Jesus and Global Financial Crises: Is There a Connection?~Wilfred Hahn (BPT)

Jesus and Global Financial Crises: Is There a Connection?

Wilfred Hahn
By Wilfred Hahn

People often ask whether the Global Financial Crisis(GFC) represents the start of the Tribulation or whether it might have any special prophetic significance. Starting with the second question first, the answer is both “yes” and “no.” We have given our explanation for this answer before in detail. In short, no, the GFC is not specifically mentioned in Bible prophecy. However, yes, it is significant in the sense that it is part of a progression that is leading to the prophetic fulfillment of conditions described as occurring inside the Tribulation period.

To the first question, the answer is a definite “no.” There are tens of reasons why such a view would not line up with Scripture. Yet, there are some who do hold to this position. The GFC hardly qualifies as being part of a series of events that “[…] never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come” (Joel 2:2). For this reason alone, the GFC does not signify the start of the Tribulation.

The GFC is not unique. There have been many economic and financial crises in the world before. Some were attributable to natural phenomenon (climatic cooling effects of major volcanic eruptions, plagues … etc.) and others were classic financial bubbles and busts involving over-indebtedness and money manias. All of these conditions have a long history.

If so, then why do we not read about them in the Bible? Well, actually the Bible does provide accounts of great economic and financial busts. For example, seven years of plenty were followed by a disastrous meltdown of the entire economic structure of the then known world. During the time of Joseph in Egypt, the seven lean years certainly qualified as a bust that hugely overshadows the GFC of today.

The Bible speaks of various droughts, for example, one lasting for some 3 1/2 years in Israel during the time of Elijah and King Ahab. That would surely have caused depression-like economic conditions in Israel that would have wiped out a few fortunes.

We do not easily recognize these events as economic and financial histories mainly because the Bible does not describe them in the modern economic terms of our “financially sophisticated” times. We are not told of collapsing debt markets, bankrupt banks nor the details of possible inflationary conditions. For example, only in extra-Biblical writings is there found any indication of the burdensome inflationary consequences to the huge spending and borrowing binge of King Solomon. That was part of the contributing reason why laborers were grumbling against King Rehoboam. Jeroboam said to him “Your father [Solomon] put a heavy yoke on us” (1Ki 12:4, 2Ch 10:4).

Indeed, the Bible is often skimpy on financial details and economic backdrops. It would have been interesting to know how some of the prophets sustained themselves. For example, Jeremiah prophesied for a period of some 40 years. Moreover, God required him to buy a property in Anathoth from a cousin, Hanamel, (Jeremiah 32) just before the Babylonians conquered and sacked Judah. Just how did he make ends meet during his long ministry? He traveled widely and made bad property investments.

We must note, of course, that, Jeremiah was told to buy the property from Hanemel by God, because he was to demonstrate faith in the long-term promise that Israel would be restored after 70 years. He was the ultimate long-term investor. All the same, how did Jeremiah make ends meet during his lifetime?

No doubt, many pastors and others called to ministry would like to know whether Jeremiah was a TFK (a “trust fund kid”), perhaps benefiting from a fortune left to him by a father that was a wealthy scion. We simply are not told. The topic doesn’t come up with any of the prophets. For example, Jonah heads off to Tarshish, loses everything crossing the Mediterranean Sea, yet is able to travel to Nineveh. No mention is made of him first going back to his hometown synagogue to solicit a “love offering” for his redirected trip to Nineveh. From the perspective of the Holy Spirit that inspired the writing of Scripture, these details were not deemed important for us to know. Why not? Probably, had these details been made available in the Bible, ministry funding practices today might even be more warped than they already are today. Here, the Bible’s testimony simply and quietly gives evidence of God’sprovision. It is assumed, as it is deemed to be obvious. If we are called to do something for the Lord, He will also make a way.

Even more interesting to learn is the global economic and financial background that existed at the time of Jesus Christ. Nowhere in the Gospels is found any direct mention or description of the general economic backdrop during that time. Again, we must look to sources outside of the Bible. Doing so, we discover an interesting fact. The financial backdrop during almost the entirety of Jesus’ life was one of global financial turmoil. Actually, there was a massive global financial crisis … one perhaps on the scale of today… during the latter part of his life on earth. In fact, it may yet be proven that a “global financial crisis” rocked the world at the very time of His journey to Golgotha.

Here is an account of the financial problems of Rome that led up to a major banking crisis in 33 A.D., taken from Chapter 15 of Will Durant’s History of Roman Civilization and of Christianity from their beginnings to AD 325:
“The famous ‘panic’ of A.D. 33 illustrates the development and complex interdependence of banks and commerce in the Empire. Augustus had coined and spent money lavishly, on the theory that its increased circulation, low interest rates, and rising prices would stimulate business. They did; but as the process could not go on forever, a reaction set in as early as 10 B.C.,when this flush minting ceased. Tiberius rebounded to the opposite theory that the most economical economy is the best. He severely limited the governmental expenditures, sharply restricted new issues of currency, and hoarded 2,700,000,000 sesterces in the Treasury.

The resulting dearth of circulating medium was made worse by the drain of money eastward in exchange for luxuries. Prices fell, interest rates rose, creditors foreclosed on debtors, debtors sued usurers, and money lending almost ceased. The Senate tried to check the export of capital by requiring a high percentage of every senator’s fortune to be invested in Italian land; senators thereupon called in loans and foreclosed mortgages to raise cash, and the crisis rose. When the senator Publius Spinther notified the bank of Balbus and Ollius that he must withdraw 30,000,000 sesterces to comply with the new law, the firm announced its bankruptcy.

At the same time the failure of an Alexandrian firm, Seuthes and Son due to their loss of three ships laden with costly spices and the collapse of the great dying concern of Malchus at Tyre, led to rumors that the Roman banking house of Maximus and Vibo would be broken by their extensive loans to these firms. When its depositors began a “run” on this bank it shut its doors, and later on that day a larger bank, of the Brothers Pettius, also suspended payment. Almost simultaneously came news that great banking establishments had failed in Lyons, Carthage, Corinth, and Byzantium. One after another the banks of Rome closed. Money could be borrowed only at rates far above the legal limit. Tiberius finally met the crisis by suspending the land investment act and distributing 100,000,000 sesterces to the banks, to be lent without interest for three years on the security of realty. Private lenders were thereby constrained to lower their interest rates, money came out of hiding, and confidence slowly re-turned.”
If you followed the above account, it will be recognized that it took some years for these described developments to finally culminate in a catastrophic and interconnected banking crisis that cascaded through the known world at that time. Indeed, it can be considered to have been a global financial crisis. Most surely, at least part of these events occurred while Jesus was still alive, late in his time of ministry on earth.

Tacitus, the Roman historian of that era, provides the most detailed account in The Annals (VI, 16-17). He tells us of the response by Emperor Tiberius:
“The destruction of private wealth precipitated the fall of rank and reputation, till at last the emperor interposed his aid by distributing throughout the banks a hundred million sesterces, and allowing freedom to borrow without interest for three years, provided the borrower gave security to the State in land to double the amount. Credit was thus restored, and gradually private lenders were found.”
As then, various central banks today are following the same policies… flooding the monetary system with money, depressing interest rates and devising special terms to induce the flow of money and credit. The size of official Roman interventions were enormous — figures in the hundreds of millions sesterces (a Roman money unit).

Could this Roman-world financial crisis have peaked in the very year that Christ was crucified … perhaps shortly before or concurrently? We can’t be sure. The bankruptcies of various banks already began in 32 A.D. And, the exact date of crucifixion of Christ is not known. A date set by many scholars (though still not proven conclusively) is April 33 AD.

Could it be that Jesus Christ will return at a time similar to when He left — during times of global financial crisis? What we do know, according to the two angels that appeared following the Ascension, is that...
“This same Jesus,who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts1:11).
Most certainly, Jesus’ final return at the end of the Tribulation period will occur at a time of global devastation and economic collapse. Jesus, however, will also appear in the air at an earlier time. He said,
“I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 4:3).
Here He points to the Rapture. And so, today, many Christians apparently hope that the Rapture will occur before such a great financial crisis unfolds …perhaps even hoping this might occur before the Global Financial Crisis worsens. The Rapture is imminent, potentially occurring at any moment. We therefore do not know its hour. However, it seems not unreasonable to believe that just as Christ “was taken from you into heaven” — in other words, from believers who were looking up as he ascended into heaven — that those who will be received into heaven by Him, will also be looking upwards … not trapped and focused upon any worldly financial crisis.

A non-worldliness was implored by Paul:
“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on [...]those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31).
Contrary to the promises of globalists, demagogues, false prophets and varied other hucksters and pied pipers, no heaven will be achieved on earth by mankind. In its present form, the world will pass away.

A Good Question~Ray Comfort


Cartoons by Richard Gunther.
A Good Question

"Hi Ray, I have a sincere question: How do you know God is of the Christian variety? Equally devout Muslims disagree. If I'm on the fence, I need a better answer than 'I just KNOW. God has revealed himself to me.'"

Good question. The thing that makes Christianity utterly unique is the cross. For it to make sense you have to back up from Jesus to Moses. He was the one who received the Ten Commandments from the hand of God. The Law of Moses was given to reveal God's standard of "righteousness."

Now zoom forward about 1500 years to the time of Jesus. He was God in human form who came to earth to "magnify the Law and make it honorable." You can see Him do that in the famous "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5-7). During that sermon He quotes the Seventh Commandment (about adultery) and then says, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." So let's think about that one Commandment for a moment. If God is going to judge us on Judgment Day by that (very high) standard, who of us would be guiltless and avoid Hell?

So humanity has a problem. All of us have violated God’s Law. He is a perfect judge, and we are guilty criminals, heading for a just and terrible punishment for our "multitude" of crimes against His Law. So my prayers, my fasting, my helping others in that context aren’t "good" works. If we offer the Judge anything as "payment" for our crimes, the Bible says it’s an abomination to Him, because it is a detestable attempt to bribe Him, and He will not be bribed. Not for a millisecond. So the religion of "doing" things to merit God's favor is fruitless, in the truest sense of the word.

So how can we be saved from His wrath? Only by the mercy of the Judge. God Himself became a person in Jesus Christ, suffered on a cruel cross, and then rose again on the third day. That cross was the complete payment for our crimes against God and His Law. We broke the Law of Moses, but Jesus paid our fine. That means that the Judge can (upon our repentance and faith in Jesus) completely dismiss our case. Everlasting life is the free gift of God (see Ephesians 2:8-9). It can’t be earned by "religious" works, and therein is the uniqueness of Christianity. Take it or leave it, but do so at your own eternal peril. See John 8:31-32 and John 14:21 for more details:

"Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him..." (Hebrews 5:8-9)

Serving the World, Loving Others~S. Michael Craven

Serving the World, Loving Others

When I began this series, I argued that the gospel in America has suffered a serious reduction from its full biblical meaning and that this reductionism has left many Christians confused and/or misguided with regard to their mission and calling. The reduction of the gospel to merely personal salvation has narrowed our conceptions of what we believe we are called to do in the world to little more than sharing some facts about Jesus and inviting others to agree with these facts.

However, as the Scriptures show, the gospel of the kingdom is better understood as the announcement of God’s in-breaking reign. The kingdom of God is a present reality, inaugurated at the cross when Jesus broke the power of Satan. Jesus has entered the enemy’s house, bound Satan and robbed him of his ill-gotten gain, including those enslaved to sin (see Matthew 12:29). This kingdom represents God’s redemptive rule and reign, in which Christ the King is making all things new, setting right what sin has set wrong in the world, and gathering a people for himself, the church.

Interestingly, this ancient truth seems to be emerging from its recent historical obscurity. Pastors, scholars, and teachers are increasingly emphasizing the gospel of the kingdom over and against the reductionist gospel. Furthermore, the notion of Christ’s kingdom as an entirely future reality-an idea that came to dominate American evangelicalism during the past 150 years-is beginning to disappear.

In light of this deeper understanding, the implications for the church and its mission to the world can be better understood. As indicated earlier, the Scriptures appear to outline a threefold approach to expressing the “good news” of the kingdom. First, the church demonstrates what life looks like under the reign of God within a distinct community, the church. I have already addressed this in terms of our relational unity within the body (see John 13:35), its necessity in our witness, and offered examples such as charity toward each other, the strengthening of our marriages, and our care of our elderly as demonstrations that could and should be manifested.

Now I want to address the second way in which the church bears witness to the gospel: service to the world and loving those outside the church. No longer being our own, the church surrenders itself as a redemptive instrument in the hands of God to bring forth the fruits of the kingdom-justice, righteousness, and peace. Paul writes, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). This power is the present lordship of Jesus Christ to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given (see Matthew 28:18) and this spiritual power flows-by grace-through his body, the church, producing “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22,23).

It is these virtues, empowered by God’s spirit, that then drive the church out into the world, seeking to set right what sin has set wrong, to alleviate suffering, to provide comfort, to enact justice, to liberate the oppressed, and to heal the sick. One need not look long to find opportunities to express the redemptive gospel of the kingdom through acts of service in a lost and broken world. Nonetheless, looking may be our challenge. Despite the profuse suffering in this world, we either find ourselves so overwhelmed we don’t know where to begin, or our selfish nature compels us to apathy and indifference. But this nature has been replaced with a new nature that is to be sensitive to suffering. We are to look upon the world in the same way that Jesus looked upon Jerusalem-with tears in his eyes. Apathy is sin!

Share the Gospel at all Times and When Necessary, Use Words (St. Francis)

I have friends, Doug and Debbie, who illustrate this sensitivity quite well. Several years ago they encountered an eighteen-year-old who came into their church from the streets. If you had met this young man, however, you never would have guessed he was eighteen; he seemed rather a kind boy-a child really-whom life had very nearly destroyed. This young man had absolutely no sense of self-worth, believing himself to be of no value to anyone anywhere.

Eric, as it turned out, had been essentially abandoned years earlier; he lived alone on the streets, in derelict homes, or with his grandmother occasionally. His mother was an unstable addict; his father was merely one of the many men passing in and out of her life. Absent any parental support and guidance, Eric had had some trouble with the law, and had been expelled from school in the eleventh grade; greatly lacking in his education, at this point he had little or no future. His was a real human tragedy, a story of generational sin, bondage, and the real wreckage that follows.

Despite having six children of their own at home and often struggling financially, Doug and Debbie invited Eric into their home. He became a part of their family, this young black kid from the streets-he became their son and brother. They discipled him. They schooled him at home until he could obtain his GED. They loved him and brought him into their community of faith where he was equally loved and received. There were various members of their church who offered assistance as needed to restore what sin had taken from this young man and ready him for life. Lawyers volunteered to represent Eric, getting his juvenile record expunged, thus giving him a chance at life. Countless steps and many expenses followed. With his record cleared, a high school degree obtained, Eric could pursue his dream of joining the United States Marine Corps.

Here once again, Doug and Debbie worked tirelessly to prepare Eric, helping him study for the ASVAB (armed forces entrance exam), obtain the necessary documentation, medical records, and so on, until this young man finally made it. In November of last year, Eric graduated from boot camp, having earned the title of Marine. I saw Eric the following week. He was proud and standing tall, a young man now utterly in love with Jesus and also able to love himself. All I could think was Here stands a restored human being.

Eric said something to me that I thought so encapsulated the gospel that I nearly wept when he said it. He was telling me how his fellow Marines were teasing him about buying so many graduation photos (he spent over $300!). They asked, “Why are you getting so many pictures?” He said: “I told ’em, I got a lot of people who love me.”

That’s it! Brought out of darkness into light, out of alienation and into the community of God’s gracious love. His humanity had been restored through the love of Christ, seen, felt, and expressed through this family, a family that looked upon this boy with the eyes of Jesus and followed Jesus into his life as Christ worked through the muck and mess of redemption.

This is what we are sent into the world to do and in so doing we “share the gospel” in ways far louder or more clearly than mere words could ever communicate!

________________________________________________

S. Michael Craven is the President of the Center for Christ & Culture. Michael is the author of Uncompromised Faith: Overcoming Our Culturalized Christianity (Navpress). Michael's ministry is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, visit: www.battlefortruth.org. Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.

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