A New World Economy
While April 15 might be the deadline for Americans to file their tax return each year, there is another deadline that is of far greater significance tax-wise. And most people are completely unaware of it.
It’s May 11—at least, last year it was. Tax Freedom Day. On that day, the average taxpayer finally earned enough to pay his or her total tax bill for the year. (Tax Freedom Day came later last year than ever before.) Thirty-eight percent of our annual intake goes out to pay government expenses—federal, state and local. That’s twice what it was during the Great Depression. After World War ii, government consumed 22 percent of our earnings. During the Lyndon Johnson era, it was 30 percent.
Today—a whopping 38 percent.
The Economy Israel Chose
When ancient Israel demanded the Prophet Samuel to give them a king like their neighboring countries had, it angered him. In considering the matter in prayer, however, Samuel found that God would allow Israel to reject His government—but not without a stern warning. God told Samuel to “protest solemnly” to the Israelites—to tell them they were making a huge mistake (i Sam. 8:9).
In protesting, Samuel told them the manner in which their king would rule. He would recruit the most talented young people in the land for his own gain—filling positions in an ever-expanding bureaucracy. He would draft the most able-bodied young men for the army—to be his “instruments of war” (vv. 11-13). He would then apply burdensome property taxes—taking the best fields and vineyards from the citizenry (v. 14). He would introduce income tax and use the proceeds selfishly, giving it to his officers and his servants (v. 15). Even laborers would have to devote a portion of their time to the king’s services (v. 16).
In short, if they wanted a king like all other nations, they could have one—but they would end up being their king’s servants (v. 17).
Then, under the oppressive weight of big government, if the Israelites cried out to God, He would not hear them! (v. 18).
Even after this solemn protest from Samuel, Israel refused to heed God’s warning and instead chose for themselves a leader. They wanted to be just like other nations (vv. 19-20).
With that in mind, we should not be surprised by the unbelievable size of government today—or by its remarkable inefficiency and waste. America’s government, like every other administration on Earth, has its many flaws. But we, as a people, must remember—we chose it to be this way.
Indeed, from history we learn that human government has spent much of its resources either on war or in preparing for war. Here in the United States, it was the cost for World War i that prompted Congress to introduce the income tax.
Yet, even in times of peace, most human governments have not been able to curtail oppressive taxes, eliminate debt or even balance the budget.
In 1992, Martin Gross wrote a book titled The Government Racket: Washington Waste from A to Z. In it, he showed how our government had institutionalized massive waste—to the tune of $275 billion per year. This best-selling book shocked American taxpayers and set off alarm bells within Washington.
It was about that time that an irs audit revealed the Congress check-bouncing scandal. Between July 1988 and October 1991, more than 350 congressmen wrote 23,389 bad checks at the House bank, without sufficient funds in their accounts. This angered many American taxpayers as they perceived their congressmen felt above the law.
Politicians in Washington were understandably more contrite and open for change around the time Martin Gross’s book hit the shelves. In the years following his book’s release, Mr. Gross testified before Congress six times. Finally, it seemed, politicians were serious about exercising greater restraint and discretion in spending taxpayer dollars.
After the eight-year run of unprecedented prosperity that followed, you would think things got much better. Yet, in his follow-up book released last year, The Government Racket 2000, Gross estimated that yearly waste rose from $275 billion to $375 billion! This fact lends credence to the argument Gross makes throughout his book—that government today is far too big, spends way too much money and is making our societal problems worse.
Gross’s greatest disdain is for politicians who juggle financial numbers to suit their own greedy pursuits. These are they who identified a $161 billion surplus for 2000 and project that figure to balloon to $413 billion by 2009—for a ten-year surplus of $3.02 trillion. In America today, we have heard so much about this so-called surplus that many people now actually believe there is one.
Gross points to America’s national debt as the bottom line. It was $5.53 trillion in 1998, $5.66 trillion in 1999 and today it is $5.67 trillion. The amount of interest alone on this debt is increasing at an average of $577 million per day!
To be as brutally honest as Martin Gross, there is no budget surplus. The reason the government has acquired all this extra cash, Gross explains, is that politicians are allowing the national debt to go up while they rob the Social Security trust fund.
Government officials simply cannot resist the temptation to spend now what they should be saving for future generations. To date, we have “borrowed” almost $1 trillion from the Social Security fund, replacing it with ious that most politicians have no intention of ever repaying. That is why Social Security has become such a hot topic in America’s political arena. Honest politicians realize that at some point, there will be no money left for retirees.
A simple look at demographics tells us that much. Today, America’s “wealth” is propped up by the fact that taxpayers are putting much more into Social Security than the government is paying out. And at the present rate of “borrowing,” by 2010 there will be $4 trillion in worthless ious sitting in the retirement fund. And 2010 is when baby boomers start retiring—meaning Social Security will begin paying out more than it takes in. At that point, the fund will either go bankrupt, robbing millions of Americans of their retirement investment, or the government will raise Social Security taxes—a far more likely prospect.
It’s a sad economic forecast—and that concerning the richest, most prosperous nation in man’s history. We could devote plenty more space in this magazine to the dismal, debt-ridden economies of other nations.
Man’s system of government—not just in the U.S.—has forced upon our society exactly what the Prophet Samuel said it would—big government, endless war and oppressive taxes.
There are solutions to these worsening problems—but not the kind most people want to hear about. God is about to revolutionize this world’s economy. When Jesus Christ returns to this Earth, He will bring about economic reform that will finally make a difference. The Bible reveals the economic policies of God’s soon-coming Kingdom. These principles would bring about sweeping change even today, if only man would put them into practice.
A Clean Slate
Many prophecies describe the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord to come upon the whole Earth just before Christ returns. The devastation of these end-time events is truly hard to fathom. Isaiah 24 says God will turn the Earth upside down, making it waste and empty (vv. 1, 3). In verse 6, God says there will only be a “few men left.” (Obviously, this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled—nothing like this has ever happened before.) Jesus Himself, in the New Testament, said it would get so bad that if God didn’t cut it short, man would become extinct! (Matt. 24:21-22).
This gives us a picture of the kind of world Jesus will return to—one that is utterly devastated by the destructive force of modern warfare and the resultant disease and famine.
In Zechariah 14, God describes the final climactic battle to take place around Jerusalem when Jesus returns. God says He will “gather all nations” at Jerusalem (v. 2). “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle” (v. 3). Jesus Christ will forcefully subdue man’s final attempt to defy God. The Mount of Olives, verse 4 says, will actually split in two (another prophecy that has obviously not yet been fulfilled).
Now notice what the last part of verse 14 says about when this battle ends: “… and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.” The positive side to all the destruction is that in one fell swoop, God will wipe away all the complex, debt-ridden, inefficient, wasteful and selfish economic systems of man. He will then gather all available wealth in one central location and start anew.
Man will also, at long last, be freed from the bondage of Satan’s rule on Earth (ii Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12:9).
This will be the fresh start man needs to begin to understand how God’s economy will work.
Changing Man’s Nature
Of course, it will take much more than a fresh start to change man’s faulty systems of economics. Mankind will need to be re-educated according to God’s law.
James 4 describes this present world as it operates under the deceptive sway of Satan. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (v. 1). War, as we have already noted, is a primary contributor to crippling economies and escalating debt. And the root cause of all war, it says, is lust. “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (v. 2). James stresses the fact that God wants us to have material goods and prosperity, but on His terms—not ours.
But since the days of Adam, mankind in general has rejected this proposition and instead sought after wealth and riches on his own terms—and as influenced by Satan the devil. “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (v. 5). The way of this world is simply the way of get. It’s natural for human nature to covet. The Apostle Paul attributed “the love of money” as a root cause of evil (i Tim. 6:10). It is this competitive nature in man that must change before economic reform will ever be able to last.
It should come as no surprise then, that the great financial law in God’s Kingdom is found right within the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exod. 20:17).
God’s law prohibits covetous, selfish gain. It forbids the way of get. Breaking this Commandment violates the basic principle of God’s way of life—the way of give. The way of give will underpin the economic system of tomorrow.
When Jesus Christ returns to forcefully put down mankind’s final rebellious assault, that victory will also mark the end of all war. According to Micah 4:3, man will convert all remaining war materials into farm equipment. It’s easy to envision how this will radically change the world’s economy. No more defense spending. No more multi-million dollar Marshall Plans to help rebuild nations ruined by war. And no more massive debt to pass on to our children!
Notice what else the Prophet Micah wrote about this millennial setting: “But 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 hath spoken it” (v. 4). God’s economy in the World Tomorrow will revolve around land ownership, just as it did in ancient Israel (i Kings 4:25).
In many ways, that’s the way it was early in America’s history. Historian Paul Johnson notes this about American life in the 19th century: “Never in human history, before or since, has authority gone to such lengths to help the common people to become landowners” (A History of the American People, p. 515). Back then, there was so much land that, in some cases, the government just gave it away. This helped develop communities and keep people spread out. It also kept the majority of Americans busy developing their own raw land!
While I do not mean to suggest that early life in America was utopian, as far as land ownership goes it was much closer to the way God will set up His society than anything else we see today. God never intended human beings to bunch up by the millions, one on top of another—none of them owning land—crammed into over-crowded, crime-infested, heavily polluted cities. He wants everyone to have their own space on their own land so they can learn to beautify and maintain that little creation—like God does with His creation!
But that is not the way man’s society operates. While land is still plentiful in the United States, it is certainly not as easy to get as it used to be, because of rising costs and excessive taxes. Americans today are actually penalized by the government for developing property: The more its value rises, the higher its taxes will be. At present, Americans pay approximately 2 percent of the property’s value every year in taxes.
Another form of property tax is the Estate Tax (commonly called the death tax). If a wealthy landowner or business owner dies, heirs might have to pay taxes as high as 60 percent on the estate, which is why so many family-owned businesses do not make it as far as the second generation. In fact, according to Martin Gross, only 30 percent do—and of those, 13 percent make it to the third generation.
This is not God’s way! Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children ….” Prior to Social Security, oppressive taxes and buying on high-interest time payments, most Americans secured their old age through savings, property ownership and family.
Today, however, government programs have helped free adults from the responsibility they have to their own children and grandchildren. Instead of encouraging adults to dream of retiring among family, the government, through all of these selfish programs, prods the elderly to “sell the farm” and spend the money on themselves. If that even means passing debt on to children, so be it. That, after all, is what the government does.
Things will be different in the World Tomorrow. In God’s society, every family will own property. And God’s law will ensure that everyone’s property is well protected. The Eighth Commandment (“thou shalt not steal”) is the great law that God instituted to protect all private property and possessions. No more property taxes or estate taxes. No more high-rise apartment complexes in polluted cities.
Every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree.
Honest Work and Honest Pay
Another godly economic principle is that of hard work. The Apostle Paul told the congregation at Thessalonica that “if any would not work, neither should he eat” (ii Thes. 3:10). To the brethren at Ephesus, Paul said, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28).
In this age of welfare programs, deficit budgeting, labor disputes, declining health and overindulgence in entertainment, it’s a wonder anything gets done. To be sure, many people work hard today. But overall, especially among the younger generation, we have seen a noticeable decline in work ethic.
God and Christ are not lazy. Both of them, it says in John 5:17, work! And fruits of their labor reveal them to be hard workers. For human beings to ever realize their full potential, God wants us to understand the great meaning and purpose behind productive, efficient labor. Jesus said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10). Before God will offer us exalted positions within His family, He wants to see what we will do with what we have now, no matter how small it might seem. Actually, it is small when compared to God! “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [or money], who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (v. 11). If we haven’t learned to be wise stewards with the money and goods God has given us now, Jesus said, how will we ever be ready for the true riches of His Kingdom? (v. 12).
The Laws of Tithing
Of course, government operations do cost money—even in God’s society. That’s where the laws of tithing come in to play. In Leviticus 27:30, God says, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.”
God’s universal tithing system is ten percent. Everyone will pay that same rate. Deuteronomy 14:22 says we are to pay the tithe—or tenth—on our increase. In this way, God’s tax neither soaks the rich or oppresses the less wealthy. It’s an across-the-board flat tax that will encourage initiative and give people added incentive to produce.
In God’s income tax system, all tithes will be sent to headquarters (Deut. 12:6) where one unified administration, under the direction of Jesus Christ, will use the money for the good of all mankind.
In man’s system, however, many people pay up to 40 percent of their earnings—just in income tax. To illustrate how astronomical that figure is, consider this: In 1913, when Congress ratified the 16th Amendment—which permanently established income tax—politicians debated about whether or not they should cap the tax at 10 percent. In the end, they dismissed the discussion, saying it was absurd to think taxes would ever rise above that level.
God’s tax—in stark contrast to man’s—will never rise.
Even in the World Tomorrow, there will be some who come upon hard times. For them, God has a fail-safe welfare system designed to prevent them from descending into poverty. It’s described in Deuteronomy 15.
There will be some borrowing and lending in God’s society, but without interest, which means people will no longer make money on other people’s debts. Additionally, there will be a release from borrowed debt every seventh year (v. 2). Under this system, those who are able will lend knowing full well that they may not ever receive their money back.
And why would God institute something like this? “To the end that there be no poor among you” (v. 4; see margin in King James). God’s welfare system is designed to eliminate poverty. Now keep in mind—the principle of ii Thessalonians 3:10 still stands. If any man won’t work, he shouldn’t eat. God is not looking to give handouts to lazy people.
Notice how God keeps people from abusing his welfare system: “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother” (Deut. 15:7). The poor and needy are to be dealt with on the local level—preferably, within the family. That way, it is easier to discern whether the individual in need really deserves welfare or if he is just being lazy.
Most likely, in the World Tomorrow, these unusual cases will involve people who deserve financial assistance to get back on their feet. In that case, God says, “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth” (v. 8). Compare this practical wisdom with the horribly inefficient way gigantic bureaucracies dole out billions of dollars to millions of people who have no intention of ever finding a job.
“Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto” (v. 10). That’s how lenders will be rewarded. Instead of making money on borrowers paying off high-interest loans, God will reward them personally for living by the law of give. In that way, it’s as if the loans people give to the poor are actually made to God. As Proverbs 19:17 says, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” God will repay those unselfish loans many times over!
Overseeing All Things
This is a financial principle man has never yet put into practice. It really is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). And when man finally begins to realize that in the World Tomorrow—after practicing on the individual level—what sweeping economic reform it will bring upon all of society!
Proverbs 3:9 says, “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” It begins with tithing—giving the very best of our increase to God. Beyond that, however, the give way of life should trickle down into every facet of living. Honor God with all your substance! “So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (v. 10). God will give back—many times over.
God wants us, even now, as we prepare for our future in His family, to have as many possessions as we can possibly handle—not to serve our own selves, but so we might honor Him in all our substance. He wants us to have these things so we might be prepared for true riches!
David, in the psalms, wrote about those riches. He asked God in Psalm 8:4, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” He answered that question in verse 6: “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.” What purpose! The God who made all things (Ps. 24:1-2) wants to give all things to man!
Is it any wonder why God wants us to learn how to properly use material goods—to lead prosperous lives now? He wants to give us all material things later!