Member Letter from Chairman Melvin Rhodes
November 15, 2011
What a wonderful Feast of Tabernacles everybody seems to have had. Inspiring, unifying, peaceful—these were words people used in their Feast reports. Some said it was the best Feast they’ve had yet!
It may be hard adjusting back to “real life” after the Feast, but at least we don’t have to worry about paying the bills. God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided us with a system to save for the Feast—removing the headaches that come from a heavy debt load.
Sadly, our nations have not followed biblical laws regarding saving and debt, but have chosen rather to overspend and borrow excessively. The result is the current international debt crisis that threatens to engulf us all.
In this regard, 2011 may turn out to be as significant for Europe as was 1989. The fall of communism led directly to the rapid growth of the European Union as the Union absorbed most of the countries that had formed the Eastern Soviet bloc.
Now, this year we are seeing significant changes in Europe once again.
To begin with, earlier this year serious financial problems led to the fall of both the Irish and Portuguese governments. Then in November it was Greece and Italy’s turn to go through government upheaval. In just one week, the prime ministers of both countries announced their resignations, and their governments collapsed. They could not get majority support in their parliaments to deal with the overwhelming debts facing both countries. In an interesting development, both countries have had leaders imposed on them who were not elected. They are technocrats, not politicians.
In addition, the international debt crisis is far from over. Spain and France are two more eurozone members in trouble. In the last few days, France has announced austerity measures.
According to the Wall Street Journal: “Italy may yet need financial aid if the mere announcement of a new government doesn’t stop the capital outflow…Failure to halt the crisis could lead, in the worst case, to an Italian debt default that cripples Europe’s banks, plunges the region into a slump and roils the global financial system” (“Exit From Italian Debt Spurs Fears,” WSJ, Nov. 9, 2011).
The debt contagion is spreading—with no country totally immune. Even those with little debt will be negatively affected by a slowdown in international trade and investment.
What’s been interesting throughout the never-ending European fiscal crisis is how well the value of the euro has held up against other major currencies, including the U.S. dollar. Today it stands at $1.35. “Europe’s problem isn’t the euro. If it were, Hungary, Iceland and Latvia—none of which use the euro—would have been spared their painful days of reckoning. The same applies for Britain. Europe is in a debt spiral brought about by spendthrift, overweening and inefficient governments. This is a crisis of the welfare state,” comments the Wall Street Journal (“Europe’s Entitlement Reckoning,” WSJ, Nov. 9, 2011).
The paragraph continues: “Mario Monti, who is tipped to lead a new government of technocrats, once described the Italian economy as a case of ‘self-inflicted strangulation.’ Government debt is 120% of GDP, making Italy the world’s third largest borrower after the U.S. and Japan.” America’s debt problem is worse than Italy or Greece!
What’s happening over there will soon be here—affecting the United States as assuredly as Europe is in crisis now!
It’s not surprising the Vatican has come out with an 18-page document titled “Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority.” “Since then, it has been celebrated by advocates of bigger government the world over,” writes Robert A. Sirico in the WSJ (“The Vatican’s Monetary Wisdom,” WSJ, Oct. 27, 2011).
The Vatican paper correctly shows the origins of the current financial crisis, which goes back to currency changes that began 40 years ago when Richard Nixon severed the link between the dollar and gold—a direct consequence of his predecessor’s choosing to fight a war without raising taxes. Since then we’ve lived in a world of crazy money. The analysis of the problem may be correct, but the Vatican’s proposed solution of establishing a “world central bank” and a “global public authority” would mean the end of 250 years of Anglo-Saxon domination of world finance and pose a very real threat to national sovereignty, independence and individual liberty.
Yet this is exactly what is prophesied in the Bible. In Revelation chapters 17 and 18 we read of an end-time financial system that is a revived Roman Empire, in close relationship with the universal false church. Many of the European Union countries were a part of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago. The desire for a European union has been a dream down through the centuries. In 1922 Mussolini announced a revival of the Roman Empire.
Only 35 years later, the modern European Union was established by the Treaty of Rome, with members pledged to form “an ever closer union.” Part of that pledge was fulfilled with the common European currency, the euro. Of the 27 EU members, 17 use the euro. In spite of the current fiscal crisis, Estonia embraced the euro only this year, becoming the fifth of 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004 to adopt the euro, and the first ex-Soviet country to do so.
Numbers can be overwhelming. Revelation chapter 17 shows that 10 kings (10 leaders of political entities or countries), will at some time unite to form the final resurrected Beast power.
“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful” (verses 12-14).
Clearly, this is an end-time prophecy that is fulfilled just before Christ’s return. It also shows us that there must be further changes in Europe to bring about this final union of 10 nations.
A significant change already taking place through the financial upheavals convulsing Europe is that Germany has emerged as the key player and the most solvent major country in Europe. The Germans have been fiscally far more responsible than any of the other western nations, including the U.S. and UK—both of which were once dismissed by the late French President Charles de Gaulle as “the Anglo-Saxon debtor nations.” Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that: “It is now the task of our generation to complete the economic and currency union in Europe and create, step by step, a political union.”
Keep your eyes on Europe as it goes through the changes that will eventually lead to the formation of the Beast power.
At the same time, realize that this international debt crisis is a global pandemic that will reach us all in the near future. Governments everywhere will have to cut spending drastically. This includes the United States, and it will have a major impact around the world.
At the launch of the euro over a decade ago, The Economist magazine reminded readers that a major lesson of history is that eventually paper money always fails. This is the fate that will befall the euro, the U.S. dollar and the British pound.
It is also a reminder that we cannot put our trust in mammon. Matthew 6:24 says: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
This financial crisis is going to affect us all. Let us put our trust in God to preserve us through it and to help us stay focused on His soon coming Kingdom and on preaching the gospel of that Kingdom now—while we still have the opportunity to do so. Let us pray for our countries at this difficult time: that the financial means will still be present for us to preach the good news of the coming Kingdom of God to an unstable and unhappy world.
In Christ’s Service,