Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not
come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)
Matthew 22 also has this parable:
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of
heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He
sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell
them to come, but they refused to come.
4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been
invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle
have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another
to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and
killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed
those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but
those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners
and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went
out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the
bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man
there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you
get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and
throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and
gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
There have been five major missionary expansions of Christianity corresponding to the four uses of the word "servant" and the singular use of "his army" in the Parable:
- Apostolic era, when the servants were initially sent to "those who have been invited", namely the Jews.
- Roman era, with Constantine and the later Edict of Thessalonica making Rome a Christian empire, enjoying "oxen and fattened cattle", a time of plenty
- Dark Ages, with Islamic conquest, Mongol invasions, and the expulsion of missionaries from much of Asia, when Christians were mistreated and killed in large numbers
- Crusades and Early Colonial era, when God sent out armies instead of missionaries to spread the gospel
- World Missions movement from William Carey (1790's) until the present when Christian misisonaries went out into the whole world. They "went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find".
With this parable viewed as Jesus' master plan for evangelizing the world, you can see that the fourth phase of missions required the sending of soldiers to conquer much of the world. The cassus belli was the gross mistreatment of his followers by the world.
So in fact, the fact that peace has not yet arrived confirms the gospel instead of refuting it.
Eclesiastes 3 lists twenty-eight times. The "time for peace" comes after the "time for war". Jesus will bring peace, but not until all the enemies of God have been defeated.
What is the Gospel then, if not a Message of Peace?
By a wide margin, the word "peace" appears most often in the writings of Paul. His is the gospel of peace.
- Apostle Paul: 47
- Rest of New Testament: 46
- Isaiah: 25
- Jeremiah (plus Lamentations): 17
- Psalms: 17
- Pentateuch: 10
However, in Romans 5:1-5 we find out what kind of peace that is:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have
gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And
we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we
also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces
perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And
hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out
into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
The gospel promises peace with God to all who have faith. Thus we who have faith have received that peace, an end of our personal wars against God by his forgiveness, purchased by his death on the cross. Peace between people grows only as fast as people turn to Jesus, confess their sins, join the church and mature in their faith. The consummation of that work awaits Christ's return. This confirms the rest of the promise: we shall glory in our sufferings. Those sufferings arise in the context of the continuing war between darkness and light.
Is the Killing of Non-Christians Morally Justified or Even Mandatory?
One of the comments made in response to this answer states that my answer implies that such killing is justified. I implied no such thing but I shall nevertheless answer in the affirmative, but not limit it to Christians. The killing of all people - Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, or any other type of person - is morally justified AND mandatory - but only for God when exercising his vengeance. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19) However, that vengeance is often implemented through God's human delegates, such as Moses against the Egyptians, the Jews against the Philistines, the Assyrians and Babylonians against the Jews, and in various times, other nations against the Christian church when it has strayed. Indeed, in the time of Noah, that vengeance extended to the whole population of the earth, excepting eight people.
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:18) Notice how this verse appears side by side with the announcement of God's vengeance? The normal posture of Christians is to live at peace with all people, so long as they are agreeable, not seek to kill without the authority of God for the specific situation. God did not give Christians carte blanche authority to kill non-Christians. However, Isaiah did say something that should give all people pause: “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” (Isaiah 48:2) The only way out of that is to obtain the righteousness that is by faith. With that righteousness in hand, a person is no longer counted as wicked and becomes deserving of peace.
When is the time of Peace?
In another answer, @slm quotes Jesus in Acts when he is answering his discpiples, who are asking about the as yet unfulfilled promises that the Messiah is supposed to keep:
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the
seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. Acts 1:7
The disciples shared the same misconception as their compatriots, so the answer that Jesus gave them is the same answer that can be given to other Jewish people. The things that Jesus as a candidate for Messiah has done or not done are subject to the Father's timetable. Anything that Jesus has not yet done, the Father has planned for the future.
It is interesting that Jesus directs the disciples to the Father for an answer. The assumption that many people have is that "the times or the seasons" are an unknown and unknowable mystery. They are not. Jesus is pointing the disciples to the place where their answer may be found, but understanding that answer requires wisdom. The wisdom needed for understanding the prophecies that spell out when the coming time of peace will begin was not given to the disciples.
Certain Bible sections speak for the Father. It is to one of those sections that we must turn for the answer. King Solomon wrote Proverbs and Ecclesiastes as advice for a father to teach his sons. One of those books spoke in detail about "times and seasons". Thus to learn how long we must wait until the time of Peace arrives we must turn to Ecclesiastes.
Security / Prepare -> Establishment of an enduring culture, Jewish loss of their sovereignty
Born (960-840 BC) Civil War. Rehoboam. Israel born.
Die (840-720 BC) Assyrian Captivity. Israel dies.
Plant (720-600 BC) Kings Hezekiah & Josiah plant Judah more securely.
Uproot (600-480 BC) Babylonian Exile uproots Judah.
Ability / Plow -> Greek & Roman advances in knowledge & engineering, Jewish advances in theology
Kill (480-360 BC) Queen Esther and Haman's plot to kill all the Jews.
Heal (360-240 BC) Alexander the Great. Simeon the Just. Pentateuch begun. Mild Ptolemaic rule.
Tear down (240-120 BC) Antiochus Epiphanes descecrates the temple. Harsh Seleucid rule.
Build (120 BC-1 AD) Herod's temple. Jesus born - the precious cornerstone.
Stability / Plant -> Perseverance until a stable empire is won
Weep (1-120 AD) Jesus crucified. Temple destroyed.
Laugh (120-240 AD) Justin Martyr.
In 166 AD, Emperor Marcus Aurelius' most famous victim was scourged and beheaded in Rome. The last words of Justin Martyr were, "We desire nothing more than to suffer for our Lord Jesus Christ; for this gives us salvation and joyfulness before his dreadful judgment seat." Justin was asked, "Do you suppose that you will rise again and live for ever?" He replied, "I do not suppose it. I know it."
Mourn (240-360 AD) Final Roman persecutions, including under Diocletian.
Dance (360-480 AD) Edict of Thessalonica. Rome becomes a Christian empire.
Amity / Pour -> Individuation
Scatter stones (480-600 AD) Rome sacked twice. Fall of teh Western Roman Empire.
Gather stones (600-720 AD) Dome of the Rock.
Embrace (720-840 AD) 2nd Council of Nicaea - the 7th and final ecumenical council, about the proper use of icons in worship. Last embrace of the eastern and western CHristian churches.
Refrain (840-960 AD)
Opportunity / Pluck -> Renaissance
Seek (960-1080 AD) Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Church independence from civil control. Seeking the return of Christ.
Lose (1080-1200 AD) The crusades: Jerusalem captured but then lost. Great Schism of 1054.
Keep (1200-1320 AD) The Franciscans Keep the commandments. The English Keep their freedom: Magna Carta.
Throw away (1320-1440 AD) Black Death. Final decline of Byzantium.
Community / Produce -> Worldwide Christian Missions
Tear (1440-1560 AD) Fall of Constantinople. Protestant Reformation.
Mend (1560-1680 AD) Peace of Westphalia. Beginning of religious tolerance.
Be silent (1680-1800 AD) Pietism Movement. Great Awakening.
Speak (1800-1920 AD) Christian missions. Anti-slavery movement.
Loyalty / Peace -> Sheep & Goats
Love (1920-2040 AD) God pour out his love on the world. Food. Medicine. Transport. Communication. Life expectancy. Education. Rights for women, minorities. Democracy. Wealth of the world.
Hate (2040-2160 AD) Persecution. Division.
War (2160-2280 AD) The final war against Leviathan.
Peace (2280 AD-???) The rapture. Second coming of Jesus Christ.
The twenty-eight times of Ecclesiastes 3 are:
- a metaphor for the growth of a man or woman from infancy to maturity, with each group of four times corresponding to seven years of life
- a prophecy of the history of Israel and the Church, from immaturity to full maturity in the faith
The above schema is cryptically brief. See the book below for historical details. The easiest correspondences above are:
- the rise and fall of the northern kingdom of Israel (a time to be born and a time to die)
- the Babylonian exile (a time to uproot)
- the crucifixion of Jesus (a time to weep)
- converting Rome into a Christian empire (a time to dance)
- the Protestant Reformation and wars of religion which shattered the church (a time to tear and a time to mend)
- the Pietism movement and Great Awakening, when Christians began to hear God's call to implement justice, such as rising opposition to slavery (a time to be silent)
- the worldwide missionary movement when the Church spoke the gospel to the whole world (a time to speak)
- the worldwide increase in prosperity, increased lifespan, education, medicine and many other advances, as God poured out his love on the world (a time to love)
This leaves "a time to hate" immediately before us, when a great persecution will bring misery. That leaves "a time for war" and "a time for peace" to follow that.
That is how to answer questions about why peace has not yet come to the earth.
In the above schema for history, the starting point is 960 AD, approximately when Solomon dedicated the first temple in Jerusalem. Each time lasts 120 years, excepting the last, because Jesus will return "like a thief in the night" and cut the last period short. The source of that 120-year value is a riddle in Ecclesiastes. See the book below for its interpretation.
For more detailed analysis of Matthew's parables related to missions, see the chapter titled "A Minute Look at Matthew" in:
Other chapters in the above book tell how to interpret prophetically the twenty-eight times of Ecclesiastes 3.