Economics was the force that determined the course of world history—and continues to be a primary force in the drive toward fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
by Melvin Rhodes
As we transition into a new year, it’s interesting to see developments in the world that are leading toward the fulfillment of biblical end-time prophecies.
Bible students have long speculated on how the current European Union of 27 member countries will lead to the prophesied 10-member Beast power of Revelation 17.
Note verses 12 and 13: “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.”
As the EU grew over the course of five decades from the original six members to 27, many thought that all 27 would form a federation of 10 regions that would ultimately comprise the Beast.
An alternative scenario now seems possible: that the EU, as presently constituted, could collapse and be replaced with a new German-led economic power with fewer member states.
Germany is booming
According to today’s GMT news program on BBC America (Dec. 17, 2010), German exports are up again as the country takes advantage of a weaker euro and increased demand worldwide for the quality engineering products Germany is famous for. As The Economist noted, “Yet the euro zone as a whole has grown at a decent rate for an ageing continent, thanks to oomph from Germany, the fastest-growing big rich economy in 2010” (“Three-Way Split,” Dec. 11, 2010, emphasis added).
But that weaker euro is part of a wider problem. There are serious financial problems throughout the 16-member euro zone (that is, the EU countries that use the euro as their national currency).
When the euro was started, there were strict rules about overspending. Member governments were not to overspend by more than 3 percent, a rule that seems to have been broken more often than kept. The result is that more profligate countries like Greece and Ireland have required bailouts accompanied by strict austerity programs and are struggling to stay in the euro zone. Other countries like Spain and Portugal are in serious trouble and may also need help.
“The euro zone’s political leaders, alas, are a fractious and underwhelming lot. An even bigger mess seems all but certain in 2011,” the same Economist article goes on to say.
Germany is key to helping the weaker members—but this is causing resentment at home, with many calling for the return of the deutsche mark, Germany’s former national currency that was the envy of other nations striving for financial stability.
There’s now speculation that some of the more economically challenged countries may switch back to their former currencies so that they can devalue and gain a trading advantage. In turn, this could lead to a more solid core of nations (10 perhaps?) that, together with Germany, would form the nucleus of an “ever closer union,” the stated intent of the 1957 Treaty of Rome. Keep watching Germany, the fastest growing economy in the world.
Protests in the United Kingdom
Looking back at European history, the metamorphosis from 27 to 10 may not be smooth. There could be violent convulsions ahead.
Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan blogged recently: “For those who have read about or vaguely remember the stolid British tribe of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, which held out in its ‘finest hour,’ last week brought a disgusting sight.
“Mobs in Parliament Square set fire to the statue of 19th century statesman Lord Palmerston and urinated on the statue of Winston Churchill. Charlie Gilmour, son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour was swinging by a rope from the Cenotaph that memorializes the 700,000 British dead of the Great War.
“At night, hundreds of these anarchists peeled off to appear on Regent Street as the Rolls-Royce carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker-Bowles, entered. The Rolls was pounded with boots, bottles, sticks, fists and paintballs, as the mob howled ‘Tory scum!’ and ‘Off with their heads!’
“A sign was pushed through an open window into Camilla’s side. So precarious was the situation, Charles’ security detail was close to drawing guns to protect the first in line to the throne.
“What was the mob protesting? Tuition increases for students who pay less for college than the parents of American students. In Parliament, the ruling coalition’s 83-vote margin, after defections, was cut by three-fourths on the vote to raise the tuition fees.
“And Europe is only at the beginning of this age of austerity.
“Across the Irish Sea, the 50,000 protesters have departed from the General Post Office where the Rising of 1916 took place. But the government’s budget to meet the demands of the European Union for a bailout of Ireland passed in the Dail [Ireland’s lower parliamentary house] by just five votes, 82-77” (www.buchanan.org, “Can Democracy Cope?”, Dec. 14, 2010).).
Although not an EU member, Russia saw violent protests the same week against immigrants. With rising unemployment and serious economic difficulties, added to which are fears of terrorism, anti-immigrant feeling is only likely to get worse across the European continent.
Democracy itself could once again be in peril, as it was in the 1930s during the Great Depression. “Though the trend hasn’t received much attention, the world is now experiencing a democracy recession,” observed an editorial in The Wall Street Journal (“The Democracy Recession,” Dec. 13, 2010). “What are the reasons?” asks the paper. “Hard economic times can lead to harder politics, and some authoritarians have exploited economic anxiety with populism to extend their political power.” While the nations of the EU have not been affected this way yet, history suggests that could quickly change.
Trends in Asia
The title of the Economist article earlier quoted, “Three-Way Split,” refers to the fact that the world economy is going off in three different directions. While Europe practices austerity, with all its serious possible ramifications to the very future of the EU and of democracy itself, the United States is overspending, and the big emerging markets, mostly in Asia, are booming. The two biggest emerging markets are China and India, two countries that seem destined to form closer economic ties.
While visiting New Delhi, “Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao…. announced $16 billion in deals between Chinese and Indian companies as Beijing tries to make its mark on the economy of its neighbor, long closely connected to the U.S. and other western countries,” wrote Tom Wright in The Wall Street Journal (“Wen Touts China-India Ties,” Dec. 16, 2010). “Mr. Wen on Wednesday made a broad bid to pull India tighter into China’s economic orbit, seeking to draw attention to the burgeoning trade ties between India and China with deals in sectors such as telecom, power and commodities, and holding out the promise of massive investments and of China opening its doors to Indian exports” (ibid.).
Mindful of China’s growing economic, political and military clout, Japan announced two days after Wen’s visit that it is building up its military to counter China’s influence in Asia. This, in turn, is causing concern throughout Asia, since people there are still mindful of Japan’s aggression against its neighbors just 70 years ago.
Of course, the primary reason for the changing face of Asia is the economic decline of the United States.
Prior to World War II, Britain was the dominant power in the region. With the end of the British Empire after World War II, the United States was able to step in and provide security for the region against the advance of communism, at the same time channeling investment into many countries that consequently boomed. Now those nations are among the fastest growing countries on earth and increasingly threaten the United States economically.
The biblical book of Revelation, which presents a number of end-time prophecies, shows that immediately prior to the second coming of the Messiah a great military superpower will exist in the Far East, a nation or group of nations powerful enough to put together a 200-million-man army. This army is set to clash with the prophesied European-centered Beast power. The two military forces will meet at the River Euphrates, the eastern border of the Roman Empire in ancient times.
You can read about this in Revelation 9. “Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden alter which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them” (verses 13-16).
In order to put together a major military force of that size, a nation or group of nations would have to be a powerful economic force. This passage shows that a major economic power will exist in Asia at the same time the Beast power rises in Europe. The two will ultimately clash in the Middle East, another focus of Bible prophecy. Could the region’s oil resources be part of the reason? Could these powers both be there to guarantee their own access to dwindling oil supplies?
Serious economic problems in the United States
“Pending catastrophe is not an easy notion to entertain, much less sustain. Americans moreover have a low tolerance for doom and gloom. We are the nation of optimism, after all. We elect leaders who promise hope and change. We are the shining city on a hill. But what happens when the lights go out?” asks syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker (“U.S. Must Regroup, Fix Its Finances,” Lansing State Journal, Dec. 13, 2010).
She references an article in the Dec. 3 issue of Foreign Affairs, “where Roger Altman, former U.S. deputy treasury secretary, and Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, describe a nearly apocalyptic future—just around the bend—if we do not act yesterday.”
Continuing, Parker writes: “The instability inherent in the world’s biggest economy being the world’s biggest borrower is problematic beyond the obvious. Not only will we be limited in the extent to which we can fight necessary wars, but our financial constraints will affect homeland security, intelligence and foreign aid, according to Haass and Altman. Most important, our global clout will be increasingly diminished. Haass and Altman offer two scenarios: One, our president and Congress get their deficit-reduction act together… Or, two, global capital markets will impose a solution, which likely would be ‘ugly and punitive.'”
The first scenario was even less likely by week’s end when the president and Congress agreed to maintain the tax cuts in place since the Bush administration, continue unemployment benefits and cut the payroll tax, measures expected to raise the deficit by even more billions! Hold your breath for the second option!
On PBS’s McLaughlin Group, Dec. 12, regular contributor Pat Buchanan, quoted earlier here, observed that “this country has never been so close to a default”! A member of the bipartisan commission looking into solving the country’s debt problems, interviewed on BBC America, warned that we may only have weeks to solve the nation’s debt crisis.
This article has only looked at the economic turmoil that continues unabated around the world. But economics determines a great deal when it comes to national domestic politics, geopolitics and military power. Without economic power, military power is almost impossible. Economic trends are a reliable indicator of future political and military developments. And the economic trends we see in the world at this time clearly show that prophecies in your Bible are heading toward fulfillment.
The final sentence in the previously quoted article in The Economist sums up the new year: “A more divided world economy could make 2011 a year of damaging shocks.” WNP