Who Pulls the Plug?
Readers will no doubt conclude from our brief analysis (see Part I and II) that mankind’s financial and economic systems are headed for disastrous declines; that the value of wealth will corrode; and that, eventually, a total world economic collapse will occur at some point in the Tribulation period. We agree, but perhaps not for the reasons that we might have insinuated, nor those popularly promoted by conspiracy theorists and others.
Allow us to explain. In our day, we are witnessing two parallel phenomena: the development of powerful technologies, and at the same time, soaring humanist arrogance and delusion. (See the similar haughty arrogations of the citizens of Babel as they built their tower: Genesis 11.)
Given the increase of humanist and materialist values, mankind is capable of ever more extreme delusion. This is eventually promoted by God Himself, who expressly allows mankind to pursue his perversions, even sending delusions to him (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
Monetary authorities, the executives of financial institutions, investors and money managers … etc. all want to believe in their delusions, as it means that wealth and gain can continue to have the appearance of increase. They expressly repudiate anyone alluding to the immorality of their collective actions. Given this moral flexibility, there is no telling how perverse and extended the world’s monetary systems may become … how many more victims of the catastrophic impact of such policies.
Therefore, we today witness a complicit willingness to pursue perversion. In this writer’s view, this most certainly applies in the field of economics and money. As such, mankind may very well succeed in continuing his deluded policies for a much longer time than we may imagine. There is no limit to mankind’s capacity for irrationality.
God Destroys Mankind’s Systems
It is our belief that mankind’s systems will be destroyed by the judgments and actions of God Himself during the first half of the Tribulation period. Remember what God said of the people of Babel: “‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them’” (Genesis 11:6). God Himself intervened in this case, by confusing their language so that they could not understand each other. Their society collapsed, triggered by an external catalyst.
All financial crises in history have required a minimum of two conditions: A financial system that is imbalanced, extended and unstable; and secondly, a catalyst. The catalyst may be entirely unrelated to the crisis-prone financial condition. It may be the occurrence of a bankruptcy … a natural phenomenon … whatever causes mankind to fear and panic. This can then trigger into a financial stampede … due to fear and a loss of faith.
The world may yet witness many more financial crises. These would be triggered by random catalysts of various types; and the scale of destruction would be determined according to the extent of financial vulnerability and imbalance that existed beforehand.
To use an illustration, the higher one stands upon an extension ladder, the more prone one will be to serious injury should a random gust of wind cause you to lose your grip.
However, the final and complete collapse of mankind’s monetary systems will not be due to a random catalyst. Rather, it will be triggered by a catalyst of wrath. It will be the judgments and allowances of God Himself during the Tribulation period that will bring down the pride of mankind. And given the extreme imbalances and perversions of mankind’s systems at that time, it will be as vulnerable to destruction as dry kindling is to fire.
Timing the Collapse of Mankind’s Systems
When could the collapse of the world’s financial systems occur? We cannot know for certain. However, we can draw several observations from Scripture that can help to narrow the range of possibilities.
For one, it is doubtful that the financial systems we have today could survive very many (if any) of the seal and trumpet judgments of the Tribulation. Financial markets are very sensitive to crisis, especially so, as pointed out, if conditions of high indebtedness and economic imbalance exist. Some of the seal judgments (#1 to #6 are thought by many prophecy scholars to take place in the first half of the Tribulation) would certainly introduce much financial volatility. For example, the rider on the black horse (the 3rd seal judgment) who carries scales, clearly implies economic troubles. (A weigh scale in olden times was the equivalent to today’s cash register machine.)
Consider that seal #4 brings great economic calamity, as one quarter of the earth’s population dies. Historians that have studied the impact of the Black Plague of the 13th century, leave no doubt as to the catastrophic effects of such a large part of the population being wiped out.
Seal #5 involves the persecution of Christians (which is completed by the time of the 7th seal). We can only speculate as to how many people will be killed during this time. Certainly, the judgment of seal #6 would be considered non-survivable for even the most controlled and manipulated of financial systems. At that time, the kings of the earth and everyone else hide “in caves and among the rocks of the mountains” due to the severity of the judgment (Revelation 6:15).
We do not need to review the trumpet and bowl judgments that follow. Not only do these involve much worse phenomena, enormous destruction and unimaginable wrath of supernatural scope, we contend that financial systems would have collapsed much before. The world would be in great agony. Its economic productive capacity would be slashed to a small fraction of pre-Tribulational levels at best, if not nothing.
A great financial collapse is certain to occur already in the first half of the Tribulation. It would then most definitely cripple global ship-trade. That in turn must mean that the destruction of the trading colossus of Babylon the Great (shown in Revelation 18) must also occur in the first half of the Tribulation period.
We can additionally deduce the approximate time of the financial collapse from Revelation 13:17. It describes how all were required to take the “mark” and to worship the 1st beast in order to have permission to “buy and sell.” At what point in the first half of the Tribulation does the 2nd beast enforce an economic and financial overhaul? In our opinion, this event fits somewhere between the 5th and 7th seals (perhaps earlier). It implies that great financial difficulties were already unmanageable, therefore requiring the imposition of a fix—namely, a new financial system—by the 2nd beast.
One factor we must not overlook is that human beings are somewhat adaptable to difficult conditions, and can be most reluctant to give up their idols. The book of Revelation repeatedly displays just how obdurate earthdwellers will be, refusing to change their ways and repent (see Revelation 9:20-21 for just one example).
Also, we must not forget the biases and promotions of the “Wall Street spirit” of the world. Its analysts and pundits have a remarkable skill to be able to turn every calamity into a buying opportunity. (A further elaboration of this topic is in the MCM article entitled “The Coming Glee of Great Catastrophe,” February 2006.)
Given Wall Street’s capacity for rapacious opportunism—this spirit being embedded today in the world’s established commercial culture (and in the very heart of man)—we can understand the obstinate attitudes that likely will prevail during the greatest crisis times of all history.
Thoughts to Ponder
We conclude that the “fall” of commercial, systemic Babylon comes about sometime before the end of the first half of the Tribulation period.
Though the great trading colossus may seem indestructible and a source of wealth forever, it rests on feet of clay.
Seen over history, Western society (now also including much of the rest of the world) has been living in the window of what we have called the “five pillars of P”—a window for only a very brief time of a century and a half or so—a fraction of mankind’s sojourn upon earth.
The “five pillars of P” stands for Petroleum, Penicillin, Population demographics, Productivity, and Pyramided finance. These are the five major factors that have produced today’s end-time modernity.
During this latter period, mankind has become exceedingly proud of its achievements. These have contributed to a fertile breeding ground for humanism, mankind’s confidence and self-determination without God. Yet it is overlooked that all five pillars are subject to reversal.
For example, mankind may yet lose the battle with microbes due to resistance to antibiotics. Also, some day—likely relatively soon—the age of petroleum will pass.
However, none of these factors are more vulnerable than the last two on this list—Productivity and Pyramiding. The recent eruption of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) makes this clear. These two “P’s” fostered much of the economic and financial expansion over this period, involving globalization, technology, the increasingly invasive role of money, and the unstable system of monetarism. It has created a lustrous, intoxicating apparition of wealth—albeit mostly false wealth.
While the advance of technology itself likely will not reverse or be lost, the huge financial colossus that has emerged in recent years is vulnerable to collapse at some point, as tremors of the past decade or so testify.
Wealth is hoarded as never before today, and likely will become much more imbalanced in the future. Says the writer of Ecclesiastes: “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners” (Ecclesiastes 5:13). Apostle James also prophesies similarly.
There could yet be many more financial crises, as already mentioned. Christians have no special assurance that they will fare any better than non-Christians throughout these periods. In fact, global financial crisis or not, Christians will increasingly be at a “loss” in these last days, as persecution increases and Christians are marginalized. “Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil” (Amos 5:13).
Thankfully, despite any loss we are still saved. We have the “blessed hope.” The Lord will indeed meet us in the air and take us to be with Him.
Apostle Paul says: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). Further, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
Finally, Apostle John cautions us: “Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” (2 John 1:8).
About the Author: Wilfred J. Hahn is a global economist/strategist. Formerly a top-ranked global analyst, research director for a major Wall Street investment bank, and head of Canada’s largest global investment operation, his writings focus on the endtime roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages. His 2002 book The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free accurately anticipated and prepared its readers for the Global Financial Crisis. His newest book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied: Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble, looks further into the future.