The world economy and the signs of the times

March 17, 2009

I don’t often write here on the signs of the times (not because I don't want to, but that's a subject for another day) but it’s been very interesting to watch how the media has been covering every single aspect of the world’s troubled economy recently. I’ve read articles on how it compares to the times of the Great Depression in the US in the early 20th century. I’ve also read practical articles on how to live off of $10 per day, and some humorous ones including how to make a prom suit out of duct tape.

It does not take any prophetic anointing to discern that that these times are putting a “strain” on the western consumer lifestyle. But it does take a heart that is “watching” (Mark 13; 1 Thessalonians 5) to see that it’s the Lord’s doing to shake us from our lethargy and to prepare us for Christ’s return. John Piper recently articulated this very well in several points that I’ll just summarize here, and then just point you to the actual sermon for you to read:

God has several reasons for today’s economic troubles:

  1. He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
  2. He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
  3. He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
  4. He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
  5. He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.

But did you know that the Bible prophesies a drastic turnaround of today’s economic recession at some future time?

Revelation 18 is clear – there is wealth, abundance, and luxury coming that will affect the globe in a momentous way. The apostle John describes a city that prospers the earth’s merchants and kings and endows the earth’s inhabitants with every available pleasure at a whim.

The purpose of the coming turnaround is not so that we could go back to living our lavish “American dream” lifestyles of consumerism in a world booming with democracy. Let there be no question - God will allow the economy to rebound to heights never seen before to prepare the earth to receive the antichrist.

What would it look like to have the “dark years” of economic trouble finally behind us, the world living in abundance, and cooperation between nations and kingdoms happening at an unprecedented level, all for the betterment of mankind?

Those years are coming, but by no means as a stamp of approval from God on our way of life.

It is from this place that Paul describes “sudden destruction” that comes upon the earth (1 Thessalonians 5:3). The population is somnolent and drunk with the wine of luxury when the unexpected comes upon them. The great city that made the merchants of the earth “rich through the abundance of her luxury” (Revelation 18:3) will be brought to nothing in one hour (Revelation 18:10,17,19). Forget about the American economy losing half its value in a matter of months. The earth’s economy goes from being seemingly unstoppable to absolute poverty in a single hour.

Why? The antichrist and a group of 10 nations that will ally with him destroy the great city that made the earth wealthy. Antichrist will then be in the perfect position to forcibly take control of the world because he will have every available resource at his disposal.

The coming days will surely be a time of testing and trial for everyone – believer and unbeliever. The fiscal boulder that will come crashing down upon the earth suddenly will make today’s troubled economy look like a speck of dust when put side by side.

Are we preparing for these coming days by walking in humility and meekness now, loosing our chains of affection to the things of the world, and positioning ourselves before the Lord in dependence for our every need?

That is the way I want to walk.

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