A time is coming when the dollar will collapse and the conditions will be set for a global economy under the control of the Antichrist.” These are the words of US preacher Howard Green on the Concerning the Times website. Is he right? Are we about to see the economy go kerplunk as a sign of the end times?
Green—as well as other students of Bible prophecy—point to verses in the book of Revelation that support a bearish view of Earth’s final days. Here’s one from the passage about the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
“I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Revelation 6:5, 6).
This text appears to say that a time is coming when it will take a full day’s wage to buy a loaf of bread. The prices in this text are up to 16 times higher than grain prices quoted by the Roman consul, Cicero, who lived in the same era as John the Revelator, the author of Revelation. So can it be that a time is coming when we can’t even afford to eat?
Some of you may be saying, “Finally, a diet plan that works!” But I find the idea of a financial meltdown particularly worrying. I’m not sure why. It almost seems silly to be concerned about the economy if the whole planet is imploding. While Armageddon is being waged with weapons of mass destruction and flaming brimstone is falling from the sky, should I really complain if my ATM card doesn’t work?
My concern is that I depend on money for so much. I need it for food and shelter and to pick up a roll of breath mints when they are required for social interaction. The idea of losing my purchasing power makes the future seem frightening.
The nightmare evokes images from the Weimar Republic in Germany, when people had to take wheelbarrows full of cash just to buy a few groceries. During this time, a student at Freiburg University ordered a cup of coffee at a cafe. The price on the menu was 5000 marks. He ordered a cup and later requested another one. When the bill came, it was for 14,000 marks. When he complained, the waiter said, “If you want to save money and you want two cups of coffee, you should order them both at the same time.”
If we experienced hyperinflation on the same scale as pre-war Germany, by the end of next year a loaf of bread would cost $2.5 billion. Fortunately that kind of thing doesn’t happen any more, right?
Um, I’m afraid it does happen. In the previous decade, Zimbabwe experienced such insane inflation that at one point the government decided to just drop 10 zeros off their currency. Nurses quit going to the hospital because the bus fare for a single trip to work cost an entire week’s wages.
Brazil, one of the world’s 10 largest economies, experienced economic chaos beginning in the 1980s. The currency changed five times and inflation rates moved above 1000 per cent. Money lost value so quickly that it was impossible to save up for large consumer goods. In order to buy a car, Brazilians would form a lottery pool. Every month, all the people in the pool would contribute the money needed to buy one car. Then the group would draw a name to see who would take delivery that month.
In all these cases, people without property found their savings wiped out and life became a desperate struggle to survive. Scary, right? But before you start sewing gold bars into your underwear, let’s look at some more Bible prophecies.
Revelation 13:16, 17 says that a beast power “forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” This text indicates that a time will come when only those who worship the beast of Revelation* will be able to participate in the economy at all.
There was a time when the idea of stopping someone from buying or selling seemed ludicrous. After all, if they had cash, they could walk into any store and get what they wanted.
But times have changed. Your salary goes directly to banks electronically. We make purchases with credit cards and debit cards. In some parts of the world, money moves back and forth over mobile phones. To block certain people from making purchases tomorrow would require only a slight variation on today’s credit rating system.
So how do you prepare for such a scenario? Fill the basement with canned corn? Exchange your cash for collectible figurines? Move to a deserted island with the least annoying members of your family? There are many people making a living by telling you how to prepare for an economic apocalypse. You could give one of them a try. But attempting to outsmart the future is akin to beating the odds on the pokies.
Larry Burkett, as respectable a financial counsellor as you could find, published a book called The Coming Economic Earthquake. He predicted that government and personal debts would soon sink the United States economy. That book came out 25 years ago. There’ve been trembles since then, but no economic earthquake. Burkett didn’t even live to see the recession of 2008-9.
So what does the Bible say will happen next? We don’t know the specifics. The one thing we can know for sure is that a time will come when those of us who depend on money for our security will be disappointed.
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days” (James 5:1–3).
I know I place a little too much confidence in having money in the bank. My confidence would be better placed in my heavenly Father. We can rest assured that nothing can happen to the economy that will prevent God from caring for His children. There’s a Bible story of how God sent ravens to feed His prophet Elijah during a famine (1 Kings 17:1–6). Those kinds of miracles still happen.
In the book Over & Over Again! Shirley Ann Munroe tells a story from her childhood. Her father had died from a ruptured appendix, so her mother studied to become a teacher in order to support her family. When they moved to California for her mother’s first job, they had only enough money to pay the removalists and the first month’s rent. They had no way of buying groceries during the month-long wait until her mother received her first pay cheque.
Munroe says her mother had a personal relationship with God. “Her responsibility was to make the service and honour of God supreme,” says Munroe. “He would do the rest.”
On the first day at their new home, the family knelt and prayed for bread. About an hour later, the doorbell rang. The postman had a special delivery letter that had been forwarded from their old address. It contained a cheque for an amount equal to two months’ salary!
The letter with the cheque explained that 40 years earlier, Mother’s father had loaned a farmer money for a team of horses and that debt had never been repaid. After the farmer died, his son discovered the promissory note and wanted to repay the family. God had used those circumstances to provide for a family at exactly the time when it was needed!
When it comes to the economy, the people who worry the most about its collapse are those who depend on it most fully. The people most concerned about a leak in the boat are the people on the boat. Those standing on solid ground have a different level of concern. As you look to the future, trust a Providence that you can depend on to the very end—whether or not your ATM card works.
* To learn more about the beast of Revelation and what the Bible has to say about the prophecy of the end times, go to www.hop.ec/secrets.