What have we learned from the present economic crisis?

The world is in an economic crisis. Well, that’s what they say, anyway. Times are tough. And it’s going to be even harder to get a loan. I’m all for loans, if used for the right purposes. After all, did not the widow whom Elisha instructed borrow vessels from her neighbors and, as the Scripture says, “not a few”? God then used that to increase her wealth. I’m sure she gave back the vessels that she borrowed, and there may have been a little “thank you” added at the time of the return of the vessels. This woman had her own economic crisis to deal with. By God’s grace, she came through. But how did she come through? Only by listening to the voice of God’s servant, Elisha. First, she had to be positioned to hear from the prophet. We do that by seeking out those who truly have a heart for God. Today, if America and the rest of the world want to solve their economic crisis, they are going to have to seek out those who are truly God’s servants. The economic bail-out plan is a political move for which I can find no clear basis in the pages of Scripture. Don’t get me wrong. I would not like to see America, or the world, fall into economic ruin. However, I fail to see any instance recorded in the pages of Scripture in which there is an economic bail-out plan of this nature.

Now let’s look at a few things concerning the economy in the Bible. I have chosen the example of the economic crisis of the Israelites when they fell into slavery in Egypt. These people got essentially robbed by the Egyptians of what was rightfully theirs, because they were treated as slaves, treated poorly, and paid poorly. Some may have not been paid at all, but probably they each received just enough so that they could buy bread, and return again for another’s day’s slave work. That would have been the carefully calculated amount that the Egyptians would likely have given them – not too much so that they could really do anything about their slavery, and not too little so as to starve them to death and prevent the Egyptians from using them as slaves, day, after day! Now, in those times, the Israelites had a definite economic crisis. It was solved only after a long, long, period, in which God miraculously brought them out of Egypt. You may remember that they plundered the Egyptians (each Egyptian gave them some gold or other precious jewelry). This was an immediate solution to their financial disparity, but unfortunately, they really blew it shortly after that by building a golden calf to worship with all that gold! Then we read that Moses in his anger commanded the golden calf to be ground into powder. See you later, gold!

Money is like that. You’ll be tested without it, to see how you fare. And you’ll be tested with it, to see how you fare, as well. I think I can say that the “writing was on the wall” in terms of how the Israelites would fare with the gold in their hands, on account of the fact that they demonstrated a mistrust in their God-appointed leader, Moses, early on. And they kept demonstrating that same mistrust time and time again. God was not pleased with them, as we read in the pages of Scripture. And for all of their complaining, they did not make it into the promised land. The promised land was a place flowing with milk and honey. It was a good place where all of their provisions would be met (sometimes you have to wait a while). They went through test after test but, almost without fail, they seemed to have pretty much failed every test, and turned to grumbling, instead. They mistrusted Moses, refused to trust God, and sometimes mounted up rebellions. Even Moses’ own sister, Miriam, was part of this problem. For she started to agree with a rebellious “spirit” that was among them, circling the camp, which said something like, “Has God only chosen Moses? Has he not chosen me, too?” The truth is, if you are willing, God has chosen you to be part of his great plan of salvation, and there is a fine, acceptable, and truly rewarding work for each of us to engage in (Ephesians 2:10). That is, if our heart is set on worshipping and following God.

The main problem of the Israelites, in this problem of not being able to handle their money which they had plundered from the Egyptians was one of idolatry, rebellion, mistrust, and the list pretty much goes on! At one point, two of Aaron’s own sons – who were priests – were committing acts of immorality with women and offering “strange fire” before the Lord. For this, they were judged and died. All of this brings us back to America’s current financial situation in which money is tight, businesses are failing, and banks are closing. I’ve only touched just the tip of the iceberg, of course, in making these statements. We could go on and on probably for days listing all of the major financial failures that have taken hold in America recently. It appears that America (and the world, combined) has made at least one serious mistake in the midst of all of this, and that is, she has forgotten to include any mention of God in the picture. He seems to be kept at “arms length” in dealing with the financial crisis – not a mention or even a hint at all of God in the picture, just blaming and finger pointing at Wall Street, the easy scapegoats in the matter. For everyone loves a scapegoat. And, on this note, Jesus himself became our scapegoat by dying on a cross for the many sins which we committed – if you will allow him to be that for you – but in receiving the forgiveness that comes from God for our sins, this does not come by blaming someone else for our sin but by confessing it to the Lord.

My belief, based on the Bible, is that America’s best solution for any lasting recovery will have to include a turning towards God. Any solution that is purely political, or purely economic, is destined to fail, for the same reason that the solution to the Israelites’ “poverty” when leaving Egypt – the plundering of the Egyptians – was also destined to fail, on account of the fact that the heart of the people was simply not right before God.

The means to true, lasting, success, is always through a personal relationship with God. When he is placed first, we will do well. We might even be persecuted for it, and suffer personal financial loss because of our commitment sometimes, but in the end, we’ll do well, for we will have gained approval in God’s sight. Today, like always, and perhaps like never before, people everywhere need to seek the God of their fathers. This includes America in her current situation. He is not far if only they will reach out to Him.