We continue our theme of 12 Endtime Fuses Burning. They all represent a change in the beliefs or the idolatries of humanity. Crucially, all of these changes are relatively recent in the timeline of human history; and all have the potential for explosive impact.
We quote from an article written by Mr. Robert Kaplan, Chief Geopolitical Analyst for Stratfor, entitled “Machiavelli’s Virtue”:
What is modernity? Is it skyscrapers, smart phones, wonder drugs, atomic bombs? You’re not even close. Modernity, at least in the West, is the journey away from religious virtue toward secular self-interest. Religious virtue is fine for one’s family and the world of private morality. But the state—that defining political structure of modern times—requires something colder, more chilling. For the state must organize the lives of millions of strangers and protect their need to selfishly acquire material possessions. […] The state appeals not to God, but to individual selfishness. Thus, it clears the path for progress.
Mr. Kaplan may just as well have provided an exegesis of various Bible Scriptures, because his observations are correct. The Bible clearly does confirm the values upon which worldly affairs would be conducted—self-interest (or vested-interest). What Mr. Kaplan neglects to mention is that the world and its leaders would be “cursed” because of this state of affairs (for example, see Isaiah 24:3-6).
The world in this present state is surely run by self- and vested-interest. That’s not to say that there are not people who are other-worldly; to whom the things of this world appear strangely dim; or whose motives are inspired by love. It is just that there are much less of them. The values of the world, its societies and people, have been roundly turned toward materialism in recent times.
A century of humanistic influences has revised the definitions of human happiness, achievement, and progress. None of these are any longer defined by “eternal values” or from an eternal timeline. Success in these endeavors is defined solely in terms of material wealth, net worth, GDP growth, a rising standard of living or a rising MSCI World All-Country Index (representing the global stock market value).
By necessity, a world that is defined by the “need to selfishly acquire material possessions,” and is set apart from “private morals” or conscience and “religious virtue,” must be terrifyingly competitive. It would be a world of deceit and theft. And, indeed, such conduct and doctrine is accepted today in the world of geopolitics and political economy.
Not surprisingly, the Bible prophesies exactly such conditions. We find this message in the two visions of the Prophet Zechariah, found in chapter 5 of the book of the same name. Here are mentioned the two sins that would define the world of the last days—lying and stealing (verse 3). A two-part article series entitled “Flying Scrolls and Baskets: A Vision of Today,” outlines these connections (MCM May and June 2007 issues).
These sins tie in directly to the commercialized global corruption and political globalism that we see enveloping the world today. This short chapter in Zechariah of only 11 verses, contains two separate but important visions of the endtimes. Readers will recall the account of a giant scroll that is levitating in the air (verses 1 to 4). Right after this, the angel speaking to Zechariah shows him another vision. We then see a strange picture of an ephah (measuring basket) being transported by two women with the wings of storks.
We concluded that the false witness (lying) and the stealing being mentioned specifically had to do with the global idolatrous materialism and corruption of all human life on earth of the last days. Pinpointed were the two sins that are mainly responsible for the filthy idolatry that was shown in the flying ephah—lying and stealing.
Encompassed in these visions, we concluded, was everything from the elevation of manipulative and global monetary systems, fiat money, capitalism, competitive globalism based on the vested interest of intertwined worldwide trading systems, accounting shenanigans, corporatism and debt-based wealth to grand larceny. To this end, dishonesty and corruption must be accepted by the world as being the norm. All together it represents a humanity that denies truth. Yet, it is even much worse than that: It is a world which insists that untruth and deceit … for instance, a bit of inflation … is necessary to grease the wheels of daily life and progress.
According to Zechariah’s visions, we see that the corrosiveness and imbalances of these moral liberalities literally consumed “the timber thereof and the stones thereof” (Zechariah 5:4), this symbolizing the collapse of mankind’s societies. Policymakers and leaders fail to recognize that permissiveness and endorsement of such ungodly values must have an impact on the morality (actually a two-way cause and effect) of entire societies. Eventually a complete moral breakdown occurs, whether in commerce or sexual mores.
Lying and Stealing for Mankind’s Good
Let’s next examine the roles of these two endtime conditions of institutionalized lying and stealing.
Firstly lying—in other words, swearing falsely in the name of truth. It is the lubricant of our world’s economic and geopolitical systems. At the highest levels, lying is mirrored in the institution of contract law. Most contracts today are made on the premise of what is legally allowable as opposed to what is right or moral. The same attitude applies to the world of geopolitics. The “lie” is the most deftly used technique in the pursuit of a nation’s interests. Lying and deceit are definitely essential. The same applies to statecraft in dealing with the public.
What about stealing? In our time, stealing is more prevalent than ever before. Moreover, it has become much more sophisticated. There are numerous types of stealing that are institutionalized into world systems. For example, consider the phenomenon of inflation (the price of goods continually rising in currency terms). It is one of the biggest and most deceiving forms of stealing. Yet, every central bank in the world today will argue that some stealing (inflation) is necessary for the smooth and safe functioning of economies and financial systems. In fact, currently, a number of the world’s largest central banks are deliberately trying to encourage inflation.
Stealing is endemic and accepted in many other areas. Corporate executives steal from shareholders (like never before), and countries try to steal precious resources from other countries (oil, for example), although such motivations are couched in official policy-speak such as “securing our interests” or “gaining access through free trade.” Such techniques are the norm today.
Without a doubt, we see that swearing falsely and stealing are at the very root and apex of man’s global endtime edifice.
Returning to the earlier-quoted Mr. Kaplan, despite his cogent perspectives on the world’s state of affairs, he concludes: “This is not something to lament, however. For in the last analysis, self-interest can lead to peace while rigid moral principles can lead to war. Self-interest informs compromise with other human beings.”
He chooses to have faith that Global Man can tame and harness Mammon for the good of mankind by using Machiavellian techniques (namely, the endorsed lying and stealing among other ungodly tactics). He couldn’t be more wrong. One day there will be a new order, one diametrically opposite to what we have today. It will not be defined by self-interest or vested-interest. Truth, peace, justice and love will prevail. That will occur to an extent in the 1,000-year kingdom outlined in the Bible. The final perfect state occurs after this period when the eternal New Jerusalem descends.
Last Day Deceits and Corruption
Zechariah’s message aligns with that of many other prophecies in the Bible. Deception is shown to be a key characteristic of the last days in much prophetic Scripture (both in the Old and New Testaments). Of course, deceit has always existed. However, the book of Daniel clearly forewarns that the last regime—the one that ultimately gives rise to the Antichrist and the final rebellion against God—is one marked by great deception. “[…] a master of intrigue will arise […] He will cause deceit to prosper” (8:23-25); “It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground” (8:12).
Not only will there be rampant spiritual and religious deception during the last days1—clearly evident today—but deceit and corruption will infuse the entire world in every respect, including politics and commerce. The two go hand-in-hand.
The Bible tells of a similar time that met God’s great displeasure … so much so that He sent His prophets to warn about the consequences. Said Jeremiah:
“[…] Pour it out on the children in the street and on the young men gathered together; both husband and wife will be caught in it, and the old, those weighed down with years. Their houses will be turned over to others, together with their fields and their wives, when I stretch out my hand against those who live in the land,” declares the LORD. “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit” (Jeremiah 6:11-13).
Old Testament prophets decried the apostate and corrupt state of Judah. 2500 hundred years ago, there was no shortage of prophets willing to foretell sweet and pleasing falsehoods. “[…] Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things […]” (Isaiah 30:10). Said Micah: “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for this people!” (2:11).
None of these “pillow” prophets actually spoke the truth … actually heard from God. “[…] They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own mind,” said Jeremiah (14:14). These false prophets were all lying, endorsing the stealing that was being perpetrated by the elites. It lulled people into a comfortable complacency and moral laxity. Destruction and judgment eventually followed. It’s not much different today; in fact, it is a global phenomenon.
Points to Ponder
Deception is rampant today; many are deceived. And, there are plenty who seek to validate the dishonesty. Says one incisive observer, “There are two types of economic theologians. The first is an economist who functions as a theologian for progress by helping to provide an ethical foundation for society. If economic progress is the route to ‘salvation,’ these ‘priests’ will be the experts on how to achieve that progress. Because society looks to economists for this knowledge, they logically become the leading priesthood of the age. The second […] study economics from a theological perspective.”2
It is this second variety of theologian that holds to the boundary stones and pathways of that which is right according to Scriptures. The other variety has firmly set the ethical foundation that allowsdishonesty and deceit to be deemed necessary and irreversible today.
In fact, dishonesty and deceit have become so entrenched that society fears that if we eradicate them entirely, the economic strength of our nations will collapse. This perspective is illustrated in this comment by Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States. Referring to alleged criminal activities of large financial companies, he said, “I am concerned that the size of these [financial] institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”
What he basically said was that the government dare not prosecute any of the banks or other financial players for fear that rocking the boat in this way may risk bringing down the entire economy. That’s the state of affairs that we have today in many nations. The corruption is so endemic and deep, that to uproot these tares would risk jeopardizing the entire field, disrupting what prospects for prosperity that may remain.
Could it really have been as Jeremiah said—that it is possible that an entire society from “the least to the greatest” all practiced deceit? Those who believe the Bible as the literal Word of God will accept Jeremiah’s words for their plain meaning. But are things really different today? What can a little cheating, self-interest and greed hurt? The prevailing thinking is that it makes the world go around; it can pay the bills, lead to a better chance for prosperity, and faster growing and more competitive economies. That may be the popular thinking, but not with God.
We know from God’s dealings with Israel and Judah just what judgments will eventually follow. Little reward can be expected from the world for not conforming to this new norm. Jeremiah whined to God, “[…] I have never lent nor borrowed, yet everyone curses me” (Jeremiah 15:10). He was not participating in a commercial system that operated to oppress the poor and transfer wealth to the “experts in greed.” Apparently, because he wasn’t, people thought that Jeremiah was being judgmental. Not really. He was simply honoring God through obedience. We have the liberty to do the same.
1 “[…] Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he’” (Luke 21:8).
2 Nelson, Robert H. “Religion, Economics, and the Market Paradox.” Religion and Liberty, Volume 12, Number 1 (January/February 2002).