Signs of the Times and Adventism. An indissoluble marriage. But how can we extricate ourselves, in the sea of assumptions, speculations and sensationalism?
I am personally convinced, in the depths of my heart, that the study of the Signs of the Times should be one of the prime activities for every Christian church and, in particular, for a movement that calls itself prophetic.
The study of Adventist S.d.S., in the second quarter, showed, with strength, the crucial truth. The characteristic of the true prophet is to have an authoritative word, from High, for the present time. Only those who have understood the time in which we live, have the moral and intellectual authority to open the future, to glimpse a view of the judgment, and hope as well.
On one hand, we are assuming that the prophecy, in its futuristic perspective for the Adventist people, is not problematic or new. In part, because our identity as Seventh-day Adventists is based on this assumption.
On the other hand, when it comes to the prophecy as an optic device to better see and understand the present, well, I am not sure that everybody is clear on it, or even agree s with it.
If such a prospect is to be effective, it requires a constant theological work to examine an incredibly wide range of problems and issues relating to all areas of life. Not only religious, and ecclesiological areas pertaining the history of Christianity, but also socio-economic issues.
Let us start with a Bible text - Apostle Paul says:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
( 2 Timothy 3:1-5 )
As we can see from this verse, the description of humanity in the last days is stern; strict, but not contemptuous. Yet is shows plainly that evil, in the last days will touches the bone and marrow of the whole social and civil body.
(Is Paul alluding to this even in his own day? I’d say yes, but how can we not apply it to our own times as well ...!)
No area is immune from decay. As the Reign of God, exemplified by the grain of mustard seed, can bring to this earth profound changes, likewise sin, when it is not dealt with and resolved, goes to metastasis, reaching all the social organism. This is neither pessimism nor fatalism. The Kingdom of God is not an utopia for naive and pure spirits who know nothing about real life. We believe in the power of the Gospel and we want to live it to the end; until the last of days. For this, we read thesignsof the times in the present, to understand where we are to go in the future, and to find the path of hope.
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous. ( 2 Timothy 3:1-2 )
Covetous, in NT Greek, filarguros , loving money, avaricious.
I wish to suggest a different interpretation from that instinctive one, which traditionally leads to the referral of ‘the love of money’ as by the literary characters of Molière and Goldoni. This is a signof thetimes that no one today can ignore, and that you can not solve with a corny invective, against the consumer society with its taste for the glint of gold. What, then, do we base this on? Well, on the finding of the perversion of a noble and natural human attitude: the production of income and savings.
But, while for the individual, such activity is normal, with regard to business, the process should be reversed. The cash capital, here, should be reported to the essential and never blocked. In other words, in order to make the production process ever progressive, the company should receive that amount of money, loan enough to make new investments, thus creating jobs and obtaining fair profit that will also repay the loan, as in a virtuous cycle.
He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it. (Proverbs 11:26)
Now, both large and medium-sized enterprises, in recent decades, have discovered that it can be much more rewarding to invest profits in financial areas, created for the purpose (for large companies) or calls to advice and services, (for medium-sized enterprises ). As a result, when the world economy slows down, there is an excess of production (reduced consumption) and to the declining investment, with the logic loss of jobs, if not cancellation of entire production realities.
The major importance of financial institutions, the increase of the societies that have experienced a longer span of the market concerned, together with the absence of rules, have caused that which we call financial speculation.
Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury. ( Deuteronomy 23:19)
But, how and why the savings should bear interest? Well, in the capitalist system, everyone expects this to happen. The investor entrusts money to credit and financial institutions which are competing for investors, promising gains that will then fulfill at any cost, and, in most cases, the method is as old as the world: lend money at interest to those who need it.
Now, such capital, in the hands of financers, can not remain unused, which is why, operators are in a position to come up with more than one way to recoup their capital. All these ways, however, have to obey to an ultimate law.
Everyone knows the sad proverb, typical of gambling: The house always wins. This is also somewhat true in financial speculation. There is a sort of "binary" law, in which you play on various subjects, some more secure, some less secure, so that, ultimately, the risk of loss is reduced to zero. Of course, in this game, you can win or lose, but the ability of the speculator, will be to prevail in the medium, in the long-term, focusing now on raw materials, then on securities, on stock exchange, etc.. The process has an inalienable characteristic: the fact of being a race without stopping and without end.
But, is there really no end?
We have seen an end can have it all right! And it is called: default.
There is movement of capital, through a system of credits increasingly articulated, and therefore risky and insecure, but what has it led to?
It has led to the multiplied partition of the risk of insolvency; the creation of a huge house of cards, ready to collapse. The appallingly disproportionate gap between capital in circulation and capital invested in the real economy is likely to transform the economic world into a huge casino where the house can not expect to win all the time. In other words, it is leading to socio-political scenarios, of which, it is hard not to imagine certain dangerous consequences .
But there is still time to bring our societies to the values it claims to profess, especially from us; the old Europe, rooted in Christianity. Let it be said, without any irony.