Christ said that the poor would always be with you. Now, 2,000 years later, that prophecy still haunts mankind. Despite the best efforts of some highly intelligent people, no one has designed an economic system capable of eliminating poverty among nations. Last month leaders of the world’s richest nations, “the G8,” met in Genoa, Italy, for their annual summit to discuss world economic affairs. Melvin Rhodes analyzes the implications of these and similar meetings in this issue’s lead article.
While protesters ransacked Genoa protesting the uneven distribution of the world’s wealth, the heads of state resided on luxury ships in the harbor. Top chefs served lavish banquets at great expense. Such trappings contrast the vast gulf between rich and poor. Indeed, nothing changes to tangibly and permanently solve the plight of the poor.
The words of James are appropriate to consider, “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty” (James 5:1-4 James 5:1-4 1 Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come on you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.
3 Your gold and silver is corroded; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. You have heaped treasure together for the last days.
4 Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, cries: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
American King James Version×, New International Version).
The path to globalization
Free trade between nations is the goal of all those who are building today’s global economy. As nations with open markets prosper, it is felt that all peoples will be lifted by this rising tide of economic prosperity. Proponents of globalization teach that stable democratic societies will be created through these alignments, thus breaking the cycle of poverty and creating the conditions for prosperity and peace.
Another article in this issue describes the plans to create a free trade zone between the Americas. Such a large and powerful trading area linked with others in the world, such as the European Union, causes us to think of the powerful global economic system described in Revelation 18. This system will create unparalleled wealth for the world (verse 15), indicating that today’s world economy will rise higher before collapsing under the weight of its sins at the coming of Christ (verse 19).
The world cries out for a just and equitable economic structure that will permanently break the cycle of poverty for all peoples. The blueprint for such a system exists in the biblical jubilee that God gave to Israel in Leviticus 25.
This 50-year cycle of release from debt and land reform carries the seeds for a permanent restoration of social stability and equity. No more will wealth be gathered into the hands of a small percentage of people while great numbers live with less. No more shall whole nations be condemned to endless generational poverty. Oppression of all forms-economic, political and religious-will cease when all nations learn to respect and stand in awe of the way of God (Leviticus 25:17 Leviticus 25:17You shall not therefore oppress one another; but you shall fear your God: for I am the LORD your God.
American King James Version×)
Protesters in Genoa last month demanded immediate debt relief for poor nations. Massive debt definitely cripples nations from joining the ranks of the developed world. But for debt relief to be permanently effective, changes are required on a scale many nations are not ready to tackle. No human economic system has yet proven effective for all nations to experience the peaceful fruits promised under God’s Kingdom. God’s Kingdom will have to be restored to this earth before that can happen. God’s just government will create the conditions when “everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid…” (Micah 4:4 Micah 4:4But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it.
American King James Version×). WNP