Ripening Times #9
Over the decades, I have been to countless conferences (some of these prophecy conferences … others secular economics meetings) where at least one speaker will fire-up the audience with many charts showing soaring debts. A frequent representation has always been a picture showing stacks of $100 bills reaching the moon … and so on.
Catastrophe is always just around the corner according to these speakers … some even claiming that certain “insiders” have told them that a monetary collapse is just weeks away. But here we are, some half a century and more later, and outstanding debts are accelerating anew as perhaps never before in history.
These speakers (and we mean no personal harm when we say this) almost always miss the essential point. For one, we must not overlook that every penny of debt in the entire world is owned by someone or some entity somewhere. If debt is increasing overall (and we will not burden readers with reams of statistics), the heaping of wealth must also increase. Of course, there are many underlying processes at work that bring about such extreme wealth imbalances.
Why Was the Levitical System Needed?
Since time immemorial, there has always been a human tendency to produce a rich class. In part, it is the outcome of the innate human penchants (these being the greatest weaknesses of human beings) of the love of money and economic security. Wealth would heap itself up (see James 5).
Over time, left to its natural course, the majority of wealth will most always be held by a small minority. Here we again recall that debt imbalances almost always go hand in hand with the heaping up of wealth. Many economists overlook this flipside relationship, as mentioned.
Extreme debt levels lead to a destruction of benevolent governance, resulting in oligarchy and plutocracy. Why? Because, as already pointed out, the more debt that exists, the more concentrated wealth will become over time. The wealthy become wealthier.
There is a tendency then to become oppressors … not allowing the debt captivity of the populaces to be reversed. Arnold Toynbee was one of the very few modern economists who understood that the role of debt would lead to concentration of wealth. This is exactly the process unfolding today … worldwide.
Therefore, the emergence of an oppressive, entrenched rich class was always a threat to societies—to a greater or lesser extent. (Rest assured, this is not a diatribe against the rich. These are statements about natural, innate human behaviors.)
God commanded the Hebrews to follow the Levitical system … not one like the Roman system. Under the Levitical system, there still existed plenty of reward and opportunity for entrepreneurs and industrious workers.
Crucially, the Levitical laws prohibited (and prevented) chronic economic slavery and a perpetual poor class. We may call it the Ancient Monetary Theory. It stands in direct contrast to the new Modern Monetary Theory, as well as Roman philosophy, which upheld the sanctity of debt, not its cancellation.
Ancient Wisdom of Debt Forgiveness
In ancient agrarian societies, the burden of debt tended to expand until it exceeded the ability of the debtors to repay. One drought was often enough to force farmers into deep indebtedness. Often, they would need to borrow in order to pay their taxes. At the very least, farmers would need to buy their seed to be able to plant the next year’s crops.
Readers may be familiar with Hammurabi (who wrote the famous Code of Laws). He announced one or more debt Jubilees. (As an interesting time reference, he may actually have been a contemporary of Abraham of the Bible.) As part of a Jubilee (also referred to as a debt amnesty or clean slate), debts were written off or canceled.
Debt clean slates were a wise policy. It had a healthful impact on many households and overall economic activity. The rise of plutocrats (a super-rich class that dominated everything, including rulers) was held at bay by doing so.
The Levitical 7- and 50-year debt cycles of the Hebrews were very similar in effect. The Hebrews were mandated by God to flatten all debts every 7th and 50th year. In the latter cycle, labor contracts would be canceled, and property ownership would return to its original familial owners.
A leading researcher of Middle East cultures in this field has been Dr. Michael Hudson. His most recent book, …And Forgive Them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year (Dresden: ISLET-Verlag, 2018), lays out the history of these practices.
Of course, the status quo has not been quick to endorse his work. Much to the contrary. Why? Because, as mentioned, we today live in the Roman Era, which pursues a much more oppressive treatment of debt. The Roman-style creditor system is supreme and powerful today and has no intention of redistributing the wealth of its prosperous elites to the poor.
Given that the current-day systems are so entrenched and oppressive … holding captives … for this system to be overturned on earth requires a “deliverer.” Thankfully, the Bible says that there will be one such person.
That is the reason why the Lord Jesus Christ said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19; cf. Isaiah 61:1-2).
For the world systems, a great global Jubilee is prophesied, and it is identified with “the acceptable day of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Still Living in the Roman Era
There can be no doubt that we are still living in the Roman Era today. The Bible verifies this view. As such, it only follows that the creditor/debtor relations that prevail today are also of Roman origin.
According to the book of Revelation, the Roman Era is identified as the sixth king. We quote Apostle John, who said, “They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while” (Revelation 17:10).
The one “that is” (existing now) is most certainly the sixth and Roman king. Given the pace of acceleration in debt growth, however, we would not be surprised if the 7th king were at the very door. Whenever the rule of the 7th king emerges, it will be only for a short while. Clearly, it serves as a prelude to great disaster (The Great Tribulation).
Eight for Eight Reasons
We consider rising world indebtedness as one of the “signs of the ripening times.” In summary, what are the grounds for our case?
At the very beginning of this Ripening Times series, we laid out 8 qualifying criteria with which to screen end-time factors of significance. Above all, each “ripening” development must be supported Biblically. Crucially, the Bible does directly indicate that a worldwide debt explosion plays a key role in the Last Days. In addition, our screen of 7 other indicators also validates debt as a “ripening factor.” We will list them briefly.
- Acceleration: Any “accelerating” trend, particularly so beginning after 1948 (this being the point in which God’s timepiece, Israel, again became a sovereign entity in its original land) and/or post 1880s (the beginning of Zionism). If the Lord sees fit to clearly alert us to such momentous time points in His plan, then we would be wise to expect other indicators to emerge as well.
- Recency: While the “recency effect” (meaning that one tends to be biased by what is seen presently) is the bane of all secular forecasters and interpreters of Biblical signs alike, a “recently accelerating trend” is much more notable than one having begun a long time ago. Why? Because the Bible frequently tells us that last day events will come “quickly.” “The great day of the LORD is near—near and coming quickly” (Zephaniah 1:14). Pre-Rapture Christians should be able to discern increasing intensity in world affairs and the convergence of the signs of the times to final events.
- Improbability: We find ourselves asking “why” regarding the unlikely emergence of a factor… and “why now and not at some other time in history.” Why would policymakers respond with policies that are directly contrary to historical knowledge? The very improbability and inexplicability of such emerging trends qualify as a possible sign.
- Global Scope: Trends that have a worldwide influence (not just applying locally or to North America) are an indicative criterion… i.e., identifying them as a potential “significant” trend. After all, end-time Bible prophecy is global in scope. For example, the Tribulation … the world’s leaders conspiring to unshackle their chains (Psalm 2:3) … etc. are all global fulfillments. Therefore, we are particularly alert for “global” trends.
- Interconnection: Any trend that has confluence or interconnection with another accelerating trend of “significance”—interweaving and reinforcing each other—likely qualifies as also being a “significant” trend. In this case, for example, global debt dynamics are interrelated to “heaping up of wealth” …another ripening sign of the times.
- Suddenness: A tell-tale key identifying a “significant trend” is its suddenness and rapidity. The entire global rise of the credit/debtor situation that we witness today has unfolded in less than a century.
- Godlessness: We have stated that significant “signs” are also likely to be in the service of Mammon, humanism, greed and immorality. It would not be incongruous if they cater to political and economic expediency. Godlessness is rife.
All seven characteristics validate an end-time debt explosion as a qualifying candidate trend of prophetic significance. While we will not want to engage in speculation on the near-term timing of the world’s debt explosion, we nevertheless can identify a clear-cut ripening trend of prophetic significance.
These “ripening signs” of the end times are indeed well underway, as we have shown in this series.
Points to Ponder
The Creator deliberately designed the universe to comprise dualities … good and bad, hot and cold … etc. But the major overriding duality of all consists of these two realms that oppose each other: God and Mammon. God created it as such that one must willingly continue (choose) to love Him completely.
It is not possible to love Mammon and to love God at the same time. And, God foreknew, of course, that Mammon—this being Satan’s realm of influence over humanity—would entirely mislead and corrupt the world. A Roman-style credit and debt system is a key part of this program.
Massive indebtedness is, therefore, a sign of the ripening times.
All of the above is not to say that God intended all to be equal … everything to be egalitarian. Far from it. The Bible recognizes that everyone has special giftings; that everyone is different. At the same time, people who do not work do not merit to eat: “[…] we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat'” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
It surely will not be overlooked that rising debt (in real and per capita terms) carries with it severe consequences “eventually.” The time point will arrive … as it must … where the debt piles implode upon themselves.
As the situation exists now, with global debt levels already at all-time highs, the world finds itself reliant (addicted) upon continued borrowed economic growth. Why? Because there really is no possibility of reversal. The world has embarked upon a path of no return. As we have said, this alone suggests prophetic significance: There exists today a record amount of debt globally, causing the world to be on an irreversible trajectory. Its final impact can only be of Biblical proportions, as described in Bible prophecy.
And, as we have shown, 8 of the 8 criteria that we use to confirm “ripening trends of prophetic significance” unanimously apply in the case of global indebtedness.
Complicating this situation is the fact that the world’s population continues to age. For now, these dynamics are contributing to elevated financial markets (for the short-term) … being deceptively and dangerously alluring. This delusive state of affairs could last some time yet because policymakers and individual citizens “want to believe.”
Why? “[…] Wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). This is the aspect that many long-time “doom and gloom” forecasters have overlooked. While they may be correct in their theoretical diagnosis, they have failed to recognize the human capacity for self-deception. People will believe what they want to hear.
What is the Bible’s view on debt forgiveness? It is the same as with sin. Both are to be forgiven. Both sinners and debtors are captives. A great Jubilee is coming … a great resetting of the world’s systems. How wonderful are the words, “Forgive us our debts […]” (Matthew 6:12) to, “Forgive us our sins […]” (Luke 11:4)
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. A following book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied: Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble, looks further into the prophetic future.
Contact Wilfred at: email@example.com