Prosperity or Poverty
Copyright © April 3, 2017 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
During the course of my life I have personally experienced good times (prosperity) and hard times (poverty). There have been times in my life when I could easily pay all my monthly bills and I had some money left over to invest. But there have also been times in my life when I had to sell all my investments to pay my bills and I even had to borrow money to pay some of my bills. My personal life has included alternating periods of prosperity and poverty.
I have also lived through a number of business economic cycles when the economy would expand and companies were hiring and the average income of many families increased. But then the economy would collapse and companies would lay off some of their employees, and some companies would go out of business, and the average income of many families would decline significantly. I have seen these cycles repeat several times during my life and there is no reason for me to believe they will not continue to repeat indefinitely into the future.
When I was younger I believed these major business cycles were the result of the interaction of several variables within the economy because that is what I had been taught to believe in the business and economic courses I took in college. But now that I am older I realize that the economy is a secondary cause and not the primary cause of these cycles. In my opinion the primary cause of these cycles is the attitude of the majority of the people within a nation. Please allow me to explain.
The Primary Cause of Business Cycles of Expansion and Contraction
A person who has been trained in scientific research understands that an outcome can be influenced by a combination of input variables and that each individual input variable can be more important or less important to the outcome than the other input variables. And sometimes a catalyst needs to be present or the input variables will not have the desired impact on the output. These concepts are usually not disputed by individuals who are skilled in scientific research. What these individuals will sometimes not agree on is which input variables are relevant and how important each input variable is to the outcome.
Most business and economic textbooks discuss a lot of different input variables that can significantly contribute to whether or not a nation's economy is doing good or bad. However, in my opinion, these variables are not the primary reasons for economic growth, or for economic stagnation and depression. They are just secondary variables.
In my opinion the primary reason for a country's success or failure is the faith of its citizens in God. More specifically, it is the people's faith in the one true God of the Holy Bible. By faith I do not mean lip service where a person simply says he or she believes in God. If a person truly believes in God then the way the person acts will be in alignment with what the person believes.
It is my opinion that God determines the prosperity or poverty of every nation and that God uses the secondary variables that we can measure to accomplish His will for each nation.
So how does this apply to the United States of America?
The history of the United States has been filled with good times and with bad times. For example, in the 1800s we had a Civil War where some of my ancestors fought for the north while some of my ancestors in the same exact family fought for the south. The American Civil War was truly a war of brother against brother.
- Theoretically, the people in the United States of America have the freedom to believe or not believe in God.
- Theoretically, in the USA a person should not be persecuted for believing or not believing in God.
- The reason is because the USA was originally founded on the concept of faith in God and freedom of religion.
- The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America contains the following statement that was agreed upon and signed by our nation's founding forefathers on July 4, 1776:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
The U.S. Declaration of Independence is a historic political legal document and it reveals the unanimous beliefs of a group of very important and influential men who lived more than 240 years ago. These men believed in God and they believed that God created mankind. They were 56 very intelligent men who were willing to put their reputations, their wealth, and their lives at risk based on their beliefs.
- The Constitutional Bill of Rights of the USA includes the following:
Amendment I - Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom to Peaceably Assemble - December 15, 1791.
The very first precept that our nation's founding forefathers wrote into our Bill of Rights was freedom of religion. Freedom of religion means that the citizens of the United States of America have a right to worship God if they wish, or to ignore God if they wish, or to worship anything or anyone instead of God if they wish.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
However, the Holy Bible reminds us that this is not unusual.
These few examples from the Holy Bible illustrate that God will only tolerate evil behavior for a period of time and that God will eventually punish those who practice evil.
- In Genesis, the first book in the Bible, Cain slew his brother Abel. Cain slew Abel because Cain was jealous that God approved of Abel's genuine faith but God did not approve of Cain's pretense of faith (Genesis 4:1-8).
- Nine of Joseph's eleven brothers lacked true faith in God and they sold Joseph to traveling merchants who sold Joseph as a slave in Egypt. But Joseph's true faith in God helped to sustain him during his ordeal in Egypt. After many years God rewarded Joseph's faith by making Joseph the second most powerful person in Egypt, after Pharaoh himself (Genesis 37:17-34, 39:20-23, 41:1, 41:39-43).
- The Holy Bible goes on to tell how the tribes of Israel, who were descended from the twelve sons of Jacob, frequently had disagreements with one another, and they went to war with one another, and they killed one another (Judges 12:1-6, Judges 20:1-48, 2 Chronicles 10:1-19).
- King David's son Absalom waged war against his own father, and Absalom tried to kill his father so he could become king (2 Samuel 17:1 - 18:17).
- The northern kingdom of Israel abandoned God and they began worshiping idols, and God eventually allowed them to be destroyed by Nineveh and the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:7-40).
- The southern kingdom of Judah had the Temple of God in Jerusalem but its leaders, its priests, and its people abandoned the worship of God except in lip service and they participated half-heartedly in religious rituals. They openly worshiped idols and the sun and demons. Because of their apostasy God eventually allowed Jerusalem and its Temple to be destroyed by the Babylonians (1 Kings 9:6-9, 2 Kings 24:1 - 25:21, 2 Chronicles 7:19-22, 2 Chronicles 36:17-21).
However, God had mercy on the Israelites and after many years in captivity in a foreign land, God allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem and rebuild its wall and its Temple (Ezra 2:1-2).
- Nineveh was a great and prosperous city but its people were very evil. When the king, the nobles, and the people of Nineveh heard that God was going to destroy their city if they did not turn from their evil ways, the people repented and asked God for forgiveness and God spared the city because of their change of heart. However, after another period of prosperity, the people of Nineveh once again began to do exceeding evil things and at that time God allowed the city of Nineveh to be completely destroyed by the Babylonians (Jonah 3:1-10, Nahum 1:14, Zepahniah 2:13-15, Luke 11:32).
- Babylon was a great and prosperous city and for many years the Babylonians conquered and ruled many nations. But the king, the leaders, and the people of Babylon became arrogant and proud, and eventually they treated the golden cups they had removed from the Temple of God in Jerusalem with great disrespect, and God allowed the Medes to conquer Babylon (Daniel 5:1-30).
These few examples also show that simply being an honest God fearing person does not guarantee a life of prosperity and happiness (Abel and Joseph).
The Past, the Present, and the Future
God destroyed the world with a flood because the people had abandoned God and everyone was doing whatever seemed right in their own eyes (Genesis 6:5). Only Noah and his family survived the flood (Genesis 8:18). When Noah and his family left the ark they all spoke the same language (Genesis 11:1). But mankind once again degenerated into depravity and God confused their language at Babel (Genesis 11:9). The people still continued to do whatever seemed right in their own eyes and God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their gross acts of sexual perversion (Genesis 19:4-5,24-25). God destroyed the ancient Egyptian empire because its people worshiped the sun and false gods (Exodus 12:29-30). God eventually destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Israel because they abandoned God. Some people simply did not believe in God. And some people worshiped the sun, and idols, and demons, and the devil, and false gods.
It is interesting to note that the nations mentioned in the Holy Bible all followed the same basic pattern: they experienced a period of peace and prosperity, and then they gradually drifted away from faith in God their Creator, and then they gradually began openly defying God and putting their confidence in man, and then they gradually became more oppressive to anyone who openly professed faith in God and who criticised their behavior for any reason, and then they gradually redefined the concepts of good and bad behavior by saying that the things that used to be considered bad were really good, and the things that used to be considered good were really bad. The people in these nations gradually become so corrupt and so firmly fixed in doing whatever they pleased and denying the existence of God, heaven, and hell, that God eventually had no alternative but to destroy the entire nation and its leaders using whatever method He believed was appropriate -- sometimes it was another nation that conquered them, and sometimes it was a series of natural disasters that weakened the nation until it gradually collapsed under its own weight. This resulted in the death of those who defied God and who refused to change their evil behavior. But in each situation a few people survived based on God's divine purpose for their lives. I have frequently wondered what those rebellious people did when they passed from this life into the next life and they found themselves standing in line awaiting judgment before the Throne of the God they did not believe was real -- a Throne before which only truth can be spoken and the imaginations and thoughts of each heart are openly revealed. (Hebrews 9:27 - it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, ESV.)
A person's great-great-grandfather may have been killed in the Spanish American War in the year 1898. Or a person's ancestor may have been killed at the Alamo in the year 1836. Or a person's great-great-great-grandmother may have been forcibly and violently raped by Mexican soldiers before Texas won its independence. Even though these are all tragic events, these events do not give a person today the right to kill as many Spanish speaking people as possible in order to punish them for something that someone else did more than 100 years ago.
The Holy Bible says that God has the right to execute judgment and that individuals do not have the right to seek revenge (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:17-21). The Holy Bible also says that the government has the right to decide if a person deserves to be punished, and if so, the government has the right to decide what a fair punishment would be and to administer that punishment.
The First Amendment to our Bill of Rights gives us the right to peaceably assemble in order to petition the government for anything we believe needs to be corrected. It does not give anyone, or any group of people, the right to drive a truck into a crowd of peaceful law abiding citizens. It does not give anyone the right to loot a store, or to burn down buildings, or to hurt someone and put them in the hospital, or to violently rape someone, or to kill someone.
In my opinion, if our government does not take positive action to punish anyone and everyone who breaks the law, and to punish anyone who encourages other people to break the law (known as an "accomplice or instigator"), then these acts of lawlessness will increase and God will not bless the USA. It is even possible that we may experience God's wrath. (Hebrews 10:31 - It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ESV)
In the USA some states have the death penalty and some states do not. In the states that do have the death penalty there is almost always a sequence of appeals that can delay the execution for many years. And when a person is actually executed by the state then it almost always makes the news because it is such a rare event. On the other hand, every day a multitude of murders are committed by criminals in every state in the USA but the news usually only reports a very limited number of those homicides.
If a person is convicted of murder then they may be sent to a heated and air conditioned facility where they are fed three hot meals every day and those meals are cooked for them and their dishes are washed by someone else. Their laundry is done by someone else. They have access to color television and the radio. They have gyms and exercise areas where they can play sports. They are provided with free medical care. And all of these expenses are paid for with the tax money collected from the honest law-abiding citizens of the USA and this includes the extended families of the dead victims of the murderers. And the families of the dead victims also have to pay for the funeral expenses of their murdered family member and suffer the emotional stress and pain of the tragic death. The surviving family members are frequently evicted from their residence because they no longer have the financial support of their dead loved one, and they become displaced widows and orphans who are left to survive in whatever way they can.
Why does our government believe that putting someone in jail is an acceptable way to punish a person who intentionally murders another person? Have you every wondered what the Holy Bible says about how homicide should be punished? (Genesis 9:6) Do you believe that God is going to bless and prosper and heal a nation that ignores Him?
There are many people who believe that the USA is on the verge of a new golden age. These individuals may be correct.
However, I believe that God controls the destiny of the USA and I do not know if God is pleased with how the majority of the people in the USA are currently behaving. A lot of us are doing what we believe is right in our own eyes instead of paying attention to what God says is right in the Holy Bible.
I truthfully do not know if the future of the USA will be prosperity or disaster. However, based on the recent number of "flu" epidemics, crop failures, forest fires, droughts, floods, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, mud slides, avalanches, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters, I suspect that things will not change unless God intervenes. And I don't think God will intervene unless a lot more people give Him the credit that He deserves.
If God does intervene and God blesses the USA with great prosperity then it would be appropriate if many of the people in the USA would give God the praise for what He has done. I do not believe that everyone will say "thank you" to God. There have always been unbelieving people in every nation since God first created the world. But if you do believe in God then you should be one of the people who does give God the thanks He deserves.
If God does not intervene then the USA may be subject to an increasing number of devastating natural disasters that may cripple our economy. Our political leaders have no control over the timing or the severity of natural disasters. Fortunately, God does not punish the good with the wicked, as He clearly demonstrated in saving Lot and his two daughters when He destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their gross sexual misconduct (Genesis 19:4-26).
God always has a faithful remnant even among the most ungodly of nations, such as Daniel and his three friends in Babylon (Daniel 1:1-31). And God always has a perfect plan for each one of His children. Sometimes that plan is to call His child up into Heaven to be with Jesus, such as the apostle James who was the first apostle to be executed by the government (Acts 12:2). Sometimes God's plan is to leave His child here on the earth to be a witness to others, such as the apostle John (the brother of James) who was banished by the government to the prison island of Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:9).
In My Opinion the Most Important Question is the Following:
If there is a God, then do you think He has any control over the future of our nation?
Is God Pleased with the USA?
If there is a God, then how do you think He feels about the following?
One final important question that should be answered is, "What does the Holy Bible actually teach?" The Holy Bible encourages people to obey their government, to pray for their leaders, to pay their taxes without complaining, to be generous to the poor and to widows and to orphans, to live in peace with all people of every race and nation, to be kind to everyone including our enemies, to forgive everyone for anything they may have done to us, to work diligently and faithfully at our jobs, to obey our parents, to tell the truth, to be honest, to love God and our neighbors, and to not steal or commit murder. The Holy Bible also teaches that men and women are equal in the eyes of God and that both men and women are subject to the same laws (Leviticus 20:10-12). The Holy Bible also says that women may inherit estates and that women may own real estate and personal property (Numbers 27:1-11). I personally do not know why our government objects to our children being taught these basic concepts.
- At the current time our government does not want God, or Jesus, or the Holy Bible to be mentioned at any time in its public school system and it will quickly prosecute anyone who violates this mandate. On the other hand, our government does not mind if Allah is openly praised and worshiped in our public schools. And our government does not mind if demon worship or devil worship is taught in our public schools. Do you think this is what our nation's founding forefathers had in mind when they included the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights?
If the citizens of the USA had known in 1962 when our government passed the law that prohibited prayer in our public schools, that in a period of just 50 years some of our elementary school children would be forced to learn how to worship the devil, and to learn the Islamic religion and how to pray to Allah, and to learn a variety of different sexual alternatives, and that some of our elementary school children would be forced to practice these sexual alternatives against their will, then I personally believe that the citizens of the USA would have been so opposed to the law that it would have been immediately repealed. But that is just my opinion.
- At the current time in the USA, foreign individuals who are in our country illegally may steal and kill at random, including raping and killing young girls, and when they are caught they are turned loose so they can do it again as many times as they wish. In other words, a person who is illegally in the USA can commit the most despicable crimes against the legal citizens of the USA and the government of the USA will not punish those people the same way the government would punish a citizen of the USA if that citizen committed the same crimes. This reminds me of the outlaws of the "Old West" who would rob and kill in one state and then cross the state line into another state and the law could not punish them because they had crossed the state line. Our nation fixed that problem in the 1800s. But today in the 21st century our government leaders say there is nothing they can do because our laws allow foreign illegals to freely commit any crimes they wish without having to worry about being punished in any way.
Have you ever wondered what God says about this issue? The Holy Bible says that all people, including rulers, citizens, foreigners, men, and women should be subject to the same laws (Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:21-22, Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
- In the Old Testament the nation of Israel gradually drifted away from God to the worship of demons. And part of their demon worship was to sacrifice the lives of their little children to their local demon god (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, 2 Kings 16:3-4, 2 Kings 21:6, 2 Chronicles 28:3-5, 2 Chronicles 33:5-6, Ezekiel 23:37-39). This is one of the reasons God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and its Temple.
At the current time in the USA the sacrifice of a young child to a demon is against the law. However, in the USA an expectant mother no longer has to wait until after she gives birth to make a decision on whether or not her future child will live or die. Every expectant mother in the USA now has a "legal" right to make this decision for her unborn child.
Have you ever wondered how God feels about this issue? This is one of the many reasons the government of the USA does not want God or the Bible in its public school system.
(Note: Even though every expectant mother in the USA has a "legal" right to terminate the life of her child while the child is still inside her womb, she does not have to abort her child. Every expectant mother can make the decision to allow her child to live. If she cannot support and properly care for her newborn child then she can allow her child to be adopted by a family who will care for and love the child.)
- Who defines what is sexually right and wrong? Does our government get to define sexual morality for us? During the course of my life the government of the USA has changed its definition of what is sexually right and wrong several times. Have you ever wondered how many more times our government will change the law that defines sexual morality?
Does each one of us get to individually decide what is morally right and wrong? If each one of us has the right to decide what is morally right and wrong, then every one of us could easily justify our own sexual behavior as being okay for a variety of good reasons that make perfect sense to us. Even a child molesting rapist could easily justify what he does based on his own personal moral compass.
Have you ever wondered how God defines proper sexual behavior in the Holy Bible? Unfortunately, if you believe what God says in the Holy Bible about proper sexual behavior then our government will put you in jail because you are not degrading your beliefs in order to accommodate our government's current definition of acceptable sexual behavior.
It is possible that sometime in the future the USA will legalize prostitution and the government will have its own legally licensed houses of prostitution where they collect a fair tax on each transaction. If the government legalizes prostitution then the next logical step would be for a new local "church" to organize and petition the government for a prostitution tax license, and then declare that religious prostitution is an acceptable and desirable worship activity in the same way that it was practiced during Old Testament times before God destroyed the nations that engaged in this activity (Deuteronomy 23:17, 1 Kings 14:24).
(Note: I realize that some people may believe that prostitution will never be legalized and taxed in the USA. However, in the USA in the year 1900 alcohol was not subject to government control, but in 1920 the government completely prohibited the sale of alcohol, and then in 1933 the government legalized and taxed the sale of alcohol. Also the government had laws against gambling during most of the 1900s but eventually many states started their own lottery operations where lottery tickets could be sold all across the state and most of the money had to be given to the state. This is not a criticism of alcohol or lottery tickets. It is simply two examples of how a government can change its laws whenever it wants to.)
- During most of the 1900s the Gideons were allowed to give free New Testament Bibles to the students in our public schools. However, since 1962 more and more schools districts have gradually stopped the free distribution of Bibles to their students even though the Gideons are still willing to provide these Bibles for free to the students. In the year 2017 there are only a few school districts in the USA that still allow the Gideons to give a free New Testament Bible to any student who would like to have one. Today a huge number of our children do not get a chance to receive a free Bible until after they become an inmate in one of our government's prisons.
Perhaps some of our leaders do not have our children's best interests at heart even though they loudly proclaim that all the laws they pass are for the future well-being of our children. Instead it may be that some of our leaders do not wish to be evaluated against a standard that they do not agree with, and the easiest way to establish their own standards is to prohibit the teaching of any other standard, regardless of how good that standard might be.
It could be that some of our leaders do not want God to bless the USA because that may include bringing some of them to justice for their previous misdeeds. In order to delay justice some of our leaders may intentionally be trying to stir up riots, and racial hatred, and political hatred in the USA in order to divert attention away from the things they have done in the past. The easiest way to hide their misdeeds is to keep the people of the USA in poverty because that keeps our minds focused on how we are going to survive from day to day instead of asking for justice to be done equally to all people, including our rulers and the foreigners who are illegally in the USA and who break our laws.
I have attempted to behave like an honest God fearing Christian since the year 1976. But I have not always been successful and I have been ashamed of my behavior a few times since 1976. I now understand what Jesus meant when He washed the feet of His disciples and He told them that when the body is clean only the dust of the day needs to be washed off our feet (John 13:9-10). A few times during the past 41 years I have needed a little more than a daily dust cleaning. But Jesus has always been faithful to forgive my daily sins regardless of how trivial or how horrendous they may have been.
During the past 41 years my personal life has been one of both blessings and hardships. But I have learned from the Holy Bible that regardless of what happens to me that I should praise God and give Him the glory for being with me during my times of prosperity and during my times of hardship. At my age I can now do this with sincerity because I know that nothing happens in my life unless: (a) God allows it to happen to refine me and increase my faith, or (b) God causes it to happen to bless me.
In closing, please allow me to share two true stories from my own life:
I do not believe in coincidence.
- In the year 2010 I lost control of the bicycle I was riding and I fell hard into the grassy area beside the road. As I sat up in the grass where I had fallen I looked around me at the grass. The grass had been mowed and the grass was about four inches tall. Any small trees that had started to grow in the grass had also been mowed by bending the tree over with the front edge of the mower and the blades inside the mower then made contact with the bent trunk of the tree and sliced through it at an angle. When the mower continued on its way the short tree stump that remained in the ground would pop back upright with a sharp spear shaped tip pointed straight up. As I sat there in the grass I looked around me and there were short deadly spears sticking straight up from the ground in several nearby spots. I had fallen into the grass in a spot among those nearby deadly spears and none of those spears had pierced by body. I immediately praised God for protecting me from being seriously injured or killed. I left that accident site with just a few bloody scrapes and bruises. And I realized that God does not always prevent an accident from happening. But God does have the power to minimize the damage caused by any "accident."
- In the year 2013 I was driving on a four lane divided highway and a car in the lane beside me very quickly turned into my lane without giving any signal. The car was too close to me to avoid hitting the car by using my brakes. The only way to avoid hitting the other car in its side door was to quickly jerk my steering wheel to the right and drive my car over onto the grass beside the road. But now my car was skidding out-of-control and headed straight towards a row of trees. I immediately asked God for help. I was able to swerve my car to avoid the trees. But now I was skidding towards a different car on the highway. I applied my brakes with all my strength and my car did slow down a little on the grass. As my car slid back onto the highway I just barely missed the car on the highway and I crossed over the highway going sideways into the grass strip between the four lanes of traffic but now I was going in the opposite direction. But my car was slowing down and it eventually came to a stop. I was in the grass between four lanes of traffic and my car was pointed in the wrong way. I immediately praised God for being with me and for guiding my car safely to the position that I was in. When the road was clear and no traffic was headed in my direction, I turned my car back onto the highway in the correct direction and continued on my journey. During this entire event I was completely calm and I was not scared even though I did not know how the event would end and whether I would live or die. Fortunately the event ended without any harm or damage to my car or to myself.
Instead I believe in providence.
I believe that God controls my future. And I believe that God controls the future of our nation, for either good or bad, and that He can use any economic variable He wishes to either prosper or impoverish our nation.
If you wish you can try to improve your future all by yourself. Or you could put your trust in God and sincerely ask Him to heal our nation and your personal life. And then be patient and wait for God to work according to His timetable.
I hope you will put your trust in God. I truly believe that God already loves you just like He loves His Son Jesus. And that is why He allowed His Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the full redemption price for your eternal soul. All you have to do to claim God's free gift of eternal life is to believe in Jesus. And this is really easy to do if you will just stop resisting God and open your heart to allow His love to flow into you. (John 21:31, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:10-11, 1 John 5:13.)
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