Article of the Month

October 2008

Financial Crisis

 

Christians who look for and follow the fulfillments of prophecies see in current events either specific occurrences forecast in Scripture or, at least, trends toward the fulfillment of these various prophecies.

 

Because we are clearly near the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the earth, we cannot help but rejoice as current events emphasize that nearness.  We cannot, of course, rejoice in the pain which we all experience when social, financial, political, and religious institutions crumble.  But the pain, like that of childbirth (I Thessalonians 5:3), is tolerable when we know of the blessings which follow. 

 

“The desire of all nations will come.”

(Haggai 2:6, 7)

 

The current crisis in the financial world is of particular interest to those who study Scripture.  While the coming economic collapse is only one of several events the Lord will use to usher in His Kingdom, it is one which grabs the attention of all—rich and poor, American and foreign.

 

We are not prophets.  We are only students of prophecy.  Therefore our interpretations can be faulty.  But intense and comparative Bible study usually takes the extremes out of prophetic interpretation and leaves a relatively clear view of what is to be expected.

 

We would like to share with you some prophetic highlights from five Biblical prophecies—each of which adds light to our understanding of today’s financial-sector woes.

 

GOLD & SILVER IN THE STREETS

 

The entire seventh chapter of Ezekiel deals with our day and with God’s rightful anger with the miserable mess we have made.  It is particularly with the western or “Christian” world that the Lord is angry.  Our increased knowledge makes us more responsible than the heathen lands. 

 

The combination of religious and political entities which have claimed to do things in God’s name is especially vulnerable to God’s anger as He is ready to replace the old world with a new one.  (II Peter 3:13)  This political-religious “Christendom” is called “Babylon” in many prophecies.  In Hebrew, the name means “confusion”!  It also is called “Israel” in some prophecies because the nation of Israel typified modern Christianity.  Israel, too, bore special responsibility because of increased knowledge.

 

Note in Ezekiel 7 a few of the prophetic items to see fulfillment in our day:

 

Verse 4 shows that this is not a time in which God pities our plight.  He exclaims that His payback to us will be to have “our ways” come back at us!  In other words, we are experiencing the natural consequences of our own errors.  And, He says, it is so that “ye shall know that I am the Lord.”  Clearly we don’t know that yet!  Crises will teach it to us.

 

Verse 7, using mountains as a symbol for kingdoms, shows that today’s troubles are “not the sounding again of the mountains.”  No!  This is a special, unique, and new trouble—not just another international power struggle.

 

Verses 12 and 13 begin to explain the monetary distress God will use as a tool:  “Let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn…for the seller shall not return to that which is sold.”

 

In verse 17 we learn that all efforts to solve the problems will be in vain:  “All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak as water.”

 

The 19th verse shows the failure of the monetary system and that it is part of the root of our selfish society:  “It is the stumbling block of their iniquity.”  And it is this verse which proclaims, “They shall cast their silver in the streets and their gold shall be removed:  Their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord.”

 

Whether this means a final and ultimate literal casting of cash out into the streets because it is literally valueless, or whether it is more like casting our wealth into Wall Street to try to prop it up, may not be important.  The point of the prophecy is that we will be totally unable to save the system.

 

GIANTS IN THE EARTH

 

In Jesus’ great prophecy about our day (found in Matthew 24:37), we learn that the days of Jesus’ second advent would have a certain similarity to the days when Noah was building the ark.  Among other things, the prophecy states that little attention would be given to the signs of impending disaster.  People would go on with the normal enjoyments of food, marrying, etc.  This ignorance is shown to continue until the inescapable disaster arrives.

 

But, in consulting Genesis 6:4, 5, we see one other hint of similarities of the two periods.  The record states, “There were giants in the earth in those days.”

 

In Noah’s day, the giants were the offspring of materialized fallen angels and human women.  (See also Jude 6.)  The record indicates that these giants had their own way.  They were a hybrid race which had a superiority of power which allowed them to dominate the society of their day.

 

Taking our clue from Jesus’ comparison of that day to our own day, it is easy to see that “giants” now also rule our economic world.  They are not individual giants, but corporate giants.  They get their own way through intimidation, monopoly, bribing, lobbying, and buying what they want.  The current “solution” for Wall Street woes actually has the more giant banks buying up the lesser ones, thus becoming even more giant.  To expect these corporate giants to work in the interests of the populace seems a bit naïve.

 

It is also interesting to note that end-time prophecy teaches the involvement of the same fallen angels (demons) which were involved “in the days of Noah.”  See Revelation 16:14.  It leads to the total collapse Scripturally and commonly known as “Armageddon.” (Revelation 16:16)

 

RICH MEN, WEEP AND HOWL!

 

Another prophecy of our day is found in James 5:1-6.  It is addressed directly to the economic giants, and it predicts their “miseries.”  The prophecy indicates that the hoarding of wealth “for the last days” will fail in the corrupting and rusting of riches.  Even more powerful is the statement that this “rusting” will be a witness against the poor usage of such assets.  In other words, the hoarding rich will condemn themselves in the sight of all.

 

The prophecy also shows that this super-wealth was amassed at the expense of laboring men.  It accuses the hoarders of fraud.

 

The wonderful words of this prophecy, however, are found in verse 4.  The cries of the oppressed and defrauded are heard by the God of hosts—the God of the masses.  As we have seen in Ezekiel 7, it is God’s intent to DO something about it!

 

Therefore, any attempt to patch up the old economic order will fail.  As it is written in Isaiah 29:14, 15, “…the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

 

THE MERCHANTS SHALL WEEP AND MOURN

 

In Revelation 18:11-20 there is a pointed prophecy regarding the decline of our economic system.  It predicts the falling away of purchasing power and the fear engendered by it.  It includes not only “merchants” (probably capitalists), but also “shipmasters” (probably owners of industry and businesses).  It includes the “company in ships”—those that go along for the ride (probably stockholders).  It includes the “sailors” (probably the employees of those industries).  It also includes “as many as trade by sea” (probably the small companies and individuals that supply the larger enterprises).

 

They all weep and wail over the quick desolation of the old order in which they had so long trusted.  It is, however, so gratifying to see the rejoicing culmination in verse 20!  God is responsible for the collapse!  He is bringing in the Kingdom of His dear son and the saints!  It is this silver lining which is our hope and our stability!

 

THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

 

Our fifth and final prophecy deals with what has become known as “The Global Economy.”  Many think global economics are a wonderful thing.  Others think not so highly of the concept.  But the prophetic viewpoint stresses the REASON for it rather than its strengths or weaknesses.

 

In Zephaniah 3:8, 9, the Lord specifies that He will use globalization to His benefit.  He says, “My determination is to GATHER THE NATIONS that I may ASSEMBLE THE KINGDOMS to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger:  for all the earth (society) shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.”

 

The COMFORT comes in the next words:   “Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one consent.”

 

Thus globalization is making it easy for our God to put a world-wide end to our follies.  The interdependencies of economics insure that the old order can come crashing down all at once, to usher in the Kingdom for which Christians have so long prayed.  (Matthew 6:10)

 

Thus, as expressed by Isaiah 2:17, 18, “And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.”

 

For a great blessing, read Isaiah 2:1-4.  No financial crisis can dim the exhilaration of these words!