“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
There is new worship at work in the world with new altars, making temples out of banks, global businesses, finances houses and stock exchanges, and the eternal pursuit of pleasure. They do not worship the sun or the moon, the emperor, or the pope, but pounds and euros, dollars. They worship greed and epicurean luxury, mammon exceeds and overrides all other worship. There will be no halt to this movement until every nation is subjugated under one rule and dictated to in all aspects of its life. This power is mightier than any pope, any throne, any government or human authority yet seen on earth. Every tie of nationality, every bond of family or race, every distinction of religion shall be dissolved. All will be melted into one great universal fellowship and kingdom.
However, before continuing, we need to remind ourselves once more that it is certainly not sinful to be rich as many, in and outside professing Christian circles would seek to persuade us. Indeed, in many parts of Scripture wealth has accompanied the blessing of God. However, the truly rich will make no boast of this. Many assume that if someone has become rich it inevitably follows that this has been at the expense of the poor, whether of nations or individuals. For everyone who is rich, someone else is deprived. This is clearly not so. This is not to excuse the many oppressive sins of the rich. All men sin, both rich and poor people.
At the time that the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, they were warned that in occupying and possessing a rich land they had not developed themselves they should not forget God (Deuteronomy 6:10-15). It was God who had delivered them and brought them out of Egypt and into the land. The wealth they were now to enjoy had come from a culture hostile to God. The temptation was to seek other means of success and prosperity than that coming from the Lord. The temptation would be to go after others gods, the gods of the people round about. This remains a temptation for believing people. Finding prosperity all around us, we shall be tempted to forget God. Jesus Himself said: “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Matthew 18:24) We shall be tempted to adopt the same lifestyle, take over the same route to riches as those around us – going after the gods of the people round about. This can never be right: it is to suggest that there is another way of going about things than that given us by God.
In Psalm 37, we are told (vv.1-2) that we are not to envy the workers of iniquity and that they shall soon be cut down like the grass − but what is envy and who are the workers of iniquity? Envy is not quite the same as jealousy. Jealousy, when we speak of God, relates to preserving His own rightful position and honour. Jealousy, when we speak of men, generally we are talking of a negative attitude towards others who have something we would rather like ourselves. This can be material prosperity, academic or social standing, or some kind of skill, anything in fact that we take a fancy to. When we come to speak of envy, then something more is involved. It goes beyond wanting another man’s goods for ourselves. As with jealousy, it begins with being covetous towards that which others possess and progresses to deep resentment that anyone should have more than we do or be better than we are. This progresses to an obsessive desire to reduce or even confiscate what they have, even although this clearly does not improve our own position. In other words, the object of our envy should be harmed in some way ostensibly to our benefit. This is often based on the false assumption that because a man has riches, it follows that he is thereby depriving someone else and making him poor. In a wider context it may be assumed that the existence of rich nations means that other nations are necessarily thereby impoverished. In truth this has little to do with righteous outrage at imagined injustice. Instead it is pure envy directed at the rich and nothing else. No one in history was ever lifted out of poverty by confiscating the wealth of the rich. This just makes everyone poor.
Envy always creates conflict where the evil men are thought to be those who are the most successful or advanced members of society. To be wealthy, successful or superior is in itself seen as a crime. If they are such their advantage must have been gained by criminal means. Envy is often justified by sociologists. Common petty criminality among the young, vandalism and rioting, also euphemistically renamed as ‘anti-social behaviour’ is justified by sociologists as being caused by envy. Hatred and resentment are attributes of a social conscience. Rather than being steps to social progress, this conflict spells ruin for us all.
Covetousness according to the Bible is sin. Covetousness is idolatry and at the root of all kinds of evil; it defiles our world in its abominable glory. It is forbidden by the Tenth Commandment and designated idolatry in Colossians 3:5. Only rarely does anyone preach about it from the pulpit. Yet, it should find no place in the heart of any of us and it is this that is at the centre of the current economic collapse. Covetousness is an essential ingredient in the politicians’ calls for ‘growth’ for they are talking about consumption rather than production. Increasing debt is a required element in enabling continued consumption. The economy does not 'grow' because borrowing money has come to a halt. A debt-based economy must eventually fail and collapse. Increasing debt is not increasing growth, but the very opposite. Debt also means putting ourselves at the call of others. It is also used as a means of social engineering, e.g. by determining who and who will not go on to study at university.
So let us stop blaming the politicians, the bankers, capitalists and speculators, crooks on Wall Street and kleptocratic banks in the City of London as though they alone were to blame. The continuous bleating from both sides of the divide for yet more austerity on the part of the other side is full of hypocrisy. Bankers are to forego their bonuses on the one hand so we cry, whilst those in power demand that we all take lower wages, poorer pensions, less generous welfare benefits, poorer health care. Someone else must take the rap, because someone else is always to blame. Someone else must pay for my financial misdemeanours. It is not my fault I took on an unsustainable mortgage, because I wanted a bigger house and now I have lost everything! It is not the bankers’ fault surely that casino banking went awry? We very conveniently forget that everything begins with covetousness, and rarely with legitimate need. It is the desire for more and more, lodged within every individual sinful human soul, whose ever it is, that is where the problems start. It is the refusal to be content in whatsoever state we find ourselves (cf. Philippians 4:11). But it is the pathway of death.
All sense of personal responsibility for their own plight is diminished or non-existent. All plead innocence and accuse others of a conspiracy. It is the government’s fault I do not have a job; it is the bankers’ fault I have no money. They will blame anyone but themselves. There are the money men who constantly seek new ways to make huge sums from inflation and then turn round with blatant hypocrisy and point the finger at central banks and politicians for causing inflation. It is true that bankers and politicians must carry their own guilt for what they have done. What we must ask is who in the first place causes the inflationary borrowing policies of governments by their envy, greed, covetousness, and living with ever-increasing levels of debt? We must look at the role played by ordinary men and women who demand the wherewithal to live beyond their means, who expect to be feather-bedded by right by an over-generous State sponsored welfare paid for by taxation and borrowing. Bankers play the market and everyone else does the lottery. We cannot complain about the bankers’ casino banking whilst at the same time nursing envy in our hearts.
Our modern living is saturated with envy and its effects upon our society are deadly. Envy calls for the levelling of all things in terms of wealth, access to education and jobs, housing, social standing; no one must have a greater advantage than anyone else. Superiority in others is intolerable. Yet we are called upon to live as though envy is non-existent. Envy is turned into a virtue. It parades as ‘upholding the cause of the poor’, ‘healing unjust social structures’, ‘providing justice for the oppressed’, and much more in a similar vein. These values are propagated by lies, indoctrination, guilt manipulation, the orchestration of public opinion in television and the media. Our countries are doomed should the self-righteous babblings of the envious continue to gain the ground it has in recent decades. The utopian ‘new Jerusalem’ promised by messianic leaders of our countries based on the politics of envy spells nothing but ruin.
If the world economy is bankrupt, this is only the sign of a deeper and more wide-reaching bankruptcy within the individual human heart, that of wilful rebellion against God. Its roots lie in deep-seated sinful covetousness that works to the point of taking away the belongings of others converting them to their own use – theft is the proper designation. It is fashionable, trendy, to blame politicians and bankers completely for our financial malaise as though they were the sole cause. This only hides the underlying instigating cause: that of covetousness within us all. The overwhelming passion to possess that which others enjoy, even although it lies beyond our means to acquire it, leads to a demand for unsustainable credit that banks have been only too willing to meet. Human pride, to add inches to our stature in the eyes of others, greed, ostentation we have not even paid for, bragging with something that does not even belong to us − that has ruined us. Governments, business entrepreneurs, and private individuals that banks can no longer accommodate, many now losing all they had or at risk of it. Everyone looking for someone else to blame for misfortunes they have largely brought upon themselves. A cure is sought by prescribing yet more of the sickness, ever more spiralling debt. Such debts have always and will always lead to ruin.
In order to meet the growing cry for more loans for all quarters, governments, who have a monopoly on money supply, simply print more money. In this way the value of the money we possess depreciates proportionately according to the amount printed. It amounts to legalized theft and is a direct cause of inflation. A few years ago, a sophisticated operation in Ashton-under-Lyne was shut down for doing just this, printing money. Counterfeiters are jailed as criminals. Printing money, legally or illegally, is the surest route to the financial ruin of our country. Creditors are robbed for the benefit of debtors, who are rewarded as they see what they owe shrink before their eyes. The State alone can turn its debts into more money, alchemy of the basest kind, and therefore in the end is the only real beneficiary.
The State is itself the biggest debtor not creditor. Every banknote is testimony to this forgotten fact. The inscription on every note reads “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of …” and it is signed by the chief cashier of the Bank of England. When it can no longer meet its obligations the Bank simply issues more bonds, prints more money, borrows more or goes bust. At least when affluence could be weighed out in physical bags of pure silver or gold it was not subject to the uncertainty of an unpaid debt. What we have today are nothing but bits of paper of little worth in themselves.
The State encourages and rewards debt because that is what it needs to survive. One way it does this is by giving tax relief on debt. It does so for the purpose of enslaving its citizenry. There are countless historical precedents. Money lenders have been used almost since time began to enslave by debt. The words of Solomon go unread and are deliberately ignored; this is not what people want to hear. It will destroy their lifestyle if they alter course now. “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Printing more money increases the amount available for yet more lending and borrowing. A credit rating for a bank, or for that matter for each of us, simply signifies the ability to contract debt. This will have little or nothing to do with the money we may have in the bank. How much risk is there that we may default? That is the issue.
Whether it is a nationalised health service, welfare provision, pension schemes, investment in roads, and much more besides, Governments invariably operate more or less on the principles of a ‘Ponzi scheme’. Although named after Charles Ponzi who operated such a scheme in the 1920s, it was previously known in Victorian times and similar schemes are described by Charles Dickens in his novels Martin Chuzzelewitt and Little Dorrit. Unsustainable promises are made and investors invited, or in the case of the State forced, to join. An increasing flow of money keeps the scheme going. Payouts are made directly from income. Such schemes are destined to fail because eventually the money coming in will be less that that going out. Money received by governments for health, welfare, roads is never or only partially invested in those areas but is invariably spent on other things. It has been estimated that the cost of pension provision alone in Britain is set to double to more than £120billion over the next twenty years. This means it will exceed the economic output of countries such as Israel or the Czech Republic. The burden upon the population at large will become unsustainable and the extravagant promises or the scheme as a whole or both must fail. Any institution other than the State operating in this way, that unlike everyone else is able to protect itself behind its own laws, the officers would and have been jailed for fraud. Participation is no guarantee of the promised returns.
The godless state makes itself the greatest debtor by selling bonds, profligate deficit spending, borrowing beyond its means to repay to enhance its control and power. It will encourage everyone else to do the same: businesses great and small, the citizen with his credit card and bank loan. Those who spend according to their bank balance are deemed pariahs, the lowest form of life. Those who boast with possessions that really belong to others should not complain when the day arrives for them to step up to the till. In this sense governments encourage thieves and punish the honest. The looters of Tottenham, appalling though their behaviour was, are only doing what they have been encouraged to do by example – grab, grab, grab. Looting is not the province only of the apparently poor.
Inflation is a form of looting and robbery on the part of the godless State. But of allies there are plenty. Rich or poor, haves and have-nots, businesses great and small, middle, upper or lower classes. All join the orgy of debt. Higher education is now available only to those willing to participate. All join in this ruinous process, all want more and more, and yet more. Get into debt now, get something for nothing, pay it off later with cheapened money that is progressively diminishing in value. The current hypocritical whining about bankers’ pay and criminality is nauseating. To borrow a phrase – we are all in this together. Resistance is futile, recriminations begin, dire warnings turn to threats and create an atmosphere of fear. The consequences of opting out are painted in vivid and horrendous colours. Those who will not join hands with the madmen as they rush forward to the precipice are treated as selfish and irresponsible, threatening the wellbeing of everyone else.
Maynard Keynes, the economist, discredited in the eyes of some, but still widely followed by many is remembered for this notorious remark: “In the long run, we are all dead.” There, of course, our debts cannot follow us, or so he thought. Debt repayment belongs to the future and the future will never happen. Kick the can down the road, tomorrow never comes. “If the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die”(1 Corinthians 15:32), is certainly a logical lifestyle for the godless man. Why burden ourselves with the repayment of debt. So we return to our Psalm (v.21): “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.” The contrast here is not between the wicked borrowing and not paying back and the righteous man clearing his debts. Instead nothing is said about the righteous man having debts to pay, but instead of taking he provides from his own recourses for those in need of his mercy. The apostle Paul gives guidance in this respect in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7:
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
What a different atmosphere we breathe here. God provides for us that we in turn might be merciful to others.
It is difficult in the world in which we live to avoid all debt. Few of us will have led debt free lives. Nevertheless, we ought not to burden ourselves in a way God does not require of us. We ought not to become reconciled with an ‘enjoy today but pay tomorrow’ way of life. The rule should be: “owe no man anything” (Romans 13:8). Should we be forced to contract a debt, we ought to pay it off in the speediest possible time. The pathway to financial ruin is debt, personal, business, national. The desire to make debts, and to avoid or delay for as long as possible their repayment only hastens disaster. Creditors, and ultimately prudent savers are constantly ripped off by debtors, whether they be banks or governments. Everyone joins in this legalised theft. The State as the great promoter of this mass robbery eventually begins to turn on its smaller partners so that in the end everyone is ruined. Politicians of every colour and creed having created a parasitic economy find the parasite soon is eating its host, so that it too dies. The marks of a godly society are very different. God promised to bless Israel would they but keep His Law.
“For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee” (Deuteronomy 15:6).
The godless appear to prosper at every level, achieving their ends by wicked means. For the present, God allows it and so they assume what they do is right. There is no lightning bolt from heaven. Many of them are rich, some less so, some live on very little, but they seem not to suffer the troubles and distresses of God’s people. We must remember: “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked” (Psalm 37:16). So often the gain of the godless is by plainly crooked means. So many are swindlers, running on debt, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, accumulating debts with no thought or intention of ever paying back, walking away from what they owe with or without the approval of the law. Nor are these always the very rich, those who have made it in the City; this may just be a local business or someone close to us; this could be anyone. “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth” (Psalm 37:21). These people build their empires great and small on deceit and crooked deals and they prosper, for the time being. In order to prosper as they do, we need to enjoy their blessing. Those who do not walk with them are excluded. According to the Bible, this prosperity is temporary and illusory. They may flourish as the field for a season, but then it will be cut down as grass.
At the highest level, global commerce, the kings of gold and silver, the money-lords, bankers, mercantile speculators, global traders combine to defraud and plunder acknowledging no creed or country, holding governments and nations to ransom are the great men of the earth. Governments dare not offend them. They direct their policies to satisfy their slightest whim. They make war and peace as they determine. This is how the world really operates. Biblical prophecy shows us that this is the case. As we have seen here in Europe most recently the purse-strings of many nations are now held in the hands of global powers. All governments are rushing to become a participant in this distribution of power. To be excluded from or banned by such a grouping is far worse than excommunication by a medieval pope. To refuse to be allied to the United Nations, the IMF or the World Bank and other similar organisations is tantamount to being at war with the rest of the world. The will of these international organizations demand the full participation of everyone. Their will overrides the wishes and distinctive creeds and customs of individual nations. It will demand the subjugation of all religious and moral codes to its own laws. Setting itself up as god, nothing will be allowed to thwart its plans.
There is a godless power at work that clamours for a common code of law, a common currency, and this will not stop until all the nations of the earth are under its rule. It seeks to dissolve every tie of nationality, every family bond, every belief system it cannot bend to serve its own ends. It will secure the purse strings of the nations in the hands of a global international power. The only law of these men is that of self-interest and worldly gain. The people of God are as nothing, the nation is nothing, the Bible is nothing, faith is nothing, moral and religious scruples of any kind are nothing, everything is nothing that cannot be used to that one great end the accumulation of massive wealth and concentration of power.
However, the rich, the powerful in this world, the wheelers and dealers, the financial kleptocrats, are all too often kept in place by the foolishness of everyone else. Everyone believes they can get a piece of the action. If an ungodly pursuit of wealth for its own sake generating a way of life built on greed, abounding covetousness and ensuing envy can be shown to be the only route to a civilised society; the only route to individual well-being and the prosperity of the nations; the only route for the proper development of the God-given resources of the earth; the greatest stimulant to intellectual effort and sole purpose of education, the procurer of and disseminator of all useful wisdom; the rewarder of genius and engineering skill; the self-denying handmaid of all social, moral and legislative good; if the pursuit of worldly wealth and power is held up as the only true and proper end of man; if these become the all-absorbing purpose of life then shall we be poor indeed and shall have brought upon us and our children an unimaginable and catastrophic end never before seen on earth. The demon of covetousness is turned into a deceiving angel of light. Then would all nations, all earthly governments, religious leaders, apostles and prophets of this world fall down before it, clap their hands rejoice, be filled with praise and admiration. Then would they have built Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. But it is all a horrendous myth, a frightful dream, soon to become a hellish nightmare.
The complete collapse of the worldly system of politics, power and affluence will be one of the most spectacular events in world history. The Bible has more to say about this than of any other event in secular history. That which men have worshipped, that in which their souls have delighted will be brought down within the space of one hour. The kings of the earth shall wail and mourn (Revelation 18:9). Every government shall find its lifeblood draining from her. Contemplating the burning of everything they hold dear they are alarmed at the consequences of the ensuing ruin. The merchants of the earth will be full of tears and grief at the collapse of that which made them rich. That which they believed would continue forever has come to a disastrous end. The stock markets are shut; the computer screens blank; the finances houses deserted; the banks full of worthless bits of paper. They weep not because of their sins, not because of the suffering they have brought upon so many people, they weep because their market has collapsed and is gone – “for in one hour so great riches is come to nought” (Revelation 18:17). Whilst heaven shall echo with the loudest halleluiahs, whereas on earth there will be nothing but weeping and mourning. Alas, alas – the only sound to be heard.
The saints, prophets and apostles who have spoken out throughout the ages, to this day are defamed, not heeded. They are miserable other-worldly doom-mongers and pessimists out to shut off the human race from the blessings of the modern world. They are not to be tolerated and are unworthy of any serious attention. The world looks right now for a Balaam to bless, to speak God’s benediction on its lusts and passions. Compared with the great mass of mankind, the people of God have always toiled with difficulties, opposition and hatred and made little headway against the stream of evil and those holding sway over the hearts and minds of men. When there has been a surge forward, internal apostasy gains ground, setting her back to where she was. Dreams, myths and lies that is the way the present world judges our faith.
When the burnt embers of all the vaunted schemes of men, all their boasted wealth and wisdom, lie in the dust at their feet, then all that the saints of God, all that the prophets and apostles have predicted, all that the Word of God has proclaimed all along – all will be shown to have been true. By their own thoughts and deeds, godless men will stand condemned. All that will be heard will be the howling and loud lamentation of deep despair at their irrecoverable loss. The renunciation of the world system by believers will be shown to have been justified in the face of the ruin of the world’s boasted greatness. In that day sorrow and joy shall change places. Our sorrow shall be changed to joy, their joy to enduring sorrow. There shall be a multitudinous company of people celebrating “the salvation, and the glory, and the power of God.”
We should be clear that heaven’s estimation of the world in which we find ourselves is very different to that entertained by most of our fellow men. That which is the object of their fondest love is the object of God’s fiercest wrath. That for which men strive and work, that for which they willingly become slaves, is that which God most severely censures.
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)