America’s Bubble Economy

Why it has yet to burst
From the March 2000 Trumpet Print Edition

An over-inflated stock market, $5.69 trillion national debt, $1.4 trillion consumer debt, $271 billion trade deficit, one million personal bankruptcies each year—these are not building blocks for a solid, stable U.S. economy. The Trumpet has been warning of America’s financial collapse for the past decade. Before that, for several decades the Plain Truth prophesied of America’s economic ruin.

We stand by this prophecy.

Yet, as we enter the 21st century, America’s economy dwarfs every other nation by far. And it keeps growing, seemingly immune to every financial crisis threatening to burst its bubble.

How did America come to receive this tremendous wealth and prosperity? Why do we continue forecasting its economic collapse? And if a crash is certain, why is it taking so long—what’s propping up America’s economy? Actually, the answers to all three questions are quite similar.

Learning From History

Little more than a century ago, our greatest thinkers attributed America’s vast wealth and power to Almighty God. “We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the Earth,” Abraham Lincoln said, “as regards fertility of soil, extent of territory, and salubrity of climate…. We…find ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in their acquisition or the establishment of them.” Lincoln looked upon our vast wealth and power as an inheritance from God—something we did not earn ourselves.

Similarly, George Washington believed America would have never come into existence without God’s blessing. Benjamin Franklin went so far as to compare early America to the biblical Promised Land. He called the original American colonies “God’s new Israel.”

These men, and many others like them, knew it was God who gave America its unprecedented prosperity and power. And to think that they didn’t even grasp most of God’s prophecies! (They did, however, understand and apply many biblical principles that our peoples have long since forgotten.)

These men were right. God did give us our prosperity and power. Bible prophecy reveals why He did that. It also reveals why that tremendous wealth will soon be stripped away. And yes, the Bible even reveals why that has yet to occur.

The Prophetic Key

The most startling fact of world history is the sudden and dramatic growth of the United States and Britain to unprecedented heights of prosperity and power. From about 1800 to 1950, the U.S. and Britain skyrocketed to world dominance, acquiring nearly three fourths of the world’s cultivated wealth and resources in the process. The sun never set on the British Empire’s vast territorial expanse. It became the greatest world empire in history, while the United States followed closely at its heels to become history’s single greatest nation.

Could prophecy ignore such major power blocs when it plainly refers to other smaller nations like Egypt, Turkey and Ethiopia? That’s what many scholars and theologians would have you believe.

Prophecy emphatically does not ignore our peoples. “The Bible story of our ancestry and our modern prophetic identity,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “is the most amazing—yes, astounding—the most fascinating and interesting story ever told. It is really the story-thread of the Bible itself, from Genesis to Revelation” (The United States and Britain in Prophecy, p. 10). This identity, Mr. Armstrong later said, is actually the key that unlocks your understanding to all Bible prophecy.

Ever since the beginning of Mr. Armstrong’s ministry in 1934, we have been proclaiming the hidden identity of the United States and Britain in Bible prophecy. Our peoples are the descendants of the so-called “lost” ten tribes of Israel. In these latter days, we, especially in the United States and Britain, have been blessed above all peoples on Earth—not because of our own doing, as President Lincoln correctly observed—but because God gifted these blessings upon us. The Bible reveals why.

Promises to Abraham’s Descendants

Consider this all-important fact: God actually promised the wealth and power our peoples have acquired today to the great biblical patriarch Abraham more than 4,000 years ago. God said to Abraham, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Gen. 12:2-3). Later, in Genesis 17, God said He would make Abraham the father of many nations—plural.

These promises of national greatness were conditioned upon Abraham’s obedience. And as most Bible students know, Abraham did obey God—faithfully. In Genesis 26:5, God says he “obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Yet Abraham did not live to see God follow through on His end of the deal—to bless Abraham’s descendants with national greatness and prosperity. God repromised these birthright blessings to Isaac—then again to Jacob (Gen. 26:1-5; 27:26-29). In Genesis 28:13-14, God said that Abraham’s descendants would eventually spread to every corner of the Earth.

Through Jacob, whose name was eventually changed to Israel, God repromised these birthright promises to Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh (Israel’s grandsons). This fascinating story is recorded in Genesis 48. (Read the entire chapter.) In verse 16, Israel said “let my name be named on them.” Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s descendants took on the name Israel. They were to become a great people; Ephraim, a multitude of nations—Manasseh, the single greatest nation in history (Gen. 48:19; see also 35:11).

It wasn’t until many generations had passed that Abraham’s descendants began to multiply greatly. In Deuteronomy 10:22, God said the 12 tribes of Israel started with only 70 people in Egypt. By the time they fled their captivity, however, they had become a “multitude”—perhaps 2 or 3 million strong.

Once in the Promised Land, the 12 tribes, including Ephraim and Manasseh, each settled in separate yet adjoining districts—as one nation, Israel.

After King Solomon died, however, Israel split into two nations, just as God said they would (I Kings 11:11-13). The ten northern tribes retained the name “Israel”; the southern tribes assumed the name “Judah.”

Eventually, both nations rebelled against God and turned to idol-worship. Through prophets, God pleaded for both nations to repent. Because they would not, God prophesied that both Judah and Israel would be taken into captivity. In 721-718 b.c., God used the Assyrians to root Israel out of their homeland (II Kings 17:18, 22-24). Between 604 and 585 b.c., the same thing happened to Judah, this time at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon (II Kings 23:27).

So what about the birthright promises? Did God go back on His word? This question demands an answer!

Blessings Withheld

In Leviticus 26, God told Israel (the 12 tribes, before they divided into two nations) that they would inherit the birthright blessings immediately if they would obey Him. Notice the conditions in verses 3-4: “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them [as their father Abraham did]; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” God said if they obeyed, then they would receive the blessings. The promise was conditional.

These are the kinds of biblical principles America’s forefathers understood, unlike our leaders today. God blesses obedience. In verses 7-8, God said Israel would chase away their enemies—five putting a hundred to flight. In verse 9, God said He would multiply them, just as He had told Abraham, Isaac and Jacob centuries before.

But, beginning in verse 14, God lists the curses He would bring upon them for disobedience. “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (v. 18). Why do so many misunderstand these clear prophecies? As sure as God blesses the obedient, He curses the disobedient. And that’s what He did—He cursed ancient Israel for their sinful disobedience. They divided into two nations, turned to idolatry and both eventually went into captivity.

But that does not mean God reneged on the unconditional promises made to Abraham! He merely withheld those promises for 21/2 millennia.

The expression seven times in Leviticus 26:18 comes from a Hebrew word which conveys a double meaning. While it may refer to the intensity of punishment, it can also refer to its length or duration. In this verse, it is referring to the length of God’s punishment. God placed a time limit on the duration of these curses because He was still obligated to honor the promise made to Abraham.

In prophecy, a time refers to a 360-day year. Seven times means seven years—or 2,520 days. Using the day-for-a-year principle, as God often does in the Bible (Ezek. 4:4-6), seven times can mean 2,520 years. That was to be the length of Israel’s punishment. So from the time the kingdom of Israel (including Ephraim and Manasseh) went into captivity (721-718 b.c.) to when America and Britain ascended to the front of the world stage (1800-1803), 2,520 years elapsed! (Amazingly, 1803 is the year America bought the Louisiana Purchase from France, doubling the size of its territory overnight.)

We realize that many readers may find it hard to believe this prophecy. Let us then consider the historical facts. The birthright promises God made to Abraham were conditioned upon his obedience. After Abraham obeyed, however, God made those promises unconditional. God had to follow through and keep His word because of Abraham’s faith.

Hundreds of years later, God had yet to follow through with these promises. He repromised them to ancient Israel. Only this time, He again conditioned them on Israel’s obedience. For nearly 400 years, they rebelled against God and His laws, and were eventually taken captive into the land of Assyria (central Europe). They never received these birthright promises.

Twenty-five hundred and twenty years later, Britain and America simultaneously spurted to unprecedented world power and wealth—becoming a multitude, or commonwealth, of nations and the single greatest nation in history.

If the Bible is true, there can be only one explanation: that God identifies the British and American peoples today as modern-day Israel—the tribes that were to take on the name “Israel”—Ephraim and Manasseh. Even a general knowledge of history proves that only our peoples have inherited the many incredible blessings God promised Abraham. As Mr. Armstrong asked, if our peoples have not inherited these birthright promises, which nations have?

Those whose minds are open to revelation from God can prove that God has followed through and honored His promises!

Forty Years in the Wilderness

Skeptics ought to consider the facts of Israel’s 40-year “journey” in the wilderness. God, by His own hand, delivered Israel out of Egyptian captivity. In the second year of their departure, God led Israel to camp in the wilderness of Paran, at the southern tip of the Promised Land.

From there, God told Moses to send 12 men to spy out the land (Num. 13:1-2). These men, one from each tribe of Israel, were gone for 40 days. Upon their return, only Joshua and Caleb gave a favorable report. The ten others gave an evil report, saying it would be impossible to take the land. Lacking faith, the congregation of Israel believed the doubters and wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb.

They forgot that God had promised them that land! Instead, they doubted God, became ungrateful, and refused to march forward. For that reason, God withheld the promise! For 40 years Israel wandered in the wilderness aimlessly, until everyone over the age of 20 died, except Joshua and Caleb.

Grasp the significance! God withheld the promise for an entire generation! Then, after the older ones all died, He allowed Joshua to lead the young people into the Promised Land.

God kept His promise, but He delayed it 40 years—a year for each day those ten spies gathered data for their evil report (Num. 14:34).

Does it seem far-fetched, then, that God would withhold the birthright promises from Israel for 2,520 years? It shouldn’t!

But because our peoples have drifted so far away from God; because we no longer read, study or believe our Bibles; because of our unbelief—by our actions, we call God a liar! We might believe in God. But our peoples do not believe God, even when presented with irrefutable proof.

Even Abraham Lincoln and George Washington understood the obvious—that America’s tremendous prosperity and power could not be explained any other way, except that a beneficent Creator God poured those blessings upon us. What those men did not understand, however, was why God gave us those blessings.

It was because of Abraham’s faith—and because God keeps His promises.

The Cause of America’s Decline

We come now to the second question posed at the start of this article. If God gave us these many national blessings, why does the Trumpet continue saying they will be taken away?

Twenty years ago, Mr. Armstrong answered that question: “Neither Britain nor America deserved the unprecedented wealth, greatness and national power of Abraham’s birthright. But God had promised it unconditionally to Abraham. It was conditional to ancient Israel.

“Though our two great peoples did not deserve it, God was bound, and kept His promise! Yet, once God had fulfilled His promise to Abraham by giving us that national wealth, power and greatness, it became conditional on us whether we should retain it!” (Plain Truth, Jan. 1980).

The reason we continue forecasting America’s decline is because God has now fulfilled the promises made to Abraham. He is no longer obligated to keep showering us with national prosperity and power! The burden of responsibility has fallen upon our shoulders.

Will we retain those blessings by using them to glorify God?

Well, just look at what our peoples have done with all the wealth and prosperity. The Trumpet reported last December that America, though comprising 5 percent of the world’s population, burns up about one third of its resources. In the process, we are crippling ourselves with massive amounts of debt. It’s as if, Bernard Baruch once said, “we are enjoying the good life on the installment plan”—as if a $5.7 trillion national debt and $1.4 trillion consumer debt will somehow go away.

And because of this materialistic obsession, America has forgotten God! Abraham Lincoln acknowledged this over 100 years ago. “We have been the recipients of the choicest blessings of heaven,” he said. “We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation ever has grown, but we have forgotten God! We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

President Lincoln called on the nation to fast and pray, to admit its national sins before God, so that the Union might survive. God heard that cry and intervened. But we have long since returned to our sins—a thousand times more so!

Through the Apostle Paul, God calls our peoples selfish, proud, blasphemers, rebellious, unthankful, liars, without self-control—and says we love pleasure more than we love Him! (II Tim. 3:1-5). God says we have gotten drunk off the success He has given us—worshiping materialism above Him.

Like ancient Israel, we have rejected God’s statutes and commandments, His sabbaths, and have turned to idol-worship. We have failed to learn from their lesson. Because of their rebellion, ancient Israel never received the blessings God promised Abraham. Because of ours, we will soon lose all of these blessings!

Leviticus 26 and its companion chapter, Deuteronomy 28, tell us how it will happen. We have already noted the definition of “seven times” in Leviticus 26:18—a reference to the duration of ancient Israel’s punishment.

God says in verse 19, “And I will break the pride of your power.” A century ago, we were willing to use what power we had for the common good of mankind. Today, we have far more power, but are afraid to use it! (See last month’s Trumpet article “America Has Won Its Last War.”)

God has already brought this “broken pride” curse upon us. Greater punishment will soon follow, unless our peoples repent. America’s prophesied downfall is leading toward captivity. “And I will set my face against you,” God says, “and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you” (v. 17).

Many other prophecies refer to this coming captivity. Through the Prophet Ezekiel, God thunders, “They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof” (Ezek. 7:14). That is where the curse of our broken pride leads—to a cowardly defeat in what the Bible calls the Great Tribulation.

By that point, abundant wealth and prosperity will mean absolutely nothing! “They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity” (v. 19). Money will not save us in the Tribulation. God says in Proverbs 11:28, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”

Americans will soon reap the consequences of trusting in riches. God says that has been our greatest stumblingblock causing us to sin. That’s why He is, even now, taking away those riches.

One of the many benefits of the birthright blessings was lending money and goods to other nations—not borrowing (Deut. 28:12). But because of our many sins, God says, “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail” (vv. 43-44).

If only our peoples could see the financial noose hanging around our necks. If only they would wake up to the many danger signs—massive trade deficit, overblown stock market, crippling personal and national debt. Yet most can tolerate these trends as long as the economy is “booming.” In other words, as long as there is cash in the pocket, a chicken in the oven, two cars in the garage, a credit card in the wallet and more loans to be financed!

But mark these words—the moment that well dries up, our people will start to awaken. This is all by God’s design.

We stand by our forecast for America’s financial collapse. Why? Because the same God who brought about our material prosperity will surely take it away for our rampant sin.

The Roaring ’90s

During the 1920s, there was a phenomenal spurt of growth in American productivity. Due to technological advances, U.S. companies increased capital investment at an unprecedented rate. Increased productivity led to increased consumption. More women entered the work force to help families keep up with increasing spending habits. As demand for goods increased, so did prices. The rising cost of big-ticket items, like cars, led to a new wave of long-term, high-interest financing. This way, working-class families could still afford luxuries.

Then there was the stock market. “People bought and sold in blissful ignorance,” Paul Johnson wrote in A History of the American People. A record amount of shares exchanged hands daily because new investors wanted in on the action. There was an upsurge in margin debt, or borrowing money to buy stocks. People took out loans at 8 to 12 percent interest, confident they could make up the difference and then some in stocks. Dividend yields bottomed out as investors ignored company earnings and relied solely on capital gains. “By 1929,” Johnson wrote, “some stocks were selling at 50 times earnings.” Johnson compared this purely speculative “boom” to a form of pyramid selling.

In October 1929, the pyramid came crashing down, and the United States entered its worst depression in history.

When you read Paul Johnson’s description of America’s economy in the 1920s, you could easily mistake it for the 1990s, if not for the fact that it ended in a crash.

The question is, if the Bible foretells another crash, far worse than 1929 (the higher you go, the further you fall), why has it not happened yet? What’s keeping America’s bubble economy from bursting?

A Watchman Warning

The book of Ezekiel, like so many biblical prophecies, is addressed to Israel (Ezek. 2:3). In chapter 3, we find Ezekiel’s God-given commission: “Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them” (v. 4). God told Ezekiel to warn Israel for Him.

Understand this! Ezekiel was a Jewish priest taken captive by the Babylonian Empire when it conquered Judah. The northern ten tribes of Israel had gone into Assyrian captivity more than 100 years before Judah. Ezekiel wrote his book while in captivity. He was never free to deliver God’s warning message to ancient Israel.

That’s because his message was for Israel in this end time! That is why God preserved the book of Ezekiel in writing—so an end-time “Ezekiel” could deliver this warning to modern-day Israel—mainly the United States and Britain!

God has commissioned His modern-day watchman to closely follow world events as they fulfill prophecy—and then, through a weekly TV newscast and a monthly publication trumpeting God’s prophecies, warn Israel of what will soon befall them, unless they repent. You are living through the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy!

God calls this modern-day Ezekiel a “watchman unto the house of Israel” (Ezek. 3:17). To this “watchman,” God says, “Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword [military invasion] upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head…. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them…his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me” (Ezek. 33:2-4, 6-7).

God does not say that all who hear this message will repent. To the contrary, He says in Ezekiel 33:31-32 that many will enjoy hearing the words of this message, but they will not do them! Even still, God warns through His watchman, so that when these events finally come to pass, they will know where God was working (v. 33).

This warning message, while directed at modern Israel first, is actually for the whole world! The world must be warned of what is coming! That is the job God has given His watchman—and those who support the watchman work. Jesus said the harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few (Matt. 9:37). Humanly, you would think it impossible for such a small group to take on such a massive work.

Yet, with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). God has headquartered His watchman work in Edmond, Oklahoma—in the United States of America. Most of those who support this work, through prayers and financial sacrifice, reside in the United States of America. They are not rich people by any means—just average, working-class Americans. (Some are considered poor, by American standards.)

But because God has given this nation so much wealth, the “average” yearly income in America ($44,000 per family) far surpasses that of other nations. No other nation on Earth could finance such a huge undertaking with such a small number of supporters!

That is why God has raised up His end-time warning work here in the United States—first.

And that’s why, believe it or not, America’s financial bubble has not yet burst. That’s why, despite all the warning signs, the United States still surges forward with an $8 trillion economy—twice the size of the second-richest economy, Japan.

God has kept America’s economy afloat because the watchman work is not yet finished!

Mr. Armstrong said this for decades, even as he was prophesying of America’s eventual collapse as a world power. In the January 1962 Plain Truth, he wrote, “Few know how close the Allies came to losing World War II—or the reason we did not. Few will believe it, but the only reason was to allow time for this message to go to the world! It can be supported financially only by, in the main, the common people of below-average income levels. America has been kept prosperous enough for those people to carry out God’s will! This gigantic crusade guided by the living Christ must be completed! It will be!”

Notice again what the Plain Truth wrote in April 1968: “Total collapse of the global monetary network will not occur this year—or the next—or possibly even the next after that. There will, however, be more ‘gold bubbles’—each one successively worse. After each ‘bubble’—another patchwork, stopgap scheme will be worked out. Additional time will be bought…. But why the continuous series of last-ditch rescues of the dollar and the pound? For one reason! This work of God proclaiming the truth of God’s word to the entire world is not yet finished!”

At the beginning of this article, we told you the answers to our three questions would be quite similar. How did America come to receive its tremendous wealth and prosperity? Because of God. He gave it to America because of Abraham’s faithful obedience.

Why do we continue to forecast economic ruin for our peoples? Because of God. He has said in His word that He will take away every one of those blessings and replace them with curses—unless we repent.

Then why the delay—why hasn’t our economy collapsed yet? Because of God. He has not yet finished the job He is doing through the watchman work.

Because of God—nothing sophisticated or scholarly about that answer.

But it’s the right answer.