Nation Shall Rise Against Nation and Kingdom Against Kingdom

But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end [is] not by and by. Then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: (Luke 21:9-10, Mark 13:7-8, Matthew 24:6-7)

The Interpretation

The only other place in the Bible where similar language is used is in Isaiah 19:2:

And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, [and] kingdom against kingdom. (Isaiah 19:2)

Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary and John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible provide evidence that a civil war did occur in Egypt to fulfill this prophecy.

World War I (1914-1918)

End times events will happen throughout the world, so using Isaiah 19:2 as precedent, Jesus is describing a war that will impact the entire world. World War I “was the first truly global war“. In fact, as the map indicates, over 100 countries eventually became involved, for various reasons and to varying degrees.

World War I was one of the deadliest conflicts in history with the number of casualties far surpassing that of previous conflicts. Military and civilian casualties vary depending on the source, but about 20 million people died and about 21 million people were wounded.

World War II

World War II was the largest and bloodiest war in history. The number of military and civilian deaths and casualties varies from about 55 million people total, to about 72 million total, to about 85 million total.

A Closer Look

Looking more closely at Matthew 24:6-7 Jesus mentions “wars and rumours of wars” in general terms, and uses the conjunction “For” to link verses 6 and 7. “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” more specifically describes “wars and rumours of wars”.

Jesus also said not to be “troubled” or “terrified” by these types of wars (plural). As this video describes, World War I (WWI) was the first war that used technology like airplanes, tanks, Gatling guns, submarines, and chemical warfare on a massive scale. World War II (WWII) used atomic weapons that killed at least 115,000 people instantly. Wars have been fought for millennia, but WWI and WWII were different and could be very “troubling” and “terrifying”.

Jesus also said that these wars must first take place. All three Gospel writers mention “nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom” first. Earthquakes, famines, and pestilences follow, and in a different order depending on what Gospel account you read. (Luke 21:9-11; Matthew 24:7, Mark 13:8)

Total Deaths

The 20th century was “dominated by wars and conflicts”, and “was the bloodiest, costliest century of warfare in human history”.

While statistics vary, the number of deaths due to wars in the 20th century is somewhere between 96 million to 160 million to as many as 231 million people.