“New Cases of the Coronavirus Double in Italy.” “Health Experts Predict an Explosion of New Cases in the United States.” “Governors in Several States Close Schools, Bars and Sit-down Restaurants.” This is just a sampling of the headlines screaming at readers on a 24/7, non-stop basis.
No wonder people are scared.
And this fear applies not only to personal health but personal wealth. Stock markets are plummeting. Retirement nest eggs are losing thousands of dollars in value. Businesses are laying off employees.
For years, some economists and government leaders have been predicting a complete collapse of the world economy. Some evangelists and laypeople have been predicting that such a collapse will initiate the time of trouble.
Well, what about it? Is it true? Are the current market declines the beginning of the financial collapse that many have been predicting for so many years? Does the Bible have anything to say about this?
Let’s take a look.
Jesus has not left us without warnings about world conditions at the time preceding his coming.
“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matt 24:38,39. NKJV
Here Jesus tells us that society in Noah’s day was so absorbed in the pleasures of life that they gave no thought to eternal realities.
Jesus says that is how people will be just before His coming.
Luke repeats the warning: “And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:27, 28
Luke goes further and describes the days of Lot:
“Likewise, as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so, will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Luke 17: 28, 29 (emphasis mine)
Interestingly, Jesus said that people in Sodom and Gomorrah were busy buying, selling, planting, and building. That seems to describe a very robust economy.
Ellen White makes this comment:
“When the reasoning of philosophy has banished the fear of God's judgments; when religious teachers are pointing forward to long ages of peace and prosperity, and the world are absorbed in their rounds of business and pleasure, planting and building, feasting and merrymaking, rejecting God's warnings and mocking His messengers—then it is that sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:3”--Patriarchs & Prophets page 103
Both Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy affirm that in the days before the Flood and in Lot’s time, business was strong, the economy was thriving. These texts do not seem to describe a world economic collapse.
In fact, it is this very prosperity that lulls society into a fatal sense of security:
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.” 1 Thess 5:3
Scripture reveals that economic conditions just before the coming of Christ will be that of economic prosperity and growth, not financial and economic paralysis. The danger to God’s remnant people will not, initially, be economic hardship, but wealth and prosperity.
Near the time of Christ’s coming Revelation 13 predicts that satanic powers, called beasts, will arise from both the sea and the earth.”
The earth beast, “causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast.” Verse 17
It is clear from this verse that those who receive the mark of the beast will be busy buying and selling. If the world economy collapsed at this time, no one would be buying or selling!
Furthermore, Jesus clearly stated that the work of proclaiming the gospel and making disciples would continue until His coming.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the “Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
God’s work must continue until it is finished. If there were to be a global economic collapse, not only would all worldly business cease; God’s world-wide work of proclaiming the gospel in the light of the Three-Angel’s Messages would also come to an end. That cannot and will not happen.
Contrary to popular belief, the world economy does not collapse before God’s work is finished. But what happens when it is finished? What then?
Revelation 18 describes a terrible judgment upon Babylon, the enemy of God’s people.
“For her sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered her iniquities. Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works. . . “
“In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’”
“Therefore, her plagues will come in one day-death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.”
What are these plagues referred to in verse 9? They are the seven last plagues described in Revelation chapter 16.
Verses 9-19 describe the fall of Babylon. Rather than the moral fall described in verses 2-6, these verses describe an economic fall, even an economic collapse.
Verse 11: And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise any more.
Verse 14: “The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you . . . and you shall find them no more at all.”
Verse 17: “For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.”
Yes, these verses do describe a world-wide economic collapse! But when does this happen? During the time of the seven last plagues—after the close of probation and after God’s end-time work is finished.
Does this mean that there will be no more economic downturns, recessions or depressions? Obviously not. We have experienced those all too often. We are possibly watching another one unfold before our eyes.
Why is this important? The word of God assures us that the world economy is under His control.
He will guide the affairs of this planet until his work is finished.
Are world economic conditions precarious? Yes, they are. Will there be more down economic downturns? Most certainly. Will there be financial hardships? Absolutely.
But will the world economy collapse before God’s work is finished? Not according to the sure word of prophecy.
“Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” Rev 7: 2,3
Mark Eaton CPA, Secretary-Treasurer of the Indiana Conference