From the March/April 2023 Discern issue of Discern Magazine

When They Say, “Peace and Safety!” Then Sudden Destruction

God warns of sudden destruction, yet many ignore the dangers and continue as though things were normal. How can you escape the terrible prophesied events?

Listen to this article

Some voices are again warning of the possibility of sudden destruction. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said, “Humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”

Yet such warnings are generally put aside, as most people look for leaders who reassure them with the expectation of peace and safety instead.

Nuclear dangers

Secretary-General Guterres’ warning came on the heels of the escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine. There are ever-increasing rumors that Russia will use tactical nuclear weapons to respond to interference from other powers in the war. You would think the specter of nuclear destruction would make using atomic weapons unthinkable.

But it doesn’t.

Russia continues to advance its nuclear arsenal by building the biggest nuclear weapon the world has seen, aptly called the “Satan-2” missile. Russia boasts that the missile can deploy 15 nuclear warheads, all directed at different targets. In its initial test run, the missile, which has hypersonic capabilities, flew the span of the Russian nation in only 15 minutes.

This new weapon uses hypersonic glide technology, allowing the missile to change its flight path all along its trajectory, which could render current defenses useless. With such speeds and capabilities, it could enable Russia to destroy any single nation in Europe, including Britain, with just one missile. And there could be little time to respond, perhaps two minutes for nations in Eastern Europe and six minutes for Britain.

One of these missiles is bad enough, but Russia is planning to build 50 of them.

Jesus also warns us not to get caught up in being consumed with the “cares of this life” so that the end-time events will not come upon us “unexpectedly” as they will come upon the entire world (Luke 21:34-35).Meanwhile, nuclear preparedness is being discussed in the United States again. The New York City Emergency Management Department has released a public service announcement with steps to take if there is a nuclear attack, and Newsweek has published an article titled “Best Place to Survive Nuclear War in the U.S.”

Yet, despite these developments, our human nature can deceive us, and most people continue living as if nothing will happen.

The apostle Paul warned that when people say “peace and safety!” we should watch out for “sudden destruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Peace and safety?

We can take a page out of history. Before World War II, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain waved a piece of paper, declaring peace. Later that same day, he said, “For the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

Chamberlain and many others in leadership at that time were either unable or unwilling to see the dangers that Adolf Hitler posed and instead chose to believe that war had been averted.

One year later, Germany broke the agreement, and Britain was at war. World War II brought immense destruction on Europe, so much so that $13 billion in U.S. Marshall Plan aid was needed to help rebuild Europe from its ashes.

End-time events

Paul’s statement of “‘peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction” is in the context of end-time events of the Day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). We, too, can easily deceive ourselves into thinking everything is okay and that the world will continue as it has been.

The apostle Peter warns of “scoffers” in the last days who will mock the idea that Jesus will return, and instead say that things will continue as they are (2 Peter 3:3-4). So Peter warns us to be “mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets” (verse 2).

The Bible warns of the suddenness of end-time events that will come upon the nations. Examples include:

  • Jesus warns us to “watch” for the time of His coming, as it will come when we don’t expect and without warning, like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:42-44; compare Malachi 3:1).
  • God says He will send enemies against His sinful people. The enemy will come “with speed, swiftly” and “as swift as the eagle flies” (Isaiah 5:24-26; Deuteronomy 28:47-50).
  • God has prophesied what will happen, and He will bring it to pass. When He does so, it will happen “suddenly” (Isaiah 48:3) and in a “moment” (Jeremiah 4:19-20).

The collapse of nations will be due to mankind’s disregard for God’s laws. The prophet Isaiah likens our iniquities to a breach in a high wall that’s ready to fall at any moment (Isaiah 30:9-14).

When people ignore their sins, they can have a false sense of security. For a look at these sins, see our online article “Why Is God Angry?

False sense of security

Our modern scientific world can give us a false sense of security also.

The prophet Daniel wrote of an increase in knowledge in the end times (Daniel 12:4). There is no doubt that there has been an explosion of knowledge today. The Internet has been the greatest vehicle for disseminating knowledge of all time.

It is estimated that every two years, Internet and data usage doubles. We have access to knowledge at a click of a button. If you want to learn a new skill, language or trade, you can do much of it from your home.

The vast knowledge of scientific disciplines has made life less physically demanding and freed us from spending as much of our time in the mundane daily routines of survival. In affluent societies, we have access to fresh water from hot and cold taps instead of having to go to a well. We wash clothes with the push of a button on the washing machine instead of at the riverbank.

We don’t need to start a fire to cook food. We have supermarkets full of abundance and variety. We can make use of transportation to travel long distances or to have food delivered to our homes.

It seems nothing imaginable is out of reach.

But there is a problem. Science has also led us to believe that there is no God, that humans are just evolved animals, and that there is no real purpose to life. Innovation has given us missiles and drones that can kill at the push of a button, even to the ends of the earth.

Our vast knowledge has allowed us to manipulate the atom to unleash its power to destroy whole cities, and biological agents to spread diseases. It has given us the potential for such destruction and death that, Jesus warned, if God didn’t intervene, “no flesh would be saved” (Matthew 24:22).

Why have our advancements improved both our standard of living and our ability to destroy ourselves?

Forgetting God

The increase in knowledge, which brings about an increase in the affluence of a nation, also often brings the problem of forgetting God. We become self-reliant and forget that it is God who gives us the “power to get wealth.” Instead we think, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-19).

As with ancient Israel, so it is true with our nations today—the more we have increased, the more we have sinned against God, which will bring about curses and, eventually, our downfall (Hosea 4:7).

As knowledge has multiplied, truth has become more elusive than ever. The prophet Hosea recorded God’s warnings: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” and “because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (verse 6).

Forgetting God is the reason sudden destruction will occur.

Warning of complacency

The Bible warns of a complacent attitude that makes people think everything will continue as it normally does.

Jesus compared His return to the days of Noah and Lot. In those days, people ate, drank, married, traded with one another, planted and built to the very day of their destruction (Luke 17:26-30). They lived as though everything would continue, despite the problems of those societies.

Though their world was about to collapse, they continued on as if everything were business as usual.

In Noah’s day, the world was violent and corrupt because people’s minds were filled with evil thoughts (Genesis 6:5, 12-13). Their world seemed normal to them, as they had grown complacent.

Jesus also warns us not to get caught up in being consumed with the “cares of this life” so that the end-time events will not come upon us “unexpectedly” as they will come upon the entire world (Luke 21:34-35).

Watch and pray

The opposite of being complacent is being watchful and alert.

The prophet Ezekiel saw a glimpse of the spirit world just before sudden destruction came upon Jerusalem. As the glory of God was leaving the temple, Ezekiel saw six angelic beings with lethal weapons and one among them with an inkhorn (Ezekiel 9:1-3).

God told the angel with the inkhorn to go and mark those who “sigh and cry over all the abominations” that were being done around them. Then those with the deadly weapons were to slay the rest who didn’t receive this mark, who essentially were complacent about their sins and the sins of the people around them (verses 4-5, 9).

We must go to God in prayer, sighing and crying over all the abominations around us. We are to watch world conditions and our attitudes as we diligently strive to make our spiritual “call and election” sure (2 Peter 1:10).

With these things in mind, we should be praying that we will be “counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

God has a wonderful future in store beyond the troubles of this age. Learn more about Jesus Christ’s return and how to prepare for it in our online article “You Need Some Good News.”

About the Author

Isaac Khalil

Isaac Khalil

Isaac Khalil is husband to his lovely wife, Natasha, and father to son, Eli and daughter, Abigal. He loves to spend time with family and friends doing various things like watching movies, playing chess, playing board games and going out. He enjoys studying biblical topics and discussing the Bible with his friends. He is also a news junkie and is constantly reading and sharing news connected with Bible prophecy.

Read More

Get the Latest

InSights Blog

Get the latest blog posts from Life, Hope & Truth straight to your inbox.


Never miss a post! Sign up to receive the week's latest articles, blog posts and updates.



Discern is published every two months and is available in digital and print versions. Choose your preferred format to start your subscription.

Print subscriptions available in U.S., Canada and Europe


Please choose your region: