We’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s money in the bank,” meaning that something is a sure thing—rock solid! Well, recent economic events show that we had better adopt a new proverb. As we have discovered, money in the bank is no longer rock solid! This past spring, among a myriad of political, international, and entertainment industry headlines, the world tuned in to some earth-shaking economic news: “SVB [Silicon Valley Bank] sold approximately $21 billion of securities, which will result in an after tax loss of approximately $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2023.”1 The day after this stunning announcement, SVB stock value took a 60 percent dive in a sell-off that was halted five times due to volatility.
“On March 17, 2023, SVB Financial Group filed a voluntary petition for a court-supervised reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.”2 The collapse of SVB weakened bank stocks across the entire exchange. The failure of First Republic Bank followed on its heels. And others have since failed. The banking shakeup has not been limited to the US. Within days of the Silicon Valley Bank collapse, Credit Suisse, a major banking institution in Switzerland, required a bailout.
So far, government intervention, central banks, and other corporate banking entities have stepped in to preserve client assets in the failed banks. Despite that fact, these questions remain: Can our long-trusted banking systems be kept afloat indefinitely? Is this a sustainable practice? How stable is my bank? Should I be worried about the security of my life savings?
In a televised statement before the markets opened on the Monday following the SVB collapse, President Biden promised, “Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe. Your deposits are safe. Let me also assure you we will not stop at this; we’ll do whatever is needed.”3 That the president of the United States so quickly and directly addressed the global public begs the question, If there was no threat of economic crisis, why did he feel compelled to promptly reassure the American people? Despite the president’s assurances, many economists are forecasting a severe economic downturn in the near future, and based on a variety of financial criteria, we are currently experiencing a recession—even now! Are we, in fact, hanging on by a thin thread?
Many are questioning the wisdom of government intervention in the shaky banking system. Is it sustainable? What might be the unintentional outcomes? And what’s next?
In September 2022, the Biden administration published “Policy Objectives for a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency System.”4 Some financial experts think digital currency will make it easier and more secure for Americans to conduct business. But many economists are skeptical— concerned that the proposed digital currency will allow the government to drive unpopular policies and agendas and control its citizens using economic sanctions as leverage.
the Bible’s warnings
Where will the financial chaos end up? In the sea of rhetoric, underlying political agendas, and contradictory “facts,” media outlets have become increasingly unreliable. But thankfully, the Bible gives us a trustworthy and precise view of what the coming economic environment will look like just prior to the second coming of Jesus.
Let’s consider some key points. The Bible has plenty to say about natural disasters and human cruelty at the end of time. Jesus said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. . . . For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:6, 7, NKJV).
Wars and natural disasters have a catastrophic economic impact. According to many estimates, the Ukraine war cost more than 1.5 trillion dollars in 2022 alone, and taking rebuilding costs into account, that price tag is expected to increase by hundreds of billions. Natural disasters also impose huge financial burdens. Over the past five years, the US has averaged 18 weather/climate disasters per year. And that number reflects only events costing a billion dollars or more!5 The prophecy of Jesus foretells wars and natural disasters, but it is clear that these carry with them enormous economic calamity as well.
Jesus went on to say, “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (verses 10–12, NKJV). Across the globe, human lawlessness wreaks widespread economic havoc. When multitudes are cold-hearted—when love no longer motivates good and honorable deeds—criminal behavior takes over. The cost of crimes, such as vandalism, rioting, and robbery, and the additional capital required to control the criminal element through our legal system and incarceration decimate the economy. Chemical dependency, mental illness, and homelessness are overwhelming our resources and crippling our society.
Can anyone find financial security in a world where lawlessness abounds? And beyond the actual dollar costs, history records that governments, in the name of “saving” society, take increasing control of their citizens, intensifying regulations and penaltie “for the common good of the nation.” We must face facts—the cost of crime is not only measured in dollars but also realized through restrictions on our personal and collective liberty.
The Bible says, “Know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1, NKJV). The cause of the perilous times, according to the Bible, is the wickedness of humanity itself: “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (verses 2–4, NKJV).
Where crime and anarchy prevail, there can be no such thing as financial security. So it is no surprise that the Bible foretells a final economic crash like no other.
The Bible foretells economic catastrophe for those who “have heaped up treasure in the last days” (James 5:3, NKJV). It says, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire” (James 5:1–3, NKJV).
Chapter 18 of Revelation also describes the final economic downfall using the symbol of a wicked woman—also symbolized by the city of Babylon. This woman/city represents the end-time alliance between church leaders and government powers who, by the way, will suffer most when their wealth comes to nothing. Here’s how the Bible describes the economic crash:
“And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore: merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple, silk and scarlet. . . . The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! For in one hour such great riches came to nothing’ ” (Revelation 18:11–17, NKJV).
Why do these people experience this horrific calamity? The same chapter tells us: “Her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
. . . In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine” (verses 5–8, NKJV).
Sin, iniquity, self-glorification, and pride will reap a certain harvest. The selfishness manifest in crime and cruelty toward others and indifference to their suffering will surely come to an end. This catastrophic economic collapse is just one aspect of the chaos that involves the whole world just before the second coming of Jesus. In our current state of society, with its prevailing lawlessness and economic instability, are we seeing signs that final events are near?
The Bible portrays a stark picture of economic reality as we approach the coming of Jesus. But what can we do? Should we start hoarding? Become doomsday preppers? Where should we stash our money—in a foreign bank, in cryptocurrency, in a fireproof box buried in the ground?
Jesus told a parable in which one of the lessons He taught was to “do business till I come” (Luke 19:13, NKJV). We do not know the day or the hour of Jesus’ coming, so while we wait, it is our duty to manage the resources he has placed in our care as wisely as possible. Also, He expects us to care for ourselves and not become a burden to others as we await His coming. “For each one shall bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5, NKJV). But while we must make the best financial decisions possible in the here and now, our life choices should be guided by God’s value system.
finding solid rock
While the Bible promises an inevitable and tremendous economic collapse before Jesus comes, it also points us to the one rock-solid investment opportunity that is truly “money in the bank.” Jesus, our solid Rock, said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20, NKJV).
The Bible’s solution is to rethink our personal value system and allow God to transform the way we evaluate worth. Are temporal goods—homes, property, and self-indulgences such as luxuries, entertainment, and “toys”—really the most valuable things in our lives? As we see the signs of the times, let us reconsider the true value of investing in heavenly goods.
Revelation, the same book that foretells economic disaster just before Jesus comes, also guarantees immeasurable wealth and prosperity after He comes. “He who overcomes shall inherit all things” (Revelation 21:7, NKJV). But more important than any houses, land, and other material possessions is the personal peace, contentment, and joy we can have a taste of now and that is guaranteed in the heavenly kingdom: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3, 4, NKJV).
Now that is a future worth investing in! The wealth of this world is going to crumble to nothing. What do we have to lose? Let’s turn our attention heavenward and start following the investing advice of the solid Rock—who is, indeed, rock solid. Let’s put our treasure where it is eternally secure—money in the heavenly bank.
Dan Ross is a pastor and managing editor of Signs of the Times®.
1. “SVB Financial Group Announces Proposed Offerings of Common Stock and Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock,” PRNewswire, March 8, 2023, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/svb-financial-group-announces-proposed-offerings-of-common-stock-and-mandatory-convertible-preferred-stock-301766247.html.
2. “Important Information,” attached to article “SBV Financial Group Announces Proposed Offerings of Common Stock and Mandatory Convertible Preferred Stock,” SVB, March 8, 2023, https://ir.svb.com/news-and-research/news/news-details/2023/SVB-Financial-Group-Announces-Proposed-Offerings-of-Common-Stock-and-Mandatory-Convertible-Preferred-Stock/default.aspx.
3. Libby Cathey, “ ‘Banking System Is Safe,’ ” ABC News, March 13, 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-speaks-banking-crisis/story?id=97820883.
4. United States Government, “Policy Objectives for a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency System,” September 2022, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/09-2022-Policy-Objectives-US-CBDC-System.pdf.
5. National Centers for Environmental Information, "Billion Dollar Weather and climate Disasters," July 11, 2023, https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/billions/.