MOMENTOUS TIMES

By Jim Jordal

I can’t think of any period in human history when times have been as threatening and potentially world-destroying as they are today. No place on earth remains unchallenged by violent climatic events, political and social upheaval, economic disaster, or famine and disease. No one is exempt because existing world systems---good or bad--- now reach and affect every human on earth.

Naysayers claim that this is not new, since the earth has never been without natural disasters, wars, and other threatening events or situations. But never before have they been as great in magnitude or as universal in scope .This dire situation was predicted many centuries ago in Scripture as the consequence of human arrogance and disobedience to God’s laws demanding justice, truth, and mercy for the earth and its inhabitants. Again and again God’s people go through the cycle of disobedience, disaster, recovery, and reclamation, only to repeat it as arrogant disobedience replaces humble obedience.

Today the Old Order with its oppression, gross injustice, idolatry, lies, and delusions of permanence totters over its open grave; with the vulture-like grave diggers of war, revolution, growing poverty, failed government, and environmental collapse eagerly awaiting opportunity to provide a final push. It is collapsing because it is so entrenched in egregious evil that it cannot be made fit for the Kingdom of God. Revelation warns against useless and frustrating attempts to heal the Monster, because God has forsaken it.

But with impending crisis comes new opportunity. A new earth and a new world order are struggling now to be born. Breakthroughs in science, medicine, and almost unbelievable technological advances in communication and information appear almost daily. But they cannot be fully implemented or enjoyed because greedy, unconscionable persons wait to seize for their own empire building and profit whatever benefits accrue.

So how can average people benefit from advances in medicine, science, and technology? It’s mostly by recognizing that the old models of human organization are failing because they cannot transfer the benefits of progress to those most needing them. Free market economics today largely rejects any moral values that might threaten corporate profits. Many economists still spout the old mantra that the science of economics describes only what is, not what ought to be. Under this bankrupt scenario, moral values become irrelevant as society rushes headlong toward increased production and endless growth in profits. But the people and the planet cannot endure much more of this---it’s absolutely unsustainable!

The new world now being born is the world of God’s earthly kingdom headed by his Son, Jesus Christ. It will use the Jubilee model of the Old Testament as its operating system, and will feature, as the first sermon of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 relates, gospel, or good news to the poor; healing for the broken-hearted; liberty to the captives and the oppressed; and restored sight to the blind. God’s system depends on righteous application of biblical principles of justice, not political parties or election platforms. Jubilee is bigger than politics, meaning that its principles can be carried out under any form of righteous government if it creates justice for the public, is honest and forthright in its dealings, and values mercy and righteousness above human aspirations for wealth and power.

How real is this biblical vision of a New World wherein dwells righteousness? For those depending upon the failing dream of the innate perfectibility of humankind, I can’t see much hope. When evil persons and even more evil philosophies and supposed “truths” become supreme, using their increasing power to gather even more power to themselves, it’s difficult to see how reason and justice can penetrate such a barrier.

But adverse circumstances will finally tip the scales away from failing human systems and toward God’s version of righteousness and justice. Human wisdom and systems are falling apart at an increasing pace. God’s system and values await  the proper time for revelation upon the earth. So have faith and hold on!

GOD, GOLD, AND DOMINATION

By Jim Jordal

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits, and the breadth of it six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon….Then the satraps, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up…Then the herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, peoples, nations, and languages,  that whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image…and whoever doesn't fall down and worship shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the…music, all… fell down and worshiped the golden image.

Daniel 3:1-7, WEB

 The kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived wantonly with her, will weep and wail over her, when they look at the smoke of her burning, standing far away for the fear of her torment, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For your judgment has come in one hour.'  The merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise any more; merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet, all expensive wood, every vessel of ivory, every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble;  and cinnamon, incense, perfume, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, sheep, horses, chariots, and people's bodies and souls.

Revelation 18:9-13, WEB

The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple.  The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  The nations will walk in its light. The kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.  Its gates will in no way be shut by day (for there will be no night there),  and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it so that they may enter.  There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Revelation 21:21b-27, WEB

Throughout recorded history God is associated with gold. For Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar his vaunted image of gold formed the idolatrous basis for the worship of money and power. For the writer of Revelation, gold was so common and unworthy of worship that it formed the paving for the streets of the New Jerusalem. That’s quite a contrast—from all-powerful to as common as paving stones.

Last week we identified several places in which the Babylonian domination system now crushing the earth is described as being the hammer of the whole earth, and the scepter, or symbol of power, of rulers and the wicked. This week we go on into the scriptural associations between God, gold, and domination systems.

The anti-type of God’s soon-to-come earthly kingdom is the present world domination system engaged in hammering the earth and its people to powder and forming oppressive laws, institutions, and structures engaged in transferring money and resources up the income scale from poor to rich. Jeremiah 51:7 calls Babylon "a golden cup in the Lord’s hand" that the nations have drunken of and are therefore mad, or deranged. If you view the present world political situation and its apparent inability to deal effectively with the host of political, economic, and social problems now facing the earth, you too may reach the conclusion that the nations truly are mad, deranged, and powerless to do anything about it. And why are they incapable of dealing with their many issues? It’s because they define all of them in terms of monetary cost; thereby elevating money or gold to the highest of all values and people to the lowest. Yes, they speak differently, but you have to consider the outcomes of what they do in order to discern their real values.

To man, money or gold represents the highest of all values, and is certainly one of the most destructive. To God, gold is just another element, useful for making jewelry, filling teeth, and paving streets. How long will it take us to learn this lesson?

 

 

WHO RULES THE U.S?

By Jim Jordal

As this election season swings into full gear (or maybe that happened last winter) it might be time to ask ourselves a serious question: Who rules the United States?

Is it President Obama? No, because anyone who knows the slightest truth about the American system of government knows that presidential power is limited by the Constitution, Congress, the Supreme Court, the electorate and who knows what else.

Is it Congress? That’s almost a joke when you consider the fragmented, angry chaos now engulfing the legislative halls. No, it’s not Congress.

Is it the Supreme Court? Some people think the Court has now taken the reins of government because of its ability to interpret or even create law, as it did two years ago in the Citizens United case in which it equated political spending by corporations with the exercise of free speech by individuals. But no, it’s not the Court simply because they also are limited by the power of presidential appointment and constitutional amendment.

Is it the people? That’s wishful thinking, if not actual delusion. Yes, the people do vote, but for whom, based upon what information? Political parties choose the candidates vetted by the power structure, so do the people really run their government? I think not.

Is it the Constitution? Here’s where I’ll say that I wish it were the Constitution. Perhaps at one time it was but that seems to have been lost somewhere along the line as money and power trumped justice in determining what the law means and how it should be applied. No, it’s not the Constitution.

So, if not any of these, who or what is it?

Perhaps another way to address this issue is with another question: Who or what in this nation operates virtually without restraint from the President, Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitution, or the people? Who or what has power to choose candidates for national office and get them elected? Who can determine if you have a job, whether your retirement funds will last as long as you do, and how much you will pay in taxes? Who decides to plunge us into hopeless wars of attrition? Who determines most of what you eat, what you view on the media, whether you will breathe clean air, and what kind (if any) of medical care you will receive? Who has power to influence and even control your thinking patterns on national issues? Who has made money a god and consumerism a virtual religion? And who controls almost all aspects of your life, whether or not you are aware of it?

Well, if you read my writing regularly you’ll know that I consider this nation to be increasingly controlled by a "velvet glove" domination system known in Scripture as Babylon, and today composed of powerful global corporations, financial powers, and their political lap dogs. Its purpose is to gain sufficient control of political and economic institutions to create a continuous transfer of wealth up the economic ladder to the very few oligarchs at the top. To accomplish this process of quiet conquest it suborns religion to gain legitimacy. It moulds the public perception of issues through myths and lies designed to create compliant citizens favoring its policies. It teaches its values in the public educational system. It controls the legislative process through almost unlimited campaign contributions and hordes of lobbyists. It creates financial institutions willing to do its bidding. And it holds aloft the threat of force to control opposition, although up to now it has been a relatively "soft" system because it prefers to control, not with naked force, but with the even more powerful force of love---for money, possessions, power, status, influence, and entertainment. Its grip on American minds is immense and essentially unresisted.

And what does Scripture say about Babylon? Perhaps Psalm 94:20 says it best: "Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, have fellowship with you?" Here Babylon sits enthroned at the apex of world power, using her exalted position to "create evil by law." Elsewhere, Scripture calls it "the hammer of the whole earth," "the destroyer of my heritage," "the staff of the wicked," "the scepter of rulers," and "the habitation of devils."

Next week we’ll talk more about specifics of the domination system now covering the entire earth---no one escapes its greedy clutches. It hammers the earth to pieces and destroys nations. It props up rulers and supports the wicked. It is everything God says it is, and yet American religion has little to say about it. We stand quietly by as it goes about its task of creating evil.

Will this domination system be able to complete its quiet conquest of America? Oppressive systems have always existed, and have generally succeeded—at least for a time---in thoroughly oppressing their people, especially the farming, laboring, and middle classes. But not this time, because we will soon pray the prayer of the prophet Daniel. More next week.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

By Jim Jordal

Last week I wrote about the domination system now attempting to gain enough control to use the machinery of government and economic institutions and structures of this nation as instruments for transferring wealth upward. We also considered a bit of what God says about this system. Today, we’ll look more closely at some of the names given by Scripture and how they apply to the present global corporate financial domination system known as Babylon.

Jeremiah 50:23 labels it "the hammer of the whole earth." What phrase could more accurately describe what the system does to individual people, families, cities, institutions, nations, animal life, and the physical world itself? It is pounding justice, righteousness, mercy, decency, true love, and most other valuable human attributes into powder while it exalts greed, power, self-concern, falsehood, violence and other human failings as desired values. Predatory global capitalism is an example of this hammering of the earth.

This hammering process can be found in the behavior of global oil giants now engaged in seeking oil in developing nations. Extracting oil in the desert is one thing, but in wet, hot, isolated rain forest it’s something else. According to an Environmental News Service report dated August 6, 2012, the oil giant ChevronTexaco has been ordered to pay a $16 billion judgment to Ecuador for its egregious behavior in dumping over 16 billion gallons of toxic waste over a period of 20 years into the rain forest that provides a home for several indigenous tribes. In a court case lasting 19 years so far, Chevron claims that it, not the people of Ecuador, is the victim of propaganda and untruths and that the oil waste is harmless. But Chevron feared losing the case so much that it sold almost all its facilities in Ecuador, leaving only about $200 million in assets to settle a judgment of $16 billion. This certainly sounds as if Chevron is "hammering the earth."

Isaiah 14:5 stamps the Babylonian system as "the scepter of the rulers." The scepter was a rod held by rulers to represent their power and authority over the people and territory of their domain. Thus the Babylonian domination system not only represented the absolute power of rulers over their people, but also allowed and legitimated it. It was so widely recognized, accepted, and feared---like the scepter---that it literally bestowed its power upon the ruler. Today the Babylonian system and its control of money and commerce is much more than a symbol of power, it is the power by which dominators rule.

In similar manner Psalm 125:3 charges it with being "the scepter of wickedness." Today’s monetary and commercial domination system is the power source of wickedness in most of its numerous manifestations. The apostle Paul knew of this evil power when he famously said "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil" (I Tim. 6:6-10a, KJV).

No truer statement has ever been made. Consider the present worldwide struggles over political and economic power. Isn’t love of money (and the power it will buy) the chief motivator behind this chaos? Isn’t most of the wickedness so evident in this world closely related to a love of money? And doesn’t this titanic struggle over money and power carry over into the lives and futures of most of the world’s people?

Giant investment banks that were "too big to fail" like JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs almost trashed the world economy several years ago but have almost miraculously escaped accountability for their egregious acts. They are now richer and more powerful than ever. Why haven’t they been brought before the bar of justice? Because they are the scepter of wickedness that no political power or party dares to move against. Why did President Obama appoint two of their leaders (Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner) to the most powerful economic positions in his inner circle? Could it be that he knew his entire political future depended on including financial insiders friendly to Wall Street in his future economic deliberations? I think so.

You can’t stop this worldwide machine of domination. What you can do is cease being an apologist for their schemes and pray that God will soon intervene. More next week.

 

 

 

COME OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE…"

By Jim Jordal

The 18th chapter of the Book of Revelation is considered by many Bible scholars to be a prophecy against a great end-time financial/commercial system named after and patterned on the same oppressive principles as the Babylonian Empire of antiquity.

Perhaps the best known passage (verses 12 and 13) from this chapter describes commercial Babylon as having the despicable value of placing money and fine consumer goods over the very bodies and souls of human beings. The chapter goes on to conclude that the great leaders of the earth have been victims of the system’s sorcery, which has down through the centuries persecuted the prophets and saints and taken the lives of vast numbers of people.

I’ve often pondered the meaning of Rev. 18:4-5, in which a voice from heaven, repeating the admonition given by the prophet Jeremiah many years earlier, cried: "Come out of her My people, lest you participate in her sins, and receive of her plagues." It’s clear that God’s people are somehow to separate themselves from the anti-human and failing world financial and commercial system, but it’s not too clear just how this is to be done. It’s always seemed to me as if to come out of Babylon would mean to withdraw from society into isolation and possible psychological depression, since one could hardly exist in modern society without access to the various commercial and financial institutions developed by the system.

But the Recession of 2008 has opened many eyes (including mine) to the possibility of alternatives to the system now being grievously shaken. If you think of a domination system as having many parts composed of institutions, values, and behaviors in many contexts—social, political, economic, religious, military, educational, informational, and others—you can understand that the parts may be in various stages of decadence and dysfunction—some more, some less. In other words, as the system develops it comes to increasingly represent the values of wealth, power, exploitation, and empire over those associated with the welfare of human beings and nurture of the earth.

The reason God’s people are to "come out of Babylon" is that the system finally reaches a point where it becomes so evil and anti-human that it can no longer be healed or patched up. As the prophet Jeremiah says in his diatribe against Babylon: "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her, and let us go everyone to his own country, for her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies (Jer. 51:9).The edifice is collapsing and efforts to strengthen it no longer work effectively…so, the admonition to Come Out! But how can one do this without seriously damaging both life and welfare?

 

One way is to create alternatives to life under control of Babylon. Adversity creates motivation and innovation, and the present world turmoil as Babylon struggles to survive has provided massive opportunity to build alternatives to the system. Think of the home school movement as an early example. The public educational system came to be seen by many as inimitable to their religious and family values, so they created an alternative. The same for the micro-credit movement that built alternative structures to the commercial banking system. And the various community health programs creating alternatives to the profit-driven medical system. The list is virtually endless as almost every day brings new attempts to withdraw from the system characterized by the values of Wall Street into those exemplifying the values of Main Street.

Perhaps advice from the apostle Paul is also pertinent here. In advocating correct personal priorities to Corinthian believers he asserts that "those who buy should not behave as though they possessed," and that "those who use the world should not misuse it"(I Cor. 7:30-31). Paul appears to be speaking of "selective attention," or the idea that we become attached to those things upon which we choose to lavish our attention. Therefore, if we attend upon worldly values of greed and materialism we will come to value these things more than faith and loyalty. So if we selectively attend to things of God rather than things of Babylon, we become able to "possess without being possessed" and to "use without misusing."

So even if you cannot even think about coming seriously out of Babylonian cultural and economic captivity, perhaps you could begin to look at moderate alternative behaviors and also at ways of attending more to the things involving God’s vision for human welfare and less to those involving mammon.