Just who or what is Mammon? Its identity seems elusive. Its name is only mentioned in the Bible (KJV) on three occasions (Luke 16:9 and 11, and one of these instances is mentioned twice in the Bible: Matt 6:24 and Luke 16:13). Though only having modest mention, Mammon is one of the more important forces in the Bible. The reader will note that we capitalize this word. Why? Because it has a large metaphysical role in the world. Thus, it is spiritually inhabited.
As far as we can see, Mammon has been on quite a tear in recent years. Not only is wealth being stockpiled (in other words, hoarded) as never before, but also the flipside is occurring, as it must. Global indebtedness is also soaring to new heights. It serves up an entertaining spectacle. Wealth is again experiencing a great silly season. Investors are running after mythical values and cavorting with financial markets. How so?
Recently, a huge froth storm was observed. In one day, the market value of the shares of Nvidia (a chipmaker catering to Artificial Intelligence users) soared $US 185 billion. But that is not all. In ensuing days, the shares of this company exceeded $1 trillion. The rapidity of the surge can hardly be imagined.
Historically, there have been 8 other companies whose value has exceeded the trillion-dollar mark at one time or another—Apple (now valued in excess of $3 trillion), Alphabet, Microsoft, Meta, Tesla, Amazon, Saudi Aramco, and PetroChina. There is no telling how long this mania may continue.
While focusing on the “trillion” number, consider also this report from the International Monetary Fund. This agency tabulated that over the years 2021 to December 2022, $17 trillion worth of monetary and fiscal support was injected into world economies. This amounts to the equivalent of 18.9% of world GDP. These huge numbers are indeed of “Biblical proportions” and seem only a jump and skip away from the final occurrences of apocalyptic fulfillment.
Reviewing the trumpet judgments mentioned in the book of Revelation, we note eleven of these are said to gravely impact a “third” of the world. We would observe that the statistic of 18.9% mentioned above is well on its way to becoming as large in worldly impact as a third.
Who Owns the World?
Mammon has surely influenced mankind’s fixation of owning things. Just who owns the world? This is a question that will attract many different answers today. Some will argue that the earth belongs to itself. Human life is therefore no more valuable than any animal life and may be sacrificed to save the future of earth.
Geopolitical strategists will argue differently. Their craft of strategizing “space, borders and time” can lead to great geographic possession.
Then there are the merchants and economists. They will be inclined to see ownership more as a matter of law and title. Anything that can be owned or transacted is considered to be possessed.
Christians, however, will pursue the answers to this question in the Bible. The Scriptures do have the answer to this question. However, in consulting Scripture, we encounter some seemingly confusing perspectives.
Firstly, we read this: “To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it” (Deut 10:14). We learn here that everything is the Lord’s. Also, the Lord says that “the whole earth is mine” (Exod 19:5b) and “the cattle on a thousand hills” are His (Ps 50:10b).
Yet, the Psalmist also says something on this subject, which, at first glance, appears contradictory. He says, “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Ps 115:16). Here, it clearly says that “the earth He has given to mankind.” How can the earth be the Lord’s (i.e., Deut 10:14) but also be given to mankind? We are not scholars of Hebrew. However, a brief study of Psalm 50 suggests the view that the earth is being assigned to mankind more as a domain—a conservatorship for a time.
This aligns with the command found in Genesis. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground'” (Gen 1:28). The world is not possessed by mankind, but rather the earth is put under his dominion for a time.
The Earth Up for Grabs
At the very beginning, after God created the earth and the heavens and He saw that it was good, there were only two people on the entire earth. There were yet no landowner frictions. They were fully provided for in the Garden of Eden and were not subjected to hard labor.
But something happened after the Fall and down through the millennia. Human ownership became fully overtaken by “the lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16).
Over time, a globalized, commercially dominated world would emerge, where the concepts of possession, ownership, wealth, and consumption were to become the very essence of the meaning of life and existence.
Ownership Then and Now
There are two key aspects of ownership as it exists today that are instructive to review. First, most all of the valuable parts of creation are now under the legal ownership of man in one format or another. Second, ownership of all these domains is held by relatively few individuals and entities. If not owned by government or kings and queens, then by individuals … some of these extremely rich.
Today, mankind has created conventions that convey ownership rights to literally everything that God created. International organizations may exist to help mediate on these ownership issues in almost every domain. It is amazing what can be owned today.
Most people think of world financial markets and underlying economic systems as representing wealth. Firstly, we would say financial markets play a greater role in the distribution of wealth rather than its creation. They are not its source. All wealth comes from God, either in the form of His creation or His life-giving capacity. In the human realm, wealth translates from fruits of labor.
All the wealth of the world today (as we humans would recognize it) cannot exist apart from humans and their labor. It is a simple fact that is too rarely recognized. Human labor—past, present, and future—comprises the bulk of what is wealth today. Its ownership may be highly skewed, as it surely is in our time. The use of debt allows a very small group of people to own a disproportionately large output of human labor.
Points to Ponder
Christ questioned the disciples: “When I return, will I find any faith in the world?” While he said this in the form of a question, it should really be read as an endtime prophecy. Very little “faith” will be found upon earth when He returns. And that could be very, very soon. Then, mankind and its leadership will be shown to have staked their faith in their lusts like Sodom, “overfed and unconcerned” (Ezekiel 16:49); worshiping manmade idols of wood and stone (greater economic growth, wealth and ownership); and lastly, charting their own destiny and goodness outside of God.
The most unimaginable things in the earth’s sphere are now owned by humans. Even planets and stars can be claimed (unofficially, of course).
In all seriousness, we realize that the “lust of the eyes” at this “late, great state” in the world has been built up into a highly sophisticated ownership system, giving rise to massive and measurable wealth, riches, and splendor. Property rights and their protection are indeed important.
Seen in the aggregate, this huge, measurable pile of wealth—though much of it indeed is false wealth—serves as a great anchor for the materialists and humanists. Progress is defined as wealth continuing to increase. More is better. Its pursuit is the essence of the meaning of life. It is the value system of Mammon.
The world may think that everything is up for grabs for personal or corporate ownership and that this will mark the advancement of mankind in the future. But one thing can never be owned by humans. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We do not own ourselves, whether we are Christians or not.
We are not our own. This brings great comfort to those that live unto the Lord. “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).
Can the world boast of the ownership that the Bible tells of here in this verse? “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
One day, the ownership structure of the world will change completely. We will continue to review the late, great state of “the lust of the eyes” in the world today in Part 2.
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.
Do you have questions or other perspectives, you can contact Wilfred at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that for reasons of volume and investment securities regulation, he cannot give financial advice.