The world seems never to learn from history, but you can. God has not left us without a warning.
Scripture shows us vividly what happens when a society goes against God's law and seeks its own pleasure. When the Lord announced His determination to deal with the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, He went with two angels to gauge the depth of the cities' depravity. "And the Lord said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know" (Genesis 18:20–21).
Abraham begged the Lord to save the righteous inhabitants of those two cities, and He agreed to spare Sodom and Gomorrah—if just ten righteous people could be found there (Genesis 18:23–33). But in the end, the only ones spared were Abraham's nephew Lot and two of his daughters (Genesis 19:12–17).
As soon as Lot reached the neighboring town of Zoar, "the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground" (Genesis 19:23–25). Sadly, Lot's wife did not escape the destruction; though God had saved her from Sodom's destruction, she disobeyed the angel's instruction that she not look back upon the city she was fleeing. As punishment, God turned her into a pillar of salt (v. 26). Even the righteous may suffer loss during times of national tragedy, as Lot did.
Sydney, Australia hosts an annual "Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras" that has become notorious as one of the world's largest "gay pride" celebrations. Other Australian cities have their own similar festivals; this January 19 marks the 20th anniversary of "Midsumma"—billed as "Melbourne's Gay and Lesbian Festival."
In the United States, the economy of Las Vegas thrives because of the sex and gambling industries. New Orleans, before Hurricane Katrina brought flooding and devastation to its citizens, was known for wild debaucheries, exemplified best by its annual "Mardi Gras" celebration. Southern California is headquarters for many entertainment conglomerates, and its San Fernando Valley has for decades been known as the world capital of the pornography industry.
New Orleans has been ravaged by floods. Australia and the western U.S. have been parched by drought. Last October, southern California was scorched by terrible firestorms.
Is God trying to tell us something? If so, most are not listening. "These are just coincidences," some will say. Few have made a connection between immoral behavior and warnings Almighty God has given. And even fewer today realize that most individuals and governments are disobeying His financial laws! Even some of those who are quick to condemn others for their sexual sins may themselves be facing curses for their financial disobedience!
You do not need an M.B.A. degree to understand that a business cannot survive long if its spending exceeds its income. Why, then, do irresponsible government officials fail to apply this simple principle to the budgets they control? And why do so many Americans follow their government's fiscal example? The U.S. Federal Reserve commissioned a study showing that while the average U.S. household income in 2005 was $43,200, average annual household spending was $46,409! In 1985, Americans were saving $11 for every $100 they earned; today, the savings rate is near—or below—zero! For a while, a government can stave off inevitable disaster (and hide the effect of such overspending) by printing more money—the government equivalent of writing a check on insufficient funds. But the longer the delay in bringing spending under control, the worse the collapse will be when it happens!
The sub-prime mortgage crisis is only the tip of a financial iceberg far more devastating than the one that tore open the hull of the Titanic. Hoping to spur consumer spending, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank last December lowered its federal funds rate—the interest rate at which U.S. banks lend to each other overnight—to 4.25 percent. This rate in turn affects the rates at which banks lend to investors. For the moment, Japanese financiers may still find U.S. investments attractive, comparing this U.S. rate to the Bank of Japan's 0.5 percent. But as U.S. rates fall, other nations' markets look more attractive—the comparable Bank of England rate last December was at 5.75 percent, and the Reserve Bank of Australia was at 6.75 percent—which can only hasten investors' flight from the already weakened dollar.
Nations like China—which alone held $1.3 trillion in dollar reserves as of December 2007—are watching in horror as U.S. currency plunges in value. How long will it be until they feel forced to dump their dollars in favor of the euro, yen and other stronger currencies? In October 2000, one euro would buy just 82 cents of U.S. currency. But as of December 2007, one euro was worth more than $1.45. Investors who hold euros are profiting, while those holding dollars are seeing their investments waste away. America's day of financial reckoning is close at hand. What will the U.S. do if the overseas bankers who hold U.S. assets decide to foreclose the "mortgages" they hold on America? "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). History is replete with examples of empires, such as ancient Rome, that overspent themselves into oblivion.
Jesus Christ told the parable of the "prodigal son" who squandered his wealthy father's bounty through immoral living, and who spent himself into such poverty that when a famine came, he could only find work doing menial labor for a swineherder. Despondent, the son returned to his father, begging for work as a servant. But his father welcomed him as a long-lost son (Luke 15:11–32).
Our nations have sinned grievously. Their actions—and ours—bring inevitable consequences. But God loves every physical son and daughter He has created, and will give every human being the opportunity to become one of His Spirit-born children. He sent Jesus Christ to save us, and to set us an example by which to conduct our lives. But when Christians disobey Him and engage in immoral conduct, they disqualify themselves and inherit eternal death! "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).
Long-time readers of Tomorrow's World understand that human beings are nearing the end of the time their Creator allowed them to order their lives apart from Him and His law. A disastrous time is just ahead, but when it has passed, the survivors—and their descendants—will experience a wonderful millennial rest (Revelation 20:2–6).
Thankfully, like the prodigal son, we can repent of our disobedience, whether sexual, fiscal or otherwise, and allow Jesus Christ to live within us. We can overcome our past mistakes, by using the gift of the Holy Spirit, which Christians have received through the laying on of hands at baptism. We read: "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:6–8).
The world seems never to learn from history, but you can. God has not left us without a warning. The Bible is filled with examples of the blessings that result from obedience, and the curses caused by sin. "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). No matter what mistakes our nations and our neighbors make, you as an individual can turn to God and learn the lessons of history!