How terrible are the times; how anxious people have become!
Christians everywhere feel pressured. Countless analysts, preachers and
prophecy experts have been (and continue to) spread fearsome worries
about the future. Their shrill warnings can border on the hysterical. If
it is not the false alarms of “blood moons,” it is about geopolitics or
the economic outlook.
Some even claim that they have had “divine inspiration” for their prophecies. Speculations are wide-ranging: The U.S. dollar will crash; surely the world economy will collapse; and others warn about “tribulational” events being just around the corner, for which one should be prepared.
Whom to listen to? What should one do in response? Perhaps, consider advance preparation?
There indeed are plenty of worrisome developments around the world. God-fearing people will discern the long-term trends of moral decay. Wickedness and humanism are increasing in influence, and therefore mankind’s economic systems, societies and civil institutions are deteriorating and being corrupted. Instability is the new norm. Mankind’s modern idols are teetering and tottering.
However, we again ask, how should one respond?
In answering this question, we encounter two diametrically opposed perspectives. One is Biblically supported, the other is not. And, it is the latter that leads to most of the fear-mongering, false prophecies and profit-making deliverance. We will investigate.
Bogus Watchmen on the Wall
The Lord told Jeremiah “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them” (Jeremiah 15:19).
As it may be, some do appoint themselves as spokesman; however, they do not speak worthy words. Often, their words bend toward popular demand and itching ears.
It follows that “worthy, and not worthless words” could only be those that align with biblical knowledge and truth. Unworthy words lead to error and confusion and therefore cannot be inspired of God. Why?
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33, KJV).
There is no shortage of people and ministries who like to see themselves as “watchmen on the wall” (Isaiah 62:6). To be called as a watchman can be honourable and edifying, provided of course, that one is speaking worthy words and admonitions. The outcome should be peace “in the churches of the saints.”
A worthy watchmen would remind people (and the world) that the Lord’s return is near; that the time for repentance is short; and to look up, “[…] for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28, KJV). After all, on many occasions Jesus urged the disciples to watch. Therefore, watchmen that follow these directions from Christ will prove to be effective and reliable servants.
For example, these honourable forecasters would implore and call out with warnings of the following nature: “Watch out for false prophets [as] they come to you in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15); “Watch out that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4); “[…] keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42); “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41); “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15).
Note that none of these urgings from the Bible requires a physical preparation; they are only spiritual ones affecting the heart. None concerns itself with worldly goods or material possessions. For again, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15). A key distinction found here is that the concerns of these “worthy” watchmen are not about the “abundance of possessions.”
As such, these messages will contrast with the types of announcements that will come from more earthly-minded prognosticators, who may even masquerade as Spirit-led forecasters or prophets speaking for God. They focus more exclusively upon temporal and materialistic affairs. Moreover, followers of such spokesmen are likely to encounter wild speculations and suffer angst and confusion.
These so-called watchmen might prognosticate that the world’s monetary system is about to collapse. Or, frighteningly, that the stock markets will crash and that the U.S. dollar is sure to plunge. Apocalyptic scenarios are envisioned in which banks will be shuttered and depositors will be unable to access their money. Possibly, grocery store shelves will be emptied and electrical and municipal water systems will no longer function.
What to do? How to preserve your wealth should these frightful scenarios actually occur? How to protect your own family?
As might be guessed, a lot of confusing answers are on offer. Indeed, terrible things have happened in virtually every country over past centuries. However, that fact does not add any real validity to a forecast. The problem lies in the fact that no one has a sure solution or reliable prediction for something that might apply to the near-term future.
That is to say, there are lots of predictions and offered solutions, but none are sure or likely to be correct. Out of thousands of false prophets, which one is likely to be correct? One cannot know in advance. Dire prophecies that have a very low probability of being correct are therefore useless. Even worse, as mentioned, such prophecies lead to much anxiety and confusion.
None of these perspectives here denies the veracity of Bible prophecy. All Bible prophecy has and will be fulfilled. But even with the inviolable foreknowledge of prophecy, we are admonished, “[…] Do not go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). While prophecy provides a light in a dark place (2 Peter 1:19), it provides no guidance as to short-term events.
Sadly, though teachers and preachers may be well-meaning in their warnings and prophecies about predicted financial events and economic trends, they are misguided. They discredit the pulpit. Secular professionals who may specialize in geopolitics or currency market trends, for example, are also often wrong in their predictions (if not almost always). Then, what advantage does a pastor or ministry leader have with his predictions?
This writer has been active in the global financial industry for nearly four decades. During this time I have witnessed many irresponsible financial predictions from the pulpits of North America. These may have induced their congregations to buy gold, buy the Iraqi dinar, sell the U.S. dollar, and a host of other possible investment schemes. The damage has been great both in monetary terms as well as reputational. Not only are such types of prophecies likely to be unreliable, but they also betray an ignorance of Bible-rooted perspectives.
Over the years, I have also received countless inquiries from readers asking me to legitimize the “doom and gloom” (and also profit-making) forecasts of various economists or Bible teachers. These respondents were anguished and concerned. They were in fear. Were they and their households vulnerable to economic calamity? What should they do? They would ask me to read or research the opinions of these commentators.
My response has generally been the same. Indeed, there will be troubles and crisis. In fact, the history of the world is marked by crisis, greater and lesser. There have been crises beyond count. One researcher, Moritz Schularick, alone counts 71 banking crises having occurred between 1870 and 2009. There have been many other types of crisis. Human strife and crises of various types are a normal occurrence.
Furthermore, no one can reliably predict the near-future. The Bible confirms this in no uncertain terms. Said James: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:13-14). The Proverbs writer counsels, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27:1).
If we cannot reliably see the future, then what to do about our current worries and anxieties? Jesus directly answers this question. He tells us, “[…] do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
We indeed are required to be good stewards with the skills and opportunities that God has given us. We have a responsibility to plan rather than to predict. Christ mentions the situation of the tower builder: “Suppose he starts building and is not able to finish. Then everyone who sees what he has done will laugh at him. They will say, ‘This fellow started to build. But he wasn’t able to finish’” (Luke 14:29-30).
However, we are also told that we should rely upon God to lead us through crises and concerns. For if “God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30).
Jesus cares for us: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Deliverance for Profit
Understandably, we may well empathize with pulpit forecasters in part. Who has not been chastened when it comes to predicting future trends, as they may impact our household or investment decisions? However, there is an even more reprehensible type of opportunist in such matters.
If you have some money, there are plenty of vendors willing to provide their advice and to sell to you their solutions. To no surprise, the business fortunes of these advisors and suppliers are benefited by fear-mongering and exaggeration. Sadly, some otherwise godly ministries may rely on such sales in order to cover their budgets. The greater the fear that can be generated, the more nitrogen-packed food, bomb shelters, and crisis-proof investments that can be sold.
Even more appalling is that Bible prophecy may be used to drive survival supply sales. These vendors (some claiming to be ministries) are outfitting people specifically to be able to survive the coming Tribulation period. Even ministries that take a pre-Tribulation view (i.e. the rapture of the Church occurring before the start of the Tribulation period) can appear nearly indistinguishable from the Tribulation preppers. They also offer to sell survival supplies; perhaps promote the purchase of gold bullion, and may even urge the purchase of personal weapons.
Thoughts to Ponder
Jesus said that “In this world you [Christians] will have trouble” (John 16:33). We can then confirm that we will not be able to avoid some worldly troubles. Yet, none of Christ’s urgings to be on “watch” are concerned with this type of trouble. He is most concerned about our salvation and faith and preserving us from spiritual deceptions.
Would Christ allow that salvation and deliverance from crisis and trouble for the members of his body, the Church, would be dependent upon affordability? In other words, can only those Spirit-filled Christians that can afford a large portfolio of gold bullion or a 7-year supply of nitrogen-packed food, be protected from last-day crisis and wickedness? Could it be that poor Christians will have no access to such deliverance?
This could never be true. Christ offers salvation and deliverance to all who would come. As the Spirit of Christ said through Isaiah, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare” (Isaiah 55:1-2).
In the same way, Christ’s deliverance does not (should not) have any monetary cost. We may indeed suffer monetary loss in a world that is increasingly inhospitable to Christians. However, salvation and deliverance from a wicked world is available to all without a monetary price. While hucksters peddle survival supplies for the future Tribulation period—to only those that can afford them—God has a much more equitable plan, not that we should deserve it. It is the great “snatching away” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18) … the Rapture.
We had concluded that most crisis “fear mongering”
forecasts that we see in Christian newsletters, magazines and in pulpit
sermons are not endorsed by the Bible. Of course, the teaching of
Bible prophecy dealing with the future is promoted. However, the only
“crisis-watching” that Christ and the New Testament writers were
concerned about was that which affected spiritual conditions, not
monetary or material.
As it was, our examination of the topic of “anxiety merchants” was prompted by the many recent siren calls of forecasters and prophecy speculators (who identified themselves as Christians), predicting near-term crisis of various types affecting the world as well as America specifically. These have included everything from the portent of so-called “blood moons” to total, worldwide economic collapse.
What might be wrong with such forecasting, some may ask? There are indeed many deteriorating trends in the world, whether financial, societal or moral. And, most certainly, we do maintain that Christians should be good stewards (1 Peter 4:10); that they should recognize the “season” of the times (Matthew 16:3); and should pray, plan and provide for their living needs (Luke 14:28). However, we should not be anguished by the taunts and pulls of false prophecies; and secondly, the cares and confusion of the world.
It is not uncommon that “anxiety merchants” may attempt to legitimize their prophecies with the claim of have received direct revelation by the Holy Spirit, or on account of their credibility of being a “respected Christian.” Yet, while these crisis forecasters raise fears, they nonetheless cannot offer reliable solutions. They are all false prophets because none of their forecasts are accurate.
How then should Christians respond, us being “[…] aliens and strangers in the world” (1 Peter 2:11)? We continue our series.
Discerning the Differences
With so many crisis prophecies of late, should we prepare for difficult times? And, just what types of crises should we preparing for? According to a recent comment of Jim Bakker, if you are just starting to prepare, “You are awful late.” But, late to prepare for what—the Tribulation, the Rapture, the moral demise of the entire world, spiritual deceit, demonic doctrines, or something related to impending economic troubles?
There are some clear distinctions to be made between these different reasons for preparation. We showed in Part I that the New Testament primarily only warns about spiritual crisis, a falling away, and the doctrines of false prophets. It does not much concern itself with economic crisis. Jesus Christ’s example here is illustrative. Never once did He utter warnings of financial disaster (though, the prophecy of “not one stone here will be left on another”—Matthew 24:2—would have implied a crisis of some type taking place in the future), or how to weather the ups and downs of economies and markets.
As it was, the Roman world of the Mediterranean during the time of Christ was experiencing enormous financial shakings. The final credit collapse of 33 AD during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (according to the accounts of the historian Tacitus), couldn’t be more similar to the global financial crisis (GFC) that seized virtually the entire world in the late 2000s. As such, the GFC was not a new development; rather, a normal occurrence for manmade idol systems and the realm of Mammon.
Consider the significance of the fact that the entire New Testament dedicates not one single word to a major financial crisis occurring in the Roman world at that time. Jesus Christ and His disciples were responding to a completely different urgency—to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43).
Two Orbs Never to Meet
The confusions of modern-day prophecies (whether prophetic speculations or fear mongering doomsterism) are mostly attributable to one dispensational misconception. There are two major spheres of actions—those of man and those of God. These realms must be kept separate and treated differently when dealing with prophecies (forecasts).
The sphere(s) of man reflects the choices of mankind which contribute to the long-running agenda of corruption and opposition to God. It leads to and underscores the sentiment of the final age of “kingdoms casting off” their chains (Psalm 2:3). This is the realm of mankind; the era over which Satan and his demon princes have the ability to give kingdoms. The Bible clearly shows that history has been driven by this Satan-Man collusion.
The prophet Daniel and apostle John lay out the timeline of these kingdoms (and their relation to the Hebrews). And, in this respect, from the dawn of recorded history, nothing much is new under the sun. The great tension between the worship of God and Mammon continues unabated, though the latter is increasingly becoming the god of this age.
This is the world that we live in today. There are business cycles, wars, new and broken treaties, droughts, uprisings, conspirators, and lusts of various kinds. Human history is a heaving mass of change. Characteristics of this realm also include booms, busts, financial bubbles, economic collapse, and wealth turnovers. This is the norm.
Financial researchers have long applied themselves to discerning patterns and predictable factors from this seemingly random estate of mankind’s kingdoms and affairs. This is the history of mankind outside the interventions of God. Progressively, mankind achieves globalism and materialistic humanism.
Distinct to this is a separate domain. This exclusively concerns the actions of God. It comprises the things mentioned in Bible prophecy of the future and past that God has decreed (or foreseen) to happen according to the free-will choices of mankind. Secondly, and most crucially, these are the direct actions of God Himself. These are in response to the arrogance and waywardness of mankind. God bares His arm. He acts in wrath upon a disobedient world that has refused to hearken to His many prophets, the various dispensations of grace, and His Son.
Corroborating this view, Isaiah uttered this prophecy: “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger” (Isaiah 13:11-13).
We must keep these two orbs of affairs apart (though they are not entirely disconnected) with respect to our responses to claimed prophets and forecasters. Short-term predictions about the Man-Satan Conspiracy—the current era of mankind’s economic and financial cycles, geopolitical trends, and existence on earth … etc.—should only be of concern to humanists and those who are engulfed by materialism.
Not, supposedly “strangers” in the world (1 Peter 1:1). Christians prophesying about the near-term course of mankind’s state of affairs are on the same footing as everyone else. They have no special forecasting advantage. The fact that they may be Christian offers no certification that they will be correct in their predictions or their recommended solutions.
As such, we don’t need so-called “Christian” prophets consorting with or predicting the course of Mammon, and offering us strategies on how to profit or to preserve our wealth in this world. God does not—cannot—have any interest in helping anyone have success consorting with Mammon. God and Mammon are not compatible. They are the antithesis of each other.
On the other hand, as Christians, we are free to study Bible prophecy and accept it under the authority of the Bible. But, we are not to speculate or to “[…] go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). To do so would be to prophesy ourselves. Rather, we are to watch and to recognize the season of the times. We are free to observe that long-running trends and developments align with the prophecies of the Bible. We can perhaps even identify prophetic stage setting. However, in no case are we to lose sight of our “grace and peace […] in abundance” (1 Peter 1:2).
We are also called to both proclaim and heed the warnings in the Bible with respect to spiritual falsehoods and deceptions. Above all, we must realize that any insights—i.e. “a lamp in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19)—that we glean from Bible prophecy afford us NO short-term forecasting abilities in the realm of Mammon or the sphere of mankind. Possibly, knowing what the Bible says about the nature and traits of humankind, we may have insight into the behaviours that drive the actions of mankind. But in this writer’s opinion, this does not offer any decisive forecasting advantage.
No Human Can Reliably See the Future
As an economist and global investment strategist, having managed tens of billions in global markets, I have some experience as to the reliability of people’s divinations of future trends. I have yet to encounter or learn of any one human that can reliably or precisely see the future. Not one. Most certainly not myself. That will be disappointing for many people, because the world chases after voices that claim to see the future.
In reality, economic forecasters (prophets) have an extremely poor track record (including the myriad of so-called Christian financial forecasters). To be sure, while we cannot reliably predict the future course of events, it remains true that we can certainly discern the seasons. In fact, as Christians we are admonished to do so … to watch the signs of the times.
We can certainly identify the rapid shifts in human values, worldview, and morality. Here we can assuredly sense the accelerating drift toward materialism and humanism both in North America and worldwide. Moreover, we can document the long-running globalization and worldwide convergence of materialistic beliefs.
But back to the many false, modern-day prophets predicting crisis. For example, there are many advisers, preachers, and commentators that have warned or prophesied about a crash of the U.S. dollar at various times. Others have told their congregations to put their faith in gold … perhaps to buy gold now because the world is coming to an end. Their motives may have been well-meaning. But, what were the results?
How should these prophets be judged? Suppose that one forecaster may have once foretold that an economic crisis or financial downturn was to occur. How far in advance was their prophecy … or how near to the actual fulfilment? What fact or measure was taken to be the validation of their prophecy—perhaps the New York Stock Exchange falling 10% … or 50%?
Exactly what should be the criteria to prove a prophet? The Bible is quite clear on this question: A prophet must be correct all the time; not just once or twice; not off by a few percentage points; not just over the long-term, but also over the near-term. All prophecies must come to be true (Ezekiel 33:33). Therefore, there are no modern day forecasters that would qualify as a prophet according to the Old Testament tests. After all, “no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things” (2 Peter 1:20).
As such, of what use are any forecasts of economic crisis or prosperity? Firstly, one cannot know in advance which forecaster will prove correct; which of their prophecies will fail or not; and when they will change their “interpretations.”
Consider this recent “warning” forecast made by a Christian financial analyst, writing an article entitled, “Four Financial Strategies to Prepare for a Blood Moons Collapse” in Charisma magazine: “It is very difficult to predict the precise dates for an economic collapse. However, much of the data suggest we could see this play out in September or October of this year. This doesn’t mean a collapse couldn’t happen sooner or later; it could be months or years away.”
Of what help is this forecast? We are not centering out this individual, but rather want to point out a common trait of these types of forecasts: They are useless. As it was, this “warning” for Christian readers of this magazine was published in September, which provided no lead time at all. There indeed may be financial tremors … a second-phase outbreak of the Global Financial Crisis. And if so, it would not be a surprise. It is also possible that policymakers may either hasten or delay such an outcome.
The prophecies of the Bible, on the other hand, are authored by God. He “[…] is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind” (Numbers 23:19). God’s prophecies, therefore, are reliable and true. Thus, if we base our comments about the future upon His Word, we will have spoken “[…] worthy, not worthless, words” (Jeremiah 15:19)—not just anxiety-producing hysteria.
We observe an additional point of unreliability of most crisis-warning forecasters. They will tend to advise “selling out” or buying gold, or some other type of defensive strategy. However, what do these same forecasters advise when a foreseen crisis is over? Would they have recommended to their flock to “buy-in” at the bottom of a financial or real estate downturn, for example? It is one thing to warn of the near-regular financial crises that come along, but what about the recoveries?
As it may be, despite the steep declines in real estate values and financial securities at the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, overall wealth in America has since recovered to new highs (according to the measuring conventions of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds Report). Prophets of doom would then necessarily have had to revise their predictions, would they not? In truth, were we to apply an unbiased set of criteria with which to rate modern-day crisis prophets that focus on materialistic events, we would have to conclude that they all are unreliable—Christian or non-Christian.
Points to Ponder
Surely, there is little harm in some forward planning. The average householder today will normally plan to have sufficient food in the house that anticipates foreseeable needs. Households may also want to lay aside savings for their retirement years. However, if we are looking for refuge in earthly financial markets or other possible stores of value (gold, guns, food … etc.), we will be mostly frustrated. Neither short-term nor intermediate timing of any such buy or sell transaction can be guaranteed to be successful.
Financial advisors who proffer forecasts are all unreliable. Therefore, anyone who searches out these prophets to divine the future for their investments, will eventually be disappointed.
Why? There are a number of reasons. As already mentioned, we cannot reliably see the future; and secondly, we humans are inclined to act on emotions of both fear and greed. Human emotions, especially when exciting large crowds to run in the same direction—perhaps to all adopt a new expectation of the future—are almost sure to disappoint.
Predictions from sources such as mentioned are likely to be motivated by conditions that are already very obvious. As such, these “negative” or “positive” views have already had an impact upon the U.S. dollar or the gold price … or upon what they may have recommended.
Also, crisis forecasting in North America is often based upon perceptions of domestic trends. Therefore, pulpit forecasters can fail to take global perspectives into account. While the economic or financial problems that are cited as proofs for a warning prediction may be real, other countries in the world may face worse conditions. As such, to cite one example, the US dollar will have risen contrary to the consensus “doom” expectations of pulpit prophets over the last five years or so.
The result of all of the above, is that pulpit forecasts often lead to catastrophe and hurt many people. The impact of our wrong responses, fear-mongering, and our financial insecurities can be quite damaging.
If one is not a bona fide “anointed” prophet of God, one should not make financial market predictions from the pulpit. The two separate spheres do not mix. Credibility is certain to be lost. Secular analysts are themselves subject to gross inaccuracies in their predictions. As such, it is unwise to risk a ministry’s reputation on similar misstatements, or to bear responsibility for anyone having acted upon incorrect advice.
Ominously, Canada’s largest securities regulator (the equivalent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) recently took the prejudicial step of asking all regulated participants (stockbrokers, portfolio managers …etc.) to disclose whether they were a part-time pastor! Why? The regulator has repeatedly encountered instances of pastors having promoted “Ponzi schemes” and other irresponsible investment strategies. (This is true not only in Canada, but also most certainly in the U.S.)
Their “financial prophecies” were reckless and even viewed as criminal by the securities regulators. It is a sad statement that “Christian” pastors are being convicted for their fixation with materialism or prosperity gospels. Preachers and pastors would do well to teach Biblical principles of stewardship. In any case, stewardship does not necessarily have anything to do with investing.
Mankind has chosen its idols. Latterly, these have taken the form of a financialized humanity and the worship of wealth (both false and real). Bible believers, by contrast, hearken to apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
To this point, we have established four main conclusions.
First, that the Great Commission does not include the
responsibility (nor sanctified ability) to warn Christians and the world
of near-term financial and economic calamities.
Financial forecasts are not the purview of the Church. All those who attempt to do so (though they may be well-meaning) are likely to be “false prophets,” for the reason that their forecasts are almost sure to be false or inaccurate.
We indeed know that economic crises have been a normal feature of mankind’s systems, and will continue as such until the Lord comes. We also know, according to the Bible, that judgment and wrath will come upon the world, and that “total breakdown” and collapse of mankind’s financial systems will then occur.
Exactly when this will unfold, we cannot know today—other than to conclude that this will happen sometime in the second half of the Tribulation period. Until then, mankind (under the aegis of Mammon) will continue to build a humanistic world apart from God, increasing its insurrection and violence as in the time of Noah (Genesis 6:13).
There will be no total collapse before that time—economic, financial or otherwise. We can express these predictions because they are supported in the prophecies of the Bible.
This underscores our second conclusion: We can rely on the
foreknowledge (prophecy) written in the Bible, that it is all true and
that all will be fulfilled.
It is these long-term “forecasts” of the realm of God’s actions and prophecies that can be employed to warn the world, but taking care not to go beyond what the Scripture says (1 Corinthians 4:6). We cannot consider forecasts of the short-term machinations of the “realm of mankind” as having the same reliability or value.
The third conclusion effectively is a derivative of the first two: That the only “systemic crises” that Christ and the Apostles concerned themselves with were spiritual in nature … i.e. the falsification of the gospel, doctrines of demons … etc.
The temporal ebb and flow of commerce, the possible eruption of a credit crisis and such matters did not merit their comment nor instruction.
A fourth conclusion is derived from the fact that saving grace is a free gift. It comes without monetary price (Isaiah 55:1-2). As such, to conclude that deliverance from the wrath of God during the Tribulation is dependent upon affordability couldn’t be more wrong.
Could it be that only those Spirit-filled Christians who can afford a large portfolio of gold bullion or a 7-year supply of nitrogen-packed food will be protected from last day crisis and wickedness? Could it be that poor Christians will have no access to such deliverance?
We concluded that this could never be true. Christ offers salvation and deliverance to all who would come. In the same way, Christ’s deliverance from God’s wrath does not (should not) have any monetary cost. We may indeed suffer monetary loss in a world prone to immoral monetarism and which is increasingly inhospitable to Christians.
However, salvation and deliverance from a wicked world is available to all without a monetary price. While some may peddle survival supplies for the future Tribulation period, only to those that can afford them, God has a much more equitable plan—not that we should deserve it. It is the great “snatching away” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18) … the Rapture.
Preying on the Faithful
There are plenty of Christian pundits and forecasters who focus upon the worrisome issues in the world today. If a recent November 2015 issue of Charisma magazine is any guide, it reveals how deep the seam of hysteria and fear runs in the North American evangelical community. In that particular issue, experts and non-experts alike—book promoters, pastors and gold peddlers engaged in mass histrionics by interlacing their fear mongering with black and imagined end time scenarios.
Few will deny that global man is on a perilous descent—certainly not this writer. There are plenty of trends and developments (many of which have been discussed in my articles) over the past centuries which could be considered “prophetic stage setting.” Some of these, already validating Bible prophecies. One is not likely to err making such statements cautiously.
The greater danger lies in the response to the following questions: What should one do in response to a forecast of impending crisis?
Can one prepare?
Merchandizing Solutions to Christians
In this consumer weary world, every promoter knows that one needs an emotionally charged sales pitch to “move the merchandise.” Among the most effective strategies is to appeal to vanity, greed or fear. Without a doubt, fear and greed drive the most urgent human responses and behaviours. However, fear generates the biggest reactions. For example, emotionally-driven financial markets always fall quicker that they rise in value.
Fear sells. I have sat through more than a few presentations of so-called “financial prophets” at Bible or prophecy conferences. All of them engaged in some measure of fear-mongering. Some made outrageous claims.
For instance, even stating that they were in touch with “inside high contacts” who confirm that a financial collapse is planned to occur “within a month.” Others who were financial advisers took advantage of their perceived legitimacy (they spoke at the conference, didn’t they?) and had staff ready on site with account opening forms.
Indeed, some Christians are fixated with economic and financial concerns. They may be anguished by the prospect of an economic collapse decimating their wealth before the Rapture comes. They are then happy to learn that a final and complete financial collapse will only occur later in the Tribulation period … a time after the Rapture.
However, that perspective provides no near-term assurances, as financial crises are a normal part of the current dispensation. Nevertheless, the latest financial warnings of a well-known or perhaps highly publicized analyst or Christian “prophet” will have these people searching for validation. I therefore receive many inquiries on whether an economic collapse is imminent. It is no surprise that the “survival supplies” business appears to be prospering in this time of perplexity.
Who Can Survive the Tribulation Period?
Does it make sense to stock up supplies, weaponry and/or a bomb shelter to be able to survive the Tribulation period? Some do think so. “Survival supply” vendors exist that indeed think that survival is achievable.
Of course, for Pre-Tribulationalists, this is a moot question. We rely upon God’s grace and the “salvation that does not require money” to ensure our survival and eternal citizenship. We are looking up, awaiting the Blessed Hope, all the while urgently seeking to snatch many from the fire (Jude 1:23). However, let us pursue answers here to our posed questions for the sake of those who would believe that they have to endure the Tribulation … or at least a part of it.
Again, we ask the question: Does it make sense to prepare for the possibility of a soon Tribulation?
For Christians—absolutely not. This applies to Christians no matter their eschatological persuasion … pre-, mid-, or end-trib. (Amillennialists, of course, do not anticipate a time of wrath that is yet future, some thinking that heaven already exists on earth.) Why? The Bible’s answer is clear, as we will show.
Firstly then, let us address this question: According to the Bible, what are the chances that one can survive the Tribulation period … especially the last three and a half years (the Great Tribulation)? To begin, it must be remembered that the Great Tribulation is a period of God’s wrath in response to the free-will choices and deliberations of mankind. These are not manmade calamities.
It will be a terrible time for humanity beyond imagination. Jesus Christ describes the extent of mayhem that will unfold. “[…] On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
The greatest crisis and tectonic shakings of all time will occur. For example, the greatest earthquake of all time will occur. “No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake” (Revelation 16:18).
Christ warns that those times will bring “[…] distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again” (Mark 13:19).
Moreover, the number of deaths during this period is unimaginable. Interpretation of the extent of human deaths varies from two-thirds to 98 percent (yes … as much as 98 percent!) of the world’s population. Earth dwellers during that time will have a low chance of surviving.
But what of those who become Christians during the Tribulation period? They will have even slimmer odds of surviving than non-Christians… actually, no odds at all. Those who become Christians during the Tribulation period are specifically the target of much persecution.
While they unavoidably experience the supernatural wrath of God upon earth, they are also persecuted by the Beast and the Antichrist. According to the Bible, all those who do not worship the image of the beast are killed (Revelation 13:15). It is clear that most all who become “Christians” during the Tribulation will be slaughtered.
For Christians, therefore, whether of pre-, post- or intra-Tribulational persuasion, it would not make sense to prepare to physically survive the Tribulation period. Those who do not believe in the Rapture also have no incentive to prepare for the Great Tribulation. After all, it is sure that they will not survive. Why then, even attempt to delay this outcome with nitrogen-packed food, gold bullion and a 3.5 year supply of dried ramen noodles?
All slain Tribulational Christians are shown to be in a waiting place under the altar in heaven (Revelation 6:11). Some arrive there earlier; others later. Wonderfully, they receive a white robe as they wait for God to complete His judgment upon the world. It is these same slain believers who are then given eternal life for their choice (Revelation 20:4).
Why then would a Tribulational Christian want to delay entering this waiting place and to receive a white robe? Surely, prolonging one’s suffering during this period and subsisting on survival goods is the least attractive option. Therefore, no preparations are warranted.
Those very few non-Christians that survive the Great Tribulation will have a great surprise. At the end of all the suffering and denial of Christ (having taken the sign of the Beast), they will still face the Messiah. As the Bible says, “‘Look, ‘he is coming with the clouds,’ and ‘every eye will see him, even those who pierced him;’ and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.’ So shall it be! Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
It is at this point that the Bible says that every knee shall bow. “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.’ All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame” (Isaiah 45:22-24).
Thoughts to Ponder
Professional money management today is a very large business: Some $100-plus trillion is managed in the form of pensions, mutual funds, sovereign wealth funds … etc. It is an industry defined by two perspectives:
1. The identification of risk (this being the unknowns of the future that could cause the loss of capital); and 2. A secular faith that the world will continue to “improve and progress” over time, this manifesting itself in ever-expanding wealth. In other words, “[…] tomorrow will be like today, or even far better” (Isaiah 56:12).
This system is a part of the world’s final manipulated response to perpetuating its “earth bound” system of prosperity and materialism. As witnessed throughout modern financial history (for instance, recurring financial and economic crises, born of mankind’s periodic impulses of greed and fear), these repeated instabilities prove to be catalysts for human intervention.
A series of crises, increasing in scope and global embrace, lead to higher levels of intervention and global cooperation. As financial fragility and instability increases, new solutions and interventions will achieve higher levels of “wealth” (as false and immoral as it may be) until … until? We cannot know in advance.
However, this we do know: The final and total collapse of mankind’s financial system will then take place in the Tribulation period (likely, just before the 7 bowl judgments, these being part of the 7th seal and seven trumpet judgments). This would place this event in the second half of the Tribulation. If a collapse were to occur any earlier, then it would not be possible for the False Prophet to bring in a controlled global system that is associated with the number 666.
What attitude and response do our considerations encourage here … especially so for the weak and true, end time church flock (Revelation 3:8)? Those who are obedient to the Lord`s commands are preserved from what is to happen to the earth dwellers.
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
What takes more discipline, sacrifice, faith and love for the Lord? Being condemned to a terrible physical death during the Tribulation period or waiting and watching for the return of the Lord (even as the world becomes more wicked and a great falling away occurs)? To be a candidate for the Rapture is not for cowards -- but for those who take heart!
What was the goal of Christ’s revelations of the events of the end times? He told us: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).