A recent headline noted 40% of Americans are unable to handle an unexpected $400 expense. This isn’t surprising. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Total outstanding U.S. consumer debt tops $3.9 trillion, and average household debt is $135,768. It’s clear many people struggle to manage their finances, and this mismanagement extends to our government budgets as well. The U.S. national debt currently exceeds $22 trillion, and the U.S. isn’t alone. Other countries also carry large national debts. Japan’s national debt exceeds $10 trillion, more than twice its gross domestic product. Globally, government debt equals $66 trillion. If you tried to pay that back over 100 years, it would cost you $1,255,707 per minute – and that’s at zero percent interest!
This is not the way God wants us to live. The Bible says you should owe nothing but love to anyone (Romans 13:8). It also says the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). The Bible also says you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). This means the world will eventually pay the price for its irresponsible spending decisions.
A Broken System
These massive national debts will lead to a great global crisis. The day will come when a nation or several nations will no longer be able to continue borrowing from tomorrow to pay for today. When will this happen? I don’t know. For decades, many have warned us we’ll pay a steep price for these massive debts. So far, we haven’t. But does that mean we never will? No. The day will come, and the pain will be severe. As the Bible says, if you guarantee a debt and you can’t pay it, “even your bed will be snatched from under you” (Proverbs 22:26-27). So how have we survived so long while piling up ever-increasing amounts of debt?
It’s done through an invisible tax called inflation. Most national debt is owed in its home nation’s currency. For example, United States debt is owed in U.S. dollars. Japanese debt is owed in yen. Mexican debt is owed in pesos, and so on. In each of these cases, the indebted government controls the currency it owes its debt in. This gives them a unique ability you and I don’t have. They can simply print more money to pay back their debt.
Because of this ability, these nations will never default on their debt. They can simply create more money with the touch of a button and use that money to service their debt. Of course, this creates another problem. If you keep printing more of something, it eventually becomes worthless. So far, this hasn’t happened to the United States or any of the world’s current major economic powers. But if we continue on this unsustainable path, it’s certain to happen. But this also highlights another problem.
Not every government has the ability to print their way out of a debt default. Not every indebted nation controls the currency it must use to pay back its debt, and this is the genesis of a true global debt crisis. Greece is a prime example. Greece owes $370 billion, more than 178% of its gross domestic product. They owe this debt in euros, and Greece can’t print more euros. If they still used the drachma, they could print enough drachmas to avoid default. But the European Central Bank controls the euro. This is why Greece required bailouts in recent years, and it’s why we’re certain to see more “Greek Debt Crisis” headlines in the future.
This same problem plagues other EU nations such as Italy and Portugal. If these nations default on their debt, many of their creditors (most of them large European banks) will be insolvent. They, in turn, will be unable to pay their creditors. This insolvency will spread through the world’s financial institutions like a contagion. It will freeze the world banking system and credit markets throughout the world. The resulting crisis will make people long for “the good old days” of the Great Recession.
A Ticking Time Bomb
It’s not a matter of if this debt crisis will erupt; it’s only a matter of when. These massive government debts are a ticking financial time bomb. What will set them off? Will it be the U.S./China trade war? Conflict in the Middle East? Rising energy prices or mortgage defaults? No one knows. But if those things don’t happen first, one future event is certain to unleash the global debt crisis. What is this future event?
It’s the rapture.
Imagine the impact when all the Christians in the world disappear in an instant. What will that do to the global economy?
As I write this, about 2.2 billion people out of a world population of 7.3 billion self-identify as Christians. Now, not all of those people are born-again Christians (John 3:3). Some of them probably self-identify as Christians because their parents or grandparents did. In all likelihood, the rapture won’t take 2.2 billion people. But if only 10% of those self-identified Christians disappear, that’s still 220 million people. Think about that. 220 million consumers, gone. 220 million workers, gone. 220 million investors, gone. Many of them will leave mortgages behind that go unpaid. They’ll leave homes behind that fall into disrepair. Many will disappear from key leadership positions. In short, the economic impact will catastrophic.
The End-Times Financial System
From a financial standpoint, the world we live in is unsustainable. Eventually, the current financial system will collapse. If it doesn’t collapse before the rapture, then the rapture itself is certain to trigger a meltdown. So why does all this matter? It matters because the Bible says the beginning stages of the Tribulation will feature a severe economic crisis (Revelation 6:5-6). And if history has taught us one thing, it’s that crises often bring significant change.
The Bible says the end-times economic system will be far different from the one we have today. The Antichrist will dominate the world (Revelation 13:7). He will have complete control over every economic transaction, deciding who can buy or sell (Revelation 13:17). How does this come to be? Again, we don’t know, and we won’t know until it happens. But today’s massive debt burden may well erupt into the crisis the Antichrist uses to seize control, and the rapture might well be the event that starts it all. It’s yet another reason to expect the soon return of Jesus Christ. So keep your eyes fixed on Him (Hebrews 12:2), and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks the reason for the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15).
Britt Gillette is author of the free ebook Coming to Jesus as well as the books Signs of the Second Coming and Racing Toward Armageddon. Receive his book 7 Signs of the End Times for free when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.