From James 5 of the Amplified version of the Bible, we read beginning at verse one the following warning from God Almighty. “Come now, you rich [people], weep aloud and lament over the miseries — the woes — that are surely coming upon you. Your abundant wealth has rotted and is ruined and your [many] garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are completely rusted through, and their rust will be testimony against you and it will devour your flesh as if it were fire. You have heaped together treasure for the last days. [But] look! [Here are] the wages that you have withheld by fraud from the laborers who have reaped your fields, crying out (for vengeance), and the cries of the harvesters have come to the ears of the Lord of hosts. [Here] on earth you have abandoned yourselves to soft (prodigal) living and to [the pleasures of] self indulgence and self-gratification. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the (innocent) righteous [man, while] he offers no resistance to you.”
James is warning all such men, Christian or otherwise, not because they are rich but because they have failed in their stewardship. Today we can look at our political leaders, our corporate leaders and our ecclesiastical leaders and easily come to the conclusion that they too have failed. Whereas God intended wealth to be employed for the good of mankind it has basically ended up in a relatively few hands and has been hoarded. The word ‘privatization’ is a buzz word in government circles to justify turning over more of the electorate’s asset base to private hands and thus set in motion more of the endless confiscation of wealth from the individual. James talked about the cruel defrauding of poor farm labourers and here we can substitute Mr. Average Israelite who has been burdened down by excessive tax, etc., all against the law outlined in Deuteronomy 24:14. The self-indulgence of our leaders is certainly visible, and James warns that they are just fattening themselves up for the slaughter. Ecclesiaticus (Apocrypha) 34: 21-22 are well worth noting, “The bread of the needy is their life: he that defraudeth him thereof is a man of blood. He that taketh away his neighbour’s living slayeth him; and he that defraudeth the labourer of his hire is a bloodshedder.” (emphasis mine) This would relate to verse 6 of James 5 and as you reflect upon it, think, for example, of the tens of thousands of jobs that have been taken from our people and exported to third world nations by men and women in charge of large corporations.
Then James turns to those who are being affected by those oppressors and basically tells them that these events that are taking place are prophetic and that they must be patient, for by this time, the Judge is standing at the very door. Here is how James words it in verses 7-9. “So be patient, brethren, [as; you wait] till the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits expectantly for the precious harvest from the land. [See how] he keeps up his patient [vigil] over it until it receives the early and late rains. So you also must be patient. Establish your hearts — strengthen and confirm them in the final certainty for the coming of the Lord is very near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you [yourselves] may not be judged. Look! The Judge is [already] standing at the very door. [As] an example of suffering and ill-treatment together with patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord – as His messengers.”
So, the situation we see in the world today, brought about primarily because of leaders who have failed in their stewardship, has been permitted to worsen year in and year out by God who is probably letting them self-destruct with their own medicine. The situation is akin to a series of trains going in the same direction at breakneck speed and having no grasp of the vast abyss that is ahead of them. The reach for power at any cost by past and present stewards has created such dangers in the world that it is frightening to contemplate what could happen. From a military standpoint the instinct to create empires has brought about a nuclear proliferation of stupendous magnitude, yet always are nations seeking greater and greater destructive powers. Wars are being fought at the drop of a hat, regardless of the human cost or the greater burden placed upon those who foot the bill, the ordinary taxpayer.
Here in the Israelite west the economic engine has been traveling at such reckless speed over the past decades that it has all but tapped the resources of the populace, having trapped them in a sea of debt and taxation so deep there is no way out. Newly emerging powers are being granted every concession possible to underwrite the staggering financial needs but it is to the point that even those nations fear the unrestrained printing presses of the central banks and are partially fleeing to gold, silver and other currencies. Yet, even they don’t know whether to pass or punt as such things as the derivative bomb, the housing bubble, oil prices, war costs, huge trade and current account deficits collectively threaten to bring about the greatest financial explosion the world has ever witnessed.
The ecclesiastical train is the sorriest train of all because it carries the stewards who have been very instrumental in the breakdown of the social fabric of our nations. They traded responsibility for comfort and I suspect they will be among the most harshly dealt with when the Lord Jesus Christ returns.
What are we to do beside having patience and knowing that Jesus is already standing at the door making ready for His entrance? The geographic changes that are happening throughout the entire globe are very likely witness of His pending arrival. James tells us to pray, for one another and ourselves. He gives us the example of Elias to demonstrate the power of prayer and ends up emphasizing the mission we have to bring our brethren back into fellowship with Christ.