Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

Dear Friends

Responses to the Financial Crisis – Standing “from a distance” or standing “firm”

Over the past few days of financial crisis, the words of two 1st century Biblical writers seem to have a 21st century application –
James 5:1-8  Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.  2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.  3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.  4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.  5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.  6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.  7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.  8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.

James’ words echo Revelation 18’s with its tormented cries during the collapse of the financial empire of Babylon.
A number of lessons are writ large for our attention:
o    The insecurity of riches – Rev 15:17 how rapidly the financial world collapses. “In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!” [Rev 18:17 NIB]
o    The exploitative basis of riches – the merchants of wealth have been living in [to use Revelation’s phrase – 18:7 & 9] luxury [NIB] deliciously [KJV] – while more than a billion live in abject poverty – how the cries of the ‘ripped off’ must sound in the ears of the Lord [James 5:4].
o    The corruption that accompany riches – our wealthy western world has become not only the home of “demons” [Rev 18:2] but the primary exporter of immorality – so that “…all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries” [Rev 18:3].
And not least,
o    The response of the Lord – He hears the cry of the oppressed that begs his intervening wrath [James 3:4 & 5; Rev 18:20].
In all this I find myself wondering if, like the merchants who had participated and enjoyed the system’s luxury [‘The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing’ Revelation 18:15], I am now standing at a distance pointing the finger and fearful of my losses….

Or grabbing the opportunity to rethink my response to things like:

o    The basis of my security
o    The cry of the naked, the hungry and the poor
o    The moral corruption that I casually and occasionally indulge in
o    And … the patience of the saints in the certainty of the coming of the Lord [James 5:7,8; Rev 1:9; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12]
May I remind our church family that this crisis is the world’s not our Kingdom’s crisis and that we are to listen to James’ instruction and stand firm [5:8].

Llewellyn Edwards