Appendix 8: Geopolitics
Secular Chronology Confirmation
How current trends corroborate the Bible’s revealed timeline
There’s a decades-old running joke in my family: “I make all the big decisions, and my wife decides all the small stuff.” That is, I (being the man of the house) get to decide who God is, what nationality we are, what language we’re going to speak, what form of government we’re going to have, and whether or not we’ll go to war with somebody. She (being my submissive spouse) determines what house we’re going to live in, what we’re going to eat, where I’m going to work, what kind of car we’re going to drive, and how many kids we’re going to have—you know, the little decisions of life.
The other running gag we share is that when we’re about to buy something (like, say, lunch) one of us invariably asks, “Is this coming out of your money or mine?” The point (of both stories) is that after forty-six years of marriage, we are not two people; we are one couple. There is no way to distinguish her “assets” or agenda from mine. We are not a partnership; we’re a corporation. We have no separate goals; what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. When she hurts, I feel her pain; and when I rejoice, she’s happy for me. There is no “yours” or “mine.” There is only “ours.”
Looking at Yahweh’s instructions for Israel, I get the distinct impression that that’s how He wanted life to function here on the earth—and not just for the Jews (a symbolic microcosm of humanity, God’s “test market,” if you will), but all of us. His agenda was to be our goal; He and the human race were (ideally) to be “going the same direction,” interested in achieving the same things, totally in sync with each other. We were to be holy, as He is holy; we were to be the tangible expression of His nature in the world—love.
Don’t look now, but that ideal isn’t exactly what we see around us. Rather, we see nations, parties, and individuals at enmity with each other, in competition for what they see as finite resources, whether wealth, land, food, or the souls of men. There is tension between allies, and animosity with everybody else. The common driving motivations throughout much of the world are fear, greed, mistrust, hatred, and envy—the antithesis of love. Even when our stated goals are ostensibly altruistic (the elimination of poverty and disease, for example) our proposed means of attaining those lofty ideals often put us at each other’s throats (not to mention the fact that behind the scenes, events are often manipulated by people with entirely different motives).
Ironically, people tend to project their own failings, flaws, and fears onto those with whom they disagree. Racism, for example, is a charge invariably leveled by those with a strong racial bias themselves—while remaining blind to their own prejudiced proclivities. If someone accuses you of being greedy, it’s most often because they’re looking for ways of “redistributing your wealth” into their own pockets. People who scream loudest about sexual immorality in others are more often than not struggling with perversions of their own. I’m not saying that one person’s accusations against another are necessarily untrue; I’m only suggesting that when you point the finger of blame at others, you’ve got three fingers pointing back at yourself.
That is why Yahshua instructed us to “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3) At this juncture, however, we need to draw a very important distinction. While we are not to condemn others because of their sins (because we have all sinned before God), we are not to turn a blind eye toward sin itself—pretending that it’s not really “wrong.” We are not to excuse or downplay greed (for example), just because it’s a common human foible. It’s still sin: it betrays a lack of trust in Yahweh’s provision, and leads to an unwillingness to show practical mercy to our fellow human beings. Unless we’ve given everything away in order to provide for those less fortunate (see Mark 10:21), any one of us can still legitimately be labeled “greedy” in God’s eyes.
Another “hot-button” issue these days is homosexuality. A sure-fire way for anyone with any “celebrity status” to draw the irrational ire of the media is to point out the obvious and undeniable truth that the God of the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong; it’s a sin. (See Leviticus 18:22. Actually, sin is a simple missing of the target of perfection, but God calls homosexuality an “abomination” which, to put things in perspective, is the strongest language in the Bible.) Anyone who says this these days is characterized as being intolerant, someone who “hates gays.” But that’s an extrapolation you can’t logically make. It is not hate—in fact, it can be seen as an act of “tough love”—to point out that something somebody is doing is bad for him (by God’s definition). The charge of “homophobia” that could be leveled against me is misplaced: I’m not afraid of gays—I fear for them. Warnings are not expressions of hatred. That’s why we instruct our children not to run with sharp pointy scissors, touch hot oven doors, or chase balls out into the street. So I would counsel y’all not to engage in homosexual activity (Gasp!). I would also counsel you not to swim in shark-infested waters, bleeding from an open wound, while slathered with bacon grease. I don’t say this because of my galeophobia (fear of sharks), or even the revulsion I’d experience seeing you getting eaten by one of them. It’s just that because I love you, I would prefer that you “live long and prosper” (as the saying goes). I’m merely concerned for your safety and well-being.
So when two people disagree about whether some behavior is right or wrong, a fundamental truth is being demonstrated: they are not gauging behavior by the same standard. They’re not going in the same direction, pursuing the same agenda, or operating as one. At its most basic level, this dichotomy is (or can be) between God’s law and man’s. This line of thought opens a whole new can of worms these days, however, because man no longer even agrees on who (or what) “God” is. Is He Yahweh, the God of the Bible? It he the Muslims’ Allah, or one of a million Hindu gods like Shiva or Vishnu? Is “He” some sort of nebulous and distant energy force or state of being with no personality and no opinion? Does He even exist? Atheistic secular humanists would insist that He does not—that blind chance is the only “deity.” That being said, our theories about God’s identity have no real bearing on reality: even if all of us were in complete agreement, it would not, in and of itself, prove anything to be true. Our opinions have absolutely nothing to do with what actually is.
But if our Creator-God is not Yahweh, we’ve got a huge problem, for He is the only God who even purports to have delivered a code of law to men—a compendium of instructions—moral guidelines and rules to live by. It’s called the Torah, a.k.a. “the Law of Moses” (after the prophet who delivered it). Granted, eighty or ninety percent of the Torah is purely symbolic—“Levitical” stuff designed to point us toward the identity and mission of Yahweh’s Messiah—but even the “practical bits” (which invariably have a symbolic component as well) are said to be the very word of God. The only other “religious document” in existence that people claim to have been written by God himself is the Qur’an of Islam. But the Qur’an is not a code of law in any sense of the word. Islamic law (or “Sharia”) must be gleaned piecemeal from the Hadith and the Sunnah, books written not about Allah or his agenda at all, but rather about what Islam’s sole “prophet,” Muhammad, said and did.
Our choices, then, are between aligning ourselves with the God who gave us the Torah, or following some other standard—which by definition must have been conceived by the mind of man. The man-made standard, though, is by its very nature practically guaranteed to be conflicted and contradictory (and, need I add, inferior), for every human ever born has exercised the privilege of free will, and we don’t all choose the same thing. The God of the Torah, of course, gave us some cogent advice about which of these paths to take: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25) Moses himself said, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that [by delivering Yahweh’s Instructions] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love Yahweh your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) Because men who are following no standard other than their own whims disagree most of the time, it’s not terribly hard to see where the conflicts and animosity come from. And it’s not hard to see why people don’t see eye to eye on the sorts of things I used as examples above: racism, immorality, greed, and homosexuality—among hundreds of issues that could have been raised. If we were all following the same standard—Yahweh’s Instructions—there would be no disagreement, strife, or discord in the world.
Because we’ve been “burned” so often by those who rule over us, it might seem logical to assume that the more repressive and restrictive of the two competing “standards” would be Yahweh’s. After all, God is the One with all the authority, confidence, and power, while man’s plan is barely coherent, and is promulgated by venal and vulnerable mortal creatures. But how it works in the real world is precisely the opposite of what we’d expect. Of the two standards, human wisdom is the one that invariably proves to be oppressive, while God’s precipitates harmony and liberty. Why? Because for all its “weight,” God’s plan is absurdly simple: there are really only two “rules”—love God and love your fellow man. Everything else is a natural outgrowth of these two things.
Man’s rules, by contrast, have no central overarching purpose, except perhaps to “make society run smoothly.” They are instituted by, and are maintained for the benefit of, those in power—even if they are ostensibly instituted to bring about “good things.” How did these people attain their power? It varies, but it’s never because they “love God and love their fellow man.” That strategy will provide inner peace, but it won’t give you temporal authority over anybody. Man’s agenda is therefore, by definition, at cross purposes with God’s. At the very best, the plan of man is to force people to act as if they loved one another. But the desired result isn’t love, exactly. It’s love’s inevitable byproducts—order, peace, prosperity, and security.
Fallen man looks at the world and says, we must have order in order to survive. Anarchy—the state of every man doing whatever he jolly well feels like—is considered by most sane people to be dangerous and unacceptable, even though it is the very essence of freedom. The book of Judges closes with this assessment: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) That’s anarchy, and considering the larger context, this is not to be taken as a “good thing.”
Four hundred years previously, Yahweh had bestowed upon Israel the perfect environment of liberty: they had the Torah to govern them, but they had no human government to “enforce” it. God had seen to it that the priesthood He had instituted (and in the broader sense, the Levites) had no temporal power whatsoever—no police force, taxation mechanism, or permission to enact new laws. Local judges (Hebrew: shaphat—a governor, administrator, judge, or arbitrator) and magistrates (shoter—scribes) represented the congregation in deciding matters of individual guilt or innocence (see for example, Numbers 35:12, 24). And the people remained free and blessed as long as they followed Yahweh’s clear Instructions—which included selecting wise and honorable judges and magistrates. When the people faltered (as they did from time to time), God raised up judges with special anointing in response to Israel’s need and the nation’s willingness to repent. But these judges (like Deborah, Samson, Gideon, or Samuel) represented no permanent form of human government. When the “judge” died, so did his or her influence, leaving behind only the Torah with which they had all started. It was no accident or oversight that Yahweh failed to “bless” Israel with a monarchy—and all the foolishness that would naturally accompany a standing human government.
Following the Torah’s precepts was completely voluntary. That is, there was no police force compelling anybody to toe the line—which is not to say there wouldn’t be negative natural consequences for failing to observe it, just as Moses had warned them. We saw above how he characterized adherence to the Torah’s instructions as a matter of life and death; and in both Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 (that is, both before and after the wilderness wanderings), he had given Israel, in excruciatingly detailed terms, prophetic previews of both the blessings and cursings that awaited them, depending upon their adherence—or not—to Yahweh’s principles. The Israelites of the age of the judges found themselves in trouble time after time, not because God’s Law was onerous and restrictive, but because they abused and squandered the comprehensive freedom it gave them. They appreciated neither its value nor its Source.
Americans in recent decades have done roughly the same thing: we were blessed with Founding Fathers wise enough to give us a Constitution that limited the control our government could exert over us. As long as we heeded that Constitution—though it was a far cry from the Torah’s perfection—we maintained a fair degree of personal autonomy. But to the degree that we allowed our elected “leaders” to reinterpret our venerable national blueprint, we have been enslaved by the very people we employed to run our country’s affairs. The hired help have declared themselves our masters.
Still, we Americans like to think we have the world’s best form of government (compromised though it has become in these Last Days). And perhaps it is the best system mankind could have devised. But comparing the governmental structure (or lack of it) instituted by Yahweh for the Israelites against that invented by our Founding Fathers for America, we can begin to see more clearly the vast chasm that exists between doing things God’s way and living by man’s wisdom—between adhering to Yahweh’s standard and following our own.
If the American “Pledge of Allegiance” can be given credence (and it admittedly agrees with the Torah in this respect) we can safely say that “liberty and justice for all” is the stated goal. (I’d personally read the pledge with a few slight changes: “I pledge allegiance to the God once worshiped in the United States of America, and give thanks to Him for the republic which He caused to stand: one nation under Yahweh, with liberty and justice for all.”) With “liberty and justice” in mind, then, let us compare the American Constitutional system (arguably the best of human wisdom) with the Torah-based society of early Israel. Which one best delivers universal liberty and justice if it is allowed to work as it was designed?
The Constitution implants human government, and then—because humans are flawed—attempts to limit it by instituting checks and balances. The Torah imposes no government at all, placing “the congregation” (that’s everybody) in charge of “law enforcement” where penalties are prescribed. The priests have no authority—they’re “merely” there to remind everyone else of what God’s Instructions command (and, of course, to serve as a prophetic metaphor for the intercessory role of the coming Messiah). Wise elders from the community (the shaphat—judges) were assigned to review evidence and testimony with an eye toward determining truth or falsehood, separating the guilty from the innocent. But they, like the priests, had no political power: they could only consult the Torah’s precepts and judge accordingly, case by case. This is neither anarchy, nor democracy, nor monarchy, nor dictatorship. It’s what you might call “arms-length theocracy”—God’s precepts order society, but He isn’t physically present (yet) to rule with a “scepter of iron.” At the moment, free will and natural consequences are the rule: violate Yahweh’s Instructions at your own peril.
The Constitution can be amended if the overwhelming majority of the people wish it to be—and it has been twenty-seven times, giving us things ranging from the abolition of slavery (#13) to the imposition of a whole new kind of slavery (#16—the Federal Income Tax). The Torah was perfect from its conception, never needing to be changed (which didn’t prevent Jewish rabbis through the ages from encumbering it with thousands of their own definitions and rules—“interpretations” which, while ostensibly designed as a protective “hedge” about the law, in reality served only to obfuscate and complicate God’s simple Instructions, making their purpose opaque, not to mention making them impossible to follow).
The Constitution provides the mechanism for creating new laws and regulations, in effect giving the government more and more power with every passing year. But the Torah’s Author is God Almighty, whose power was absolute from eternity past, whose wisdom is perfect, and whose love is unconditional. His “law,” then, needs no additions, updates, amendments, or reinterpretations. In fact, adding to it or taking away from it is expressly forbidden (see Deuteronomy 4:2, cf. Revelation 22:18-19).
The Constitution has fostered the creation of literally millions of new laws and regulations since its inception. Someone counted up the laws that went into effect on January 1, 2010 alone, and came up with 40,627 new regulations. A Wall Street Journal article once bemoaned the utter impossibility of counting all of the statues in the U.S. Criminal Code (which admittedly is but a small part of the total legislative burden). “‘There is no one in the United States over the age of 18 who cannot be indicted for some federal crime,’ said John Baker, a retired Louisiana State University law professor who has also tried counting the number of new federal crimes created in recent years. ‘That is not an exaggeration.’” One recent example of how out-of-control it has gotten: the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (popularly known as Obamacare) is 381,517 words long (roughly the length of the first 26 chapters of this book)—but the regulations written by non-elected bureaucrats to enforce and implement the law run (as of October, 2013) 11,588,500 words—thirty times as long as the law itself. And they’re still not finished writing them! (Even worse, Mr. Obama has issued over a score of “executive orders” that illegally invalidate parts of his own signature legislation—leaving turmoil and confusion in their wake.) The Torah, by comparison, is simplicity itself. Its individual precepts number in the hundreds—most of them “Levitical” (i.e., symbolic, as opposed to purely practical) in nature. (By the way, the vaunted “613” number is totally bogus, as I demonstrated in my Torah treatise, The Owner’s Manual.) But as I said before, as a practical matter, it can be boiled down to only two “laws.” Love God, and love your fellow man.
The Constitution provides for “justice” through a convoluted and multi-layered system of courts, laboring under complex and often contradictory rules and statutes concerning the nature of the crime, evidence gathering, procedure, civil rights, and punishment. Complicating matters further, the whole endeavor is divided up between federal, state, local, and military jurisdictions, and between criminal and civil systems of jurisprudence that have radically different standards for determining guilt. One famous example: O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in criminal court, but legally culpable for the same crime in the subsequent civil suit. The Torah, meanwhile, is cut and dried. Once guilt is determined (under rules weighted to protect the innocent rather than convict the guilty) sentence is carried out forthwith—ranging from paying back someone double what you stole from him to getting stoned to death by the whole congregation. There was therefore no such thing as a “career criminal” in Israel. If you sued someone and lost, you were liable for whatever you had sought to gain. If you perjured yourself in order to convict an innocent man, the penalty he would have endured would be yours to bear. There were no prisons or police, only justice, swift and sure. You couldn’t be convicted under the Torah on flimsy or trumped-up evidence, and you couldn’t “buy” or intimidate a judge. Even if a guilty man were set free for lack of evidence or witnesses, it was understood that he would one day answer for his crimes before God Himself.
I could go on, but you get the picture: the American Constitution (something for which I thank God) is woefully inadequate—even in theory—in delivering “freedom and justice for all.” And these days, it is bowed and bloody under a constant onslaught of compromise and reinterpretation from people who fundamentally disagree with the values (and yes, the Deity) embraced by the Founding Fathers responsible for it. Something tells me it never occurred to Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Monroe, and Franklin that the Almighty might someday be forsaken in America, that the Bible would be abandoned, or that prayer would be banned from public discourse. Such things were, frankly, unthinkable. John Adams was right when he said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious [i.e., God-fearing—not ritual-bound] people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
It’s not just an American problem, of course. Godly values and principles are under attack worldwide in these Last Days. Instead of faith, the world craves ideology. In place of equal opportunity, the world demands equal results. Instead of liberty, the world desires license (until the anarchy becomes personally inconvenient, at which time they illogically demand instead bigger and stronger government to protect them). Instead of justice, the world is willing to settle for the illusion of peace and safety. In place of personal responsibility, the world wants self-serving “rights.” Instead of prosperity, the world marches relentlessly toward an economic lowest common denominator (excuse the tiny minority of elites at the top). Rather than performing personal acts of charity, the majority prefers that taxes be imposed on the prosperous to “level the playing field.” In place of brotherly love, the world settles for order. And the inevitable result of all this is the geopolitical reality you see before you: a dysfunctional world, rife with injustice, inequality, inept governance, tyranny, and institutional immorality—precisely the opposite of what we swore we wanted (and, by the way, a world that cannot long endure).
When asked, “Would you prefer oppression or liberty,” we all cry Liberty! But everything we do—and I mean in every culture since the Tower of Babel—leads us inexorably toward self-imposed bondage. Even when a small group breaks their cultural chains and strikes out seeking a fresh start—the prototypical pilgrim voyage—the result is always the same: when man puts himself in charge of God’s affairs, we eventually enslave ourselves. It may take generations, or centuries, but the outcome never varies. God advised us time after time: Flee from Babylon. But now, we’ve run out of uncharted lands to which we might escape. We must make our stand here, where we are, in the world as it is, not as we dream it could be. The Babylon from which we must now flee is in our own hearts.
There’s no point in asking, “What should be done?” That question was answered by Yahweh—and rejected by mankind—eons ago. The human race, beginning with Israel, proved itself unwilling to follow God’s natural law—the law of love. We irrationally insisted on human governance over freedom, equality over opportunity, rights over responsibility, and man over God. We mistook anarchy for freedom, and when our liberty had been squandered, we mistook societal orderliness for peace. We mistook propaganda for truth, philosophy for wisdom, and style for substance. No, the question is not “What should be done?” At this late date, we have forfeited our right to an opinion. The question we must now be asking ourselves is, “What will be done?”
People who like the direction the world is headed won’t be very happy with the answer, I’m afraid. The same God whose simple Instructions taught us how to live in perfect liberty has also foretold what the perfect government will look like—what the perfect “political leader” will look like. Not should look like, mind you, but will. Yahweh’s scriptures speak of a thousand year kingdom—one in which the King is God Himself: unlimited in power, authority, wisdom, and benevolence. Of those born into this perfect geopolitical world, some will welcome the freedom that having clear boundaries affords; and others will seethe in rebellion. But no one will be unaware of Who sits upon the throne of planet Earth in divine glory: Yahshua the Messiah.
Capitalism vs. Socialism
It is taken as an article of faith among political conservatives in America that because socialism is bad, capitalism is therefore good. After all, they’re polar opposites, are they not? (Hint: that’s a trick question.) It is assumed that if someone is against one economic theory, he must be in favor of the other. But that is doubtless a gross oversimplification. As Winston Churchill once (allegedly) said, “If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.” It boils down to the eternal struggle between realism and idealism, and between means and ends.
Complicating matters is the fact that these two economic philosophies tend to collect a lot a baggage—whether or not it actually belongs to them. Among conservatives, capitalism is mentally associated with free enterprise, the entrepreneurial spirit, self-sufficiency, the Judeo-Christian work ethic—and by extension (or coincidence) with religious orthodoxy, patriotism, personal responsibility, Constitutional fundamentalism (and especially Second Amendment rights, for some reason), small-government advocacy, and an anti-abortion, pro-traditional-marriage, anti-nanny-state stance. But among liberal progressives, capitalism is equated with greed, heartlessness, warmongering, obscene profits at the expense of the poor, the rape of the environment, and hatred of minorities, gays, women, and the downtrodden. What we have here (apparently) is a failure to communicate.
And the shoe doesn’t fit any better on the other foot. Among liberals, socialism (although they’re loath to use the word) is heralded as the banner of progress, economic equality, civil rights, compassion in government, support for the working man, universal healthcare, and entitlement benefits for everyone. But conservatives view socialism in a slightly less favorable light—as the road to ruin (whether or not it’s paved with good intentions), organized government thievery (or at the very least, gross fiscal irresponsibility), the genocidal abortion of millions of innocent children (an obscene percentage of them of racial minorities) and an incentive for lazy, immoral, drug-crazed, self-destructive, godless behavior. They tend to see our welfare society not as a safety net, but as a free ride, a good excuse not to go out and get an honest job, and (worst of all) a reason to continue voting for the politicians who are providing the “free lunch” with trillions of borrowed dollars that the children of productive people will someday have to pay back.
Is it any wonder liberals and conservatives can’t seem to see eye to eye on anything? All they can perceive of the “opposing camp” is stereotypes—caricatures of reality. Even when their broad goals are identical (e.g., “People should be able to be free, happy, and healthy”) the two groups adamantly disagree about the best way to achieve those objectives. The socialists tend to say, “The government is your friend: let us help you with a handout and a leg up.” And the capitalists tend to say, “If the government will just get out of the way, opportunity awaits: it’s up to you to take advantage of it.”
Who has the better system? If recent American history has anything to say about it, the Ronald Reagan conservatives have the Jimmy Carter socialists soundly beat in the “results” department. Free-market capitalism clearly delivers a more prosperous society, all things considered, than does socialism (which is, let’s face it, the theoretical basis of both Communism and Nazism—and a twisted variant of it underpins Islam as well). But we’re not talking about facts or logic here: people are driven far more by their basic philosophical predispositions than they are by the bottom line on a balance sheet. Both sides use statistics to “prove” their arguments. And you can find Christians and atheists on both sides of the debate.
You’ll note that I haven’t been using “Republican” versus “Democrat” labels here, for the simple reason that (although Democrats these days tend to lean left-socialist, while Republicans more often lean right-capitalist) party affiliation is a poor indicator of fiscal philosophy. John F. Kennedy was far more fiscally conservative than, say, George W. Bush. While perhaps the most rabidly successful socialist in American history, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a Democrat, so was the president who (to my mind) most represents sound American fiscal policy—Andrew Jackson. So in the context of American history, political party labels aren’t terribly accurate indicators of one’s financial sanity.
And that’s what we’re talking about here: fiscal philosophy, not the moral and cultural baggage that adherents of the two competing viewpoints tend to hold dear. I realize that it’s hard to separate one from the other. There’s a reason people who collect welfare assistance year after year vote for candidates who lean toward the socialist mindset. And there is a reason why small business owners faced with making payroll and keeping their employees content and productive usually vote for supporters of free-market capitalism. (In the interests of full disclosure, I was a small-business owner myself for many years. I know what drives them, what motivates them—and it isn’t greed. So if my “bias” toward conservatism is showing, now you know why.)
That being said, it is my assessment that both systems—socialism and capitalism—are fatally flawed. Neither of them works in a fallen world. It’s sort of like making the choice between being executed in your sleep with a lethal injection and being disemboweled with a rusty spoon. One of them is clearly preferable to—less painful than—the other; yet all things considered, you’d still rather there was another choice on the menu—like being set free.
Remember what I said about the tension between idealism and realism? That’s the real issue here. As long as you have to choose between them, there will be gaps in your approach to problem solving. A personal example: my wife and I came of age in the ’60s—a time of hippies, Vietnam War protests, free love, drugs, rock and roll, and virtually unlimited naiveté. It was the era in which America lost its innocence. Being young, we were naturally idealistic—we wanted to change the world, make it a better place. But being Christians, we were also realists, knowing we had to rely on God for any real “successes” we might enjoy. Consequently, we knew intuitively that “sticking it to the man” or “tuning in, turning on, and dropping out” (as the mantras of the day went) were really stupid strategies for effecting positive change in our world.
The world was then exhibiting the first tentative signs of the self-destructive turmoil that thoroughly permeates it today. One side (the realist-capitalist-conservative influence) said, “It’s okay to be a cog in the machine; don’t make waves; play it safe; get a haircut and a real job.” But the other side (the idealist-liberal-socialist voice) said, “Rebel against the system; question authority; don’t let anybody tell you what to do; let your freak flag fly.” In the end, we did none of it—or all of it, depending on your point of view: realism and idealism.
I guess you could say that our propensity for “thinking outside the box” first showed up on our wedding day. We had a big, traditional, church wedding, and afterward, at the reception, we had a big, traditional wedding cake—or so everybody thought. On the outside it was the “required” virginal white. But on the inside, it was dark chocolate (much to the delight of our guests). Our “rebellious streak” had made its debut appearance, symbolically, anyway.
Our “realistic” side took center stage for a few years as we struggled to gain a foothold in the American Dream, but then our “idealistic” proclivities emerged once again. My wife had given me two fine sons, but it was time to “save the world” in our own little way. We began adopting kids. First an infant daughter, then another. Kids of a different race. We raised a few eyebrows. Next, a couple of older at-risk “orphanage” kids. People pointed and whispered. Then we adopted four kids with out-and-out handicaps. By our fourth or fifth time around, our parents (who had been quite supportive at first) began questioning our sanity. By the time we adopted our eleventh child, my father-in-law (who didn’t have an idealistic bone in his body) was literally ready to write his only child out of his will.
I’ll admit, the math never worked on paper. Our fathers, who were both skilled financial managers, were appalled. And I suppose the realistic bean counter capitalists in my wife and me would have been horrified as the idealistic optimists in us ran roughshod over all human logic for twenty-odd years. No retirement nest egg for us, no college funds for the kids. Mom stayed home raising the kids while I worked—often two jobs. Yet although the numbers looked disastrous, we never missed a meal or a house payment. We always had cars that ran. The kids got to grow up and make their own choices in life—some admittedly choosing better destinies than others. We survived, and thrived. But though our idealism was given free rein, it wasn’t socialism, exactly—nobody was asked (or forced) to contribute anything to our optimistic endeavors; we got no government assistance (except for a break on our medical expenses for our four handicapped kids).
As crazy as it looked from the outside, the whole thing actually was “realistic” because Yahweh was providing for us every step of the way—and we knew it. Our youthful idealism was, in reality, grounded in sound, sober principles: God was blessing us by granting our desire to serve Him. He even compensated for our failure (due to our service) to set aside any money for our retirement: He saw to it that I was forcibly retired at the tender age of 54—miraculously (to my mind) providing my wife and I with just enough money to live on, provided we were careful with it. This allowed me to follow the desires of my heart, writing books like this one, exploring God’s Word and plan with a magnifying glass and a fine-tooth comb. I trust you’re enjoying my “retirement.”
The point of all that is that true success requires both idealism and realism, working together as a symbiotic system. And if my family’s experience is any indication, in order to achieve that, God’s love must be the central driving force in one’s modus operandi. Twenty-first century conservatives laboring under the burden of encroaching socialism may assume that capitalism in itself is the answer to America’s woes, but that’s only because they’ve forgotten the lessons of history.
A hundred and fifty years ago, the shoe was on the other foot: the American capitalists were riding high, and in the absence of humility and reverence for their Creator, they clawed their way to the top of the food chain with no regard for anything other than their own interests. In the process they unwittingly precipitated the “class struggle” around which the socialists, from Karl Marx onward, focused their strategies. A handful of men amassed vast personal fortunes through predatory, exploitative business practices. Their arsenals included bribery—giving them control over government lands and natural resources; paying oppressive, almost slave-level wages; the creation of monopolies through buying up competitors (or driving them into bankruptcy) so they could eventually raise their own prices and realize even greater profits; and stock schemes designed to cheat unsuspecting investors out of their hard-earned capital.
These capitalist predators rightly earned the epithet “robber barons.” Many of their names are still familiar to us: Astor, Carnegie, Crocker, Duke, Gould, Huntington, Mellon, Morgan, Rockefeller, Schwab, Spreckels, Stanford, Vanderbilt, and many more—men who made fortunes in finance, oil, railroads, real estate, lumber, steel, mining, shipping, and agribusiness. Some of these family names still pop up on lists of Illuminati notables—the elites who “run the world” from behind the scenes, if the conspiracy theorists are to be believed.
You’ll also see many of these names on great public works, institutions of higher learning, centers of culture, and so forth. Having amassed more money than many small nations, and having spent everything they could on personal luxuries, the inevitable happened: they discovered that wealth didn’t actually buy them happiness. So their tortured consciences often drove them to generosity. As it slowly dawned on them that “you couldn’t take it with you,” their legacies became more and more important to them. They hoped to be remembered as philanthropists rather than thieves, as beneficent humanitarians rather than the poster children for greed and corruption. But as far as I know, none of them did as Christ advised the “rich young ruler” in Luke 18:22: “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Neither happiness nor heaven can be bought with stolen money.
But say what you will, these “robber barons” were also instrumental in building the infrastructure of America. They made the country great, forcing it to achieve its latent God-given potential. They dreamed big, took huge risks, and pulled America up by its bootstraps—transforming it from a blank canvas to a masterpiece of industrial might unrivaled in the world. Did the “robber barons” of the 19th century mean to do this? Or was it merely a byproduct of their intense desire to become wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice? I don’t know. But one thing is certain: the capitalist system under which they operated made their endeavors possible as socialism never could have. Looking at it through the lens of twenty-twenty hindsight, the strong America that had been built using (and abusing) free-market principles was the only thing that could have stopped the advance of Nazism and Communism (both of which were socialistic systems) in the twentieth century. And curbing their advance was essential to Yahweh’s purpose, for one reason: Israel’s restoration is central to God’s plan. Looking back on it now, it’s hard to see how the revived nation of Israel could have come into being without both the Nazi holocaust and their defeat at the hands of America and its allies. One wonders if God allowed America to flourish for any reason other than Israel’s benefit.
But I’m getting the feeling that, like technology, economic systems are spiritually neutral. They can be used for good or ill; they are neither good nor bad (necessarily) in their own right. It is pretty obvious that capitalism, with its emphasis on freedom and personal initiative, is generally more compatible with Yahweh’s modus operandi (choice—free will) than socialism is, but we should not succumb to the temptation of equating the two things. Godly people operating socialistically can achieve God’s purpose far more effectively than can godless men using capitalism as a working philosophy.
Case in point: Russia. During seventy years of Communist rule, the socialists were never quite able to extinguish the flame of Christian faith from the Soviet empire; and the minute the U.S.S.R. imploded, the Russian church reawakened as if from a bad dream. But with Communism—and its socialistic economic theory—as good as dead, the form of capitalism that immediately took root in post-Soviet Russia bore no resemblance to the Judeo-Christian-based free enterprise system in America—the entrepreneurial spirit that promises to reward hard work and vision with monetary rewards. Rather, it was ruled by gangsters, extortionists, and Russian Mafia types: it was if the robber barons had returned from the grave.
Conversely, the early Church in Jerusalem practiced a localized form of “socialism” that worked beautifully for the benefit of the entire community of believers—but only because it was done out of love (as God had instructed), not because of compulsion by some human government: “Then those who gladly received [Peter’s] word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41-47) In this case, socialism worked, but only because (1) they based their lives on the resurrected Christ, as taught by Peter and the other apostles; (2) there were no cheaters or scam artists among them—there was no temporal advantage to be gained by becoming a Christian in First Century Judea, quite the opposite, in fact; and (3) the community operated according to Torah rules—they were driven by love, not compelled by force or pressured by the expectations of their culture.
Perhaps before proceeding any further, we should define our terms. Capitalism is “an economic system in which investment in, and ownership of, the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations.” It is “characterized by the freedom of capitalists to operate or manage their property for profit in competitive conditions,” and “by a free market for goods.”—Dictionary.com. The key concepts there are “private,” “investment,” “competition,” “profit,” and “free markets.” The essence of capitalism is government’s conspicuous absence, or at least non-involvement.
We’ll never really understand “capitalism,” however, without comprehending what capital means. It is “money used to finance the purchase of the means of production, such as machines, or the machines themselves; the wealth, whether in money or property, owned or employed in business by an individual, firm, corporation, etc.; principal, investment, assets, or stock; material wealth owned by an individual or business enterprise, available for or capable of use in the production of further wealth, as by industrial investment.” In short, it is money that is put to use making more money through the application of labor, resources, technology, or insight.
Socialism, on the other hand, is “an economic theory or system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community collectively, usually through the state. It is characterized by production for use rather than profit, by equality of individual wealth, by the absence of competitive economic activity, and, usually, by government determination of investment, prices, and production levels.”—World English Dictionary. So the key words here are “collective” (instead of private), “cooperation” (instead of competition), and “utility” (instead of profitability). Put in these clinical terms, it would appear that socialism (as an economic theory) is closer to the Christian ideal than is capitalism. So what’s wrong with it?
In both systems, work is being performed, and things are being made (or grown), sold, and distributed. In both systems, investments are being made and gains are being realized. The primary bone of contention is who is in control—who determines the distribution of wealth? In ordinary socialism, the state—human government, not individual citizens—controls everything; while under capitalism, private individuals make their own decisions as to what to do and how to do it. (As far as economic theory goes, the only difference between Communism and Nazism is that under Communism, the government both owns and controls everything; while under National Socialism—Nazism or Fascism—business ownership is, nominally at least, left in private hands, but the government still determines wages, prices, production parameters, profit, and manpower issues. In other words, you may “own” and even profit from a business, but you operate it with a gun to your head, in accordance with the goals of the state. This system, alas, is beginning to sound all too familiar to American businessmen lately.)
Only an idiot could fail to see the pitfalls of government-run socialism. If hard work and initiative don’t profit the individual, there is no point in working any harder than necessary to avoid being singled out for your laziness (unless you’re a Christian, that is—doing whatever you do “as unto God, not as men-pleasers”). And if risking one’s assets brings no possibility of reward, private investment disappears. Eventually, with nobody working all that hard and with nobody venturing new ideas or capital that might benefit society (since there’s no incentive to do so) the financial structure of a government-run socialist society will inevitably collapse. Taxes aren’t paid by people who can’t (or won’t) earn a living, so eventually, the shrinking productive minority ends up supporting the growing unproductive majority, and the overall standard of living is depressed. Oh, sure, you can prop your culture up for a while by borrowing money you’ll never be able to repay from naïve people who still have some (or, more likely, from banks who are empowered to create wealth out of thin air by linking it to debt). But it is impossible to keep such a socialist economy afloat indefinitely: it will—it must—eventually implode under its own weight.
A slave under the rule of ancient Rome had more hope than a “worker” under Soviet-style socialism, for it was still theoretically possible for him to purchase his freedom. But the only way to get “ahead” (and I use the word loosely) under a socialist state is to align oneself with the ruling elite—to become part of the problem. This might be as simple as selling your vote to the highest bidder—whoever’s willing to give you another year of unemployment benefits and a free cell phone—or as complex as “selling your soul” (figuratively, of course): becoming an active community organizer, a paid union thug, or a fund raiser or financial “bundler” for liberal causes. Who knows? You might get named as an ambassador to some country you’ve never heard of. You might even end up President of the United States. Either way, socialism is like economic cancer: it will continue to grow, feeding on its host until the host is dead.
But is capitalism really any better? Yes and no. It is the basis of the “American dream,” in which a poor immigrant can arrive on our shores with fifty cents in his pockets, and with hard work and ingenuity can build a good life for himself and his family (or hers, of course). The “Iron Curtain” of the Soviet era was there to prevent people from fleeing from socialist repression to capitalist opportunity—it wasn’t there to keep the capitalists out. Capitalism (in theory) rewards initiative; it provides motivation; it offers incentive; it promises rewards for risks taken. Under capitalism, it matters how hard you’re willing to work. But therein lies its danger, subtle though it may be: it tends to encourage people to rely upon themselves.
Isn’t that a good thing? When compared to relying on the state, most definitely. But when compared to trusting God—the true source of all of our blessings—then capitalism is revealed to be a subtle trap. It’s the oldest trick in Satan’s book: to offer a choice between two alternatives to God’s will—neither of which is what Yahweh actually provided for us. In the Garden of Eden, this subtle choice was presented to Eve: “Either begin to look at God as your oppressive slave-master, a micromanaging control freak who wants to prevent you from enjoying all the Garden has to offer—or taste the fruit, and become like a god yourself, ‘blessed’ with the knowledge of good and evil.” It apparently never occurred to Eve that “Door Number One” in this game show, the one that God had provided up front, was still a viable option: it offered everything that was needed for life, godliness, contentment and personal fulfillment—including the “knowledge of good.” The only thing He had withheld was the knowledge of evil—something she (and the rest of us) would have been better off without. The serpent’s two “alternatives” ultimately led only to death or damnation—something the slithering menace mischaracterized as “wisdom.”
So if we snap at either piece of bait, the devil’s won. He asks us to choose between idealism and reality, while God’s path leads instead to abundant life, including both of these things. Satan insists there’s a trade-off between security and prosperity—between mercy and justice—between faith and sight—between desire and fulfillment. But Yahshua says, “You’re missing the point. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am your food, your drink, the roof over your head, your vehicle, your destination, your shield, and your exceedingly great reward.” Socialism and capitalism are both counterfeits, plausible but pointless substitutes for what Yahweh has already provided for us: the law of love.
Anyone who has a decent handle on history and current events knows how both socialism and capitalism can look good in theory but end up being exceedingly evil in practice. So let us consult the scriptural record. What “economic theory” did God describe as His ideal? If you live on Planet Earth, I’m afraid none of this is going to look particularly familiar these days….
Yahshua said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” (Matthew 5:38-42) Nothing you have—your possessions, your time, your dignity, or even your mortal life—should stand in the way of tangible demonstrations of love toward your fellow man—even if he’s a total jerk. Yahshua’s point is that our lives do not consist of what we possess. Real life consists of Him—He who is “our life, the length of our days” (as Moses put it in Deuteronomy 30:20). I realize that “giving to him who asks of you” sounds an awful lot like the unhappy fate of those living under Soviet-style socialism. But if the socialist-leaning government under which you live wants to steal from you and give the booty to politicians and their sycophants, your recourse is to God in prayer, not to armed insurrection. Yes, we are to be patriots, but not of our respective earthly nations—even relatively blessed ones, like America. As believers, our allegiance is supposed to be to the Kingdom of God.
Now that I’ve made half you angry with me, let us consider where Yahshua got these “crazy” ideas: from the Torah. Moses described the law of the Sabbatical year: “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called Yahweh’s release. Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother….” The idea was, if your brother (your fellow Israelite) fell on hard times, you were to help him out with a loan if you were able. If he got back on his feet and was able to pay you back, well and good. But if his poverty persisted, you were simply to forgive the loan. The point of the exercise was exactly the same as the one Yahshua made in Matthew 5: our lives before God do not consist of the stuff we own. That being said, this arrangement gave the lender great motivation for helping the borrower to succeed and prosper.
But there was a “safety valve.” “However, there need be no poor among you; for Yahweh will greatly bless you in the land which Yahweh your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance—only if you carefully obey the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today. For Yahweh your God will bless you just as He promised you: you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.” (Deuteronomy 15:1-6) On a national level, if everybody honored Yahweh’s Instructions, the general level of prosperity would be so high, hardly anybody would ever be poor enough to need a loan, and recovery times would be much shorter. So theoretically, no one would be “out of pocket” very much (or very long) because he took care of his neighbor in need. Of course, those “commandments” that would keep the nation blessed by God included the tithe—which in addition to providing for the Levites (to whom Yahweh had given no land) also fed the poor: no one was ever to go hungry in Israel.
The precept was then clarified: “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which Yahweh your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.” That’s “needs,” not “wants.” Big difference. “Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to Yahweh against you, and it become sin among you. You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing Yahweh your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11)
Note a couple of factors here: (1) Attitude was important to Yahweh. If the successful man understood that his prosperity was the direct result of God’s blessing (even if only through His provision of the ability and opportunity to work hard for a living) then he would be a cheerful giver—as God certainly had been to him. (2) God’s blessings came up front—not so much in response to dire need, but so that the blessed person may already be in a position to help when the need arose. (3) Such charity was to be extended to “your poor brother,” and practiced “in your land.” That is, we are to meet needs where we find them, primarily in our own spheres of influence. Contrary to what it sounds like at first blush, this is not a call for the universal forced implementation of Karl Marx’s Communist credo, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Meeting needs was to be local, personal, voluntary, and driven by God’s love. There was nothing “institutional” about it.
It was a “given” that one man’s charity was not to be another man’s scam. If you could work, you were expected to do so. That’s what all those Torah precepts about such things as leaving the edges of your wheat field unharvested were all about. In contrast to present society, the Ten Commandments (all of them) were at least given lip service: “You shall not steal” and “You shall not covet” were considered “settled law.” So David writes, “The wicked borrows and does not repay [which makes him a thief], but the righteous shows mercy and gives. For those blessed by [Yahweh] shall inherit the earth, but those cursed by Him shall be cut off.” (Psalm 37:21-22) Nowadays, when people “do not repay,” there are bankruptcy laws (dear to capitalists and socialists alike) to help them legally avoid fulfilling their moral obligations. But God calls those who don’t keep their promises “wicked,” people who will be “cut off.”
When I ran my own small business (a graphic design studio) I would occasionally get “stiffed” by new clients. So I had a rule: you only got to cheat me once. Most of them, I never saw again, and that was okay with me. One client who had made a big deal about being a Christian ran into trouble and didn’t pay his bill. That hurt a little, but I let it go, forgave him, forgot about it, and went on with life. Over a year later, he was back—with an apology and a check. I think both of us were more relieved that his testimony was intact than that his account had been settled.
Let us briefly take a closer look at the Ten Commandments with an eye toward discerning any “economic system” that Yahweh may be advocating. In Commandment number one, Yahweh says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” And number two says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image…. You shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” Both of these prohibit (among other things) placing any man-made philosophy or system in a position of authority. If Yahweh is God (and He is), we are to adhere to neither socialist nor capitalist principles, except as they happen to coincide with His precepts (as both systems occasionally do). This of course behooves us to become extremely familiar with what God’s Word actually says.
The sixth and seventh Commandments say, “You shall not murder” and “You shall not commit adultery.” What do these things have to do with economics? I’ll let James explain: “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:1-4) Both capitalism and socialism are systems designed to make use of other people’s money. That makes both of them potential avenues for enmity—not evil in themselves, but dangerous doors to temptation.
Capitalism by its very nature fosters competition—“wars and fights.” Every winner predicates a loser, comparatively, at least. Socialism, meanwhile, takes what productive people have earned and redistributes it among the unproductive. (And note: I’m not necessarily using “unproductive” as a pejorative here. Sometimes people are “unproductive” through no fault of their own—like my own handicapped children, for example.) But generally, the Biblical stance is as Paul put it: “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”—II Thessalonians 3:10) Both systems, in different ways, redistribute wealth. Being fallen humans, we all (like our mother, Eve) tend to covet what we do not have, just as James said. God’s plan, on the other hand, says, “Be content with what I’ve provided, and work while you can so that you may be a blessing to others who are less gifted.”
The eighth and tenth Commandments are the most directly related to our present topic. “...You shall not steal.” “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:1-17) Neither theoretical capitalism nor pure “Acts 2” style socialism requires (or implies) any sort of theft or covetousness. But in the real world, among people who aren’t using God’s Word as their Instructions for Living, both economic theories invariably involve both of these vices.
The reason capitalists have (in certain circles) a reputation for greed is that competition (a fundamental tenet of capitalism) is basically antithetical to love. It implies an adversarial stance against one’s competitors in business: “If I succeed, it will be at the expense of someone vying for the same audience or market.” Where would Microsoft be if they freely shared their proprietary technology with Apple (or vice versa)? And yet, that is precisely what Yahweh’s plan prescribes: cultivate alliances, not rivalries. The holy grail of the capitalist mindset is to achieve a monopoly—the state of affairs that exists when your would-be competitors can attain only a tiny fraction of your market share, no matter how hard they try. God says, “Help them.” Greed says, “Crush them.”
Or, how about this scenario? “Capitalists leverage the value of their employees’ labor into profits for themselves.” What the critics of capitalism fail to see is the risk-reward factor. Entrepreneurs venture their own capital, whereas employees are merely selling their time and expertise for wages. The capitalist’s investment risks are worth something, and unlike the employee’s paycheck, there is no guarantee of success. Solomon, supporting the capitalist viewpoint, said, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1) There is a reason a landowner is entitled to a bigger share of the harvest than his hired hands. That being said, greed enters the picture when highly paid “executives” or “managers” who have no “skin in the game,” are placed in positions of authority, risking nothing but their time, like any other employee. I speak from personal experience when I say that such a scenario can get very ugly, very quickly. (See my first book, co-authored with Craig Winn, entitled In the Company of Good and Evil.)
Paul described what the mindset of servants and masters (i.e., employees and employers) needs to be: “Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” (Ephesians 6:5-9) Anything short of this is a recipe for disaster: covetousness and theft will permeate the business endeavor. And capitalism will become the unwitting vehicle for greed.
And socialists? They sing a different verse of the same song. They say they yearn for a classless society, but they invariably achieve a two-tier system, with a small elite ruling class (including them, is the plan) taking what the “workers” have earned and redistributing it “evenly” among the other people—after taking their cut off the top, of course. Taking what others have earned is theft, any way you slice it, though God instructed us not to steal. (And yes, by saying this, I’m calling Federal Income taxes theft: America has been living under a quasi-socialist regime since 1913.) Why do the ruling elites steal? It’s because they covet what they don’t have: power over other people and money they didn’t have to earn with their own labor. Socialists too are looking for a monopoly, but unlike the capitalists (who merely want more money) they endeavor to monopolize men’s souls. To be in alignment with God’s plan, “socialism” must be voluntary, and driven by love. And that pretty much guarantees that it cannot be implemented on a nationwide (or worldwide) basis. Love is an individual, personal matter—a choice we make, one soul at a time.
A quintessentially capitalistic issue is mentioned among the conditional promises of blessing that Yahweh made to the Israelites: “You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And Yahweh will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if [and that’s a really big ‘if’] you heed the commandments of Yahweh your God.” (Deuteronomy 28:12-13) As we saw above in the context of the Law of the Sabbatical Year, all debts between Israelites were to be forgiven during the seventh year. But loans made to outsiders, you’ll recall, remained on the books: “Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother.” So loaning money to foreigners—or rather, being able to make loans (at interest) because God had given His people such abundant prosperity—is seen as a good thing.
There are a couple of issues we need to sort out here. When is it proper to charge interest on a loan, and when is it not? What is the symbolic significance of God’s differentiation between “your brother” and “foreigners?” Yahweh had a lot to say about interest and usury. But before we get into that, let us review what He didn’t say. In Act I, Scene 3 of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius is heard giving advice to his son Laertes: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be. For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” Because the Bard wrote in 17th Century English, some mistake this for a Biblical quote, King James style. But it runs counter to what Yahweh actually said. He forbade neither borrowing nor lending, though lending among His people was characterized more as a potential gift to the “borrower,” and being wealthy enough to lend to a foreigner was seen as a sign of God’s blessing. And “being true to yourself?” We deceive ourselves all the time: the only prudent course of action is to be true to Yahweh.
That being said, a potential downside to both borrowing and lending was pointed out by the prophet Jeremiah: “What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay—yet they all curse me.” (Jeremiah 15:10 NLT) Note, however, that both examples of behavior he cited are contrary to the way Yahweh instructed His people to conduct their financial affairs. Moneylending was to be an expression of love and mercy toward one’s fellow man, not a lucrative career path in which mercy impeded profit. Threats (of foreclosure or anything else) are never an act of mercy or love. And refusing to pay back a loan if you had the means to do so was tantamount to stealing from the lender.
God’s “rules” for lending among His people were crystal clear: it was to be an act of kindness, not a business: “You shall not charge interest to your brother—interest on money or food or anything that is lent out at interest. To a foreigner you may charge interest, but to your brother you shall not charge interest, that Yahweh your God may bless you in all to which you set your hand in the land which you are entering to possess.” (Deuteronomy 23:19-20) God has drawn a clear line of demarcation between Israel’s internal and external financial dealings. Remember that they had been instructed to drive the Canaanites out of the land; so the “foreigners” here are literally that—gentiles living in neighboring countries, gentiles who are presumed to be idolaters, not Torah observant believers. Interest in this case could be construed as an insurance policy against the risk of fraud that’s always a possibility when dealing with godless people. So charging interest, He says, is not improper per se, but relationships between God’s children—who are understood to be operating under God’s laws just as you are, are never to be compromised or clouded by financial considerations. Love and trust must be the preeminent motivations between us. Note too that God’s blessing is predicated on heeding this admonition: if you resort to usury among My people, I will withdraw My blessing from you.
A subtle refinement of the principle is introduced here: “If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit.” (Leviticus 25:35-37) Non-Israelite sojourners, travelers, and strangers within the Land were to be treated with mercy as well as poor “brothers.” So it was relative proximity, not racial profiling, that determined who was a legitimate candidate for charity. But if someone desired to live in Israel, he was required to adopt Israel’s ways—their laws, their customs, and (most importantly) their God. If they refused to assimilate into Israel’s Torah based culture, they were not welcome within the Land. The Land is metaphorical of the believer’s walk with Yahweh: there was to be one Law for everyone, Jew and gentile alike. As I said, the Canaanite idolaters were to be expelled: this is not a call for compromise.
Another prophet revealed that how one deals with the lending/borrowing issue is seen as a litmus test of his relationship with Yahweh: “‘The soul who sins shall die. But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right… If he has not oppressed anyone, but has restored to the debtor his pledge… If he has not exacted usury, nor taken any increase… He is just; He shall surely live!’ says the Lord Yahweh…. ‘[But] if he has exacted usury or taken increase—shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, he shall surely die. His blood shall be upon him.’” (Ezekiel 18:4-13, abridged) As far as God is concerned, how we treat others is a matter of life and death—ours. I don’t know about you, but I find that an appallingly sobering thought.
So whether you consider yourself a capitalist or a socialist, Yahweh’s love is to be your motivation. Solomon pinpointed why that is so: “One who increases his possessions by usury and extortion gathers it for him who will pity the poor.” (Proverbs 28:8) I realize that seems counterintuitive in today’s culture—the idea that in the end, greed benefits not the greedy man, but his victim. Job said the same thing: “This is what the wicked will receive from God; this is their inheritance from the Almighty. They may have many children, but the children will die in war or starve to death. Those who survive will die of a plague, and not even their widows will mourn them. Evil people may have piles of money and may store away mounds of clothing. But the righteous will wear that clothing, and the innocent will divide that money.” (Job 27:13-17 NLT) And Yahshua echoed the same sentiment. He wasn’t kidding when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:5, 7) I’m afraid very few of the capitalists or socialists one is likely to meet these days can truthfully be described as “meek” or “merciful.”
One thing that never quite made sense to me is the rather common phenomenon of the uber-rich socialist—the “limousine liberal,” as they’re known. They keep talking about “spreading the wealth” and creating a “classless society,” and yet they—not the “capitalist pigs” they vilify—are the richest of the rich. Rush Limbaugh wryly asks, “Have you ever noticed how under capitalism the rich become powerful, and under socialism the powerful become rich?” Investors.com notes, “To the socialist, wealth is contemptible—except when socialist leaders are rich. For reasons we don’t understand, it was fine for Venezuelan despot Hugo Chavez to die with a net worth of $1 billion, while the [oil-rich] country’s per-capita GDP languished at 96th in the world.” The founder of Communist China, Mao Zedong, was supposedly the socialist’s socialist, and yet his granddaughter, Kong Dongmei, was able to parlay the wealth he amassed into a fortune worth over $815 million today. How does that work, exactly? The Communist-Islamic “founder” of the phantom Palestinian state, Yasser Arafat (an Egyptian, ironically enough) died in possession of a stolen fortune of over two billion dollars. And the world’s richest man, Bill Gates (whose computer software company was legendary for its predatory and monopolistic practices during its early growth years) is constantly heard spouting anti-capitalist rhetoric.
Selwyn Duke, in a fascinating article entitled The Pathology of the Rich Socialist, (American Thinker—December, 2009) addresses the issue. He writes, “People such as George Soros and Michael Moore certainly talk a good game, but the next Mother Teresa they are not. Mother Teresa never criticized the free-market system; wealth just wasn’t for her. Soros and Moore are quite the opposite. They will never take a vow of poverty or dedicate themselves to helping the poor. They just want our civilization to take a vow of poverty and become poor. This has caused many to wonder: How can someone preach socialism while being the most rapacious ‘capitalist’ imaginable? Well, I have a theory about this.
“It has often been observed that those who preach liberalism the most practice charity the least, and research bears this out. For example, in a piece titled ‘Bleeding Heart Tightwads,’ self-proclaimed liberal Nicholas Kristof wrote, ‘Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals….’” Hypocrisy, thy name is socialist.
“Those on the Left are more interested in money than Right-wingers. Both the World Values Survey and the General Social Survey reveal that Left-wingers are more likely to rate ‘high income’ as an important factor in choosing a job, more likely to say ‘after good health, money is the most important thing,’ and more likely agree with the statement ‘there are no right or wrong ways to make money.’ You don’t need to explain that to Doug Urbanski, the former business manager for Left-wing firebrand and documentary-maker Michael Moore. ‘He [Moore] is more money-obsessed than anyone I have known—and that’s saying a lot,’ claims Urbanski….” While God makes it clear that prosperity is to be preferred over poverty and is one result of heeding His precepts, it is also true that “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (I Timothy 6:10) We are admonished to “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5) Something tells me the “Occupy” movement’s ire against the capitalist leaning “Tea Party” is misplaced—it should be directed toward their own wealth-obsessed leaders. Or perhaps they just don’t comprehend that the “banksters” they vilify are socialist elites to the very core, not capitalists.
“But what about advocating socialism? Why would these greedy leftists try to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs they crave? To understand this, we have to delve into the psychology of vice. There is a chasm between the heart and head. It is one thing to know something is wrong; it’s quite another to feel it on an emotional level. This is probably why Confucius once said (and I’m paraphrasing), ‘It is not that I do not know what to do; it is that I do not do what I know.’ The heart is both a terrible master and a terribly alluring one, as its fires so often trump the head’s cool logic. It is the demagogue of the mind’s elections, whose rhetoric is hard to resist because it just feels so right.”
It’s the same dichotomy of which I spoke a few pages back—the struggle between idealism and realism. And it’s the same issue the Apostle Paul addressed: “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Romans 7:15-17) In other words, socialists typically let sin reign wantonly in their lives—especially their greed and covetousness. And then they try to deflect the guilt they feel by accusing capitalists of doing what is so irresistibly attractive to them.
Duke continues: “Now, let’s talk about that seemingly greedy man, George Soros. As a 14-year-old Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Budapest, Hungary in 1944, he posed as the godson of a government official who had been bribed to protect him. Soros then accompanied his protector while the man would make his rounds confiscating property from Jews who were being shipped off to death camps. During a 60 Minutes interview with Steve Kroft, Soros said he felt no guilt over this….” His explanation was that if the choice was between being the predator or his prey, you’re better off as the predator. His justification was that if he didn’t do it, somebody else would.
“When asked about his mercenary currency trading, he said, ‘I don't feel guilty. Because I’m engaged in an amoral activity which is not meant to have anything to do with guilt.’ An amoral activity, or an amoral man? And when asked whether he deserved the blame for various nations’ financial collapses, he replied, ‘I am basically there to make money. I cannot and do not look at the social consequences of what I do.’ No, but he sure looked at the social consequences of what George Bush (whom he called a Nazi in his book) did.” This is all very reminiscent of what Paul told young Timothy: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Timothy 4:1-2) In context, Paul wasn’t speaking exclusively about guys like Soros, but if the shoe fits….
“But I digress. It’s clear that Soros sees our free-market system as an evil, much like the Nazi system whose death camps he eluded.” That’s an interesting exercise in projection, since Nazism was economically socialistic, not capitalistic. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if, just as when he was 14, Soros sees himself as a victim caught in its web. (The difference is that in 1944, he actually was a victim, whereas now he is the spider.) If he doesn’t rape the system, someone else will. Yet he is a victim only of his own greed.
“Taking this a bit deeper, it’s much like someone in the grip of any vice. It’s like a man who just cannot resist the bottle and gets falling-down drunk. He may sometimes have moments of clarity during which he actually hates his vice—and he may start to hate alcohol itself. At these times he may wish it didn’t exist, for then the temptation wouldn’t be there. But as long as it does exist, he can’t help but partake. George Soros is a greedy man. Because of this, he cannot be ‘free’ of his vice until the opportunity to make money is gone. He cannot retire, cannot rest, as long as there is another dollar to be made in the evil system. He wishes his ‘bottle’ didn’t exist, but as long as it does, he can’t help but partake.” Again, this is precisely the sort of spiritual pathology about which Paul warned Timothy: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (II Timothy 3:1-5) Well, except for that “form of godliness” thing. People like Soros don’t bother pretending to be godly. They’re either proud of their agnosticism, or they revel in their rebellion against God.
“This should surprise no one. I once heard of a woman who was told by her Leftist college professor not to give money to charity because it was the government’s job. But you see, to liberals, everything is government’s job—and also its responsibility. In just the way a criminal isn’t responsible for his actions because ‘society made him the way he is,’ Leftists want the government to fight their temptations for them, and they see a free-market society as being one big occasion of sin. The message is simple: It’s not my fault if the government places us in a situation in which we can be immoral. Just as liberals outsource their charitable responsibilities, they outsource their moral ones.
“The problem is that it doesn’t work. There will always be ‘the other side’ and those ‘from whom the thing is being taken away.’ There will always be an ‘evil system.’ In communist governments, those in power—who are ‘more equal than others’—get the new Mercedes, the plush apartment, the fine food, and all the other luxuries any commissar could want. The George Soroses of the world would always try to be among them, for greed would still lie in their hearts. And it wouldn’t be hard for them to rationalize, either. They would simply reason, ‘If I’m not more equal than others, someone else will be. If I don’t do it, someone else will.’”
It is clear that in practice, the traditional Judeo-Christian ethos is far more compatible with capitalism than it is with socialism. But the Law of Love is incompatible with both systems. Capitalism (ideally) says to work hard and compete honorably in order to elevate your status and level of prosperity above what it used to be. The function of money is to make more money by using it as leverage: investing it in worthwhile enterprises that promise to pay dividends far beyond the capabilities of the investor himself. Always keep your eye on the bottom line; invest for the long haul.
Socialism, meanwhile, says that honor, morality, and honest labor are for suckers. What works most effectively is extortion through democracy (the tyranny of the majority), opportunism (never letting a crisis go to waste, even if you have to create one yourself), and outcome-based strategies (the ends justify the means). Money is a useful means with which to lubricate the wheels of pride, to elevate yourself over the status of your fellow man—to make yourself “more equal than others.” So forget about the bottom line; the top line is more important: take advantage of short term gains whenever the opportunity arises, because you never know when you’re going to run out of other people’s money.
But Love says, “Trust your Creator for the necessities of life, and be content with (and thankful for) whatever He has provided. Work hard so that you may have something to share with those less blessed than you are. Plant and water (i.e., invest and manage) but trust God for the increase.” Money (capital) is to be desired neither for its own sake nor used to enhance one’s relative status. It is, rather, to be used for good—loaned or given to those in need, not lent to them at usurious interest. It is the means, not the end. It is to be spent freely to advance the kingdom of God, not hoarded, flaunted, or leveraged.
I realize that may sting a little. I’m smarting a bit myself, realizing that the lesser of two evils is still evil—especially when God has shown us what is good and right and true, even if it is counterintuitive to everything we’ve ever been taught. Let us have the courage and good sense to “choose the better part” while we still can. We’re running out of time.
The Looming Debt Crisis
Paul offered this insightful advice: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10) While his admonition goes far beyond monetary debt, it certainly includes it. What we owe is a measure of our bondage, self-imposed or not. And bondage (in this case defining the relationship between the lender and the borrower) implies an adversarial relationship: there is automatically a state of enmity between the one who wears the chain and the one who holds the key.
This, of course, explains why Yahweh instructed us to forgive the debts owed to us by our brothers. He wants us to live in harmony, in peace, in love. And that’s hard to do if a cloud of indebtedness looms over our relationship. So Paul wisely advises us to remain debt free.
I realize that this is very hard to do in today’s world—especially in “advanced” nations like America. Economist.com publishes a global debt clock, which at the moment is showing almost 53 trillion dollars of public debt owed by nations worldwide. (It all depends on whose debt you’re counting, of course. Bloomberg.com, in a March 9, 2014 article, puts total global debt (presumably including individuals) at an even $100 trillion!) But the accompanying map reveals something fascinating: the more “developed” a nation is, the more it’s likely to owe, generally speaking. In other words, their governments have spent them into an illusory prosperity. The United States, Canada, The European Union, Brazil, India, China, Israel, Japan, and Australia are all awash in a sea of debt, while places in which most of us would be less likely to want to live, like Botswana, Mali, Cameroon, Paraguay, Libya, Oman, and Papua New Guinea, have very little sovereign debt in comparison. The places with lots of debt also tend to have more good roads, clean water, a high degree of industrial or technological development, good communications, and strong national defense forces. The places with comparatively little debt have none of that. So the case could be made that we’re all dirt poor, but some nations have spent enough borrowed money to make us look rich to our neighbors.
This is doubtless true in our private indebtedness as well. The biggest factor? Very few of us in the “first world” own our homes outright; most “homeowners” have mortgages—loans—of some sort. Even if you’re renting, your landlord is most likely making payments to a bank out of your rent check every month. The days are long gone when you can simply move beyond the frontier, find some unoccupied land, cut down the trees, and build yourself a cabin. There is no more frontier; all of the land is “owned” by someone. But perhaps that was always the case, and our pioneer forebears simply chose to ignore the moral ramifications of their explorations.
But what is the alternative? To be homeless? To have no possessions? In a way, yes. The older I get, the more clearly I realize that of all the nice things I possess, I don’t really “own” anything. That is, everything I “have” will be left behind for others to use or discard after I’m gone. I’ll take none of it with me. In a sense, it’s all “borrowed.” So in the end, there is only one thing more idiotic than being defined by one’s possessions—to be enslaved by them through debt.
That being said, our homes aren’t frivolous and unnecessary expenditures. They’re essential tools—up to a point. They keep us warm and dry, provide a safe environment in which to live our lives and raise our children, and comprise a geographical center from which to make our forays out into the world. During His ministry years, Yahshua had no home of His own, and yet He made frequent use of the permanent dwelling places of His followers. So it is obvious (not to mention comforting), that wanting or having a home in which to live is not in itself considered a moral failing or character flaw—even if you can’t own it outright. Ideally, as I said, one’s home is seen as a useful tool with which to advance the kingdom of God.
The danger lies in letting our possessions (beginning with our homes) become vehicles for pride. It’s human nature to choose our dwelling places (or anything else we might buy) not so much on what we need as on how much we can afford. I’m as guilty of this as the next guy, I’m afraid. We all need to examine our motives, for we will all stand before God at some point. Will our justifications and rationalizations for spending—borrowing—more money than we had to, just because we could, make any sense if we have to explain our actions at the Judgment Seat of Christ? What did we really get in exchange for incurring all that extra debt?
Our personal debt picture is but a microcosm of what goes on in the larger world. Nations incur debt, just as families and individuals do. I explained (back in Chapter 20) how the practice of national debt began, and how it has grown over the centuries. It is now time to examine the issue from the viewpoint of Last Days chronology, for a debt crisis of unprecedented proportions is looming over the near horizon—and not just in America, but worldwide. The financial condition of the human race is a house of cards, and at this late date it won’t take much of a breeze to bring it crashing to the ground.
Economist and attorney Ellen Hodgson Brown J.D., on her website EllenBrown.com, provides some background: “Countries everywhere are facing debt crises today, precipitated by the credit collapse of 2008. Public services are being slashed and public assets are being sold off, in a futile attempt to balance budgets that can’t be balanced because the money supply itself has shrunk. Governments usually get the blame for excessive spending, but governments did not initiate the crisis. The collapse was in the banking system, and in the credit that it is responsible for creating and sustaining.”
Really? Just to set the record straight at the outset, the debt crisis has been building since long before the credit collapse of 2008. And governments and banks share an incestuous relationship—and they have for centuries. What one does, the other enables. What one implements, the other blesses. What one perpetrates, the other indemnifies. One cannot commit its financial corruption without the assistance and collusion of the other. So not surprisingly, governments and private financial institutions are both characterized as part of Babylon in scripture. They are the right and left hands of the same unclean beast.
Brown writes, “Contrary to popular belief, most of our money today is not created by governments. It is created by private banks as loans. The private system of money creation has grown so powerful over the centuries that it has come to dominate governments globally. But the system contains the seeds of its own destruction. The source of its power is also a fatal design flaw. The flaw is that banks advance ‘bank credit’ that must be paid back with interest, while having no obligation to spend the interest they collect so that borrowers can earn it again and again, as they must in order to retire the debt. Instead, this money is invested in various ‘casinos’ beyond the borrowers’ reach. This leads to a continual systemic need for more new bank credit money, more debt with more interest attached, to prevent widespread defaults and deflationary collapse.”
She quotes from a booklet published by the Chicago Federal Reserve: “[Banks] do not really pay out loans from the money they receive as deposits. If they did this, no additional money would be created.” They say this as if it were a bad thing. Since wealth is no longer tied to a standard (like gold), every “new” dollar created out of thin air in tandem with debt devalues the dollars that were already in circulation. Can they not see the problem with this? “What [banks] do when they make loans is to accept promissory notes in exchange for credits to the borrowers’ transaction accounts. Loans (assets) and deposits (liabilities) both rise [by the same amount].”
She then explains, “That’s the conventional model, but banks actually create the loans first. (Picture how a credit card works.) Banks need deposits to clear their outgoing checks, but they find the deposits later. Banks create money as loans, which become checks, which go into other banks. Then, if needed to clear the checks, they borrow the money back from the other banks. In effect, they borrow back the money they just created, pocketing the spread between the interest rates as their profit.” So basically, it’s all a shell game.
In the late 17th century, the wealthy often deposited (or “banked”) their gold with goldsmiths for safekeeping, accepting paper receipts called “banknotes” which could (theoretically) be used at any time to retrieve their physical gold, but proved so convenient they became media of exchange in their own right. The goldsmiths noticed that their depositors actually reclaimed their gold from their “banks” only about ten percent of the time. This epiphany led to the common practice of printing up to ten times the value in banknotes the goldsmith-bankers actually held in reserve—loaning them out to governments and powerful individuals who ostensibly could raise the funds to pay interest on the loans. In other words, 90% of the paper money in circulation was, in fact, counterfeit—backed by nothing but statistics and presumption.
Brown explains: “This system was called ‘fractional reserve’ banking and was institutionalized when the Bank of England was founded in 1694.” If you’ll recall, I described in chapter 20 how the Dutch nobleman William Stradholder (a.k.a. William of Orange) married into the British royal family, repaying his benefactors in Holland five years later (1694) by borrowing at interest, on behalf of England, 1,250,000 pounds from the Bank of England—a front for the Jewish banking houses of Amsterdam—and much more shortly thereafter. In the process he created the type of national debt we know today. “The bank was allowed to lend its own banknotes to the government, forming the national money supply. Only the interest on the loans had to be paid. The debt was rolled over indefinitely. That is still true today. The U.S. federal debt is never paid off but just continues to grow, forming the basis of the U.S. money supply.” Theoretically, if all the world’s debts were to be paid off at once, the money supply would virtually disappear overnight.
The history of paper currency in the U.S. is checkered at best. It has flipped back and forth several times from government-issued notes to instruments put in circulation by privately owned banks (such as the Federal Reserve Bank). But as far as I can tell, there have only been a few short periods in the history of our nation in which the fractional reserve system in one permutation or another was banned. For example, our seventh President, Andrew Jackson, abolished what then served as a “central bank” and returned the nation to the gold standard—insisting that every paper dollar must have something of real value backing it up. In the process, he managed to virtually eliminate America’s national debt (much of it by selling off public lands to private individuals).
But today (and for the past hundred years) America has been saddled with a fundamentally dishonest monetary system that creates “wealth” out of thin air and self-delusion. What can be done? Brown opines, “There are other ways to create a banking system, ways that would eliminate its Ponzi-scheme elements and make the system sustainable. One solution is to make the loans interest-free; but for Western economies today, that transition could be difficult.” Under Torah rules, this is precisely the system prescribed. Of course, it won’t work unless its foundation is love for one’s fellow man—something that in these Last Days is in woefully short supply.
Furthermore, “interest-free” has to be an honest principle, not a scam. Islam has an “interest free” rule for loans between Muslims—an idea Muhammad picked up from the Jews of Yathrib (Medina) before he killed them, stole all their belongings, and sold their wives and children into slavery. But such “halal” loans, as they’re known, get around the “no usury” requirement with semantics and fancy footwork. The halal bank buys the item for one price, and sells it to the borrower at a profit. The borrower then pays back the higher loan amount “without interest” (cough, choke) in easy installments. In other words, there’s a cost to borrowing money, but you may not call it “interest” under Sharia law. Calling it an “administration fee” doesn’t fool anybody (except Muslims, of course).
Brown continues: “Another alternative is for banks to be publicly-owned. If the people collectively own the bank, the interest and profits go back to the government and the people, who benefit from decreased taxes, increased public services, and cheaper public infrastructure. Cutting out interest has been shown to reduce the cost of public projects by 30-50%.
“In the United States, this system of publicly-owned banks goes back to the American colonists. The best of the colonial models was in Benjamin Franklin’s colony of Pennsylvania, where the government operated a ‘land bank.’ Money was printed and lent into the community. It recycled back to the government and could be lent and relent. The system was mathematically sound because the interest and profits were returned to the government, which then spent the money back into the economy in place of taxes. Private banks, by contrast, generally lend their profits back into the economy, or invest in private money-making ventures in which more is always expected back than was originally invested. During the period that the Pennsylvania system was in place, the colonists paid no taxes except excise taxes, prices did not inflate, and there was no government debt….” Of course, to work like this, the “public bank” had to be run for the public’s benefit. I’m afraid most governments don’t know what that is any more.
So she concludes, “To escape the debt trap of the global bankers, the power to create the national money supply needs to be restored to national governments. Alternatives include: (1) Legal tender issued directly by national treasuries and spent on national budgets. (2) Publicly-owned central banks empowered to advance the nation’s credit and lend it to the government interest-free. (3) Nationalization of bankrupt banks considered “too big to fail” (after expunging or writing down bad debts on inflated bubble assets). These banks could then issue credit to the public and serve the public’s banking needs, with the profits recycling back to the government, defraying the tax burden on the people. (4) Publicly-owned local banks (state, provincial, or municipal). Publicly-owned banks have been successfully established and operated in many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, India, China, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia.” And one state in the U.S., North Dakota, successfully runs its own state-owned bank—and has since 1919.
The central issue, according to Brown, is what happens to the interest being charged. Is it siphoned off as profit for greedy fat-cat bankers, or is it returned by a benevolent government to the state’s infrastructure, reducing taxes in the process? My kneejerk take is that this view may be a naïve and nearsighted oversimplification of the matter. Although there are doubtlessly benefits to the “national bank” system she advocates, something tells me she hasn’t factored in the growing trend toward consolidation of power and globalization that characterizes our world. As governments grow in power and influence, so does their inability (or unwillingness) to respond to the needs of their constituents. They become repositories of power for power’s sake, and the benevolence that may have been the primary goal of a small governmental entity (like Franklin’s Pennsylvania, or North Dakota, for example) is transformed into the unwelcome outcome of the philosophical agenda of the powerful elite class at the top. The bigger the government, the bigger the problem. (And then, of course, there’s the “conspiracy theory” that governments these days are actually run from behind the scenes by the very elites who own and operate the private central banks. Just because it sounds hysterical, don’t assume it’s necessarily untrue.)
Today, North Dakota’s oil wealth is plowed back into the local economy by its state-owned bank through improved infrastructure and lower taxes for its citizens. In contrast, the Federal government pursues a self-destructive energy policy that squanders hundreds of billions of dollars on green energy boondoggles, while at the same time doing everything it can to stifle development of carbon-based natural resources that have the potential to make our nation 100% energy independent (and far less vulnerable to foreign intervention)—all because of our current leadership’s philosophical predisposition toward a “green” agenda (one based mostly on junk science and faulty logic—or is it greed, the tempting prospect of carbon-credit riches?). If a tenth of the money that our federal government has wasted on failed green projects had been invested instead on scientific research into ways to utilize coal more cleanly, the whole country would be better off—safer, less vulnerable, and far more prosperous.
But even this line of reasoning, though accurate, misses the point. The Bible clearly predicts the sudden and irreversible implosion of the entire world’s financial infrastructure, and its replacement with the biggest, most brutally concentrated government humanity has ever seen—the worldwide reign of the charismatic—ostensibly messianic—figure known in scripture as the Beast, the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, or the Prince who is to come: in a word, the Antichrist. With all of the world’s power (including finances) concentrated in the hands of this one individual, it won’t matter whether the “bank” is government-owned or privately owned, for the two systems will not only be in league with each other, they will be, for all intents and purposes, the same thing. For three and a half terrifying years, one satanically inspired individual will control everything, public and private. And every manmade economic theory ever promulgated will be dust in the wind.
Although the debt crisis is a worldwide phenomenon, its mechanism is perhaps easiest to perceive by studying the American permutation. Kimberly Amadeo, writing for About.com (October, 2013), explains how it works: “The U.S. budget deficit is when Federal spending is greater than the tax revenue received for that year. In Fiscal Year 2014, the budget deficit was projected to be $744 billion. This is much lower than the all-time high of $1.4 trillion reached in FY 2009.” That’s the good news. The bad news is that “The U.S. Debt exceeded $17 trillion on October 17, 2013. This is nearly three times what the debt was in 2000, which was $6 trillion.” The rate at which the national debt has skyrocketed during Mr. Obama’s tenure is truly terrifying. No sane person can pretend any longer that the nation’s finances are under control, or that the situation can be fixed with conventional solutions, however sound.
“How Does the Deficit Affect the Debt? Each year, the deficit is added to the debt. The Treasury must sell Treasury bonds to raise the money to cover the deficit. This is known as the public debt, since these bonds are sold to the public.
“In addition to the public debt, there is the money that the government loans to itself each year. This money is in the form of Government Account Securities, and it comes primarily from the Social Security Trust Fund. These loans are not counted as part of the deficit, since they are all within the government. However, as the Baby Boomers retire, they will begin to draw down more Social Security funds than are replaced with payroll taxes. These benefits will need to be paid out of the general fund. This means that either other programs must be cut, taxes must be raised or benefits must be lowered.” One possible “solution” Amadeo didn’t mention was reducing the number of seniors drawing their pensions, thereby reducing the amount of unfunded liability. More on that in a bit. Wake up and smell the genocide. “Unfortunately, legislators have not yet agreed on an effective plan to meet Social Security obligations.” Robbing Peter to pay Paul has never been a sound long term financial strategy, but that has never prevented politicians from doing it.
“How Does the Debt Affect the Deficit? The debt affects the deficit in three ways. First, the debt actually gives a better indication of the true deficit each year. You can more accurately gauge the deficit by comparing each year’s debt to last year’s debt. That’s because the budget deficit, as reported in each year’s budget, does not include the amount owed to the Social Security Trust Fund. However, this is a debt that will need to be repaid one day [if financial disaster is to be averted], and so the amount borrowed from it is a more accurate description of each year’s government liabilities than the reported budget deficit.
“Second, the interest on the debt is added to the deficit each year. About 5% of the budget is allocated to debt interest payments. Interest on the debt hit a record in FY 2011, reaching $454 billion. This beat its prior record of $451 billion in FY 2008—despite lower interest rates. By the FY 2013 budget, the interest payment dropped to $248 billion, as interest rates fell to a 200-year low. However, as the economy improved, interest rates rose starting in May 2013. As a result, interest on the debt is projected to quadruple to $850 billion by FY 2021, making it the fourth largest budget item.” So we’ve got a one-two punch, and both fists are principles the Bible warned against: (1) Borrowing without repaying (called “wickedness,” if you’ll recall), and (2) charging your brother interest. No wonder we’re in such deep trouble.
“Third, the debt can decrease tax revenue in the long run. This would further increase the deficit. As the debt continues to grow, creditors can become concerned about how the U.S. government plans to repay it. Over time, these creditors will expect higher interest payments to provide a greater return for their increased perceived risk. Higher interest costs dampen economic growth.” Once the process gets started, it can potentially escalate into a financial death spiral.
Our largest foreign creditor, China, is understandably upset with the insane financial policies being employed by American politicians—of both parties. The Washington Post reports that “Zhao Xijun, deputy dean at Beijing’s Renmin University School of Finance… likens Congress to kidnappers holding global investment for ransom. ‘The two political parties in the U.S. have disregarded the interest of the rest of their country and the world,’ he said.” Nothing good can come from such recklessness, though it is agreed that China can’t unilaterally divorce itself from the American dollar without causing irreparable harm to itself in the process. What will happen to China’s now-robust economy after America and Europe fall off the fiscal cliff into oblivion is revealed by their prophesied reaction: review the sixth trumpet judgment: Revelation 9:13-21.
Amadeo’s treatise continues: “How Do the Deficit and Debt Affect the Economy? Initially, deficit spending and the resultant debt boosts economic growth. This is especially true in a recession. That’s because deficit spending pumps liquidity into the economy. Whether the money goes to jet fighters, bridges or education, it ramps up production and creates jobs….”
That’s why both Presidents Bush and Obama pushed massive stimulus bills. But there’s a downside. Deficit spending is like trying to run your body on sugar and caffeine: you can’t keep doing it forever without crashing. At some point, you need real food to keep going. So Amadeo points out, “In the long run, the resultant debt is very damaging to the economy, and not only because of higher interest rates. The U.S. government may be tempted to let the value of the dollar fall so that the debt repayment will be in cheaper dollars, and less expensive. As this happens, foreign governments and investors will be less willing to buy Treasury bonds, forcing interest rates even higher.” It’s the law of supply and demand: as we supply less value to our potential investors, they will invest in less of what we have to offer. The resulting death spiral is like a snake eating its own tail.
“The greatest danger comes from the debt to Social Security [the biggest single component of the U.S. National Debt]. As this debt comes due when Baby Boomers retire, funds will need to found to pay them. Not only could taxes be raised, which would slow the economy, but the loan from the Social Security Trust Fund will stop.” Truth be told, borrowing from this source should never have been allowed in the first place. “More and more of the government’s spending will need to be devoted to pay this mandatory cost. This would provide less stimulation, and could further slow the economy.” And it hardly needs to be added that the liberal-progressive policies our politicians have been pushing for the past few decades are a natural disincentive to honest tax-generating work.
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out the logical solution for the godless mind. If you’ve been stealing (okay, borrowing without any intention of repayment) from a large segment of the population—in this case, seniors—how can you avoid the inevitable financial catastrophe that will happen when the bill comes due? It’s simple: you do everything you can to make sure they don’t live long enough to collect on the debt. Enter the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). Just as our knowledge of health and nutrition is finally making it possible for folks to live well into their eighties, the government is finding new ways of withholding life-saving care from people who are beyond a certain age. “Comfort care,” advocated by “death panels,” will provide pain killers, but no real treatment. The message is, “Thanks for all the money, but please die now.”
Of course, Social Security itself is merely a Ponzi scheme designed by liberal progressives to promise “retirement benefits” to people who would never be able to collect on them. When the program was launched in 1935, the average life expectancy was 65 years. So on average, you weren’t expected to receive your money back (after a lifetime of paying into the system) before you were toes up. (Plans to “reform” the system invariably include raising the age of eligibility.) It’s really no wonder politicians came to view the Social Security “trust fund” as a national piggy bank into which they could dip any time they liked, even though the money didn’t belong to them. Dead people collect no Social Security benefits.
At the same time, there is a war on nutrition (God’s idea of “medicine.”) Onerous government regulations are placed upon organic farmers, intended to either drive the costs of their products up beyond the reach of the ordinary person (especially seniors on fixed incomes), or drive them out of business altogether. And the FDA resists all efforts to require the labelling of foods to reveal the presence of GMOs—knowing that such knowledge would allow people to choose more healthful alternatives. If our government’s recent policies can be taken at face value, their goal is to use people up and throw them away.
I know that sounds cynical, even a little bit paranoid, but their raids on the Social Security trust fund aren’t the only indication of this attitude. Recent cuts in U.S. defense budgets are designed to sidestep the downstream costs of our military preparedness: medical expenditures and pension benefits for men and women who have served their country with honor, with the expectation that their nation would have their back when the time came. I don’t know which hurts more: getting injured by the enemy in battle, or getting thrown under the bus by your own commander-in-chief and his political sycophants.
Once again, I must contrast this sorry state of affairs with Yahweh’s plan and purpose. Instead of treating the elderly as a burden to be dropped at the earliest convenience, God says, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am Yahweh.” (Leviticus 19:32) Besides the baseline Law of Love, there is something to be gained from treating the elderly with respect. They (I guess I’d have to say “we” now, at my age) have decades of valuable experience. It’s not that we’re better, or stronger, or more educated than younger generations; but we have made the same mistakes (or have seen the same traps) with which our younger counterparts are confronted. Ideally, having been around the block a few times, we know where the potholes are: we know what works in the real world, and what leads to unforeseen disaster. (That being said, there’s no fool like an old fool. Some people seem incapable of learning anything of value, no matter how miles they’ve got on the “oldometer.”)
And honoring our military forces? God sent His people to war for very different reasons than we do today. I understand His motivation (clearing the promised land of Ba’al worshipping Canaanites), but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why America feels it has to maintain such a far-flung budget-busting military presence. According to Ron Paul, the U.S. maintains 900 military bases or installations in 130 countries around the world. Since World War II, we have assumed the role of the world’s policeman. Again, I have no idea why we feel we must do this. If we wanted to protect ourselves from foreign enemies, it would seem the first logical step would be the comparatively simple matter of securing our own borders and ports—being circumspect in our immigration policies—something we inexplicably refuse to do. But if we merely want to project our power and pride, we need to repent and get over ourselves: that’s the last thing God would honor. As far as how to treat our military personnel is concerned, I would suggest a careful reading of Deuteronomy 20 for God’s take on the subject. But on a more basic level, we should promise our military recruits nothing we aren’t prepared to deliver. As Hosea said, “They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant. Thus judgment springs up like [toxic] hemlock in the furrows of the field.” (Hosea 10:4) Keep the promises you make, and don’t make promises you can’t keep—especially to people who volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way on your behalf.
The point of all that is merely that we—the whole world—are in trouble with debt, and there doesn’t seem to be any way out, short of a total reboot of the system (something blatantly predicted in Bible prophecy, by the way). The prolific Michael Snyder, in his somewhat frenetic website TheEconomicCollapseBlog.com, writes, “The U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system are unsustainable from any angle that you want to look at things. We are drowning in government debt, we are drowning in consumer debt, Wall Street has been transformed into a high risk casino where our largest financial institutions are putting it all on the line on a daily basis, we are consuming far more than we are producing, there are more than 100 million Americans on welfare, and we are stealing more than 100 million dollars an hour from future generations to pay for it all. Anyone who believes that we are in ‘good shape’ does not know the first thing about economics. Sadly, the U.S. is not alone. Nations all over the globe are experiencing similar problems. The global economic crisis is just beginning, and it is going to get much, much worse. I hope you're ready.”
Just because he’s a little hysterical, it doesn’t mean he’s wrong. But Michael, there is no such thing as “ready” (outside of Christ, that is). Total economic collapse of the sort you’re predicting (or the Bible, for that matter) will be far more serious than shortages at the grocery store, rolling power outages, or Great-Depression-level unemployment numbers. Even “preppers” are going to find themselves woefully unprepared. The collapse will mean starvation on a massive scale, the disintegration of society into chaos, roving bands of armed thugs willing to use force to take what they want—only to discover that there is nothing much to steal. Mogadishu will provide the model. It’s going to get ugly. The only question is when. Can the ship of global finance remain afloat until the fourth decade of the twenty-first century? At the moment, it looks iffy.
Is this collapse inevitable? Snyder thinks it is, and he’s not alone. In an article entitled, The Sovereign Debt Crisis Is Never Going To End Until There Is a Major Global Financial Collapse (July 7th, 2011), he writes, “In the past, there certainly have been governments that have gotten into trouble with debt, but what we are experiencing now is the first truly global sovereign debt crisis. There has never been a time in recorded history when virtually all of the governments of the world were drowning in debt all at the same time. This sovereign debt crisis is never going to end until there is a major global financial collapse. There simply is no way to unwind the colossal web of debt that we have constructed in an orderly fashion. Right now the EU and the IMF have been making ‘emergency loans’ to nations such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but that is only going to buy those countries a few additional months. Giving more loans to nations that are already drowning in red ink may ‘kick the can down the road’ for a little while but it isn't going to solve anything. Meanwhile, dozens more nations all over the globe are rapidly approaching a day of reckoning….”
He enumerates the financial woes of Greece, seen as a harbinger of the inevitable bankruptcy of Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland—threatening to implode the E.U.’s entire economy: “The following is a portion of what Moody’s had to say when they cut the credit rating of Portugal by four notches: ‘Although Portugal’s Ba2 credit rating indicates a much lower risk of restructuring than Greece’s Caa1 rating, the EU’s evolving approach to providing official support is an important factor for Portugal because it implies a rising risk that private sector participation could become a precondition for additional rounds of official lending to Portugal in the future as well. This development is significant not only because it increases the economic risks facing current investors, but also because it may discourage new private sector lending going forward and reduce the likelihood that Portugal will soon be able to regain market access on sustainable terms.’”
Snyder asks, “Do you understand what is being said there? Basically, Moody’s is saying that the terms of the Greek bailout make Portuguese debt less attractive because Portugal will likely be forced into a similar bailout at some point. If the EU is not going to fully guarantee the debt of the member nations, then that debt becomes less attractive to investors…. Unfortunately, if the dominoes start to fall, the entire EU is going to go down.”
But they won’t go down without a fight. When the two largest banks in Cyprus failed, the government hatched a plan to simply steal the shortfall from Cypriot bank account holders. DailyFinance.com reports, “Initially, part of this hit was going to be against insured depositors—ordinary savers whose accounts were insured by the European Union up to €100,000. Had the plan gone through as proposed, they would have faced a one-time 6.75 percent tax on their accounts. However, there was such local and international uproar against the notion that ordinary citizens could have their bank accounts raided by the government that a new bailout plan was devised. This one protected insured depositors but still left those with various levels of ‘unsecured debt’—i.e., very large deposits—in the country’s two biggest banks on the hook.” Can you spell “slippery slope?”
Michael Snyder’s treatise continues: “Big banks all over Europe are highly exposed to sovereign debt and they are leveraged to the hilt. It is almost as if we are looking at a replay of 2008 in many ways. When Lehman Brothers finally collapsed, it was leveraged 31 to 1. Today, major German banks are leveraged 32 to 1, and they are currently holding a tremendous amount of Greek debt.” It makes you almost nostalgic for the good old days of William of Orange, when leverage of only ten to one, as insane as that was, was the norm. “Anyone with half a brain can see that this is going to end badly. So how is the European Central Bank responding to this crisis? They are raising interest rates once again….” Naturally. More risk demands more reward.
“But Europe is not the only one facing a horrific debt crunch. In Japan, the national debt is now up to about 226 percent of GDP. So far the Japanese government has been able to handle a debt load this massive because the citizens of Japan have been willing to lend the government gigantic mountains of money at interest rates so low that they are hard to believe. When that paradigm changes, and it will, Japan is going to be in a massive amount of trouble. In fact, an article in Forbes has warned that even a very modest increase in interest rates would cause interest payments on Japanese government debt to exceed total government revenue by the year 2019.
“Of course the biggest pile of debt sitting out there is the national debt of the United States. The U.S. is so enslaved to debt that there is literally no way out under the current system. To say that America is in big trouble would be a massive understatement. In fact, the whole world is headed for trouble.
“Right now government debt around the globe continues to soar at an exponential pace. At some point a wall is going to be hit. The Wall Street Journal recently quoted Professor Carmen Reinhart as saying the following about what we are facing: ‘These processes are not linear,’ warns Prof. Reinhart. ‘You can increase debt for a while and nothing happens. Then you hit the wall, and—bang!—what seem to be minor shocks that the markets would shrug off in other circumstances suddenly become big.’ That is the nature of debt bubbles—they keep expanding and expanding until the day that they inevitably burst….”
“The combination of huge amounts of debt and huge amounts of leverage is incredibly toxic, and that is what we have all over the globe today. Almost every major nation is drowning in a sea of red ink and almost all of our major financial institutions are leveraged to the hilt. There is only one way that the sovereign debt crisis can end: very, very badly.” It’s one thing to become homeless. It’s something else entirely to watch your children starve to death. But if current forces continue unabated, that’s where we’re headed.
Is it all accidental, the result of arrogant and shortsighted politicians and bankers doing what they thought they had to in order to keep their cushy positions of power? Or is there something more nefarious going on? Dave Hodges, writing for TheSleuthJournal.com (February 15, 2014) reports: “I recently interviewed Daniel Estulin, the author of what will be the newest best seller, TransEvolution: The Coming Age of Human Deconstruction. Estulin wrote the book based largely on a Bilderberg white paper which was smuggled to him by a Bilderberg insider. The document was filled with information which spelled the end of the human race as we know it….” Interesting: the Bible describes the very same catastrophe, on the same timeline, perpetrated with the same methods, by the same sort of people, with the same motives. The only surprise (to the Bilderbergers) will be who is left standing when the smoke clears—not them. Oops.
The “Bilderberg Group,” you may recall, “is an annual private conference of approximately 120 to 140 invited guests from North America and Europe, most of whom are people of influence. About one-third are from government and politics, and two-thirds from finance, industry, labour, education and communications.”—BBC News. Like it or not, these are the people who shape the geopolitical world in which we live—the power behind every throne. What happens behind their closed doors becomes public policy. They define what “politically correct” means. You can call them the Illuminati if you like; the Bible calls them Babylon (or at least one permutation of it).
Anyway, Hodges states, “Estulin mentioned that the wholesale destruction of the world’s economy is not an accident, nor is it a miscalculation or the result of political shenanigans. This destruction is being done on purpose, absolutely on purpose. Estulin revealed that his Bilderberg insider told him that the slave masters on this planet want to collapse the economy, force people into the stack-and-pack cities of mega millions and then exterminate most of humanity.” A few chapters back, we discussed this liberal-progressive pipe dream of 90-95% world depopulation at length: the only way to save the human race (they say) is to kill the vast majority of the humans. God, of course, would beg to differ, but He did predict (in so many words) that this very thing would happen—although He Himself wouldn’t be the one bringing it about (and He didn’t reveal a final death toll percentage). All He’d do is stop restraining the evil in the world, stop protecting the human race from itself for a little while.
“Estulin and I explored the methods that the super elite may use to exterminate 90% of all people on this planet. We both agreed that starvation is the most likely candidate. Starvation is a clean method of killing, it is quick and it would leave the planet in good shape for the global elite to establish their paradise on Earth….” Starvation as a geopolitical tool, as ghastly as it would be, could at least be expected to be easier to manage, focus, and contain than the method Dr. Eric R. Pianka proposed to get the job done: wiping out whole populations with the ebola virus. Starvation may not prove fast enough for the elites, however: the Bible (Revelation 20:4) also predicts beheadings on a massive scale for those who refuse to worship the beast.
Hodges concludes, “Let’s make no mistake about it; the super elite are attempting to become more powerful than God.” That’s a pretty naïve thing to say: anybody can kill people; God alone creates and sustains life. There’s a big difference. “The super elite control the human race in every imaginable possible way. Even the term, ‘conspiracy theorist.’ was invented by the global elite as a marginalizing tool to keep the public from believing in conspiracy theories that will enslave humanity. Absolutely nothing that happens in our world is an accident; it’s all part of this grand plan…. My fellow human beings, we do not have five years. You sit idly by on the sidelines at the risk of not only your life, but the lives of your children and grandchildren, born or not yet born.” I might add that the “grand plan” is nothing man conjured up—it has Satan’s grubby fingerprints all over it. We struggle not against flesh and blood, but against evil spiritual forces (see Ephesians 6:12). And Hodges’ “five more years” warning may be a tad off, but not by much. By my watch, the Tribulation will begin in November, 2026, and run until October, 2033.
Once again, I would have to observe that although Mr. Hodges’ alarm is well founded, his “solution” (such as it is) is naïve at best. Getting “off the sidelines”—getting personally involved in fighting these “super elite” puppet masters (whose strings are in turn being pulled by Satan Himself)—is a strategy doomed to failure, even if it “needs doing.” Rallies, riots, and rebellion will do nothing to unseat those who are really in control. So Yahweh’s prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, and John—did I miss anybody?) counsel us to “Come out of her [i.e., Babylon], my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4; cf. Jeremiah 51:45) How does one do that, when “Babylon” controls everything (to one extent or another) and is gaining more power by the day? Step one is to be “in Christ,” made alive by the Holy Spirit. Step two is refusing to “play the game.” That is, play by God’s rules, not man’s wisdom. Step three is to remain free from personal debt as much as humanly possible: the only thing we should owe people is our love.
The Obsolescence of Cash
I found myself doing something the other day that I swore I’d never do. I used a credit card to buy my groceries. It wasn’t that I was so broke I needed to borrow the money to buy food. But I, like everybody I know, have increasingly found more “traditional” methods of making everyday purchases less and less suitable. There was a time when I might have used cash, but for security reasons, I don’t usually like to carry a whole lot of cash with me (and “a whole lot of cash” is what it takes to buy a cart full of groceries these days). For decades, writing checks was the preferred payment method. But it’s a cumbersome and time consuming process, both in the store and later, when you have to balance your checking account.
A few years ago, I switched to using a debit card—combining the point-of-purchase convenience of a credit card with the “direct-withdrawal honesty” of writing a check. But then it became apparent that my debit card wasn’t terribly secure. If somebody stole its data, I’d be left holding the bag: there was no recourse with my bank if some cyber-thief cleaned out my bank account. So, since such risks are indemnified with a credit card, I’ve begun using one to buy groceries, writing one check a month and getting 3% cash back, too. Basically, I’ve been sucked into a system I don’t particularly like (on philosophical grounds) because it’s far more convenient and secure.
As far as it has gone, there is nothing “sinful” about shopping with a credit card instead of using cash (unless, of course, you’re using it to buy things you don’t need and can’t pay for at the end of the month—writing yourself a bad loan, as it were). My philosophical trepidations about the system have more to do with where Bible prophecy suggests this trend is leading—ultimately, to the “mark of the beast,” or at least to the technology that will be employed to implement it. If you’ll recall, I discussed the issue at length in chapter 19 of The End of the Beginning, describing how cash enables a system of free and unencumbered trade (even if it’s what makes street crime possible). In order to make the mark of the beast work, the Antichrist will logically have to discourage or eliminate the use of currency, since, “No one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:17) If cash is still in circulation, if it still has street value, then buying or selling could go on right under the government’s nose, mark or no mark. But if all transactions had to be achieved electronically, the Antichrist’s regime could authorize, implement, monitor, and if necessary restrict every financial transaction on earth. All it would take is the Internet, a working power grid, and the will to do it.
How close are we to making a cashless society a working reality? From the standpoint of having the necessary technology, we’re very close. (Obviously, a one-world government and a supreme dictator with the political will and clout to pull it off would be the final pieces of the puzzle.) Every day now, new ideas are being put forth that would make the implementation of the Antichrist’s cashless society that much more plausible. It appears certain that by 2030 (when—as the Biblical clues have led me to deduce—the Antichrist’s three and a half year reign will commence) the world will be both technologically and psychologically ready.
It’s not hard to see why banks want everybody to use electronic money instead of cash. Human nature being what it is, we have a hard time distinguishing our needs from our wants. If all of our day-to-day purchases are made with cash, we see the money being physically transferred, traded for what we’re buying. So there’s an incentive to consider carefully whether the purchase is prudent or frivolous, necessary or non-essential. We say to ourselves, “I may need that money for something else more important tomorrow—maybe I should just do without, today.”
But with electronic money, especially credit cards, it is far easier to tell your prudent, frugal side to sit down and shut up. If we aren’t completely dominated by our OCD tendencies, it is practically impossible for us to mentally track our credit card purchases to ensure that we don’t go over budget—especially once we’ve gotten into the habit of using our plastic for little, everyday purchases: groceries, gas, or lunch. And then there’s the “psychological pain” component, the “friction factor”: it’s just as easy to spend six hundred dollars with your credit card as it is six bucks.
Banks make money two different ways when we use credit cards. First (and most obviously) if you run a tab from one month over to the next—that is, if you don’t completely pay off your balance at the end of each billing cycle—they will charge you interest, as per your contract. And don’t look now, but the rates are ugly—18%, 20%, 22% or more, depending on one’s credit risk. Once you begin rolling over a monthly balance, you’re digging a hole that’s very hard to climb out of. The average amount of household credit card debt in this country is $7,123 (2013 statistic). But if the household is otherwise indebted (with home mortgages, student loans, etc.) the average credit card burden rises to $15,270. That’s over $250 a month in interest alone. Add to that an average mortgage balance of $149,925 and student loans averaging $32,258, and you can begin to see the problem. If you’re not earning a six-figure income, you’re probably in trouble, though the median annual U.S. household income is only $53,046.
The “sweet spot” for the banks is when you have so much credit card debt you’ll never be able to pay it off, but not so much you won’t be able to make the minimum payment, covering the interest and a tiny fraction of the principal. Like national debt, the idea is for the borrower to become enslaved to the lender, rolling over the balance but never paying off the loan—forever and ever, amen. Think about that the next time you use your credit card to buy coffee at Starbuck’s.
The second way banks make money on credit purchases is by charging the retailers a small percentage fee for each credit transaction. That is why you’ll see some gas stations offering a discount for using cash. Most stores just add the fee to everything they sell as part of the cost of doing business. (You pay for fraud and theft—called “shrinkage”—the same way: it’s built into the price of everything you buy.) The use of electronic money makes everything about three percent more expensive than it would have been had credit cards not been part of the picture. But we love our conveniences, don’t we? Rare is the retailer who doesn’t accept credit cards these days. You can even use them at your local fast food joint.
One of the things that’s driving the obsolescence of cash is the growing realization that it’s not actually “money” any more. We (or at least I) tend to think of “money” as gold or silver in a vault somewhere, which is represented by the paper currency we carry and trade. But increasingly, that’s not the case at all. Money is actually little more than ones and zeros in some big computer, data that the powers that be have declared to be “worth” a certain amount. So money isn’t wealth anymore. It is information, or worse, the confidence we hold that this “information” is true and trustworthy.
Cash makes this crisis of confidence much easier to see. As long as our confidence holds, prices remain relatively steady. But if our trust in our nation’s money erodes, prices edge upward in response to our collective doubts, and we find ourselves back in post-WWI Weimar Germany, where inflation got so severe it would take a wheelbarrow full of cash to buy a loaf of bread. But if “money” is merely information, its value is, to a certain extent, what “they” say it is. It’s like playing football, only without a real playing field. The same rules apply, but electronic money makes it impossible to tell for sure if you’ve scored. You just sort of have to take the referee’s word for it.
So if money equals information, cash is a dinosaur. But our other transactional tools look like they may be headed for extinction as well. Tom Olago, writing for Prophecy News Watch, says, “In the U.S, cash is becoming increasingly less relevant and valuable for transactions. Some stores are even entirely ‘cashless’ in America and around the world. Nearly 1-in-5 consumers do not carry any cash on them. In total, more than 60 percent of consumers carry $20 or less in cash. Surprisingly, about 1-in-20 people say they don’t use cash and refuse to go to places that accept only physical currency….”
He quotes a recent article published in NationalJournal.com by Matt Vasilogambros titled Cash Is Dead. Are Credit Cards Next? “According to a 2012 study by Javelin Strategy and Research, 27 percent of purchases in 2011 were made with cash. By 2017, the group expects that number to drop to 23 percent. So, yes, we’re headed toward a cashless society.” And that may include credit cards as well. “The future of money has arrived, and it’s called ‘Coin.’ It looks like a credit card. It’s the size of a credit card. It swipes in credit card machines. But it holds the information of up to eight of your debit, credit, rewards, or gift cards. And you can switch between cards by simply pressing a button.”
As the nature of money itself shifts like sand beneath our feet, the technology that allows it to change hands is desperately looking for some solid ground upon which to stand. We’re not quite there yet, I’m afraid. “The new product launched recently [Coin], promises to change the way consumers spend money in a secure and efficient way. The key technology is a Bluetooth signal. To load information from your different cards, just swipe them on a card reader into your Apple or Android phone and take a picture of the card. If you’re too far from your card—like, say, you leave it at the restaurant—your phone gets a notification. And the Coin’s battery lasts up to two years.”
Somehow I’m unable to see anything revolutionary about this: “Coin” is still based on existing credit card realities. It merely packages them a bit differently. And that ads a layer of complexity that could prove fatal to the concept. The assumption is that everyone carries a smartphone with them wherever they go. That raises several other questions. Can you entirely rid the world of cash, checks, and credit cards in a world where some people (like me, for example) don’t have smartphones? Cellular technology is a moving target, and connectivity isn’t universal. How will tech obsolescence affect the usage of Coin? What happens when your phone gets lost, stolen, or broken? How can it be used where (or when) there is no electricity, Internet, or cell signal? How can people too young to have an established credit profile participate? All of these questions, and many more, would have to be solved if cash were to be abolished.
That being said, “The replacement of plastic cards by other more versatile forms of payment, such as those based on digital mobile technologies is clearly on the rise globally. Normally, you walk up to the shop counter to pay for your groceries and then just whip out your cash or credit card to pay for something. Nothing new there; however, getting out your smartphone instead to make the payment, is something which is far less globally prevalent, and another step forward to a completely cashless society that eliminates the need for both cash and credit cards.” That’s the point. Our civilization seems fixated on somehow eliminating cash, so we keep trying new ways to keep the trend moving forward. We don’t even know why we want it. But Satan does.
The article discusses several other “promising” digital mobile payment technologies, and concludes, “It’s interesting to see how almost every other day, some technological advance occurs that reduces the need for cash or credit cards, hastening the day when none of them will be required. A simple biochip on [or in] your body will contain all the cash and credit to your name that you need.” That is, it has the potential to identify you, to the exclusion of every other person on the planet, thus authorizing a secure Internet link to your credit profile. “The Book of Revelation warns that one day everyone will be required to have a mark in their right hand or forehead in order to buy or sell. One can’t help but wonder if today’s technology is paving the way for this day sooner than one may think.” No, Tom, not “sooner.” From where I stand, it looks as if today’s new monetary technologies will come to fruition just in time for them to be put to use by the Antichrist, precisely when the Bible hinted that they would: during the fourth decade of the twenty-first century. I just hate it when I’m right all the time.
One company pushing their own digital mobile payment technology (PayAnywhere.com) opines, “Over the last few decades, cash has gradually fallen out of favor amongst consumers at large. Currently, two-thirds of the public prefer to make payments via credit and debit cards. In the near future, another form of payment is set to further squeeze cash right out of the loop. The method is mobile payments, which allow customers to tap products via store-specific apps on iPhones, iPads and Androids. For customers, the benefits of going mobile are innumerable in terms of both convenience and safety. For businesses, mobile payment solutions offer countless benefits. With purchasing apps and card-processing capabilities, retailers broaden their consumer appeal. Mobile solutions allow merchants to expedite sales and fund transfers with much greater efficiency, while keeping all monies safe from loss, theft or fire.” Basically, they say, their mobile app trumps physical cash as the payment method of the future in three different ways: it’s faster, safer, and more mobile.
Another of the new financial technologies worth mentioning is something called “Bitcoin.” The Bitcoin Wiki describes it: “Bitcoin is an experimental, decentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority: managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network…. Bitcoin is one of the first successful implementations of a distributed crypto-currency…. Building upon the notion that money is any object, or any sort of record, accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context, Bitcoin is designed around the idea of using cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money, rather than relying on central authorities.” The “reliance on central authorities,” of course, is what makes schemes like Bitcoin attractive to people who have grown distrustful to government intrusion and overreach.
But as Scott Shay notes, “While Bitcoin, a private synthetic cyber currency, might seem like an antidote to [a scenario in which the government controls and monitors every financial transaction], it, too, requires connectivity, which can be subject to monitoring.” Recent disclosures regarding the NSA’s ubiquitous intrusion demonstrate the trend. “Further, the exchange of Bitcoin to the currency of the country in question can be regulated in ways that could limit or even end its utility. Testimony by regulators to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 18th that the government can deal with Bitcoin via the existing currency transaction surveillance laws and surveillance methods in place is a pretty good indication that U.S. agencies could also envelop Bitcoin via meta-data and behavioral analysis.”
If I told you I fully understood how Bitcoin works, I’d be lying to you. But it does demonstrate the truth of one thing I said previously: if people agree something has value, it has value to them, whether it actually does or not. (In other words, money is confidence.) It seems the height of irony, then, that almost half a billion dollars’ worth of this innovative “crypto-currency”—money invented by and for the online world—should have been stolen by cyber-thieves. Wired.com (March 3, 2014) reports: “From a distance, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange [Mt. Gox] looked like a towering example of renegade entrepreneurism. But on the inside, according to some who were there, Mt. Gox was a messy combination of poor management, neglect, and raw inexperience. Its collapse into bankruptcy last week—and the disappearance of $460 million, apparently stolen by hackers, and another $27.4 million missing from its bank accounts—came as little surprise to people who had knowledge of the Tokyo-based company’s inner workings…. This would be the second time the exchange was hacked. In June 2011, attackers lifted the equivalent of $8.75 million.” Well, somebody thought Bitcoin was worth stealing. Does that make it real money?
Helping to put the whole cash obsolescence issue into perspective is Oliver Burkeman, writing for The Guardian. “Silicon Valley is getting all excited again, in its Silicon Valleyish way, about the future of how we pay for things. The specific cause of excitement, this week, is the news that Richard Branson has made an investment in Clinkle, a mysterious startup that promises to revolutionize payments in some unspecified way, possibly by letting people send money from smartphone to smartphone using sound…. But predictions about the coming End of Cash have been around for years, growing louder since the arrival of contactless payment, of Square, and of Bitcoin. The other day, research from Tufts University gave the cause a new boost: cash, it revealed, costs US consumers, businesses and governments more than $200 billion annually in everything from ATM fees and theft to lost tax revenue. Oh, and it helps spread disease. Could it be time, wondered Tim Fernholz at Quartz, to give up on cash entirely?
“It’s an intriguing question. But it has a simple answer: no! Leave aside for now the fantastical prospect of an actual, society-wide end of cash, with all the vast implications for economic policy, on the unbanked, etcetera, that that would entail. Just on a personal level, as we race headlong into the era of ‘frictionless spending’—in which waving goodbye to another $10 is as simple as a single click on an iPad or Kindle—there’s a strong argument for starting to use cash much more.
“There’s plenty of psychological research to show that when we spend using physical notes and coins, we spend more sensibly. Of all forms of payment, cash is the most ‘transparent’—the one that connects us most directly to the fact that we’re parting with our money. That’s also why, as the behavioral economist Dan Ariely has argued, cashlessness seems to be associated with increased dishonesty: it’s easier to cut ethical corners involving money, while continuing to think of yourself as an honest person, when you’re psychologically distanced from the money involved. ‘We are moving to a situation which allows people to rationalize dishonesty to a much, much higher degree,’ Ariely told Wired Magazine last year.
“The bigger point here is that ‘frictionlessness,’ that glorious promise of our cloud-based, disruptogasmic future, is a bad thing at least as often as it’s a good one. Just as ‘frictionless sharing’ on Facebook is how you unwittingly come to inform friends you’ve been reading all the latest naked celebrity news, frictionless spending is why my Kindle is loaded with quarter-read books on topics that interested me for 30 minutes once. Friction keeps you frugal. God-bothering personal finance expert Dave Ramsey goes so far as to suggest that you count cash into envelopes for each part of your household budget every month; that way you’ll really feel it whenever you spend. (I tried the envelopes system, with partial success, last year.)” I agree, Oliver. My wife and I find Dave Ramsey’s “envelope system” especially useful for expenses we know are coming—like personal property taxes, car insurance, or tuition—but which aren’t part of the regular monthly budget. Sometimes, it ought to hurt a little when you spend your hard-earned money. Like the man said, “Friction keeps you frugal.”
The caution is echoed by Scott A. Shay (quoted briefly above), chairman of Signature Bank, in an article for CNBC (December 12, 2013), entitled Cashless Society: A Huge Threat to Our Freedom. Shay writes, “Econgularity, shorthand for economic singularity, is an ugly word I created to describe an unfortunate approaching moment in time when our current technological snooping prowess, the ease of big data manipulation and our sprint to a cashless economy will converge. This will happen in such a way as to permit governments to exercise incredibly powerful control over all human behavior. While this may sound like a paranoid doomsday scenario to some, as a real world finance professional, I believe that this scenario is not only eminently possible, but most of the technology is already available—albeit not yet fully marshaled—to frighteningly make it reality.” Gee, it’s as if Mr. Shay has been reading up on Bible prophecy. The capability he describes is precisely the sort of thing the Antichrist will need in order to pull off his “mark of the beast” scam. As you’ll recall, that’s the system through which the Antichrist “causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17) By my timeline, that will become a worldwide reality in the spring of 2030. Is that “paranoid” enough for you?
“Technological advances have led to the creation of algorithms that can instantaneously review financial transactions, determining the nature, location and even the appropriateness of a purchase decision. These have been freely used by credit- and debit-card companies. Cardholders already encounter this technology when they receive fraud alerts after a transaction that looks out of kilter with the particular consumer’s normal purchasing patterns. The technologies can thus serve to protect consumers.” I’ve been on the receiving end of one of these “protective” algorithms. I once caravanned with my son to his college in a neighboring state, using my only credit card to refuel both our cars several times. By the time I was halfway home, my credit card company had cancelled my card, figuring it had “obviously” been stolen. Good thing I had some cash with me.
“That said, they have already been used to control consumer behavior. In 2010, Visa and MasterCard, bowed to government pressure—not even federal or state law—and banned all online-betting payments from their systems. This made it virtually impossible for these gambling sites to continue operating regardless of their jurisdiction or legality.” And in 2014, Chase Bank and Wells Fargo began systematically closing the bank accounts of “adult film industry” (a.k.a. pornography) actors, in effect punishing them for immoral behavior even though what they’re doing is perfectly legal. (Well, not perfectly, but you know what I mean.) “It is not too far-fetched to wonder if the day might come when the health records of an overweight individual would lead to a situation in which they find that any sugary drink purchase they make through a credit or debit card is declined. Sounds far-fetched but maybe not so.
“You might think then that the person can always pay cash and remain outside the purview of these technologies. This may be the case for the moment, but we are well on the road to becoming a cashless society. According to a MasterCard study, 80 percent of U.S. consumer transactions are electronic. In Sweden, one observer estimates that only 3 percent of transactions are made with currency. In fact, the decline in cash use has become so pronounced in Sweden that homeless beggars have been given card readers by Situation Stockholm to sell freely distributed newspapers and to receive alms, since potential donors no longer carry cash. Governments and central banks are also subtle supporters of a cashless society as there are indeed costs to producing currency and coins. Monetary policy could also be much more efficiently executed without currency circulating, since it would then be easy to implement negative interest-rate policies.
“But there is also a sinister risk to a cashless society. This point comes when a society goes cashless and the potential for econgularity is at its highest. A singularity is defined as the point in which technological advancement will ‘radically change human civilization and perhaps even human nature itself.’” I don’t know about that. Human nature has always been fatally flawed: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) But it would have the potential to bring out the worst in us. “It is impossible to know if this will actually happen, but a cashless society would certainly give governments unprecedented access to information and power over citizens. Currently, we have little evidence to indicate that governments will refrain from using this power. On the contrary, the U.S. government is already using its snooping prowess and big-data manipulation in some frightening ways….” And again, I would add that Mr. Shay’s dreaded econgularity is implied in the Bible’s description of the Antichrist’s mark of the beast.
“If current government trends [like NSA snooping, civil forfeitures, and heavy handed regulations and compliance hurdles] continue, a cashless economy could thus very well lead to an econgularity. Imagine a future in which soon, a government staff member could suspect an individual of some misconduct, or perhaps deem that person’s politics or speech [or, I might add, his faith] unacceptable. It would take just a few keystrokes to order all financial institutions to decline any withdrawal or payment from that individual and to transfer any deposits or payments of that person to the government, or at least freeze any access to funds. Perhaps this would need to be reviewed by a secret court that would approve 99.7 percent of all requests, but would provide a veneer of due process [circumnavigating those pesky and inconvenient Fourth Amendment issues]. It is fair to think that the targeted individual might starve to death. This could be insured by cutting off access to the payment system of anyone suspected of helping the targeted individual.”
It’s worth repeating: this nightmare scenario is precisely what is predicted in scripture: “No one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:17) “It is by no means certain that such a dystopian outcome will occur in a cashless society.” Actually, Mr. Shay, it is certain, for God’s word cannot fail. “It could be that certain countries such as Sweden can make the leap without any adverse consequences. But my fear is that some governments will find it irresistible to take much greater control of the everyday behaviors of their citizens simply because they can.” This will become a fait accompli when there is only one government left on earth: the Antichrist’s novus ordo seclorum, prophesied in scripture.
The trend toward phasing out cash is only part of the picture, of course—but it is a factor, an indicator, that the Last Days can’t be too far off. The fourth decade of the twenty-first century is, once again, in our sights as the likely timeframe for one more puzzle piece to fall into place. You can’t say you weren’t warned.
The Cost of Warfare
We’ve come a long way from Cain killing Abel with a rock or stick. We can now kill our brothers by pushing a button on a computer console half a world away. But we’re paying quite a heavy price for the ability to kill somebody without suffering the emotional trauma of seeing their blood spattered all over us. War (I really don’t know why they insist on calling it “defense”) now consumes a huge percentage of the budgets of many nations, including our own.
The technology of warfare has changed a great deal since we humans began hating each other, but the reasons we go to war are as constant as the North Star: one or more parties want something another party is not willing to give them, so they feel justified in taking it by force. As I see it, there are four basic types of war. That is, nations who go to war fall into one of these four categories. (Their adversaries, of course, are as often as not in a separate group.)
(1) Most often, the aggressor is acting out of simple arrogant covetousness (as in Alexander conquering Egypt and Persia, Muhammad subjugating the Arabian peninsula, Hitler taking Czechoslovakia and Poland, Hirohito invading China and Southeast Asia, Hussein overrunning Kuwait, or Putin (like Stalin before him) occupying Georgia and the Ukraine). The objective is often land for an expanding population (something Hitler called lebensraum—“living space”) or control over the people already living there. Or it could be the natural resources, fertile farms, or strategic location of the place.
This “covetous aggressor war” is what James had described: “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.” (James 4:1-2 NLT) These “wars” could be as small as one man mugging another in the park, or as large as the future war described in the prophecy of the sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:13-21), in which China (the colors of the flag identify it) will run roughshod over the entire Far East—apparently with the Antichrist’s blessing and support—killing upwards of two billion people in the process.
(2) Next is the “righteous war.” Sometimes the warrior nation is acting out of self-defense—reacting to oppression or threats from others. America in 1775 and Israel in 1948, 1967, and 1973 (etc.) stand out as examples. In these cases, “what they want” might consist of freedom, security, or (ironically enough) the simple right to live in peace (or in Israel’s case, the right to exist at all). Sometimes people just get tired of being robbed blind by their own governments. Revolutions (like France’s in 1789 or Russia’s in 1917) are often fomented to throw off the shackles of oppressive overlords. America’s revolution was an anomaly, by the way: they seldom end as well as ours did. Another permutation of the self-defense war: America took the fight to the Japanese in January, 1942, but only because Japan attacked us in December, 1941. (Germany unilaterally declared war on America immediately after the Japanese attack, sparing us all the hand-wringing and moral indecision to which we would have normally subjected ourselves in that situation. Remember, the war had already been raging in Europe since 1939, and in Asia since 1937.)
(3) Some wars are “borrowed.” That is, nations go to war simply because their allies have been attacked or invaded by a third-party aggressor. The classic example is World War I, in which an anarchist’s bullet began toppling a series of political dominoes (related only by a web of mutual assistance treaties) until all of Europe, and eventually the Middle East, North Africa, and America, were embroiled in a war in which they stood to gain practically nothing. The “offended nation,” Austria-Hungary, could simply have hanged Gavrilo Princip, but instead they used his rash and futile gesture, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, as a pretext to invade Princip’s home nation, Serbia, and we were off to the races. Next thing we knew, 37 million people were dead, and $186 billon had been squandered for no discernable reason.
In a similar vein, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who was already swimming in oil, decided to invade neighboring oil-rich Kuwait in 1990, because for guys like that, there is no such thing as “enough.” (As Muhammad was fond of saying, “Oh, the booty!”) For his part, he was fighting as a covetous aggressor. But because Kuwait was considered a U.S. ally, George H.W. Bush put together a coalition of 34 nations (with several others contributing funds but no troops) who proceeded to spend one hundred hours (after setting up the battlefield for months) and $61 billion throwing the Iraqis out of Kuwait.
Ironically, the U.S. and Britain had supported Hussein’s rise to power and his aggression against neighboring Iran (whom we hated because they had thrown out their legitimate tyrant (excuse me: ruler) in 1979, set up an Islamic theocracy of sorts, and kidnapped 52 American diplomatic personnel later that year—holding them hostage for 444 days). In other words, we (as usual) got in trouble by supporting the lesser of two evils—knowing they were evil at the outset. We had a similar checkered history with Osama Bin Laden, whose Muslim mujahedeen needed American support to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan. The enemy of one’s enemy isn’t necessarily a friend.
(4) The last category of war is what I’d call “wars of paranoia.” The enemy is seen as someone who might do to you (or someone friendly to you) something bad, militarily, economically, or diplomatically. The classic 20th century example, I suppose, would be the war in Vietnam, fought (on our part) because we were afraid the “dominoes” would continue to fall to the Communists, one after another, until the whole world was under the control of the Red Menace. So America (with a few regional allies) sided with South Vietnam (a corrupt regime in its own right) in a vain effort to quell the advance of the Communist North, fighting from 1956 until 1975. When it was all over, up to 3.8 million people were dead (military and civilians on both sides, including the related conflicts in Laos and Cambodia), another two million were injured in battle, and $111 billion dollars had been wasted.
These needn’t be “shooting wars,” like Vietnam or WWII. The “Cold War” that seethed between America and the Soviets between the end of World War II and the economic collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1989 was driven not by overt acts of military aggression (at least not by the main protagonists) but by the fear of what they might do. One factor fueling the mutual paranoia was that both sides ended up with huge stockpiles of thermonuclear weapons—enough to wipe out all life on our little planet a hundred times over. The only thing keeping both sides from “pushing the button” was a concept called MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction: the sure knowledge that nuclear aggression would be met with retaliation in kind. No one could win at this game, so (since both sides were sane and self-interested) no one played.
That being said, it is my sad duty to report that those happy days of sanity and self-restraint are coming to an end. While Communists and capitalists alike have reasons for wanting to live and prosper, Muslims don’t. Their idea of success (according to their scriptures, anyway) is to die fighting in Allah’s cause. If death is a good thing, and if you’ve been taught to despise Jews, Christians, and other “infidels” (including Muslims of other “denominations”) since you were an infant, then nuking your neighbor is merely a question of having the requisite technology at your disposal. If your target retaliates, he’ll merely be making you a martyr for Islam—giving you seventy-two virgins and rivers of wine (or so the imams have assured you). It’s a win-win situation. It’s pretty hard to defend oneself against hatred so intense and insane that death itself is no deterrent.
Until now, conscience and the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit in the world has been enough to spare the world from nuclear holocaust. But logic and scripture both tell us this state of affairs won’t last forever. Once the rapture is a fait accompli (that is, once the Holy Spirit is no longer in evidence among men), it is only a matter of time before paranoia gives way to overt expressions of hatred on a global basis. The first trumpet judgment (Revelation 8:7) describes, in first-century language, nuclear war being waged over a third of the earth’s surface. But even now (as promised) wars and rumors of war are everyday occurrences.
How much does it cost to kill a man in battle? Or, to put it more cynically, how much is it worth to you to see your enemy dead? When Cain killed Abel, it didn’t cost him a thing. A weapon of opportunity—a rock or a stick—and a bad attitude was all it took to get the job done. But as populations grew (and grew more belligerent) kings discovered that it cost them something to field standing armies. They had to be paid, fed, armed, and otherwise equipped, or they’d be useless in battle. Navies needed ships. Archers needed arrows. Infantry needed swords, spears, and shields. Cavalry needed horses and chariots. A king could only tax his own base so much before he had a revolt on his hands: there had to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow of military aggression, at least in theory.
It began with booty, pure and simple: take what you could and run away. But as the concept developed, kings discovered they could enslave whole populations where they lived, seizing a sizeable chunk of their crops and herds year after year, exacting tribute (something we now call taxes), which could then be used to maintain the army in the field indefinitely, keeping the conquered populace under submission. It was a self-perpetuating money machine—that is, until somebody stronger than you showed up and stole from you what you had previously stolen, something that always happened, eventually.
Every time a piece of territory changed hands, the “transfer” cost something to achieve. Under normal circumstances, war was like a narcotic: ever larger forces had to be marshalled to achieve ever smaller gains. Occasionally, however, the adversary had grown so top heavy, ponderous, and corrupt, it could be toppled through stealth and cunning instead of brute force. Such was the victory of the Medes and Persians over Babylon on the night of October 12, 539 B.C. (see Daniel 5:30). And advanced battle tactics (such as Alexander the Great’s) also allowed some armies to defeat forces much larger than themselves. The sizes of ancient armies varied—Ramses II of Egypt, 1300 B.C.: 100,000 men; the Assyrians, 8th century B.C., 150,000+; Darius the Mede, 5th century B.C., 200,000 men; the Persians under Xerxes, 300,000 troops; Alexander the Great; a mere 60,000; Rome at their height, 350,000. But one fact remained constant: these standing armies were expensive to maintain. After the fall of Rome in the 5th century, few European nations could afford to field large armies for very long—a condition that generally persisted until the 19th century, when Napoleon’s visions of grandeur brought large-scale conflict back into vogue.
What drove these trends? At the risk of oversimplifying things, one factor in the ancient world (until Rome’s heyday) was that kings and emperors liked to fancy themselves gods, who could take what they wanted and kill who they wished, costs and conscience be damned (though somebody had to pay the piper—preferably the victim). Through the dark ages, middle ages, renaissance, and “age of enlightenment,” men, though still evil and covetous, weren’t quite that arrogant anymore. So what made war big business once again?
It happened about a century before Napoleon’s time. It was the advent of modern national debt in 1694. With William of Orange borrowing millions of pounds that had been conjured up out of thin air, debt, and wishful thinking by the new royal counterfeiter, the Bank of England—the cost of waging war became (for the kings, anyway) less direct, less painful. As it might be phrased in the context of cash vs. credit, paying for war lost some of its “friction.” When the potential for this legalized counterfeiting was realized, politicians discovered that they didn’t need real wealth to beat up on their neighbors anymore. All they needed to let their hatred run amok was a central bank.
American national debt statistics demonstrate the principle. At the close of the Revolutionary War (1790) we had a national debt of $71,060,508. It floated in this general neighborhood until the War of 1812, when it suddenly shot up to $127,334,933. A few decades of fiscal restraint (and no wars) brought the number steadily downward, until Andrew Jackson’s sound financial policies virtually wiped out the debt altogether—taking it down to $33,733 (in 1833). By 1846, the national debt had crept back up to $15,550,202, but in the wake of the Mexican War it leaped almost fourfold to $63,061,859 in 1849.
In 1860 (the year before the Civil War broke out) the debt was still holding relatively steady at $64,842,287. But by war’s end (1866) it had risen to an astonishing forty-two times that level—to $2,773,236,173. Afterward, we kept it in the two-to-three billion dollar range for half a century: in 1914 (the year World War I began in Europe) the U.S. owed a debt of $2,912,499,269. But by the time the smoke had cleared (1919) we were in debt to the tune of $27,390,970,113—another nine-fold jump. Again, we floated in that neighborhood for a few decades. The year the Second World War began in Europe (1938), we owed $37,164,740,315, but by the year after the war ended (1946) we were in hock to the tune of $269,422,099,173—“only” a seven-fold increase this time. Are you beginning to see the pattern here? Wars precipitate huge increases in the national debt, and their costs are never paid off.
After the Korean War (1949-53) we were almost always at war somewhere, and if not, we were preparing for it, developing insane doomsday weapons, better aircraft, and a network of military bases all over the world. So the era of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the interminable Vietnam conflict saw a steady rise in national debt numbers, though no pronounced spikes. In 1960 we owed $286,331,000,000…. 1970: $370,919,000,000…. 1980: $907,701,000,000. We broke the trillion-dollar barrier in 1982. By 1990 our debt was $3,233,313,000,000…. in 2000, it was $5,674,178,000,000.
Then Barack H. Obama took office in 2009 and promptly proved everybody before him to be rank amateurs in the wasteful spending department. As of this writing (March, 2014) America’s national debt exceeds $17.5 trillion dollars. That is, it’s up 6.666 trillion dollars on his watch (as of last month). Interesting number. You used to be able to get something really nice for that amount of money, but we’ve got nothing to show for our national profligacy of the past few decades, just waste corruption, and a couple of insane and unpopular wars. At the same time, ironically enough, our nation’s military preparedness has sunk to the lowest level in the past half century.
So, back to our original question. How much does it cost to kill a man in battle? And how has the picture changed? What trends are developing? Reliable statistics are hard to come by, but perhaps we can demonstrate the worldwide trend in war spending by tracking conflicts in which America was involved, even though it’s hard to ensure we’re “comparing apples to apples.” Let us begin with the American Revolutionary War, fought between 1775 and 1783.
First, the casualties: American military deaths in battle numbered about 8,000, out of 84,500 Continental regulars, militia, and sailors. No reliable statistics exist for the number of fatal casualties among British regulars, of whom about 56,000 served in the war against the American Colonies. Total casualties (killed and wounded) numbered about 20,000. If the percentages were the same as for the Americans, we can make a rough educated guess of about 5,000 British Regulars killed. In addition, about 1,240 British sailors were killed in battle, out of 19,740 assigned to the conflict, and approximately 1,200 German Hessian mercenaries were killed in action, out of 24,000 foreign troops working as mercenaries for the British. (Note that I’m counting only combatants killed in battle, not the injured or those brought down by disease—whose numbers have always tended to be far higher. Nor am I counting civilian casualties—collateral damage. I’m only trying to determine how much we spend purposefully killing our fellow man.) So about 15,440 combatants total, on both sides, lost their lives in the American Revolutionary War.
And the money? Bear in mind that “dollars” at this point in history were actually Spanish dollars, to which the value of colonial currency was tied after the colonies severed their ties to British pounds sterling. For example, Virginia made the jump to Spanish dollars in 1776. The exchange rate in 1774 was £0.225 sterling per dollar, or, inversely, $4.44 per one pound sterling. The British spent about £80 million fighting the war—the equivalent of $355 million. The United States spent $37 million at the national level plus $114 million by the various states, mostly borrowed from the Netherlands and the French (whose hatred for the English outweighed the fact that they couldn’t remotely afford such expenditure). Money was also raised by circulating “Continental Dollars,” whose value (since they were backed by little but hope and promise) quickly fell to almost nothing (giving rise to the phrase, “not worth a Continental,” meaning “worthless.”) So by these statistics, $506 million was spent to kill 15,440 people, meaning each corpse cost $32,772—in 1780s borrowed dollars, not adjusted for inflation.
Let’s skip ahead to the American Civil War (1861-1865). It was America’s bloodiest conflict, inflicting 1,100,000 casualties, including almost 680,000 deaths. But again restricting the statistics to just the numbers killed or mortally wounded in battle, we find that the North suffered 110,100 killed (out of a total of 389,753 dead, which reveals the extent of the carnage due to disease, infection, and starvation). The South, meanwhile, lost 94,000 in battle (out of 289,000 total dead). Cost estimates range from $2.3 billion to $3.1 billion for the North (so let’s split the difference and call it $2.7 billion), and about $1 billion was spent by the South. So it cost 3.7 billion to kill 204,100 soldiers. (Call the other 475,000 dead combatants a free bonus.) That makes the cost per Civil War corpse $18,128.
Before you begin celebrating the reduction in cost per corpse, bear in mind that the Civil War armies vastly outnumbered the Revolutionary War forces. The Union at its height (at the end of the war) numbered 1,000,516 men, while the Confederate armies, at their peak before the Battle of Gettysburg, numbered over 300,000. Not only had the lethality of the weapons of war far outstripped the battle tactics, the grim reaper had a “target-rich environment” in which to harvest souls. There are certain “economies” to be had when soldiers are little more than cannon fodder.
How about World War I (1914-1918)? Again, the numbers are vastly greater than in any previous modern war, and again, the old battle tactics proved no match for the new and “improved” weapons—especially machine guns, tanks, and poison gas. These stats (from StatisticBrain.com) cover all of the involved countries. Of the 65 million men mobilized for war, the casualty rate was a staggering 57%. The number of combatants dead in battle, missing in action, or POWs who never returned, adds up to 17,420,450. The cost of the war totaled $186.3 billion, or $10,695 per corpse (again, not counting civilians, deaths from disease, etc.).
The statistics take a massive jump when we explore World War II (1939-1945). One figure that stood out to me was the dichotomy between military and civilian deaths when comparing WWI to WWII: In the First World War, 95% of the dead were military combatants, but during the Second World War, the percentage had shifted dramatically: only about forty percent of the dead were military personnel; the remainder were civilians. 110 million people were mobilized for war. The death toll for all populations exceeded 55 million souls. The number of military deaths totaled 23,620,100 (from twenty-four nations, although over sixty nations were involved). Ask.com reports that “The total cost of WW2 was upwards of $1.6 trillion, though many financial records for 1939 are missing, incomplete, misleading or contradictory. National spending was as follows; USA $350 billion, UK $150 billion, France $100 billion, USSR $200 billion, Germany $300 billion, Italy $50 billion, Japan $100 billion and all other participants $350 billion.” So the cost per corpse during World War II was about $67,740.
Accurate totals for the Vietnam War (1965-1975) are hard to come by, because nobody seems to know how much Communist North spent on the war, and estimates for what it cost America are all over the map. This much we know: we lost over 58,000 dead, and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam lost about 200,000 men during the war, in addition to about two million civilians. Most estimates place Communist battle losses at about a million. Basing our cost-per-corpse data strictly on the American side of the equation, TheVietnamWar.info reports: “In the entire war, the United States spent about $140 billion (worth $950 billion in 2011 dollars) including $111 billion war cost, and $25 billion economic and military aid to Saigon regime. At that rate, the United States spent approximately $140,000 for an enemy killed.”
Vietnam held the record for the longest running war in which America was an active participant—until the 9/11/2001 Islamic attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Hearing that the attack’s instigator, Osama bin Laden, was using Afghanistan as his base of operations, we immediately launched into what seemed at the time to be a “righteous war” against the Taliban—the oppressive Islamic fundamentalists who were keeping the place cloistered in the seventh century while giving shelter to America’s nemesis, bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. But as the Russians had learned (and the British before them), Afghanistan is where superpowers go to die. I never really understood the “Let’s-go-punish-Afghanistan” ploy: most of the 9/11 terrorists, including bin Laden, were Saudis, not Afghans. The war is still raging as I write these words, though Osama bin Laden is long dead (ironically, having been caught not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan), and we have no idea why we’re there anymore, other than that the Taliban still need killing. I’m still not sure why that should be our job: as evil as they are, they never posed a clear and present danger to the U.S.
Notwithstanding the fact that a dollar isn’t worth much anymore, we sure are spending a lot of them to prosecute this pointless and unwinnable war. You’ll note that ever since World War I (after which, not coincidentally, the newly minted Federal Reserve Bank began gaining traction) the costs per corpse in America’s wars have been steadily and dramatically rising. But the value of the dollar has been steadily shrinking, too, which in reality means that the cost of hatred has remained far more level than it looks. But when we examine the cost of the war in Afghanistan, we find ourselves on another planet entirely—even if we factor in the plummeting value of a dollar.
I realize the totals (in terms of both costs and human life) are a moving target, but the statistics for the Afghan War, if not entirely consistent, are uniformly alarming. Wikipedia reports, “The cost of the war reportedly was a major factor as U.S. officials considered drawing down troops in 2011. A March 2011 Congressional Research Service report noted, (1) following the Afghanistan surge announcement in 2009, Defense Department spending on Afghanistan increased by 50%, going from $4.4 billion to $6.7 billion a month. During that time, troop strength increased from 44,000 to 84,000, and was expected to be at 102,000 for fiscal year 2011. (2) The total cost from inception to the fiscal year 2011 was expected to be $468 billion. The estimate for the cost of deploying one U.S. soldier is Afghanistan is over US $1 million a year.”
GlobalResearch.ca reports that “The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history—totaling somewhere between $4 trillion and $6 trillion (the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household). This includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.”
This war is a NATO effort, so although the Americans (who assume we have the biggest axe to grind) are the biggest contributor to the war, we’re not alone. “As of 2013, tens of thousands of people had been killed in the war. Over 4,000 ISAF (the ‘International Security Assistance Force,’ established by the United Nations Security Council, including the U.S., the U.K., and nine other nations) soldiers and civilian contractors as well as over 10,000 Afghan National Security Forces had been killed.”—Wikipedia. To put things in perspective, the population of Afghanistan is just north of 31 million people.
And how many Taliban or al-Qaeda combatants have we managed to kill in Afghanistan? Caroline Wyatt, writing for the BBC, reports, “NATO says that it does not ‘keep body-counts’ of insurgents killed by coalition forces because it ‘does not regard body-count as a metric of progress,’ and it believes the number of insurgent deaths or injuries ‘does not equal success’ in a counter-insurgency campaign the main stated aim of which is now to protect the Afghan people.” That sounds vaguely like the guy who works the counter at McDonald’s defensively intoning “I don’t measure my success by how much I earn.” It’s a tacit admission of utter failure, even if it’s true.
But anybody who has ever studied Islam should know that the Afghan war is a hopeless, pointless task. Even if you were to root out and kill every Taliban or al-Qaeda “insurgent” in the entire country, Afghanistan would still be an Islamic nation. In other words, you wouldn’t have managed to save or protect them from their core predicament. Every time a young Afghan male listened to his imam or opened up a Qur’an and “got religion,” you’d be right back where you started. Imposing democracy on Afghanistan (or any other Islamic nation, for that matter) is pointless, for every candidate on the ballot would be a Muslim—dedicated (by definition) to the submission of his people to a false god who was the invention of a “prophet” whose only goal (as revealed by his own words) was to acquire power, sex, and money. The only thing that can rescue and transform a country like Afghanistan is Christ—but you can’t impose belief in Yahweh’s Messiah upon a people by waging war on them. It doesn’t work that way.
But back to our question: what is the cost per corpse for this interminable war? Former U.S. Air Force Captain Matthew J. Nasuti, writing for KabulPress.org (September 30, 2010), entitled an article, “Killing each Taliban soldier costs $50 Million. Killing twenty Taliban costs $1 billion. Killing all the Taliban would cost $1.7 trillion.” Something tells me the age of cannon-fodder military tactics is long gone, and good riddance. But with our newfound “kinder and gentler” more focused style of precision warfare, financial sanity has disappeared along with indiscriminate death.
Nasuti says, “The Pentagon will not tell the public what it costs to locate, target and kill a single Taliban soldier because the price-tag is so scandalously high that it makes the Taliban appear to be Super-Soldiers. As set out in this article, the estimated cost to kill each Taliban is as high as $100 million, with a conservative estimate being $50 million. A public discussion should be taking place in the United States regarding whether the Taliban have become too expensive an enemy to defeat.
“Each month the Pentagon generates a ream of dubious statistics designed to create the illusion of progress in Afghanistan. In response, this author decided to compile his own statistics. As the goal of any war is to kill the enemy [NATO spin artists notwithstanding], the idea was to calculate what it actually costs to kill just one of the enemy. The obstacles encountered in generating such a statistic are formidable. The problem is that the Pentagon continues to illegally classify all negative war news and embarrassing information. Regardless, some information has been collected from independent sources. Here is what we know in summary and round numbers:
“1. Taliban field strength: 35,000 troops [that is, roughly one tenth of one percent of the Afghan population]
“2. Taliban killed per year by coalition forces: 2,000 (best available information) [Note: Some sources report body counts four or five times that, but more recently than the article’s 2010 dateline. Note also that the war has been going on for well over a decade, and yet Taliban recruitment manages to keep pace with casualties.]
“3. Pentagon direct costs for Afghan War for 2010: $100 billion
“4. Pentagon indirect Costs for Afghan War for 2010: $100 billion
“Using the fact that 2,000 Taliban are being killed each year and that the Pentagon spends $200 billion per year on the war in Afghanistan, one simply has to divide one number into the other. That calculation reveals that $100 million is being spent to kill each Taliban soldier [as of 2010]. In order to be conservative, the author decided to double the number of Taliban being killed each year by U.S. and NATO forces (although the likelihood of such being true is unlikely). This reduces the cost to kill each Taliban to $50 million. The final number is outrageously high regardless of how one calculates it.”
I would note that Captain Nasuti’s point #4, indirect costs, were not included in my statistics for previous wars. So if we wish to compare “apples to apples,” we may want to eliminate that portion of the cost factor, bringing the direct cost of killing a Taliban soldier down to a “mere” $50 million—and with his “fudge factor” reapplied, down to “only” $25 million for each corpse. Even adjusting for inflation, that number is totally out of whack when compared to previous conflicts.
Nasuti continues: “To put this information another way, using the conservative estimate of $50 million to kill each Taliban: it costs the American taxpayers $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban. As the U.S. military estimates there to be 35,000 hard-core Taliban and assuming that no reinforcements and replacements will arrive from Pakistan and Iran, just killing the existing Taliban would cost $1.75 trillion. The reason for these exorbitant costs is that United States has the world’s most mechanized, computerized, weaponized and synchronized military, not to mention the most pampered (at least at Forward Operating Bases). An estimated 150,000 civilian contractors support, protect, feed and cater to the American personnel in Afghanistan, which is an astonishing number.” Yes, you read that correctly: the number of American civilian support personnel for our forces is well over four times that of the total Taliban military force. “The Americans enjoy such perks and distinctions in part because no other country is willing to pay (waste) so much money on their military.
“The ponderous American war machine is a logistics nightmare and a maintenance train wreck. It is also part myth. This author served at a senior level within the U.S. Air Force. Air Force “smart” bombs are no way near as consistently accurate as the Pentagon boasts; Army mortars remain inaccurate; even standard American field rifles are frequently outmatched by Taliban weapons, which have a longer range. The American public would pale if it actually learned the full story about the poor quality of the weapons and equipment that are being purchased with its tax dollars. The Taliban’s best ally within the United States may be the Pentagon, whose contempt for fiscal responsibility and accountability may force a premature U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as the Americans cannot continue to fund these Pentagon excesses.”
A premature withdrawal? I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but if we had listened to our heads instead of our hearts (or some other organ), we never would have invaded Afghanistan in the first place. The Afghans were not our enemies. The Taliban per se had never attacked us. Our real enemy was Islam itself: Osama bin Laden made this perfectly clear. He was merely following Muhammad’s example and command—as all Muslims are required by Sharia law to do: enslave and tax the infidels if you can; kill them if you get the chance. Islam, in the end, isn’t a religion at all: it’s a violent and covetous political doctrine designed to subjugate the entire earth. It’s so much like Hitler’s Nazism it’s scary. But it was deemed “politically incorrect” to protect ourselves against Islam. So we threw away billions of dollars and thousands of precious lives dealing with symptoms—the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or “terror”—not the disease that caused them. If we were to do the logical thing and declared Islam itself to be our enemy, our tactics would necessarily be very different. But we have abandoned our Judeo-Christian roots, and as a result, we have become deaf, dumb, blind, broke, and stupid.
Daniel Trotta, writing for Reuters (June 29, 2011) calculates: “The final bill will run at least $3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion, according to the research project ‘Costs of War’ by Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies.” Note that this is well over double Captain Nasuti’s estimate of $1.7 trillion to kill every Taliban soldier on earth at the rate of $50 million per corpse. “In one sense, the report measures the cost of 9/11, the American shorthand for the events of September 11, 2001. Nineteen hijackers plus other al Qaeda plotters spent an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 on the plane attacks that killed 2,995 people and caused $50 billion to $100 billion in economic damages. What followed were three wars in which $50 billion amounts to a rounding error. For every person killed on September 11, another 73 have been killed since.” And yet, people are labeled “unpatriotic” for pointing such things out.
Every hour, American taxpayers are paying $10.45 million for the cost of War in Afghanistan; $824,328 for the cost of War in Iraq (yes, we’re still paying for it)—that’s $11.26 million every hour for the total cost of our wars since 2001. (Source: Brown.edu.) Every hour, taxpayers in the United States are paying $60.71 million for the Department of Defense: $964,006 for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; $36,563 for Tomahawk Cruise Missiles; and $2.2 million for Nuclear Weapons. Every single hour. If we continue such an insane level of military expenditure, America—the last formidable bastion of liberty in the world—will be bankrupt and feeble by the fourth decade of the twenty-first century, unable to protect anybody, including itself.
Call it 20/20 hindsight if you like, but it seems to me there may have been a better way to do this. America should have taken our cues from Yahweh’s instructions to ancient Israel. If we had done these things, our situation would have been radically different than it is today: we would still have been hated, no doubt, but we would not have been successfully attacked and suckered into another expensive (and ultimately unwinnable) war. We should have: (1) Honored Yahweh in our national institutions, following His instructions wherever possible. (2) Attacked no one except in direct and honest self defense. (3) Secured and defended our borders, both physically and spiritually. (That is, we should have allowed no one into the country who wasn’t demonstrably our friend and ally. Yes, we should shelter refugees with open arms, but only those who are willing to assimilate into a society that honors Yahweh in its laws, culture, and institutions—something that rules out every Muslim believer and every atheist as well). And (4) we should never have accommodated or compromised with “Babylon” (the world’s satanic system). This would include refusing to be “yoked with unbelievers” through such institutions as the United Nations.
I realize that all of that is an unrealistic pipe dream, a Messianic utopia that cannot and will not exist on the earth as long as mankind is still sinful and free will is given free reign—even under a political system as promising as America’s once was. But two interrelated factors are poised to fundamentally transform the current paradigm. First, “The work of God [is] that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:29) The second is the coming Sabbath—i.e., the seventh millennium of fallen man. According to God’s law, we may not “work” on the Sabbath. That is, our ability to choose to love God, to voluntarily place our trust in His grace, to “believe in whom He sent,” is about to be curtailed. If my observations are correct, the sun will set on the sixth day, this present age, in 2033—not coincidentally, the very same timeframe upon which so many of these doomsday factors we’ve been studying seem poised to converge.
The “belief” of which Yahshua spoke requires free will, leading to reliance on Yahweh’s solution to our little predicament—sin. But why will our ability to choose to receive His Messiah be curtailed on the coming Sabbath? It’s because God is about to show Himself. Evidence, the food of faith, is about to be replaced with undeniable proof. Under the present paradigm, “Without faith [defined above as “the work of God”] it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But when the Sabbath comes, no one may do such “work,” according to God’s own law. Nor will anyone have to “diligently seek Him,” for His presence and authority will be obvious and apparent to all. Man’s privilege of choice, then, will give way to a “rod (or scepter) of iron” in the hand of Yahweh’s glorified Messiah, Yahshua. (See Psalm 2:9, Revelation 2:27, 12:5, and 19:15.) I hate to rush you, but if you’re considering repentance, the time to do it is now. There’s very little daylight left.
What does all of that have to do with the cost of war? Once again, we seem to be approaching a tipping point in this regard, an event horizon beyond which (if things continue as they are) human civilization cannot hope to continue. The post-Christian world spends enormous sums to send armies to fight nebulous and elusive enemies in distant Muslim lands, while welcoming Muslims by the millions onto their shores—and they don’t see the inconsistency. They long for the prosperity and progress once enjoyed in our Judeo-Christian past, yet they now ignore or attack those very principles at every turn, populating the halls of political power and academia with functional atheists—and we don’t comprehend the disconnect. Having abandoned God as our ally, we no longer perceive who our enemy is. Oliver Hazard Perry once famously reported his battle victory during the War of 1812: “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” These days, we’d have to phrase that, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” (Hat tip to cartoonist Walt Kelly.)
In short, we no longer know who we are or what we want. We don’t know who we’re fighting against, or why. In ancient times, waging war was expensive, but if there was enough booty to be had, aggressive and avaricious kings were willing enough to go to war against their neighbors in hopes of grabbing what they could. It was evil, but at least there was some logic behind it, given the fallen nature of man.
But now, as we approach the end of the age, we spend incomprehensibly vast sums to wage wars, and we don’t even understand why we do it. In our politically correct stupor, we refuse to “profile” our enemy or learn what motivates him. Though we have much at risk, we have absolutely nothing to gain. We have no clear objectives or goals; we can’t even define what “winning” would be. Oh, we can claim to be building nations, freeing people from tyranny, or providing democracy. But democracy and freedom are false and fickle gods: imposing these foreign concepts on a Muslim nation is like asking water to flow uphill. If we had studied Islam, we’d know that. There is a reason the only “stable” Islamic nations for the past century have been run by ruthless dictators, whether overtly or from behind the scenes. The only cure for Islam is Christ, but America no longer wants to hear it (and the rest of the world has no idea what that even means).
It’s some kind of sick joke to call our foreign wars “national defense,” for although our enemies hate us, they almost never attack us on our own soil. And even when they do, it’s no longer as sovereign nations deploying armies or navies, but individuals—as often as not, people we welcomed and supported—perpetrating sneaky attacks against soft, harmless targets. Since their very beginning, the height of Islamic achievement has been to cause suffering and death to innocent people. The fact is, they have no more to gain than we do. They’re not really expecting to “win a war” any more than we are—they’re merely lashing out in greed, frustration, and anger, as they believe their god instructed them to do.
We can’t “win” such a war, and neither can our adversary. It’s not a matter of how much we spend or how much we risk. It’s not even our relative willingness to “die for the cause.” The fact is, “winning” has no logical definition anymore (except in Israel, where “winning” means you get to live your life in relative peace until the next Islamic attack). The world spends so much on “wars and rumors of war” these days, it isn’t hard to see where it will all end if things continue on their present course: in financial ruin, universal anarchy and global civil war, followed, as night follows day, by absolute tyranny under a ruthless central government—despotism that will actually be welcomed (at first) because of the terror and desperation of the times. Students of Bible prophecy aren’t having any trouble reading the writing on the wall.
Thankfully, the coming tyranny won’t last long. But although man’s (and Satan’s) moves are relatively easy to predict, we wouldn’t have a clue as to what Yahweh was up to had He not made a point of telling us. Nobody (other than the faithful) will see this coming: “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of Yahweh’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it….” A “mountain,” besides being a literal highland location, is in Biblical symbology a place of power or majesty. The “mountain of Yahweh’s house” can only be in one literal city—Jerusalem. The “house,” of course, is the Millennial temple, described in detail in Ezekiel 40-47. God will reign on Earth, or be called a liar.
“Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem….” The survivors of the Tribulation (ammim—peoples, plural—i.e., not just Jews) will know and recognize who sits on the throne of Israel: Yahweh, God Himself, the one whose ways, paths, and law (or instruction—the Hebrew word here is Torah) were first given to Israel through Moses. But how is that going to work? No man can see God in his full glory and live to tell the tale (see Exodus 33:18-23, John 1:18). But the prophet says “The Word of Yahweh shall go forth from Jerusalem.” Yahshua—Jesus—is that Word, God made flesh, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). If you’re laboring under the illusion that the Messiah is something or someone other than Yahweh Himself, you need to deal with this.
And what will Yahweh incarnate do about war in the earth? “He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:2-4) Modern warfare is a horrendous waste of life and resources, so it will utterly disappear under the reign of the Prince of Peace. It can’t come a moment too soon.
The War Against Morality
The soldier vs. soldier sort of military conflict isn’t the only war going on these days. Sometimes our most effective enemies are the ones we can’t see, don’t expect, or wouldn’t even recognize as a foe until it’s too late, and we find ourselves with our backs against the wall. We’re fighting a spiritual war.
There’s a name that pops up sporadically throughout the Bible, from the Torah to the Book of Revelation, that is meant to serve as a reminder of this sort of sneaky, underhanded war. The story is found in Numbers 22-25. A man named Balaam, who possessed apparently genuine prophetic gifts, was hired by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings. Apparently the paranoid Balak (a descendant of Abraham’s nephew Lot) had forgotten the promise God had made concerning Abraham in Genesis 12:3—and he never even knew about the instructions Yahweh had issued to the Israelites (Deuteronomy 2:9) to leave the Moabites alone as they made their way to Canaan.
Long story short, Balaam (being a prophet) found that he couldn’t curse Israel, no matter how much he wanted to earn the fat fee Balak was offering. So he did the next “best” thing: he suggested that the Moabites “make love, not war” (as the hippies used to say back in the Vietnam War era). The result? “Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of Yahweh was aroused against Israel.” (Numbers 25:1-3) Because of Israel’s fall (or should I say, jump) into idolatry effected by the seductive Moabite women, God gave instructions to hang the ringleaders who had invited them into the camp, and He sent a plague upon the people that killed 24,000 Israelite men.
So Bible contributors from Moses, Nehemiah, and Micah, to Peter, Jude, and John warn us about the “counsel of Balaam,” the “way of Balaam,” the “error of Balaam,” and the “teaching of Balaam.” In a nutshell, the strategy of Balaam was, if you can’t get God to curse His people, get God’s people to curse Him. This, at its heart, is a corollary to the serpent’s modus operandi in the Garden of Eden: plant the seeds of doubt in Yahweh’s good intentions toward you. Project your own evil agenda onto God. Suggest that He can’t be trusted—and if He “can’t be trusted,” why should we heed His commandments?
In these last days, unfortunately, we (most of us) don’t even know what those commandments are any more. Why is that? They’re plainly presented in God’s word. But we have all too often surrendered the prerogatives of free will to cultural or religious “professionals” of one stripe or another. It’s sort of ironic: back in the Garden, Satan asked Eve, “Has God really said that?” These days, that’s precisely the question we should be asking when priests, preachers, and pundits purport to present “God’s truth.” We Christians tend to assume we’re planted firmly in the center of God’s will, when in fact, we’re following the traditions of men rather than the word of Yahweh. It never even occurs to us that we could be receiving as God’s doctrine the teachings of flawed and mortal men.
I’ll offer a few simple examples. (1) Holidays. God instituted seven of them, commanding Israel to observe them throughout their generations—the idea being that the gentiles were to observe Israel. That is, while He left no similar instructions to gentile believers, one would hope that we would at least consider His instructions to His chosen people, with an eye toward comprehending what God meant to teach us all. But what do we do? We observe a completely different set of holy days, most of them derived directly from the ancient and evil mystery religion of Babylon. God didn’t instruct anybody to celebrate the Messiah’s birthday, and yet the whole Christian world observes “Christmas” in the dead of winter—in effect (if the date alone is considered) honoring not Yahshua, the Son of God (who was born in the autumn), but Tammuz, the heir of Nimrod. Yahweh did instruct Israel to rehearse the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior—through the Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Feast of Firstfruits. But what do we do? We celebrate an entirely different spring holiday—called Easter (i.e., Ishtar, a Babylonian fertility goddess), making sure that it falls on a date chosen not to coincide with Passover. In most of Christendom, Easter is even preceded by the observance of Lent, a blatant derivation of the Babylon custom of weeping forty days for the slain “sun god,” Tammuz (called “an abomination” in Ezekiel 8). We mean well, no doubt. But the fact that we make an effort to “Christianize” these pagan observances does not negate the fact that we’re doing it all wrong.
(2) Diet. Most of the Levitical dietary laws that Yahweh instructed Israel to observe are kept by Christians out of sheer coincidence—bugs and slugs, bats and buzzards, can be presumed to be nasty menu choices. But when something tasty is forbidden we throw God’s good advice out the window: “These you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves…the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:4, 7-8) There goes your pork, ham, bacon, and carnitas. Same thing with seafood: “All in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.” (Leviticus 11:10) That would include such “delicacies” as shrimp, lobsters, crabs, oysters, clams, and scallops—things that Christians scarf down with gleeful abandon, saying (between bites) “Hallelujah, I’m free from the Law.” I’m not saying God will send you to hell for eating pork. He may, in fact, welcome you to heaven a bit ahead of schedule. These things are not food. How can we claim to trust Him if we won’t even take His advice about what not to eat?
(3) Government. Since this is a chapter on “geopolitics,” it might be worth reiterating something I noted previously: the way we govern ourselves is a far cry from the system (or rather, lack of it) that Yahweh instituted. We American Christians tend to mentally equate our Constitution with “God’s preferred mode of societal order,” just because it was written by really smart men who (for the most part) revered their Creator. Yes, the Constitution is arguably the best foundation for living in liberty that man has ever devised, but compared to Yahweh’s “Law of Love” (as presented in the Torah), it is an onerous chain that grows heavier every year, because it carries within it the seeds of its own destruction: the passage of new laws. The ink on the Constitution wasn’t even dry yet when our founding fathers realized that it failed to protect certain basic freedoms that so many of their contemporaries had fought and died to procure. So the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, were added almost immediately. Founder Thomas Paine once wrote, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” I guess God agrees: His idea of government was to appoint leaders to serve, not rulers to reign. God’s people were to have elders or judges, but no lawyers, no police, and no political process whatsoever. The only two blanket requirements were that the people revered Him and loved each other. If they did this, they would live and prosper in their land, no matter what their pagan neighbors did.
I could go on, but you get the idea. We need to get over the presumption that what we’re doing is good and right and true and godly, just because we’ve always done it this way. Customs can compromise conscience—all it takes is time. In the past, Satan has been willing to take generations corrupting a people, little by little. Our adversary, it seems, used to be content with such slow and steady tools as religion, apathy, ignorance, lust, and lukewarm normalcy to separate us from a living, vibrant relationship with the Almighty. But now, as we approach the end of days, the pace of corruption has quickened. Satan seems to know that his days of freely messing with us are numbered. During the past few decades, his “cold war” against godly values has heated up.
Many Christians have a feeling, vague though it is, that we are on the cusp of the “Last Days,” even if they don’t have a very good handle on what that might entail. In the Olivet Discourse, Yahshua described what the times would be like: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5) This claim, “I am the Christ—the anointed one”—needn’t be couched in Judeo-Christian imagery. At its heart, it is merely a claim to be the answer to everyone’s problems. As I write this, it is hard to forget the messianic fervor that accompanied the ascension (okay, “election”) of Barack Obama to the highest office in American politics—and not just here, but all over the world. Not only did supposedly unbiased news reporters gush about “getting a thrill up their leg” when Obama spoke, he was greeted (at first) with anticipation and enthusiasm in foreign lands as well, even being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for achieving essentially nothing. (On the bright side, his policies hadn’t killed anyone yet, that we know of.)
Yahshua also predicted what would follow such unwarranted hero worship: “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:10-12) Whenever leaders are hailed with messianic zeal, the results are invariably offense, betrayal, hate, deception, lawlessness, and coldness of heart—things that did indeed become the painful legacy of the Obama administration. He’s not alone, of course—just the latest in a long string of false Christs. We saw the same thing with Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Vladimir Putin, among others. They’re big fish in small ponds, and all of them are supported by sycophantic shoals of false prophets. The ultimate “false Christ,” yet future—the one we know as “the Antichrist,” the Beast from the sea, the man of sin, or the son of perdition—will have his false prophet as well, through whom he too will “deceive many.”
These false prophets are driving the war against morality we see raging about us today. Peter prophetically described them for us: “There were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber [that is, God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed—NLT].” (II Peter 2:1-3) Some of them will emerge from within the church, but this isn’t a universal requirement. Anyone who fits the profile—denial of God’s grace (a.k.a. introducing “destructive heresy”), a mischaracterization of both Christ and Christianity, and deception for the purpose of personal gain or gratification—is by Peter’s definition a “false prophet.” No religious pretense required. Yahweh knows who they are, and has destined them for destruction. But He hasn’t prevented them—nor will He—from telling their lies: it is up to us to recognize falsehood when we see it, and reject the testimony of these people.
What are their tools, their methods? Primarily, promises of prosperity and pleasure: “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” (II Peter 2:18-19) Again, think beyond the fringes of the church, where false teachers tickle the ears of the gullible with “prosperity gospel” and “seeker friendly” inclusiveness, telling their victims, “Don’t worry about your sin: God is forgiving and merciful. Because He loves you, he wants you to have riches, prosperity, and pleasure. The Law was nailed to the cross: such moral imperatives needn’t trouble you any longer, for you are free and forgiven….” The problem with today’s false prophets runs even deeper than that.
Mixing truth with lies is effective enough in some circles, I suppose, but the seductive stories of Hollywood, New York (from Madison Avenue to Wall Street), and Washington D.C. reach a far wider audience. They push the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—the big three temptations we all face: power, sex, and money. Unlike the “destroy from within” crowd, these three symbolic sources of falsehood no longer even make a pretense of honoring God. They are, rather, pursuing a “brave new underworld,” redefining society’s mores as they push their counterfeit cultural standards upon the world without reference or deference to God, or even to traditional values and customs.
“Hollywood” (symbolic shorthand for the entertainment industry, which these days would even include the news media) has come a long, long way from the hand wringing and soul searching they endured when, in the 1939 film version of Gone with the Wind, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) “swore” on screen for the first time, telling Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” It was all downhill from there. Today, what is said and shown on the silver screen would make a rap star blush.
The Huffington Post recently reported that “30 percent of all data transferred across the Internet is porn.” (To put that in perspective, in 2012, we created 2.0 quintillion bytes of data every day. 90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone. The text of all the books in the Library of Congress would fit comfortably on a stack of DVDs the height of a single-story house, but in 2010, the world created enough digital data to fill a stack of DVDs that would stretch from Earth to the moon, and back.—RemoveAndReplace.com) But the real problem goes beyond the blatant profanity and nudity. It’s the subtle chipping away, over the years, of our perception of what is “normal.”
I must confess, I’m pretty much out of the loop on today’s entertainment (and I intend to remain unenlightened in this regard), but you can hardly miss the trends in film, television, and music: marriage (between a man and a woman—I can’t believe I had to qualify that) is portrayed as a quaint, almost obsolete custom. And death or divorce, or at least adultery, are practically required plot devices should the subject of marriage raise its ugly head. Children in movie scripts most often have only one parent (or if two, they aren’t married).
If Christianity is portrayed, it is virtually always Roman Catholicism (something easily reduced to style in lieu of substance)—and if Evangelical Protestants are in the script, they’ve invariably got some horrible, dark secret that will reveal them in the end to be hypocrites, lunatics, or child abusers—or they’re characterized as something akin to the hatemongering Westboro Baptist Church (which is neither Baptist, nor a church, in any sense God would recognize). In other words, Hollywood has no idea what a real Christian even looks like, much less how he thinks or acts. They “get” religion, of course, but they have no conception of what a relationship with the Living God is. Islam, naturally (along with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and any other eastern religion) are portrayed with sympathy and respect. Muslim terrorists, who make great plot-fodder, are said to be fringe radicals, not “mainstream” or even “fundamentalist” Muslims. Homosexuality is presented as a normal, healthy alternative to heterosexual relationships. But in Hollywood, the idea of sex exclusively between two people of opposite sexes who are married to each other in lifelong commitment is so quaint, it’s practically unheard of. Their idea of “chastity” is to wait until the third date to hop into bed.
“New York” is the city-symbol for Wall St. “bankster” greed, as well as covetousness driven by a multi-billion dollar Madison Avenue advertising industry. Whereas God said, “You shall not steal; you shall not covet,” the whole “civilized” world today is motivated by the accumulation of money and stuff. The moment a society gains a modicum of affluence (as China has in recent years), greed and covetousness enter the picture: enough is never enough. Again, it’s a subtle phenomenon, for there is a fine line between needs and wants. The ironic thing is, the more we grasp at the possessions we wish we had, the more satisfaction slips through our fingers: poverty (at least for the majority in America) is on the increase, as our expenses rise and our real incomes fall.
As with so many other factors, the trend toward “possession obsession” seems to be picking up speed. Our technology (itself a relatively new part of our lives) is the catalyst, constantly telling us that (1) other people have things we don’t, but should, (2) what we have is obsolete, out of style, passé, or “incorrect,” and (3) you’re a loser if you don’t have the “best.” These days, of course, “the best” is not necessarily the most opulent, expensive, or well-built. It may simply be the more politically correct choice. In some circles, it’s considered gauche to roll in an S-Class Mercedes, but “in” to drive a Honda Prius—as if swapping fuel economy for toxic batteries in the landfill ten years from now is some sort of environmental coup. The perception they’ve crafted is: if you have only what you can afford, you’re hopeless. If you don’t make a show of “saving the planet,” you’re criminal. If you wear only what’s practical and modest, you’re a reactionary prude. If you live beneath your means, you’re pathetic. And if you believe in a God you can’t see, you’re a fool.
The third symbolic city is Washington, D.C. Here, the aphrodisiacs are power and pride. When God gifts a person with leadership abilities and opportunities, the intended response is service with humility—the sort of traits we saw in Moses (or George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, for that matter). But the halls of power today (and not just in America) tend to attract a different sort—people who lust for power, because (1) they are genuinely convinced they know what’s best for other people; (2) they think too much freedom is untidy and dangerous in the hands of the unwashed masses; and/or (3) they intend to make a killing (financial or otherwise) with the power they wield.
When George Washington chose not to run for a third term of office, leaders here and abroad were aghast: why would anyone (especially someone as popular as Washington) voluntarily relinquish the reins of power? It was unheard of. But people whose pride deludes them into believing they’re essential—that their nation can’t get along without them—are invariably loath to step down. Franklin D. Roosevelt was such a man—elected to the presidency four times (and dying in office) before a Constitutional amendment wisely limited our leaders to Mr. Washington’s self-imposed tenure of two terms. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is another who, once having held office, never really let go of it, even when he was not technically his nation’s leader. But nobody beats the North Koreans for holding onto power in the face of all reason. Wikipedia reports, “On December 28, 1972 party leader and Premier Kim Il-sung proclaimed himself President and thus become head of state. He held this office until his death on July 8, 1994 when he was proclaimed the ‘Eternal President of the Republic.’” Can you spell “outoftouchwithreality?”
One of the hallmarks of a bad leader is their all-too-prevalent propensity to consider the law of the land as “not applying to me.” It’s a slippery slope that invariably divides the populace into “us” vs. “them,” i.e., one set of rules for the elites and another for the masses. The heart of such of philosophy is lawlessness—or more correctly selective lawlessness. The idea is that ordinary citizens need to be heavily regulated, reined in, restricted in their activities, and watched like a hawk. Meanwhile, the ruling elite get a pass—special privileges and perks designed to pamper and protect them from the very burdens they impose on others. Their version of the “golden rule” is: he who has the gold gets to make the rules. This attitude stands in marked contrast to Yahweh’s instructions on how kings should approach the law: “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear Yahweh his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20)
The trend toward lawlessness in high places will find its ultimate expression in the Antichrist, who is described as “the lawless one,” and “the man of sin.” Leaders today must at least give lip service to the laws of the land, no matter how blatantly they circumvent the will and well-being of their people. But the Antichrist—who is prophesied to rule the whole world—will do pretty much as he pleases, and for a time, he’ll get away with it, for people are too often willing to defend their poor choices to the bitter end. Daniel has a lot to say about him: “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.” (Daniel 7:25) “His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” That is, he will be constrained not by law or custom, but will instead be empowered by Satan. “He shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive. He shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his rule; and he shall exalt himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes.” (Daniel 8:24-25)
As brutal as rulers have been throughout history, today’s leaders (some of them) fit this profile as never before. Under rulers like Nebuchadnezzar or Nero, cunning was optional, and deceit didn’t have to prosper—the king merely did as he pleased. “Destroying the prosperous” was in ancient times a good way to get yourself assassinated by your own inner circle. But today’s leaders increasingly live by the lie—the bigger the better—and they have a disconcerting habit of throwing their supporters under the bus at the first sign of personal political peril. Their tools are no longer bodyguards and bulwarks, but such things as the IRS, the NSA, and the 24-hour liberal-dominated news cycle. That being said, I fear they’re nothing but pale previews of coming attractions. The Antichrist will “accomplish” what today’s worst leaders can only dream of. “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done.” (Daniel 11:36)
My point is simply this: the Antichrist’s overreach will be so far beyond what mankind has seen throughout his history, he would never be able to pull it off (at least not with the sort of universal acclaim described in Revelation 13:4-7) without a period of time in which mankind became accustomed to the concept of “beloved tyrants.” You’d think the human race would have lost its taste for “messiahs” after Napoleon, Hitler, and Mao. But as the “majority’s” reaction to Obama and Putin still shows, some people can’t seem to get enough of leaders who promise to “fundamentally transform” everybody’s lives, one way or another. Think about it: “hope and change” are seen as good things only to people who perceive their lives to be horrible. (And it seems to me that this is the common attribute of people who are not thankful before God.)
So even if these “messiahs” are not all that talented or innovative, folks tend to project their fondest hopes and dreams onto them. There is something wrong when a man like President Obama can earn the distinction of being the worst, weakest, most dishonest chief executive America ever had, and still garner a 43% job approval rating in the polls. It says nothing about Mr. Obama, and everything about the desperation of man. Our desire for a Messiah is palpable and universal. But we will never be satisfied until the real Messiah—Yahweh’s Anointed One—finally makes His appearance. Alas, we’ve got (at least) one more spectacularly successful counterfeit to go before that happens.
The war against morality is fought on many fronts. Though the “tone” of a nation is set by the behavior and attitude of its leaders, they cannot long remain in power without the general agreement and support of their citizens. So scripture informs us that godliness will go out of style during the last days, and not just among the elite: “Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (II Timothy 3:1-5) That list of character traits is really depressing if you’re one whose delight is in the Law of God—but alas, it’s one that is evident in society today as never before.
It speaks of a generation living their lives without deference to any power higher than themselves—the quintessential Darwinist mindset. For the past century, mankind has been incessantly taught that he is only a highly evolved animal, that there is no God other than blind chance, and that life ends with the death of the body. So naturally, he (the one described here by Paul) has concluded that “being good” is a meaningless concept, for there is no divine authority to define what “good” is, no meaningful standard by which to gauge one’s performance. There is “expedient,” “pleasurable,” and “gratifying,” but there is no such thing as “good.” So the only “logical” attitudes are selfishness, greed, and narcissism. And given these moral proclivities, the next natural step is toward arrogance, brutality, treason, and the ridicule of godly virtue in others.
But that last phrase, “having a form of godliness but denying its power,” is telling. It implies that for whatever reason, there will still be people who sense that there actually is such a thing as “good,” that moral absolutes still exist in this world (despite what they’ve been told all their lives). And their opinion will still count for something (at least until the rapture). They know, somehow, that cold blooded murder, theft, perjury, and adultery are intrinsically wrong. They don’t have to be taught that rape, cannibalism, and genocide are not conducive to the general well-being of the human race (or even that the well-being of humanity is a good thing, for that matter). So the men about whom Paul is warning us here will, even in these next-to-last days, have to at least give lip-service to conventional social mores, even if they don’t personally ascribe to them. In confirmation of this, Christ describes the church of the rapture, Philadelphia, in these terms: “I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it, for you have a little strength…. I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” (Revelation 3:8-9) Having a “little strength” describes a very different situation for God’s people than the three and a half years of the Antichrist’s reign (the Great Tribulation), as described to Daniel: “It shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.” (Daniel 12:7)
So what are we to do with the “despisers of good?” Kill them? No (not even if they need killing). Such an action would make us the “unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, and despisers of good.” No, we are simply to refuse to heed them, rejecting the basis of their error—the premise that there is no God to whom we must answer. Or as Paul puts it, “From such people turn away!” And then he says something interesting: “For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (II Timothy 3:5-7) The influence of these ungodly people, he says, will take root in people’s homes, where they live (i.e., not just on the battlefield or in the halls of political power). The damage they cause will be suffered by the gullible—especially among women, for some reason—who are already “loaded down with sins.” I can’t help but reflect on the forty-five million abortions that are performed every year in this world, mostly in the name of “women’s rights,” though this is but one permutation of the problem. It doesn’t matter how much a person “learns.” If it isn’t the truth, knowledge is pointless, or worse. That’s why we weren’t called to knowledge or scholarship—we were called to love.
The social theory driving the mindset of the people whom Paul described is called “moral relativism,” defined thus: “Moral relativism is the view that ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong are culturally based and therefore subject to a person’s individual choice. We can all decide what is right for ourselves. You decide what’s right for you, and I’ll decide what’s right for me. Moral relativism says, ‘It’s true for me if I believe it.’”—Moral-Relativism.com. It seems to me, however, that one’s philosophical confidence in moral relativism won’t likely survive being mugged in the park, raped, robbed blind, and left for dead. Your attacker’s “relative morals” (i.e., “My desires outweigh your needs”) suddenly won’t count for much.
That being said, “Moral relativism has steadily been accepted as the primary moral philosophy of modern society, a culture that was previously governed by a ‘Judeo-Christian’ view of morality. While these ‘Judeo-Christian’ standards continue to be the foundation for civil law, most people hold to the concept that right or wrong are not absolutes, but can be determined by each individual. Morals and ethics can be altered from one situation, person, or circumstance to the next. Essentially, moral relativism says that anything goes, because life is ultimately without meaning. Words like ‘ought’ and ‘should’ are rendered meaningless. In this way, moral relativism makes the claim that it is morally neutral.”
Robin Schumacher, writing for Carm.org, notes, “In modern times, the espousal of moral relativism has been closely linked to the theory of evolution. The argument is, in the same way that humanity has evolved from lesser to greater biological organisms, the same process is in play in the area of morals and ethics. Therefore, all that can be ascertained at present (and forever) is that there is no absolute or fixed certainty in the area of morality.” The idea is, we’re all just animals. Morality for the wolf differs from that of the lamb—and the shepherd, for that matter. The highest moral imperative is survival, but everybody defines that differently, and more to the point, in personal terms, what’s best for me?
So not surprisingly, “Following this argument to its logical conclusion causes consternation among many, even those who espouse moral relativism. Paul Kurtz, in the book The Humanist Alternative, sums up the end result this way: ‘If man is a product of evolution, one species among others, in a universe without purpose, then man’s [only] option is to live for himself….’
“The problem for the moral relativist (who is most times a secular humanist who rejects God) is they have no good answer to the two-part question: Is there anything wrong with an action and, if so, why? Appealing to the relative whims of society or personal preferences doesn’t provide satisfying answers. A better response to the question necessitates that an individual have: (1) an unchanging standard he can turn to, and (2) an absolute authority by which proper moral obligation can be defended. Without these, morals/ethics simply become emotionally based preferences. Rape, for example, can never be deemed wrong; the strongest statement that can be made about rape is ‘I don’t like it.’” The natural, inevitable result of the relativist mindset is lawlessness, for “laws” are perceived as having been based on nothing more substantial than “the convenience of the majority,” hence they carry no particular weight. On the other hand, if laws are generally perceived to have descended ultimately from divine authority (the moral absolutist’s position), there only two questions: is this particular law in accordance with the revealed will of that Authority, and if it is, do I choose to voluntarily submit myself to it—and to Him?
Thus moral relativism (as opposed to moral absolutism) is found to be at the heart of the world’s antagonism toward Christ and His church, or even toward simple godly standards of behavior—common human decency. We believers read our Bibles and heed our consciences, and come to such “intolerant” conclusions as, sin harms the sinner. So homosexuality (or any other sexual perversion) is wrong, abortion is murder (hence wrong), and Islam is satanic (wrong on steroids). And those who espouse such things assume that Christians hate them, because we do not support their behavior or beliefs. But that’s not accurate. It’s not that we hate them; we merely hate the chains that bind them, we hate the blindfold that covers their eyes. The hatred they perceive against people doesn’t really exist. But of course, that doesn’t prevent them from hating us in return.
If they only knew. Our “hatred” of behaviors common to man extends far deeper than they know—to things most people would consider (in these days of depravity) to be harmless, almost innocent—even (or especially) when we ourselves fall prey to them. We “hate” sex outside the bonds of marriage—not just sodomy, bestiality, and rape, but adultery, extra-marital or pre-marital sex, and even immodest, needlessly seductive apparel. And we “hate” entertainment media that glorifies and promotes such things.
We “hate” child abuse—not just abortion, physical and mental abuse, but neglect as well, the all-too-prevalent practice of leaving it to government and society to raise our children, when it is our responsibility. It is up to us parents (both of them) to teach them, feed them, clothe them, nurture them, introduce them to God, and yes, discipline them.
We “hate” drug abuse—and not just heroin or cocaine, but anything we might use in an attempt to sever our connection with reality, knowing that this mortal reality is the only chance we’ll get in which to choose our eternal destiny wisely. Life is a precious resource, a gift that should not be wasted.
We “hate” religious institutions and practices that separate people from the love of their Creator, Yahweh—and not just Islam and overt Satan worship, but anything, even within the bounds of cultural Christianity, that misrepresents God and the grace He provides.
We “hate” theft and greed—and not just criminal endeavors (violent or not), but financial malfeasance in high places and low, and even simple irresponsibility in personal and public financial affairs.
And we “hate” anti-Semitism—active attacks toward, or passive resistance against, Yahweh’s chosen people Israel, whether in the Land or outside it, and whether or not they have, as individuals, repented before God.
But in our lucid moments, Christians do not hate the people who perpetrate such crimes against God and man, for we realize that they are in need of our Savior—they’re lost, just as we once were. They are victims of the demons (whether real or metaphorical) who trouble them. They deserve our pity, our mercy, and our love, not our hatred.
Allow me to offer a personal illustration of how this “hate-the-behavior-but-not-the-person” thing works. My wife and I once adopted a handicapped Korean infant who was diagnosed with CMV (cytomegalovirus, a common third world affliction, potentially debilitating if one’s mother contracts it during pregnancy). Our daughter didn’t walk until she was three, and didn’t talk until she was six, though the doctors told us she would probably never reach either milestone. At present, she’s in her early thirties, but she functions at about a six-year-old level. When she hit puberty, bi-polar disorder (a common symptom of the syndrome) kicked in, and she began harming herself, or threatening to. We had to hide the cooking knives and remain hyper-vigilant whenever she was upstairs, for fear she might jump (which she tried to do several times). Life was, shall we say, “interesting” until we got her psych meds properly balanced. Bottom line: we loved our daughter, but hated her behaviors.
So as I see it, when a Christian warns a homosexual that Yahweh considers his lifestyle choice an “abomination” (God’s word, not mine), he’s not being “intolerant.” Not of the gay guy, anyway. Rather, he sees before him in his mind’s eye a manic, terrified little girl with a steak knife in her hand, threatening to slit her wrist, because she just doesn’t know what else to do. In other words, we just want to help. Perhaps we do it clumsily; I don’t know. But it is not an act of love to watch a person drown in sin when it is in our ability to throw him a life preserver.
At some level, people who sin know that what they’re doing is wrong, no matter how skillfully they’re able to justify it in their minds. (Of course, we all sin: I’m referring to people whose sin defines them, those who prefer to live with it and in it.) The war on morality we’re seeing in these last days is in reality just a series of strategies people have developed in order to live more comfortably with their sin. Moral relativism, as we have seen, is a futile attempt to remove the authoritative standard—God Himself—from the equation.
But then they find they still have their consciences to deal with—that nagging inner voice that tells them the difference between right and wrong, even if they’ve convinced themselves that there is no objective basis for these feelings. Paul explains: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.” The glory of God is revealed through His creation, if only we’ll open our eyes to the scientific data, which fairly screams “There is an Intelligent Designer at work here.” The conscience is an extension of “what may be known of God.” It is His Law, hard wired into our hearts. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21) That, in a nutshell, describes the suppression of the conscience.
A bit later, he speaks again of the conscience: “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.” (Romans 2:14-15) For instance, the Torah says, “You shall not murder.” But you don’t need the Torah to know that murder is wrong. The same thing could be said for scores of “bad behaviors.” Our laws—even in pagan nations—reflect the general agreement between the Torah and man’s conscience. That being said, only three of the Ten Commandments are found in American jurisprudence—the prohibitions against murder, theft, and perjury (things the people who run our government violate routinely these days, I’m afraid). The other seven are either considered unnecessary, excessively religious (i.e., a violation of the First Amendment), or unenforceable.
And truth be told, none of these three “sins” we make a show of “agreeing with” is taken seriously by people who don’t revere Yahweh. Americans get around them with semantics and loopholes. (1) We prohibit murder, but it is perfectly legal (within limits) to dismember a living unborn fetus in its mother’s womb—and we do so upwards of 1.3 million times a year in this nation. (2) Theft is “bad” if you’re a freelancer, but the government steals from every productive person in the nation and redistributes the wealth—not just to the poor, but also to “politically correct” business interests, foundations, and organizations, who receive preferential treatment, subsidies, fat contracts, tax breaks, and exemption from onerous regulations to which everyone else must adhere. Robin Hood, they’re not. And (3) the concept of “perjury” is some kind of sick joke. No one is required to tell the truth about their crime if they’re guilty. Senators, Representatives, and even police are allowed to lie with impunity if they’re speaking in their official capacity. And the president can (and does) tell the most outrageous lies, yet is never called to account for them in any “official” way.
In short, conscience is under siege in the halls of power in this nation. And elsewhere, I fear it has already surrendered or has been overrun. Paul saw this coming, too. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Timothy 4:1-2) Note first that this sort of crisis of conscience can be expected to show up in “latter times”—i.e., not throughout the church age. Second, this is a spiritual phenomenon, the result of demonic activity—something to which people are susceptible on an invitation only basis. Third, “departure from the faith” informs us that God’s truth was available, and even well known to these people, but has been purposely forsaken and abandoned. Be aware as well that having one’s “conscience seared with a hot iron” implies that it was once there, functioning properly, but it has been desensitized, calloused, and scarred to the point where it now feels nothing.
So the war against morality and godliness began with the advent of moral relativism, and was continued through satanic attacks on the conscience of mankind. Both tactics have been moderately successful, but man still hasn’t been able to shake the unsettling feeling that he has run afoul of God’s intentions: the hound of heaven still pursues. There is still something missing in humanity’s plan to live in sin without feeling guilty about it. What could it be?
Oh, of course. It’s the presence of the church, the called-out assembly of Yahshua the Messiah. It’s the height of irony: even though we know we’re flawed and sinful ourselves, saved from our corruption and depravity only by the unfathomable grace of a loving God, our very presence reminds a guilty world: “Your sins will kill you in the end. You are found wanting before God. Repent and receive God’s grace, before it’s too late. Please.” We don’t even have to open our mouths in condemnation of their bad behavior. (In point of fact, we seldom do. Most of us are too preoccupied trying to clean up our own acts.) If God’s Spirit indwells us, our very presence is enough to condemn them in their own minds. So they hate us, and then project their own hatred into our intentions.
That’s why the impending withdrawal of the Holy Spirit (at the rapture) is such a terrifying concept. Paul explains: “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains [i.e., the indwelling Holy Spirit, who now restrains evil in the world via its living presence within the ekklesia, as I described above] will do so until He is taken out of the way.” When the church is caught up into the clouds to be with her Messiah, the Spirit within us will depart the world as well—leaving a spiritual vacuum that Satan will rush to fill: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (II Thessalonians 2:7-8) But between the “revealing” of the Antichrist and his destruction, the war against morality will rage unabated and unopposed.
That’s not to say godlessness will fail to make inroads before the rapture. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” It’s not that lost people hate godliness per se, but they despise being reminded of their own sin, even if it’s not exactly us, but the Holy Spirit living within us, who’s prodding them toward repentance with the sharp stick called conscience. “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived….” That’s a process we see happening right before our eyes. How are we to resist such an onslaught? “The Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:12-17) Ah, those pesky scriptures—the written communique of the God from whose standards the world so desperately desires to be released. Irresistible force meets immovable object.
I’ll mention one more phenomenon that ties the war against morality directly to the Last Days. Peter prophesies, “Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (II Peter 3:3-4) The world’s attacks against Biblical morality are made under the banner of Darwinism, the theory of organic evolution, sometimes called uniformitarianism because the theory assumes “that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. It has included the gradualistic concept that ‘the present is the key to the past’ and is functioning at the same rates.”—Wikipedia. That definition fits Peter’s warning to a tee.
The idea is, “Since we have no Creator other than blind chance, there is no sentient Moral Authority in the universe—no one to define what is good or bad, right or wrong. So we are free to live as we please, pursuing power, pleasure, and profit without regard to any negative effect our actions might have upon our fellow man. If my neighbor gets hurt in the process, it only proves that he is ‘less fit’ than I am.” It’s the same “George Soros” mindset we examined above: “If I don’t rob you, somebody else will—it’s better to be the predator than the prey.” If there were a Creator, of course, Someone who had promised to come and set things right on the Earth, the “survival of the fittest” theorists would be compelled to act and think differently than they do. So they commit intellectual suicide, believing the unbelievable (and thinking the unthinkable) in order to convince themselves that “walking according to their own lusts” is perfectly natural, and more to the point, the only way to succeed in this world.
We can readily see where this mindset leads. Just visit a country where the word of God has never taken root—or has been suppressed by another philosophy such as Islam or Communism. The only way such a society avoids tearing itself apart in anarchic chaos is if a tyrant emerges who can rule through fear, force, and intimidation. But the geopolitical pendulum swings back and forth. Presently, it is swinging back toward anarchy. Having subjected the world to the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Saddam Hussein, and Moamar Ghadafi for the past century or so, we seem to be entering an era of mob rule, of constant turmoil. The chaos that inevitably ensues when the godless tyrant goes down is well documented. But it is equally inevitable (not to mention being prophetically certain) that a new tyrant will eventually arise—one who will bring order, even at the cost of liberty.
Driven by ever more sophisticated technology, these societal pendulum swings between anarchy and tyranny seem to be gaining momentum—and speed. They say “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and that’s certainly true: a millennium passed between its rise and its fall. America ran well for a couple of centuries, but its foundation is now crumbling. Communist Russia was dead and gone seventy years after its inception. Hitler’s vaunted “thousand-year Reich” lasted a mere twelve years. These, days, it seems, the tyranny seldom outlasts the tyrant: these tend to be cults of charismatic personalities who have the knack for spouting inspiring (or incendiary) rhetoric, knowing instinctively when to bribe, when to threaten, and when to shoot.
The state of anarchy toward which this godless world is presently headed will be arrested in the end by the popular acclaim of the most powerful “beloved tyrant” of all—the one known as the Antichrist—whose unprecedented worldwide hegemony will endure only three and a half years. Once again (and for the last time), the world will discover through bitter experience that neither license with licentiousness nor oppression with order is the answer they’ve been seeking. Liberty with love is the formula for which man has been searching all this time, but we’ll never achieve it outside of a relationship with the One whose character is the basis of moral absolutes, the One who implanted consciences into the psyche of the human race, and the One who called out of the world an assembly of redeemed believers, saved by grace, defined by love, motivated by gratitude, and indwelled by the very Spirit of the living God.
Be not deceived: a war against morality and godly virtue is a war against Yahweh Himself. It is fought in the spiritual realm, where human intellect is as impotent as a pea shooter in a nuclear war. The winner will rule for eternity. Choose your side carefully.
The Demise of Freedom in the World
America’s national anthem describes this country as “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” When Francis Scott Key penned those words (in the heat of battle during the War of 1812), it was a palpable truth that would be developed over the next century into the envy (or goal) of every freedom-loving person on the planet. The liberty enjoyed by the citizens of the United States (with a few shameful exceptions) made America the destination of choice for people fleeing tyranny and oppression in the world—making this nation the “melting pot” of the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” as it’s phrased in Emma Lazarus’s inspiring poem, The New Colossus.
But somewhere along the way the “melting pot” became a crucible. We are no longer blending smoothly into one contiguous population concoction; now, we’re burning and sticking around the edges, threatening to set off the smoke alarm. The huddled masses still arrive, of course, but only because life has become intolerable—even deadly—elsewhere. Repressive governments in faraway lands make even the worst life in America seem like paradise in comparison, so desperate refugees pay enormous sums to come and live like slaves in the “home of the free.” Drug wars rage, making it impossible to live in peace. Imams and mullahs whip their communities into a murderous frenzy over any deviation from Islamic orthodoxy, making a quarter of the world a very dangerous place for a Christian or a Jew (or anybody other than a Muslim fundamentalist). Others come because America has become the land of free stuff. If you learn to play the system, you can get welfare assistance, food stamps, and a free education, all paid for with borrowed dollars by a political machine that has no understanding and no accountability.
At one time, police used to protect and serve (excuse the occasional corrupt big city machine). Now they surveil, restrict, enforce, and intimidate. Every day they look less like police and more like military—right down to the war surplus vehicles and weaponry. Meanwhile, our military services are quietly being transformed into forces that can be used to control and coerce American citizens, on American soil (the principle of posse comitatus notwithstanding). A not-so-subtle effort is being made to purge our military of officers and soldiers who might refuse an order to fire upon American citizens. I’m pretty sure we don’t live in police state yet, but things are clearly moving in that direction—quickly.
We’ve gotten used to the idea of multiple, overlapping or competing law enforcement jurisdictions—city police, county sheriffs, state patrols, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), etc. And most of us are aware of niche agencies such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and of course, the U.S Treasury and Secret Service. Quasi-military agencies like the Coast Guard, the National Guard, and various port and customs authorities dot the law enforcement landscape as well. The warfare specialists, of course, have their own Military Police Corps, such as the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) or the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC). Following the mantra, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” all of these were placed under the gargantuan umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the wake of 9/11, under the dubious theory that more top-down control was needed in this country—“one ring to rule them all,” so to speak.
But it’s even more pervasive than all that. An article by Rob Nikolewski, published in Watchdog.org (April 3, 2014), listed a plethora of armed police units, attached to the most unlikely government departments. “Here’s a partial list: The U.S. Department of Education; The Bureau of Land Management (200 uniformed law enforcement rangers and 70 special agents); The U.S. Department of the Interior; The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (with an armed uniformed division of 1,000); The National Park Service (made up of NPS protection park rangers and U.S. Park Police officers that operate independently); The Environmental Protection Agency (200 special agents); The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (224 special agents); and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That’s right, NOAA—the folks who forecast the weather, monitor the atmosphere and keep tabs on the oceans and waterways—has its own law enforcement division. It has a budget of $65 million and consists of 191 employees, including 96 special agents and 28 enforcement officers who carry weapons.”
Nikolewski reports, “‘There’s no question there’s been a proliferation of police units at the federal level,’ said Tim Lynch, director of the Project On Criminal Justice for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C. ‘To me, it’s been a never-ending expansion, a natural progression, if you will, of these administrative agencies always asking for bigger budgets and a little bit more power.’ It’s been estimated the U.S. has some 25,000 sworn law enforcement officers in departments not traditionally associated with fighting crime. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and in a tabulation compiled by the Wall Street Journal in 2011, 3,812 criminal investigators are working in areas other than the U.S. departments of Treasury, Justice, Defense and Homeland Security.”
I can only reflect on what a horrible, lawless people we must be, to need such a wide variety of armed police forces to keep us in line or bring us to justice for our nefarious deeds. (Or could it be that our paranoid government has gone completely off its meds, terrified to lose the power they’ve grasped for themselves?) If the six o’clock news were our only indicator, it might seem that we were awash in sea of crime. But truth be told, the reported crime rates have dropped dramatically across the board over the past few decades. A chart published by VictimsOfCrime.org tracks the trends between 1973 and 2009: Beginning with 4,770 violent crimes annually (per 100,000 population), we spiked to 5,230 in the early ’80s, and again to almost that level in the mid-’90s, before sliding to only 1,690 in 2009. Similar trends mark sub-categories such as assault, robbery, and rape.
How are we to account for this general reduction in the rate of reported crimes—a drop of 60% to almost 90%, depending on the type of offense? I’ll offer several theories for your consideration. (1) We are all becoming nicer, better-behaved people, who have decided to “give peace a chance.” (2) Most of the criminals have already been caught and put in jail, or are out on a “short leash,” probation. (3) The increase in police presence has intimidated us into obedience. (4) Violent criminals are getting lazier. Or (5) Fewer crimes are being reported, because people no longer trust the police any more than they do the criminals—unless, of course, they need a police report to collect on the insurance claim. Though these theories range from the silly to the cynical, any of them (with the possible exception of #1) could contain a kernel of truth.
While law enforcement agencies are proliferating like rabbits, there is a popular adage these days: “When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.” That is to say, no matter how many police there are, you can’t count on them to protect you in times of danger. And yet, it is a popular theory among liberal progressives in this country that guns are responsible for violent crimes. Although the private ownership of firearms is a constitutionally guaranteed right in this nation, they say that if we just made guns illegal, violent crime would cease forthwith. Indeed, the United States ranks third in murders among the 196 nations of the world. But here’s the rub: if you didn’t include the statistics from Chicago, Detroit, Washington D.C., and New Orleans, the United States would come in fourth from the bottom of the list. And the epiphany comes when you realize that these four cities have the toughest, most restrictive local gun-control laws in the entire country. Think about it: criminals—by definition—do not obey the law. I neither own a gun nor want to, but the only logical conclusion I can draw is that statistically, private gun ownership does not cause crime—it tends to discourage it. So called “gun-free” zones are in reality “sitting-duck” zones.
That, sad to say, would increasingly include crimes against citizens by well-armed police. While most cops (at least in America) do indeed operate by a personal “protect-and-serve” code of ethics, two realities must be kept in mind. First, the artificial air of authority bestowed upon an officer by a badge and a gun can (and too often does) encourage him to exceed his (or her) lawful mandate. Our founders were very careful to give us Constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures—something routinely ignored by police today. (The recent proliferation of video cameras—both in the hands of private citizens and police departments themselves, has thankfully mitigated the tendency for officers to exceed their authority.) Although it should not be so, the very presence of well-armed police often creates an adversarial atmosphere, one of tense hostility, whether or not one is guilty of some crime.
Second, a police presence is the tool most easily deployed by corrupt and out-of-control governments to prevent the populace from exercising their God-given freedoms. Again, our founders were wise in guaranteeing our right to peaceful assembly, but what was understood by a group of people to be just such a quiet gathering can easily be turned into a riot by the mere presence of police in force who are expecting a disturbance—making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. That being said, it’s a complicated dynamic: rabble rousing “community organizers” know how to play the average police department like a Stradivarius: they can turn a lawful assembly into a newsworthy example of “police brutality” for a sympathetic scandal-hungry media, turning what should have been simple peace-keeping chores into an exploitable crisis. Blessed are the peacemakers—and vice versa.
An illegitimate government can remain in power only through falsehood, force, and intimidation. This is true even in so-called “democratic” nations, where votes are bought with hollow promises of “hope and change” (to quote a recent example), blatant bribes, or brutal coercion. Corruption can become so rampant, it no longer matters who votes, or for whom; it only matters who counts the votes. Left to their own devices, people naturally gravitate toward individual freedom—they will do what seems right to them (see Judges 21:25). It is only when they feel threatened that they seek to establish governments designed to protect them. But governments are like chemotherapy to a cancer patient: the cure can seem worse than the disease. Given enough time (and enough power), they invariably become worse than the threat they were instituted to combat.
The American Revolution was precipitated by a three percent tax on tea. I think we can safely say that our own government has now exceeded the scope of this “intolerable British tyranny.” Why have we not surrounded the Capitol, pitchforks and torches in hand? Because we have succumbed to the falsehood, force, and intimidation we ourselves invited into our lives. The only things preventing us from becoming Nazi Germany all over again are (1) a relatively free press (if you include the Internet), (2) personal gun ownership (something designed from the beginning to give tyrants pause), and (3) a Constitution guaranteeing such things as freedom of speech and freedom of worship—things that are non-existent in many nations today. Don’t look now, but all of these principles are under attack in America. Film maker Dinesh D’Souza (who has seen enough of the world to know) says, “America is the greatest, freest and most decent society in existence. It is an oasis of goodness in a desert of cynicism and barbarism. This country, once an experiment unique in the world, is now the last best hope for the world.” And as Ronald Reagan once said, “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”
That’s the problem, isn’t it? What President Reagan warned us about is now threatening to become reality. If America becomes a totalitarian police state, where can refugees from other lands go to find freedom? Other nations (who were not founded on Judeo-Christian principles) have problems of their own that conspire to make them poor destinations. Even if they’re not the sorts of places from which you’re likely to be fleeing in search of liberty (like Cuba or Venezuela, China or Vietnam, most of Africa, or anywhere in the Islamic world) most of the potential destinations of the world’s “huddled masses yearning to be free” invariably have flaws of their own. At best, they’re over-regulated, over-taxed police states like America is becoming. At worst, they’re chaotic cesspools, rife with crime, disease, and anarchy. Most of the best “alternatives” to America are to be found in the British Commonwealth, but alas, most of these nations are even farther down the road to ruin than we are. There is a reason hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have risked everything to come to the United States—legally if they can, illegally if they have to. This is liberty’s last stand.
How close are we to losing it? An article by Robert P. Abele, published on CounterPunch.org (December 27, 2013) was entitled “From Freedom to Totalitarianism and Beyond—The End of Freedom in America?” He writes, “As must appear self-evident to both historians and astute observers by now, the United States, in its history, has had a rather facile and at times acrimonious relationship to the idea of domestic democracy.…What is seldom noticed, however, is the speed with which the U.S. has moved from a liberal democracy to, at best, an authoritarian government.
“To demonstrate this rapid movement in U.S. government, we will use as a base Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ‘Four Freedoms’ address to Congress, on January 6, 1941. By all rights, and regardless of FDR’s real intent (some say it was to garner support for U.S. involvement in WWII), very few would doubt that his elucidated four freedoms form an important base for understanding liberal democracy.” Alas, fewer still would pause long enough to consider that perhaps “liberal democracy” is part of the problem, or more to the point, a solution to the specter of authoritarian government that carries within it the seeds of its own destruction. As I see it, it’s one more example of being asked to choose between two wrong things, one of which is clearly “wronger” than the other—the very trap into which Eve fell in the Garden of Eden.
Anyway, “Here are FDR’s own words, quoted at length: ‘The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world. That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb. To that new order we oppose the greater conception—the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.’” As he would opine months later, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Roosevelt was right (and wrong) to protest that his vision might sound a bit like the Millennial reign of Christ. It is certainly a vision of a liberal-progressive utopia on earth—something very different indeed. I have no idea whether or not FDR was a believer. (Though a socialist at heart, references to God and the Bible pop up often in his speeches, although such a thing was “in style” in the 1930s, no matter what you actually believed.) But he clearly didn’t comprehend the depravity of man—the concept that as a fallen race, we cannot and will not solve our own self-imposed problems. In short, these goals are not “attainable in our own time and generation,” even if they’re desirable (and not all of them actually are, as we shall see). Mr. Abele discussed each of FDR’s “four freedoms” at length. I will spare you his analysis, but I’d like to briefly discuss each one as well, since these concepts are the very foundation of the liberal mindset that’s driving America’s headlong rush toward authoritarian oblivion.
(1) “Freedom of speech and expression.” America of late has prided itself on the tolerance of any viewpoint or proclivity—no matter how bizarre or destructive. We have taken the original intent of the First Amendment and turned it on its head. Ironically, such “freedom of speech and expression” is now used as a gag to silence the “freedom of speech and expression” of those who would caution us against what God defines as sin. The concept of “freedom of religion” has subtly morphed into freedom from religion—the idea that no one should have to tolerate the utterance of a Christian, Biblical viewpoint because it suggests that something is actually true, rather than merely being the will of the majority.
The current “hot-button” issues are so prevalent in the media, they hardly need mentioning (but I’ll do it anyway). First, God tells us not to murder people, but it has become a “violation of free speech” to protest against the practice of abortion. The “right” to murder one’s unborn child in the womb is held to be sacrosanct among the liberal elite, who go so far as to construe it as a “women’s health issue,” as if bearing children were some sort of disease. Secondly, homosexuality is roundly condemned in the Bible (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, etc.). God calls it an “abomination,” (the strongest language in scripture), and He made it a capital offense in theocratic Israel (just like adultery and idolatry were). Yet that battle has already been “lost” in America; now homosexuals are demanding that everyone recognize same sex marriages (not just clandestine liaisons) as being normal and acceptable. In other words, it’s not enough that people should have to tolerate perversion perpetrated in private: we must now bless it in public, or be punished by the state. Every point of view except God’s, it seems, is now tolerated in this nation.
Real freedom of speech and expression would allow both sides to state their views, including exercising the right not to hire or do business with people with whom you disagree—for any reason. But a totalitarian state tries to force everyone into the same mold—their mold—with their standards and opinions, whether they’re worthy or not. It’s the antithesis of freedom.
(2) “The freedom of every person to worship God in his own way.” I have no doubt FDR was thinking about the differences between Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and maybe snake-wielding Appalachian Pentecostals—i.e., different “flavors” of Christianity. At the outside, he may have been considering groups like Hindus or Buddhists, Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, who tend to exercise their own religions in their own way, without much regard to (or interference with) anybody else. What he didn’t factor in were the two most aggressive religions of all—Islam and Secular Humanism (a.k.a. Atheism). Both of these “faiths” are engaged in open warfare with all others.
Perhaps Roosevelt didn’t understand Islam because during his lifetime it was a lot like Catholicism had been in Europe during the Middle Ages—that is, it was more a cultural phenomenon, a traditional way of life, than it was a living faith to its adherents. Very few bothered to read the scriptures—of either religion. Rather, they merely followed the mindless traditions in which they had been raised, which in Islam meant fasting during Ramadan, praying five times a day, paying the zakat tax (mandatory alms), and declaring that “Allah is god and Muhammad is his messenger.” (The fifth Islamic “pillar,” that one should visit Mecca once during his lifetime, was optional—one did it “if he could.”)
What changed? The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt, with the goal of making the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the sayings of Muhammad) the “sole reference point for...ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community...and state.”—Steven Kull. It took several generations, but by the end of the twentieth century, Islam—now aware of the bloodthirsty requirements of its own scriptures—had largely awakened from its state of peaceful religious torpor and had become the very personification of terror in the world—all because of what Muhammad had said and done fourteen centuries previously. The doctrine was so destructive, the Muslim Brotherhood, which advocated a return to true Islamic principles, was outlawed as a terrorist group in Egypt—an Islamic nation. (In contrast, when Christians had returned to their scriptures, back in the 18th and 19th centuries, the result was precisely the opposite: they became the very beacon of love and light Yahweh had intended for them to be all along, founding universities, hospitals, and missionary societies. It all says a lot about the radical difference between the Muslim and Christian scriptures—and who they worship.)
Real Muslims cannot safely be afforded the right to practice their religion in any civilized nation, for one simple reason: they are commanded by their scriptures to “wipe the infidels out to the last,” beginning with Jews and Christians. This defines Islam not as a religion in the ordinary sense, but as a bloodthirsty and acquisitive political philosophy, like Nazism or Communism (two doctrines that, like Islam, have pronounced “religious” overtones). A true Muslim (granted, not all of them are) cannot coexist with people of other faiths. They cannot assimilate into non-Muslim societies; they cannot cease their relentless jihad against the world. “Peace” is defined as the state of affairs that will exist only when the whole world has been enslaved or slaughtered under Islam’s sword. One cannot help to perceive the totalitarian undercurrent driving Islam’s resurgence. And be aware: Muslims (mostly through prodigious breeding) now comprise almost one fifth of the world’s entire population.
The other “religion” that doesn’t fit FDR’s “religious freedom” scenario is Atheism, whose “god” is actually man. The fact that it masquerades as “not a religion” (though it is certainly a faith-based belief system) has enabled Atheism to become, in fact, the State Religion of the United States—we who are so obsessively careful to keep church and state separate, as we should. (This is also the case in modern Europe and the Communist bloc.) The “prophet” of Atheism is Charles Darwin, whose mid-nineteenth century success in providing what seemed at first glance like a plausible alternative to the Biblical portrayal of our origins undermined the faith of millions. His theory of evolution, though riddled with unsupportable assumptions and unbridgeable scientific gaps, allowed people who didn’t like the idea of a holy God (to whom we owe our very existence) to convince themselves that the Bible was all a myth: problem solved. (I find it the height of irony that Darwin’s only earned degree was in theology.) The fact that the Genesis 1 creation account was delivered in symbolic language designed to introduce Yahweh’s plan for humanity’s redemption was ignored—or exploited. (It’s sort of like ridiculing Longfellow’s Song of Hiawatha for not being a straightforward treatise on Native American cultural anthropology.)
Here again, we see that the “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way” is a naïve and childish concept if it allows “religions” like Atheism and Islam to silence and squelch other expressions of faith in the pursuit of a twisted caricature of “tolerance.” The liberal-progressive mindset, however, doesn’t seem to understand such things.
(3) “Freedom from want—economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants.” It’s only natural to wish everyone to be peaceful and prosperous. Even the most cynical can calculate that “if my neighbor is wealthy, he will have no good reason to attack me.” And the so-called “golden rule,” which appears in some form in every culture on earth, states that if I wish to be comfortably secure (which is perfectly natural), I should desire no less for my neighbor. The problem (once again) is the liberal-progressive delusion that man is basically good—that he won’t steal, murder, and rape unless driven to his crime through desperation and despair.
God would disagree: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I, Yahweh, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but poverty (at least in the general, nationwide sense) is our own fault, the reaping of what we have sown—what we have chosen to sow. There is a reason Yahweh codified what we are to do (in the simplest of terms) in the Ten Commandments: in our fallen state, we naturally violate these principles all the time. God’s admonitions to Israel in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 made it clear that prosperity and peace would follow obedience to His Instructions; but rebellion against Him would result in poverty and conflict.
So FDR’s solution to the goal of “freedom from want” was (like liberals today) to redistribute the wealth—stealing from those who had, and giving it (well, some of it) to those who did not have. The Federal income tax for the highest earners during his administration was 94% of all income over a baseline amount. (Actually, he wanted to tax this income at $100!) We have already explored the pitfalls of socialism and capitalism: we now know that neither system works as intended (delivering the sort of outcome FDR sought) in the absence of reverence for God and love for those we meet in the world. The world will never experience freedom from want as long as these two conditions have not been met. If all of the world’s wealth were taken and redistributed evenly among the entire population, all seven and a half billion of us, everyone would be poor (at least in their own eyes). That’s why God had to go out of His way to forbid covetousness (Exodus 20:17).
(4) “Freedom from fear—a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor.” Again, it’s a terribly naïve solution, given the depravity of man. Wars have been fought between nations since there were nations—with whatever arsenals they could muster, right down to pointy sticks and slingshots. Better weapons don’t start wars—they win them, or with luck, prevent them. Even Yahshua—the Prince of Peace—suggested that His disciples ought to be prepared to defend themselves (see Luke 22:35-38). Of course, being armed to the teeth is not in itself a solution to anything—except perhaps as a deterrent to your neighbor’s aggression.
Ironically enough, Roosevelt himself presided over the largest military buildup in the history of humanity—not because he wanted to, but because he had to, in response to Japanese and German aggression that, if nothing else, proved that mankind is unable to live in peace without Christ. One could moan, “Oh, if only Germany had be stripped of its entire capacity for military aggression after World War I.” But they did this very thing, as a result of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The outcome of the “war to end all wars” (as WWI was known) kept Germany weapons free for all of fourteen years. FDR, of all people, should have recognized the futility of disarmament in a world where people hate each other. If people were perfect, of course, it would be a very good thing. But people aren’t perfect—far from it.
The principle applies to individuals as well as nations: disarmament invites aggression. While Adolph Hitler was rearming Germany’s military in the mid-1930s, he was also quietly disarming its Jewish citizens. Infowars.com reports: “Bernard E. Harcourt, writing for the University of Chicago Law School and Political Science Department, notes: ‘If you read the 1938 Nazi gun laws closely and compare them to earlier 1928 Weimar gun legislation—as a straightforward exercise of statutory interpretation—several conclusions become clear. First, with regard to possession and carrying of firearms, the Nazi regime relaxed the gun laws that were in place in Germany at the time the Nazis seized power. Second, the Nazi gun laws of 1938 specifically banned Jewish persons from obtaining a license to manufacture firearms or ammunition. Third, approximately eight months after enacting the 1938 Nazi gun laws, Hitler imposed regulations prohibiting Jewish persons from possessing any dangerous weapons, including firearms.’ The point was, Hitler had it in for the Jews, so he first disarmed them before carrying out his murderous campaign against them. And, unable to resist, millions died.”
There is a very good reason our founders made it the right of private citizens to keep and bear arms (in the Second Amendment of our Constitution). They wanted to ensure that any future American government would be utterly unable to perpetrate the sort of travesty in this nation that would happen in Hitler’s Germany, with the slaughter of six million Jews who had been rendered incapable of defending themselves against tyranny. And if Hitler’s tactics are as universal as they seem, whoever a government attempts to disarm defines who they consider their enemy—the one of whom they’re afraid. If that’s “everybody” then, well, you do the math.
The story is told (no doubt apocryphal) of a police officer who pulled over an elderly woman whose car had a burned-out taillight. As he had been trained, he asked her routinely if she had any weapons in the car. She replied that she had a Glock 9mm in a hip holster, a .22 on her ankle, a Desert Eagle 50-cal in the glove box, and a shotgun in the trunk—all with the proper permits, of course. Taken aback, the officer asked her, “Ma’am, what are you so afraid of?” She replied with a sweet smile, “Not a @#$%&* thing.” Like FDR, I could wish nobody had weapons, but in the present age, they’re apparently a necessary evil.
Abele’s conclusion: “The United States has rushed headlong into a Totalitarian, if not a Fascist, regime of government-corporate control of the culture and citizens, and we are only seeing the beginnings of it, in part because the Snowden revelations are incomplete, and in part because the government is not forthcoming with just how many and how far its actions go that contradict the Four Freedoms.” His point is well-taken: a totalitarian government knows that knowledge is power, so they try to restrict the dissemination of the truth, at least as far as their own oppressive actions are concerned. Hitler, through Goebbels’ propaganda machine, was reasonably successful at keeping Germany in the dark—until the B-17s showed up. But it’s a bit harder to keep secrets here in the information age. And even if solid information isn’t forthcoming, the rumor mill still works just fine.
“But with regard to this conclusion, just because our government has the trimmings of a democracy matters not, when the fact is that regardless of who is elected, the political bureaucrats put in office tend to the interests of the ruling regime of corporations and their desire for authoritarian control of all of the information of the culture and the citizens. This is what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg no doubt at least partially had in mind when she stated that if aggregate limits on individual political contributions are not limited, then ‘500 people will control American democracy.’ This makes U.S. elections a sham and a farce.
“Worse, it bodes ill for the immediate future, in that Totalitarian regimes are extraordinarily difficult to overthrow without a complete revolution in the mindset (i.e. worldview) of the vast majority of citizens. The obvious mindset or worldview change argued for in this article is that if we want to put the brakes on this bullet-train into headlong Fascism, we must reiterate and organize around these Four Freedoms adumbrated by Roosevelt. They are user-friendly, and nicely encapsulate the primary values for any true democracy. That change of mindset is worth re-committing ourselves to in the year to come. Unlike Obama’s empty campaign rhetoric, it is truly our only ‘hope’ for ‘change.’”
I would echo Robert Abele’s wake-up call, but I would caution against placing all of our “eggs” of hope in the “basket” of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ridiculously naïve “Four Freedoms,” at least, this side of the Millennium. From where I sit, in fact, the very mindset that produced these four goals is responsible in large part for the plunge toward socialistic totalitarianism (what Abele labels Fascism) that our nation (and world) is experiencing. If we are counting on the “innate goodness of man” to make things right in the world—providing freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—then we are doomed to disappointment, for the human race is fundamentally lost, fallen, corrupt, and sinful, even if some of us are redeemed through God’s grace.
It is a terrible thing to live under a totalitarian regime ruled by such corrupt people, though most people throughout history have had to do just that, to one extent or another. It seems worse in recent days, I suppose, because today’s tyrants have better, more intrusive technology—Nero had no idea what was going on down in the catacombs beneath the streets of Rome. The interesting thing is, his intended victims, the Christians he was persecuting, used the most advanced “technology” conceivable in their fight for survival—prayer: a powerful wireless connection to the Creator of the universe, unlimited in bandwidth and faster than light-speed in connectivity. Of course, Yahweh already knew the innermost secrets of the tyrants He allowed to rule for a time, as well as the plight of His people, but He likes to get “sit-reps” anyway—timely communication from the battle’s front lines, so to speak. That being said, the “technology” of prayer is about to receive an upgrade, a quantum leap in functionality, making even the sophisticated surveillance and enforcement technology of today’s tyrants look positively crude by comparison.
What am I talking about? Long before our day (or Nero’s, or Nimrod’s for that matter), Yahweh had already ordained that there would come a time when He would personally reign over the earth. The “Sabbath Principle” laid down in the creation account revealed (if we had understood its symbolic significance) that mankind would have six thousand years to work things out among ourselves, and in which to choose to love—or reject—the God who made us. After that would come a “seventh day,” a final Millennium in which “totalitarianism” would be seen and experienced in a whole new light. Think about it: what will happen when God Incarnate rules the earth—the One in whom all authority has been vested, in whom all power resides, and in whom limitless knowledge of what men are doing and thinking is a constant real-time reality? How does that prospect square with the perfect, unlimited liberty we’ve been promised?
It seems we may have some hurdles to get over here. We’ve grown used to the idea (through bitter experience) that totalitarian or authoritarian governments are, by definition, bad things. This, of course, is because fallen, evil men have always been in charge, to whatever extent they could manage. It is said that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And that’s true, where men are concerned. But what would happen (or should I say, what will happen) when He who exercises absolute power is uncorrupted and incorruptible—when unlimited power is wielded in perfect love?
That very eventuality is the climax of prophetic scripture: Yahshua the Messiah will return to us and rule Planet Earth with a rod of iron. If we were talking about anybody else (like, for instance, the coming Antichrist), that would be a very bad thing, but in the unique and final case of the Messiah’s government, we’ll find that, for the first time in human history, power blesses, and absolute power blesses absolutely! The prophet Isaiah reveals the stunning truth about the world’s ultimate “totalitarian regime.” He says, “For unto us a Child is born; unto us a Son is given. And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Human tyrants invariably have their “jack-booted thugs” to enforce the will of the state: Nero had his legions and Pretorian Guard, Hitler had his Brownshirts and SS, and Obama had Acorn, the unions, his IRS agents, and EPA regulators. But what will Christ have? If His is the “ultimate totalitarian regime,” how will he keep law and order among the Millennial mortals (still fallen sinners, though redeemed by the blood of the lamb—at least that first generation) and still maintain love and peace throughout the world? Are these things not fundamentally antithetical to each other? Perhaps they seem to be in a world run by fallen men (who are in turn pushed from behind by the prince of darkness). But Yahshua’s rule will be just, fair, and conducive to perfect love among all men. On the “macro” level, His own presence will set the tone—and the standard. But what about individual relationships—the enforcement of perfect peace on the “micro” level, one on one?
Ready for another epiphany? I believe that the raptured and resurrected saints—now inhabiting immortal bodies like that of the risen Christ—will be responsible for “policing” the world (though I’d characterize it as more of a “mentoring” role). Did not Yahshua inform his disciples that they would judge the twelve tribes of Israel? (See Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:30.) And did not the four Living Beings and Twenty-four Elders that John saw in his heavenly vision (Revelation 5:10) reveal that the resurrected saints would be kings and priests who will reign on the earth? But unlike Christ, we were once sinners, under the curse of Adam’s fall. Are we not therefore corrupt, thus unqualified to wield the power of our King and God upon the earth? No, not anymore, for one simple (though amazing) reason: in the resurrection, we will no longer be corrupt. Paul explains: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:50-52) Now that’s “hope and change” I can get behind.
So how does all of this compare to the best of human government—that theoretically encapsulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms?” It won’t be a democracy (or even a republic), since “one man plus God is a majority.” Christ’s rule will be absolute and unequivocal.
First, FDR longs for “freedom of speech and expression,” but that’s what got us into trouble in the first place, as far back as the Garden of Eden—the knowledge and dissemination of evil (though “good” was never a problem). During the Millennium, people will not be free to express hatred, or rebellion, or enticement to sin. It seems likely (though it isn’t spelled out) that the Immortal Saints will be there to offer timely “course corrections” whenever such errors pop up, as they surely will. Love and edification will be taught and encouraged; animosity and oppression will not. If that sounds like repression to you, you probably won’t be there.
Second, “freedom of worship” will be superseded by a palpable reality, the tangible presence of God Incarnate. Reverence of false gods, or no God, for that matter, will be rendered a logical impossibility. With the reigning Messiah among us, there will be no question of whom to worship. Yahweh says, “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath. He shall say, ‘Surely in Yahweh I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, and all shall be ashamed who are incensed against Him.’” (Isaiah 45:22-24) Fine-tuned in light of the resurrection of Christ, that sentiment would read: “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11) So religion—man’s systematic search for God—will be rendered obsolete, for Christ is Immanuel: God with us.
FDR does a bit better with his remaining two “freedoms.” The third concept, “freedom from want,” will become a reality during the Millennial Kingdom, perhaps for the first time since our parents left the Garden. It will begin in Israel, and spread out from there to all the world in response to their reverence for the Messiah-King: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yes, Yahweh will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.” (Psalm 85:10-12) “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says Yahweh, ‘When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed. The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.’” (Amos 9:13) I should point out, however, that whereas Roosevelt thought freedom from want could be achieved by taxing the rich and redistributing the booty to the poor, Christ does it by blessing the earth and its people so bountifully that no one who honors Him will ever lack for any good thing. I trust you can perceive the difference.
Fourth, FDR’s “freedom from fear” was predicated on disarming the world—a tactic that cannot succeed (as he himself discovered) as long as evil men are allowed to “express themselves” in the world. But under Messiah’s reign, “Yahweh shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people. They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4, cf. Micah 4:3) As we saw above, war has become ridiculously expensive (not that it was ever anything but a colossal waste of money). Imagine the financial benefit to be gained (never mind the human consequences) by eliminating war from the repertoire of human endeavors. What will it take to pull it off? Nothing short of the ultimate totalitarian rule—in the hands of the Son of God.
Unlike so many of the “doomsday” factors we can perceive converging upon the fourth decade of the twenty-first century, no one can see the reign of Christ approaching. Rather, it will come upon the world unexpectedly and suddenly, like a thief in the night. The only reason we believers know it’s coming is that it was prophesied in holy writ—in so many places and so many ways it can’t be ignored by anyone familiar with the Bible. What we can see coming is the trend toward totalitarian human government—more and more power being wielded by fewer and fewer hands. Personal freedom is being attacked on every side, a little here, a little there, like a house slowly being devoured by termites. How ironic it is that perfect liberty will only become a reality under the most totalitarian government of all—the coming thousand-year reign of Yahshua the Messiah.
Until then, we are faced with an ever diminishing degree of freedom. It is being taken away from us because we have not used our liberty responsibly: we have, for all intents and purposes, asked to be imprisoned for our own safety or comfort. Part of it is laziness: lions in a zoo don’t have to go through the tiresome and dangerous exercise of hunting wildebeests or water buffaloes. Part of it is irrational fear: we’re afraid of people whom we think are more evil than we are, so we outsource our protection to hired government thugs. Part of it is greed: half of us pay no taxes, accepting more and more government assistance (paid for by the other half of the populace) in exchange for granting more power to those holding the purse strings. But all of it is due to a failure to trust Yahweh our Creator to provide our needs, our security, and our liberties.
Author Ayn Rand often described the character of the days in which we now find ourselves: “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the state of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force.” She also said, “When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion; when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing; when you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors; when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you; when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed.”
Doomed it is, Ms. Rand. But we are not without hope. The triumph of evil in this world will not be its end, but merely the end of the beginning.
The Trend Toward Globalism
Many have dreamed of it, and a few even attempted to achieve it—metaphorically, at least: a worldwide government, a kingdom of kingdoms encompassing all of humanity under one all-powerful ruler. Nimrod tried it, as did Nebuchadnezzar II, who was quite accurately called “a king of kings” by Yahweh’s prophet Daniel. Alexander of Macedon is said to have wept when he perceived that there were no more worlds to conquer (a sentiment that, of course, fell somewhat short of reality, even though he had been spectacularly successful). There is no indication that Adolph Hitler would have been satisfied with Europe, Russia, and North Africa had he been successful in consolidating his gains: he had his eye set on the whole world, and he had no intention of stopping until somebody stopped him.
But the Bible speaks prophetically of two truly global empires, appearing one right after the other, that will be established during “the last days.” Two “world leaders” will actually achieve what so many have tried—and failed—to do in the past: rule the entire planet. These leaders’ personalities, agendas, and methods are as different as night is from day, and yet they have one or two things in common. It would behoove us to determine what these points of commonality are, for the trend in our world today is toward globalization—the subjection of peoples and nations to increasingly large and powerful regional federations and worldwide organizations, wresting control away from individuals and local governments and placing it in the hands of centralized powers.
First, the Antichrist (or “the beast from the sea”), reigning during the Tribulation (and specifically, during the second half) is prophesied to reign uncontested over a worldwide empire: “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:4-8) Two Greek words describe the Antichrist’s domain here. “Earth” is the Greek ge, meaning earth or land—with emphasis on the inhabited parts of it (or the inhabitants themselves). “World” is kosmos, literally denoting “an ordered system” (such as our planet). The clear implication is that this “man of sin” will exert sovereign control over the whole enchilada.
But then, we read of a second world leader taking the reins of the whole planet. “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14) Or, “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15) This, of course, is Yahshua, Yahweh’s Anointed One, who will rule Earth for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4) and then continue His reign over a new heaven and new earth for all of eternity. If my arithmetic is correct, this would beat the Antichrist’s pitiful little three and a half years of blasphemous brutality by what mathematicians call “a lot.”
But as I said, there are several parallels between the reigns of the son of perdition and the Son of God (which only makes sense, because the former is a counterfeit of the latter).
(1) In order to wield authority over the whole world, one needs to be “worshiped,” as if he were a deity—i.e., be genuinely popular, receiving unfeigned universal acclaim and obeisance. He’d have to be (or at least pretend to be) what the Jews would call a “Messiah.” In other words, one can’t really expect to achieve this supreme status through force of arms, intimidation, or pressure alone. In the end, he’d have to persuade the vast majority of mankind to choose him as their leader—even to hail him as their “god.” There is just too much latent free will (or moral independence) endemic in the human spirit (thanks to Yahweh’s design) to enslave the entire human race through brute force alone. To achieve worldwide domination in the absence of compulsion, the leader (whichever one you’re talking about) will have to be popularly acclaimed, chosen through the people’s own volition, whether wrong or right. (That being said, of course, Yahshua will rule simply because it is His right as God Incarnate.)
How does the present push toward global governance reflect this principle? When considering the “worship” factor, one must factor in who is doing the pushing—for there are several competitors in the field at the moment. Secular humanists (a.k.a. atheists) worship man—that is, their “deity” is not what most people would consider a “god” at all in the ordinary sense. This is precisely how the Antichrist is described by Daniel: “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things.” (Daniel 11:36-38) So today’s secular humanists are, ironically enough, preparing the world for the Antichrist’s “religion.”
It’s no particular secret that there is a group of powerful and influential people who have been working behind the scenes for a couple of centuries to shape the world’s agenda to their liking (and for their profit). Conspiracy theorists like to call them “the Illuminati,” though the Bible uses a broader, more inclusive term: Babylon (of which the Illuminati seem to be a significant component). Their goals are more or less in line with garden variety secular humanists, but their “gods” are not mankind in general (in lieu of an Almighty Creator-God), but they themselves—again, an echo of what is revealed concerning the coming son of perdition. In their case, they covet what “a god” presumably has: all power, wealth, resources, and control. It was my conclusion (you may recall) that these behind-the-scenes puppet masters will recruit and establish the Antichrist as a focal point for the world’s worship, envisioning him to be their own front-man or figurehead: the final puzzle piece in their scheme to achieve total world domination. The Bible hints that they will be as surprised as anyone when “their boy” turns on them, and with Satan’s help, takes over their entire scam. The prophet reports: “When the transgressors [every permutation of Babylon] have reached their fullness, a king shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power. He shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive. He shall destroy the mighty.” (Daniel 8:23-24) And John says (of the Antichrist’s allies), “These will hate the harlot [financial Babylon—the Illuminati, if you will], make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast.” (Revelation 17:16-17) Oops. If you’re going to operate a puppet, make sure he can’t cut his own strings and strangle you with them.
The wild card, however, is Islam. Islamists envision taking over the world by breeding themselves into a worldwide majority. They (i.e., nominal Muslims) already number one out of every five souls on the planet—and they’re gaining ground in the demographics department. This is the height of irony, for several reasons. First, Muhammad taught (as recorded in the Hadith of al-Bukhari) that the total capacity of paradise is only 70,000 souls, which means, according to their own scriptures, that the vast majority of Muslims will of necessity be consigned to eternal hell fire (the only other eternal destiny in Islamic theology).
Second, liberals and progressives (whose own agenda, as we have seen, involves reducing the earth’s population by 90-95% in order to “save the planet”) generally support Muslim political causes (like the “plight” of Palestinian Arabs who want to seize the land of Israel for themselves). The alternative, after all, would be to align themselves with the Judeo-Christian agenda, which is an anathema to the liberal mindset because it asserts that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong. So in reality, the liberals’ chosen cause celebre is their own worst nightmare, though they can’t seem to see it.
Third, the worship of Allah presupposes adopting the mindset and method of Muhammad (again, as revealed in Islam’s own scriptures)—in which progress was achieved through plunder and expansion, not hard work and creative problem solving. Thus if they ever do achieve their dream of world dominance, they will find themselves with no one left from whom to steal: the parasite will have finally killed its host, and will subsequently be able to extend its life only by attacking itself—geopolitical cannibalism.
Don’t be surprised that the worship of the world—that which will eventually be brought into focus on the Antichrist—is at war with itself. Both (or should I say, all) of its permutations are driven by Satan’s agenda—the destruction of man. The devil apparently doesn’t really care which “religion” wins, for any display of hatred among men is a win for him.
(2) In order to be seen as a “Messiah,” the world leader will have to offer (or be perceived as offering) what virtually every sane person wants—peace, prosperity, security, and freedom—and have some plausible scheme for delivering on his promises. The desire for these things is hard-wired into the collective human soul, for we are made in the image of God. It seems to me, the reason they’re so rare in today’s world is that rather than trusting their Creator, most people assume that in order to procure these things for “me,” they must be taken away from “thee.” Marx called it a “class struggle.” God calls it covetousness, born of unbelief. So as the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar: the Antichrist will tap into the same universal human longings that compel people to choose Yahshua. But beware: one of them is lying to you.
This second factor—the universal desire for peace, prosperity, security, and freedom—is also pushing us toward global governance today. It is reflected in the somewhat desperate attempts of governments throughout the world to give their citizens the appearance of what they want without actually doing what it would take to solve their problems—something that would involve the government getting out of the way and letting people live their lives: horrors! Although the historical pendulum swings back and forth, the current trend worldwide is bigger, more intrusive government, the formation of regional or cultural alliances with ever-increasing authority over their member nations, and the surrender of individual national prerogatives to overarching coalitions—most notably the United Nations. So the trick is convincing one’s citizens that it’s all for the common good—the quintessential socialist mindset.
In practice, the process of appearing to “give the people what they want” invariably involves counterfeiting values. People want “peace.” So governments give them the absence of war—at least in their own backyards. Wars that are being fought are marketed with patriotic-sounding phrases such as “peace keeping” or as “defending freedom in the world.” The citizens gradually begin to view war as something that happens to other people in god-forsaken places on the other side of the world—not here at home. Eventually, even when your own nation’s troops are fighting and dying, it is seen not as a personal tragedy by most, but more like a TV miniseries—distant, detached, and not quite real.
People want “prosperity,” so governments make a show of taking wealth away from the relatively rich and redistributing it to the relatively poor. No one seems to realize that the poor haven’t gotten any richer in the process—or that the net effect is that the poor no longer have any incentive to do whatever the rich did in order to get rich in the first place. Meanwhile, the uber-rich live pretty much as they always did, while the productive though struggling middle class bears the brunt of the government sponsored larceny.
People want to feel secure, so they give governments the authority to protect them from their neighbors with a myriad of police agencies with overlapping and conflicting jurisdictions. What they fail to realize (until it’s too late) is that even after their local, city, county, state, federal, and international law enforcement and surveillance agencies have completely permeated their culture, they still won’t have experienced any particular improvement in personal security, and indeed, their police will have put them under a microscope (which, while not necessarily evil in theory, can be in practice).
People want “freedom,” but not at the expense of their security, prosperity, or peace. There is a fine line, after all, between liberty and anarchy. So they accept a trade-off—a little less freedom in exchange for a little more security. It seems to me they should have heeded the words of America’s most erudite Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin: “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” The current longing for a risk-free society is to my mind not only doomed to failure, it betrays a fundamental unwillingness to trust God for our well-being: it is in itself a “false god.”
Think about it: an animal in a zoo has total security, but no freedom. An animal in the wild has no security, but total freedom. In a recent survey, nine out of ten animals said they’d rather be free than secure. Why? Because their Creator is infinitely more trustworthy than any zookeeper. What do animals know that we don’t? Or think of it this way: in prison, the most “secure” place you can be is in solitary confinement, but prisoners still see “the hole” as punishment, not reward.
(3) I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or a logical necessity, but it seems that both of these prophesied worldwide leaders will step into power vacuums (created, to some extent, by their own actions). The Antichrist will ascend to the throne of Earth only after the political and financial infrastructure of the world has been utterly decimated through war, famine, disease, “natural disaster,” anarchy, and his own machinations—all of which will take place after the church has been removed from the scene (and with it the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit).
But three and a half years of administration by the Antichrist (and the demon who indwells him) will leave the earth infinitely worse off than it was when he took over, as bad as that was. The only thing capable of preventing the total extinction of the human race will be the timely return of Yahweh’s Messiah, Yahshua—who will subsequently cast the Antichrist into the Lake of Fire, and then eliminate those who followed him. But this termination of the “goats” (see Matthew 25:31-46) won’t merely be an incentive for the “sheep” to toe the new line from that point on—for the simple reason that all of these survivors of the Great Tribulation will already have made their choices as to which “shepherd” they wished to follow: that’s what defines them as being members of one group or the other.
The trend toward global governance today explains this “power vacuum” phenomenon, to some extent. As more and more authority is siphoned off from individuals and local government and transferred to the higher orders, the power structure becomes top heavy, to the point that if the government “loses its head” (so to speak) civilization runs the risk of being plunged into anarchy and chaos. As long as humans are human (i.e., fallen), the more power resides at the top, the more unstable a government will be, the more inefficient it is, and the more incompetent or venal its functionaries become. That’s why America’s founders tried to limit the power of the people running our federal government. Well, it worked for a little while.
That’s also way God designed human civilization (if the Torah is any indication). Volition and responsibility resided primarily at the individual level. A man’s circumstances and behavior were between him and his God, with the occasional assistance of the priests and Levites. If a problem arose, the local community addressed it, following Yahweh’s guidelines. Only in dire circumstances or in times of joyous celebration were the tribal or national levels of government (such as they were) to be brought into play. Under normal (or should I say, “ideal”) circumstances, in fact, the “nation” was in view only when all of Israel came together (three times a year) to keep Yahweh’s holy appointments—at Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles.
Compare that to the top-heavy hierarchy toward which we—the whole world—is headed. As options and accountability are removed from individuals and placed in the hands of middle-level bureaucrats (who are answerable to the powerful elite class occupying positions of power above them), incompetence, graft, and inertia become the rules. For the bureaucrats, serving the public—doing the work of seeing to it that civilization runs smoothly—all too often takes on a secondary role. Job Number One becomes “covering one’s assets.” If they perceive themselves as serving those “above them” on the org chart, rather than the ordinary citizens who form the base of the power pyramid, they will find themselves doing the wrong things, for the wrong reasons. This is equally true whether one is the local dog catcher or the Attorney General of the nation.
One telling example: the TSA employs over 58,000 people, ostensibly to keep folks “safe” when traveling. But a recent article stated that while four hundred of their agents had been caught stealing from the public they were sworn to protect, not one terrorist had been apprehended. Stories could be multiplied ad infinitum about “public servants” serving only themselves (or worse, their job superiors) while acting as bullies and thieves toward individual citizens. This is not only an American phenomenon, of course—it happens everywhere Yahweh’s law of love has been abandoned. Power corrupts.
Just because it’s a bad idea, there’s no reason to suppose that the powers that rule the earth (both on the thrones and behind them) will not continue to push for overt global governance in the hands of a small, powerful elite class. Whether you prefer to call it a one-world government or the New World Order, whether it will end up being administered by the United Nations or some other global entity, this sort of concentration of power has been the recurring dream of megalomaniacs for millennia. It is as yet unclear to what extent they will succeed. But even if they achieve their fondest goals, their dream regime will be swallowed whole by the Antichrist in (by my watch) the spring of 2030.
To the casual observer, it would appear that the current trend toward global government is merely a natural outgrowth of the phenomenon of globalization, which Wikipedia defines (somewhat pedantically) as “the process of integration across world-space arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture. Advances in transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, including the rise of the telegraph and its posterity the Internet, are major factors in globalization, generating further interdependence of economic and cultural activities.” Interesting: that’s more or less what the angel said to Daniel when his head was swimming after having been given prophetic insights that wouldn’t be comprehensible for another twenty-five hundred years—our time: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4) According to this, the “time of the end” is now upon us. Only recently—during the past few decades—has technology caught up with man’s lust for power.
But I would suggest that, appearances aside, the desire for global governance is not merely an artifact of better communication and transportation, nor of the world’s newfound “interdependence of economic and cultural activities.” I believe, rather, that it has been on Satan’s agenda from the very beginning, when he said in his heart, “I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14) It is only the technological revolution of the past half-century that has given fallen man the opportunity to make Satan’s dream a reality. Good news; bad news.
In every conceivable way, the world has become a “smaller place.” As nation-states become corrupt and begin to disintegrate (morally, ethically, spiritually, and financially), while at the same time “many run to and fro” (whether physically or electronically), it is only natural to ponder why the world’s people can’t seem to see eye to eye on such matters as wealth and finance, security, trade, agriculture, the environment, human rights, property rights, gender inequality, health care, population control, education, deforestation, air, water, and land quality, energy issues, and border security. The essence of globalization is the idea that people in America face more or less the same challenges as they do in France, or Kenya, or Sri Lanka. And to some extent, this is true today, as never before.
But that begs the question: must everyone think and act the same way about how to solve those challenges? Can one code of law work equally well for everyone—Christian, Muslim, Humanist, and Hindu? Must all national borders be abolished in an attempt to impose a common culture upon the citizens of the world—a sort of global pax romana? Should all wealth be spread evenly across the globe—or is it only opportunity that should be made equal? Are individual responsibility and initiative still valid factors in determining someone’s level of prosperity? Does individual free will still mean anything in this world?
It should be obvious (but apparently it isn’t) that making the world’s culture, politics, and opportunity artificially homogeneous while men are still constrained by their sinful natures is a formula for catastrophe. Of course, that is not to say the Antichrist won’t attempt to do that very thing. But all of these factors will have to be reconsidered in a new light when King Yahshua assumes the throne of planet Earth—starting over (as in the days of Noah) with a clean slate, a world in which no one is in rebellion against his Creator.
Technically, “global governance” is not the same thing as global government. But the former inexorably leads toward the latter. Global governance may be defined as “the complex of formal and informal institutions, mechanisms, relationships, and processes between and among states, markets, citizens and organizations, both inter- and non-governmental, through which collective interests on the global plane are articulated, duties, obligations and privileges are established, and differences are mediated through educated professionals.”—Thomas G. Weiss and Ramesh Thakur (in The UN and Global Governance: An Idea and Its Prospects). That is, global governance is comprised of laws, rules, or regulations imposed by an elite social class upon everyone else. It is intended for use on a global scale—whether or not an actual worldwide government is in place. Nation-states are being asked (or compelled) to surrender some of their sovereign prerogatives to a conclave of foreign powers who have come to a consensus on certain issues of global importance—whether they like it or not, and whether or not the world’s collective opinion is in their individual best interest. It is structured to look like democracy on a global scale, but that’s an illusion: the elite “educated professionals” are calling the shots and manipulating the votes.
Of course, anyone who knows the first thing about how human nature works in the real world will realize that such “laws” without an enforcement provision will be taken as mere suggestions by anyone who stands to be disadvantaged by them. Force is the key to compliance. That’s why the United Nations gained a foothold in the world where its predecessor the League of Nations failed. As Muhammad was fond of saying, “He who fears will mind.” In the end, “Let’s all just get along” is never taken quite as seriously as “Get along, or we’ll kill you.”
At issue is how much actual authority the global governing body (e.g., the United Nations) should have. Over what “internal” concerns do they feel justified in exercising hegemony? Rare is the bureaucrat who feels that most decisions should be left in the hands of individual citizens. Rather, they tend to believe (and I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here) that a wise and benevolent central authority—them—is in a better position to know what’s best for everyone concerned. The cynic, of course, would note that the most horrendous crimes in human history have been perpetrated in the name of “the common good.” Humanity could be perfect, were it not for all the humans.
Perhaps the most obvious (or at least the most widely recognized) issue is the environment, which after all, doesn’t respect political boundary lines. Air pollution generated in China eventually floats through American skies; radioactive waste water pouring into Japanese territorial waters from the damaged Fukushima power plant will ultimately poison the entire Pacific Ocean. But assuming that an authoritarian central governing body had the technological capability of preventing such problems (which is something you can’t really assume), the question remains: how much weight should they be able to throw around? One could decree, “No more coal-fired electricity generation—it’s bad for the air,” but if compliance with the wishes of the international green police sent your own civilization back to the eighteenth century, or caused thirty percent of your populace to freeze to death, you may come to consider the price of obedience “too high.”
I’m not saying the globalists don’t have a point, however. We have already seen (in a previous chapter) that fully half of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide generation in the world today is due to the clearing of rainforests and re-tasking the land. The reason nothing is being done to stop the practice is that it’s not in the short term interests of the individual governments who are allowing it within their borders. The rape of the rainforests is sometimes the only thing preventing starvation and/or revolution.
Of course, this whole line of reasoning depends on faith in a long string of questionable (or flat-out wrong), assumptions: (1) that there is no caring Creator-God monitoring the health of the planet’s ecosphere; (2) that the planet is warming, melting the polar ice caps, causing the seas to rise; (3) that man-caused atmospheric CO2 is causing most of this global warming; and (4) that in order to save the world, the humans must be prevented from polluting, whether through total governmental control or through genocide. We must save the human race, even if it entails killing most of the humans. It’s for their own good. As Jeff Rothschild, Illuminati darling and Facebook co-founder, put it, “In order to finalize the New World Order process, we need a Third World War to exterminate 90% of the global population. This will resolve the problem of human population, as well as put an end to civil disobedience. We will then proceed to automize industry and create a globalized feudalist system in the name of saving our planet.”
Of course, global governance (or for that matter, global government) means different things to different people. The secular humanist elites envision a sort of green utopia, in which a benign, all-powerful central government protects and provides for everyone’s needs, in exchange for total, unquestioned obedience. Islam’s ideal world, surprisingly enough, has many of the same goals—total, unquestioned submission to an all-powerful central government (called a Caliphate). The one obvious difference, of course is that instead of secular government, everybody must bow before Allah and his messenger—or at least the people who claim to represent them, since Muhammad is dead, and Allah is non-existent.
Surprisingly, those goals are roughly parallel to what Christians someday hope to see: the unquestioned worldwide reign of our King of kings, Yahshua the Messiah, ruling over the nations with a rod of iron. (Faithful Jews hold the same hope, but they don’t realize who the Messiah is—yet.) But on second thought, this shouldn’t be “surprising” at all, for the atheist’s New World Order and Islam’s revived Caliphate are both counterfeits—satanic imitations of the Messiah’s prophesied Millennial kingdom age. We should know by now that Satan doesn’t have an original bone in his body.
As so often happens, we can learn something valuable by studying the replicas and the real thing side by side (not the least of which is that not all utopian schemes are created equal). The similarities are fascinating. (1) All three systems (and leaders) are prophesied in the Bible. (2) All three are said to have aspirations of ruling the world, and will succeed, to varying degrees. (3) All three are said to be led by charismatic individuals, the atheists’ Antichrist, the Muslims’ Mahdi, or “twelfth imam” (known in scripture as Gog), and Yahweh’s Messiah, the risen Yahshua. (4) All three are expected by their followers to reign in Jerusalem. No wonder Zechariah called it a “cup of trembling.”
Global government is coming; it merely remains to be seen who will be “in charge” of it. I think you know where I stand on that issue—not that any of us gets to vote on the ultimate disposition of our planet. The “back door” to a one-world government will be global governance—the insidious surrender of a people’s sovereignty over small issues, one by one, nation by nation, to some ostensibly benign collective entity like the United Nations. If Satan has his way, the human race will wake up some morning in the near future to discover that we have no meaningful freedoms left. Our idiot leaders will have sold them for a bowl of red porridge, following in the footsteps of Esau, who despised his birthright, earning himself the dubious distinction of being the only man in the Bible whom God ever said He “hated.”
Once that event horizon has been reached, one little puff of wind will be enough to collapse this house of cards we call human civilization. Illuminati “made man” David Rockefeller warned us, “We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis, and the nations will accept the New World Order.” In these last few chapters, we have reviewed scores of factors that could easily become “the right major crisis,” and all of them are poised to precipitate their various calamities—during or before the fourth decade of the twenty-first century.
My guess, however, is that the linchpin of the human experience will turn out to be the Spirit-indwelled church, and the “right major crisis” destined to bring the New World Order to center stage will be the rapture, the “catching away” of Christ’s followers, both alive and dead, to meet Him in the air.
We won’t be mourned. But will we even be missed?
(First published 2014)