, of course, we pray for peace. But let us not kid ourselves. Jesus said we would hear of "wars and rumors of wars."Not only that, but Jesus told His disciples, “In the world, you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” - Matthew 10:34

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” - Luke 12:49

Is this the same Jesus who said, “Peace I leave with you…” no fewer than three times to the disciples after he rose from the dead? The same Jesus who oftentimes told someone whose life he had just irreversibly and gloriously changed, “Go in peace.” Including, the woman He healed from the issue of blood (Luke 8:48), the woman who anointed His feet with her tears (Luke 7:50), and the royal official whose son was healed (John 4:50).

Jesus was called the Prince of Peace. He could make winds stop, still the waves, calm the raging Gerasene and quiet the accusations of the religious leaders. Jesus said to the disciples and to those He healed, several times, “Peace I leave with you,” “Go in peace,” “Be at peace with one another,” and “My peace I leave with you.” In the famous opening to His great sermon, known as the Beatitudes, Jesus taught, “Blessed [happy] are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9).

Well, which was it? Did Jesus come to bring peace or division, calm or conflict, serenity or a sword? What if He came to bring both?

We know that Jesus also said in John 14:27 the most enigmatic thing of all: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Christ's "peace" here refers to a hope and reassurance that goes beyond what a fallen world can offer (Philippians 4:7). It is permanent, guaranteed, and eternal (Hebrews 6:18–19). Our vice president of Ministry Services, Tracie Shellhouse, shares an encouraging word about peace for each one of us. In Christ alone, we can have peace.

The Prophet Micah at 4:3, articulated his hope for a world where nations would no longer engage in warfare; where people would live in safety and unity, sitting under their own vine and fig tree with none to make them afraid. Micah, along with Isaiah and other prominent prophets, consistently emphasized the importance of justice, righteousness, and the pursuit of peace as integral components of a harmonious society. This underlines the idea that true peace was not just the absence of conflict but the presence of justice and righteousness in the world. We strive for peace, but we also know that the day when the lion lies down with the lamb is not for this side of eternity.

We have short video updates about the war in Israel from Sandy Shoshani, National Director of Be’ad Chaim, and Nadia Gordynsky, President of Save a Life, International, with a network of centers across Ukraine. Her testimony of what is happening in the Ukraine assures us God is on the throne and His work endures and grows despite conflict and war.

Friends and allies, we grieve the death and destruction caused by ongoing wars and conflict, but not as the world does. Our fully redeemed and truest hope is not in this world, and our hope is not in this present life. Nonetheless, let us pray and work for the peace of Jerusalem, the peace in Kiev, and the peace in every area of the world where conflict and unrest continue, until the shalom of the Prince of Peace is manifest.



  1. https://geneva-academy.ch/galleries/today-s-armed-conflicts (accessed 10/31/23).
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ongoing_armed_conflicts (accessed 10/31/23).