Pastors Report - 03 Jan 2020
Ending Financial Chaos Part 1

Ending Financial Chaos (Part 1)

" ... and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine." (Revelation 6:5,6)

It's natural to take the third horseman of Revelation – visible when Christ has opened the third seal – to simply indicate famine. But if we carefully read what it says, it is the price of food that is primarily being affected. A penny – translated from 'denarius', a Roman silver coin in NT times – was the day's wages of a working man (Matthew 20:2) and a single measure of wheat – from the Greek 'coinix' – being just sufficient for a day's allowance of bread for one person – leaving nothing over to feed wife, family or anyone else, unless they were to eat the barley, generally used for animal feed.

Two Possibilities:

There are basically two ways that such a position can come about: either the foodstuffs are exceedingly sparse due to crop failures – bad weather, natural disasters, warfare – or the value of money has become drastically debased. And both have happened on a number of occasions within even recent history. Just look at what actually took place early last century in Germany in 1923 when, for example, a 5 million Mark coin would have been worth $714.29 in the January of that year, but only around one thousandth of one cent just nine months later:

The victor nations in World War I decided to assess Germany for their costs of conducting the war against Germany. With no means of paying in gold or currency backed by reserves, Germany ran the presses, causing the value of the Mark to collapse. Between 1914 and the end of 1923 the German papiermark’s rate of exchange against the U.S. dollar plummeted from 4.2 mark/dollar to 4.2 trillion mark/dollar. The price of one gold mark (0.35842g gold weight) in German paper currency at the end of 1918 was two paper mark, but by the end of 1919 a gold mark cost 10 paper mark. This inflation worsened between 1920 and 1922, and the cost of a gold mark (or conversely the devaluation of the paper mark) rose from 15 to 1,282 paper mark. In 1923 the value of the paper mark had its worst decline. By July, the cost of a gold mark had risen to 101,112 paper mark, and in September was already at 13 million. On 30 Nov 1923 it cost 1 trillion paper mark to buy a single gold mark. ( wikipedia.org)

All you need to do is to change the words "pay their war debt" to the phrases, "prop-up the banks," and you have the present world situation in a nutshell. And yet can you imagine trying to function in the financial chaos that Germany went through – the stress of trying to feed your family from day to day?...

Germany went through its worst inflation in 1923. In 1922, the highest denomination was 50,000 marks. By 1923, the highest denomination was 100,000,000,000,000 (10 14) Marks. In December 1923 the exchange rate was 4,200,000,000,000 (4.2 × 10 12) Marks to 1 US dollar. In 1923, the rate of inflation hit 3.25 × 10 6 percent per month (prices double every two days). ( wikipedia.org)

Our Present Position:

Every lesson of history cries out that the value of our currency is not going to survive flooding the banks with cash that has absolutely nothing behind it except yet more debt. Yet the only human alternative appears to be acute financial depression greater than anything we have ever seen. This is why those in control are prepared to take such an enormous gamble, as we are now in the absurd position of a world-wide debt having reached "nearly 230 percent of the entire combined world's economy." ( dailymail.co.uk)

Washington (AFP) – A wave of debt in emerging and developing nations has grown faster and larger than in any period of the last five decades and could end with another crisis, the World Bank warned Thursday. And if the wave breaks, it could be more damaging since it would engulf private companies in addition to governments, at a time when economic growth is sluggish, according to a new report that covers four debt surges from 1970-2018.

"The size, speed and breadth of the latest debt wave should concern us all," World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement. "Clearly, it's time for course corrections," he added. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have been sounding the warning about growing global debt for years, but the latest report is even more stark and turned up the volume on its calls for governments to take steps to prevent a debt crisis.

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday said developing nations in Africa especially need to strike the right balance between financing development and a manageable debt level. The IMF reported that total global debt rose to $188 trillion at the end of 2018, equivalent to nearly 230 percent of the world's economy. ( news.yahoo.com)

And this incredible, destabilising inflationary curse has not just been something we can relegate to early last century and the German peoples:

In October 1923, Germany experienced a 29,500% hyperinflation (roughly 21% interest per day). Historically, this one-month inflation rate has only been exceeded three times: Yugoslavia, 313,000,000% (64.6% per day, January 1994); Zimbabwe, 79.6 billion% (98% per day, November 2008); and Hungary, 41.9 quadrillion% (207% per day, July 1946). ( wikipedia.org)

A Spiritual Problem:

As Mr Armstrong brings out in his January 1980 Plain Truth article "Prepare to greatly reduce your standard of Living", the real problem is the way we have been living. In this article he points out how the reasons for the blessings being removed from the English-speaking peoples of Ephraim and Manasseh are very much spiritual in nature when he says:

Our educational systems worshiped at the shrine of the false god of EVOLUTION, making it the foundational approach and basic CONCEPT upon which all KNOWLEDGE is based! Evolution is the atheist’s attempted explanation for the presence of a CREATION, without a CREATOR!

Our governments have been corrupt. Our business, industrial, economic and commercial systems have been shot through with deception, dishonesty, selfishness.

We have adopted the WAY OF LIFE of Satan – utter selfishness, lust and greed, envy and jealousy, competition in every walk of life – business, politics, sports, society – leading to violence and destruction! We have rebelled against the authority of GOD over us, worshiping the false gods of science, evolution, and greed. We have gone the WAY of SATAN! And Satan is the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4).

And now, FOR OUR OWN GOOD, an all-wise and all-loving God is about to PUNISH our nations, in order finally to bring us to HIM! ( The Plain Truth – January 1980)

We see this utterly selfish way of life exhibited in so many areas today – and certainly in the way the majority so often mismanage their finances. Many times people rack up debts by seeking to fill a 'hole' in their lives, that in truth can only be filled with a relationship with our Creator. But society is in ignorance of the existence of the true God, let alone the need to be in contact with Him. No amount of 'retail therapy' ...gadgets, fashion items, new cars or computer equipment will satisfy for long, so we reach for our credit cards and go on the hunt once more.

The Eventual Solution:

I hope you can now see just why – forty years ago – Mr Armstrong wrote the article Prepare to Greatly Reduce Your Standard of Living. But the thing I find incredibly interesting about the hyperinflation of the German mark, was what it actually was that stopped the problem. Here is how it is described within Wikipedia. Just notice the way the currency was eventually tied to something absolutely real -- the land:

"The Rentenmark replaced the Papiermark. Due to the economic crises in Germany after the Great War there was no gold available to back the currency. Therefore the Rentenbank, which issued the Rentenmark, mortgaged land and industrial goods worth 3.2 billion Rentenmark to back the new currency . The Rentenmark was introduced at a rate 1 Rentenmark = 1:10 12 (1,000,000,000,000) Papiermark, establishing an exchange rate of 1 United States dollar = 4.2 RM.

"The Rentenmark was only an intermediate currency and was not legal tender. It was, however, accepted by the population and effectively stopped the inflation. The Reichsmark became the new legal tender on 30 August 1924, equal in value to the Rentenmark.

"The monetary policy spearheaded by Hjalmar Schacht-the Central Banker-together with the fiscal policy of German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann and Finance Minister Hans Luther brought the inflation in Germany to an end.

"The Rentenbank continued to exist after 1924 and the notes and coins continued to circulate. The last Rentenmark notes were valid until 1948." ( wikipedia.org)

The reason this tie-up to the land is so interesting, is that this seems almost certainly what Jesus Christ is going to do on His return to this earth. He is a God who does not change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). And as the Eternal of the Old Testament He gave His Law to ancient Israel and declared, "(the land that grows) an homer of barley seed [shall be valued] at fifty shekels of silver" (Leviticus 27:16) This simple benchmark is almost certainly going to be one of the major keys to a prosperity unheard of in human times. Just imagine, a totally stable currency for 1,000 years! You can save money at the beginning of the Millennium, and know that it will have exactly the same purchasing power at the end. A child can be taught the value of money by saving for something worthwhile - and not have the wealth stolen from him by dishonest governments as the years go by. Imagine being able to accurately plan and know the purchasing power will remain the same for 2 years, 30 years, 400 years! What an incredible blessing!

  • The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
  • And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure. (Isaiah 33:5,6)
Our Personal Responsibility:

In the next Pastor's Report we will deal with this and other associated laws that will be implemented in the Millennium – to produce a true Utopia in even the financial areas of life as well. But there are things we can do – right now – that will help prepare us individually to teach within that glorious time ahead. Principles that will need to be applied in the future that can also stand us all individually in good stead, even as we struggle in the financially corrupt world all around us. Living within our means by responsibly managing our money – regardless of how much or how little – is certainly one such principle, and forms part of the character development God expects of His begotten children.

As Mr. Micawber's famous, and oft-quoted, recipe for happiness proclaims to any with ears to hear:

"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery." (from Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield")

Or as is put in modern parlance: "If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep is your downfall."

A Spendthrift World:

Yet we find ourselves in a spendthrift world that is going diametrically opposed to God's way of life in this area of financial responsibility. In fact, we see total IR-responsibilty, with both individuals and nations drowning in debt. In the effort to get as much as possible for themselves – at the expense of others, if necessary – businesses will use every trick in the book to get us to spend money – whether we have it or not! Most people in the Western world will agree that Christmas is 99% a commercial venture, but seem almost powerless to swim against the tide, so are sucked into spending far more than is wise. With the understanding we have been given, we've been able to see the futility of this particular holiday season, but that doesn't necessarily mean we are immune to the 'spirit of spend' that is associated with it!

Throw in contactless credit cards, and low interest offered on items we probably don't need, and it can be all too easy to join the crowd – the lemmings going over the cliff. Just a click of a mouse and we've ordered yet another item off the internet, without even opening our wallets to see if we can afford it.

It's certainly not a new predicament! Back in New Testament times, Paul wrote to Timothy that he needed to be aware of the major spiritual problems this kind of approach can bring:

  • .... constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
  • But godliness with contentment is great gain.
  • For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
  • But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
  • Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
  • For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs . (I Timothy 6:5-10 NIV)

And even further back in time this principle was understood:

  • The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7 )

  • He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. (Proverbs 21:17)

King Solomon's extravagance should certainly tell us that physically 'having it all' does not equate with happiness. His personal 'pursuit of happiness' ended in great dissillusion, as we know.

God's Protection:

God's 'hands-off' policy for this past 6,000 years – allowing the world to get itself in such an insoluble and dangerous predicament – is for an eternal purpose. It's so that mankind will eventually turn to Him, in true humility, to be taught for the first time the Way of life that really works:

  • And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

This will certainly include the responsible handing of finances, and this aversion therapy is going to have to be allowed to run its full course, as we can see within the message of the third horseman and will impact the vast majority of humanity.

But even though we might run our finances in line with God's way – not spending what we don't have and so piling up a mountain of debt and misery – such prudence on its own will not save us in the difficult times ahead. What will, is the Godly character we've built by doing so, and our subsequent relationship with Almighty God. All the gold, silver, stocks and shares, derivatives, bonds etc will be totally useless when famine stalks the land, via currency devaluation or otherwise. But we have no need to fear for our lives or that of our families, as we've been given solid assurance that God will take care of His people:

  • There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
  • An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
  • Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
  • To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. (Psalm 33:16-19)
  • The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
  • They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied...
  • ... I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
  • He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. (Psalm 37:18, 19, 25-26)

Although we may indeed have to reduce our standard of living – possibly to a great degree – there are numerous encouraging passages in the Bible that talk of God's protection, such as that in second Chronicles... "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him..." (II Chronicles 16:9) One key passage is the following from Habbakuk. Certainly within the economic chaos destined to engulf mankind such protection is going to be needed.

  • Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
  • Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
  • The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Habbakuk 3:17-19 )

(To be continued...)