Category Archives: The World Economy


The Islamic State in Syria also known by other names, is a newly emerging state that has grown rapidly especially in the last two years. It has produced world wide condemnation like nothing else even Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein and other notorious regime leaders. Unlike most of these, it is a theocracy with both a spiritual and physical agenda. It is promoting a radical form of Islam and claiming to follow the Koran with greater purity than other forms.. It is strictly Sunni Islam and has shown extreme violence against other forms of Islam and of course Christians, Jews and others who refuse to accept its form of Islam.

In the Bible, the book of Daniel (chapter 8:9 and following verses) teaches that the ruler at the end of the age will start off small (he will initially be a little horn), then grow towards the south and the east and towards the land of Israel. He will keep on growing and be very successful and become very powerful. He will cause fearful destruction, destroy powerful nations and God’s people, but in the end be broken, but not by a human hand. Many biblical scholars identify this person with the Seleucid king Antiochus IV who reigned from 175 to 164 BC. However, although matching some of this rulers characteristics, it fails badly in others, especially in starting small, his degree of violence and his lack of success. Antiochus IV did not start small, was not very successful and indeed was defeated by the Jews before his sudden death.

Intriguingly, in recent times, there have been many speculative proposals about the identity of this end of the age ruler. If the criteria mentioned above had been applied to these proposals they would all have been rejected, for example President Obama. None of them have been likely candidates. None of them have resided north to north west of Israel which is necessary to fulfil Daniel 8:9. In contrast, it should be seen that ISIS matches quite a few of the criteria well, but it is too early to establish that identity since other criteria remain which have not been satisfied. Especially, we do not yet know how successful ISIS will be. The world is horrified at what ISIS is doing and confidently predicts its destruction. However, the longer it survives the stronger it is becoming. It is a very well organised state, has substantial wealth and is training an army of people who will die for their cause. It also has world wide domination as its objective.

World conditions are such today that it is very difficult for the high technology and military capability of the west to intervene as was done in Iraq in 2003. The west is extremely fragile economically being under huge debt. It cannot afford and is very unwilling to put many troops on the ground in the Middle East now even in spite of its heavy reliance on Middle Eastern oil. The west has lost much of the trust of Middle Eastern countries because of its ambiguous political alignments. The internal conditions of many countries in the Middle East is unstable and deteriorating with many disparate groups often fighting one another. Loss of life and human displacement is huge. Suffering is huge. This is making this whole region ripe for the emergence of radical groups just like Daniel 8:23 NIV says “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise”.

The other very significant feature of ISIS is their declaration of the reestablishment of the Islamic caliphate on 29 June, 2014. That status is currently rejected by the majority of Islamic nations. However, in my understanding of the book of Revelation, the reestablishment of the Islamic caliphate is a very significant event. Let me take a little time to explain its significance.

If your view of Revelation is some form of preterist view so that most of Revelation is fulfilled in the first century AD or perhaps until the collapse of the Roman Empire, you will probably interpret the “beast out of the sea” in Revelation 13:1-10 as the Roman Empire. If you are futurist, with most of Revelation being fulfilled in the last 7 or 3.5 years before Jesus returns, then the “beast out of the sea” will be the final anti-Christ kingdom and likely a “revived Roman Empire”. If you are a historicist who takes the visions in Revelation as history being fulfilled in the chronological order in which they were written, there will be a variety of identifications of the “beast out of the sea”. If you are an idealist, you will probably identify the “best out of the sea” first with Rome, but then as symbolic of all the emerging empires opposed to God’s kingdom throughout history. I am none of these. I am a historicist who sees a very close integration between Daniel and Revelation which therefore necessitates concurrently parallel visions in Revelation like in Daniel. I see that Revelation reveals the rest of the vision that was closed to Daniel in Daniel 12:9 and opened to John when he wrote Revelation and could only be opened once Jesus had won the victory on the cross. I do not know anyone who holds this view; let’s call it historicist with recapitulation.

That lead to the unambiguous identification of the “beast out of the sea” with the Islamic kingdom that began with Muhammad starting around 610 when he received his first vision. History reveals that the Islamic kingdom grew very rapidly for about 150 years under Arabic leadership, grew further until significant defeats in France in 732, and in Vienna when the Ottomon’s were defeated in 1683. From that time on the Islamic kingdom entered a period of slow decline until its most serious humiliation when the Caliphate was disbanded in 1924. In this perspective, this is the only reasonable way to interpret the head of the beast which seemed to have a mortal wound as described in Revelation 13:3. This is a very apt way to describe the status of the Islamic kingdom since 1924, a theocracy without a unifying leadership head. Reading Revelation 13:1-10 carefully then makes clear that the “now time” of this vision is when the head is healed, in other words, when the Islamic Caliphate is reestablished. This is seen by the world as like a resurrection since the whole world marveled at the beasts recovery. Note that up until and including verse 7, everything is in the past tense, however, the worship by the whole world of this beast in verse 8 is future. So if indeed the whole Islamic world comes to recognize the Caliphate established by ISIS, that will be very significant.

In my opinion, we should watch and pray with great alertness and not allow any of our well-formed end time theologies to prevent us from seeing what is happening. We need to be prepared spiritually for what is unfolding and be very excited at the spiritual revival that has been and is occurring in many parts of the world, especially in the last 20 years. Paul ensures us that if we remain alert we will not be surprised at the events that lead to the return of the Lord (see 1 Thessalonians 5:4).


Is “Peak Oil” Dead?

In recent times, discussions on “peak oil” on the internet have substantially decreased as though the belief in an impending crisis due to a decline in oil production is no longer there. This has come about in part because of substantially increased production of shale gas and tight oil in the US and perhaps due to a decreasing demand for oil in developed countries to try and counter its high price. As a result some are saying “peak oil” is dead and we have enough fossil fuel to meet our energy needs perhaps for another 100 years and the US will regain energy Independence. Unfortunately, this thinking grossly overstates the truth as the new publication “Snake Oil” by Richard Heinberg makes clear.

For the past 200 years, the increasingly available, cheap coal and then oil and natural gas has “fuelled” our modern, global civilisation to heights never experienced before in history.and probably never to be experienced again. However, research clearly shows, that there are limited quantities of these fossil fuels and as these riches deplete they become increasingly expensive and less profitable to extract. “Peak oil” is the term that has been coined to identify when the quantity of oil produced reaches its maximum. The fact that there will be a point of maximum is undisputed. What is disputed is how soon that will occur. The recent production growth of shale gas and tight oil has made some believe that “peak oil” is now a long time in the future. However, recent research reflected in Richard Heinberg’s new book argues compellingly, that the the new sources of growth will maximise and decline quickly so that “peak oil” has only been postponed for a few years.

So in reality, the situation has not changed very much. The collapse of our modern, global civilisation is still certain, only it has probably been delayed just a few years. This gives us perhaps a few more years to ramp up alternate energy sources, but the eventual economic decline is still certain, “peak oil” is still very much alive. Crude oil production is still sitting on the production plateau that began in 2005 and costs are continuing to slowly increase as the slight production growth is relatively expensive. Economic growth no longer seems possible in a long term sense although we may see local growth for short periods. The developed world remains challenged by increasing debt propped up by money creation to keep the GDP climbing.

So we are living on borrowed time, sustained by human ingenuity, but rapidly approaching the point of no return. In some ways, the world has never had it so good as our average lifespan is so long and worldwide interconnection for many purposes is amazing. In other ways, it has never been so bad with 1 billion people living in poverty and some nations on the edge of collapse and with many people, especially those living in the very volatile Middle East, suffering tremendously. If war broke out in the Middle East in a scope that would severely curtail oil supply, this would have very immediate and severe economic consequences world wide. We are still living on the edge.

My conviction remains that the coming collapse of our modern civilisation is certain and likely within the next few years although human ingenuity could delay it, but human injustice precipitate it. In fact, it might be argued that collapse has already begun, although I’m sure many would dispute this and say growth will recover. It’s a bit like the long running dispute about global warming being anthropomorphic in that it takes a long time for the emerging trends to show a clear pattern.

My conviction as a Christian is that this coming economic collapse, water and food supply crises, global warming and the emerging military conflict in the Middle East are the beginning of the end time trouble that the Bible predicts. What is about to happen is irreversible and will ultimately lead to the return of Jesus.

To me, this is not a “doom and gloom” perspective. I look forward to the return of Jesus and to the end of human suffering and the proper dealing of the enormous injustices propagated throughout history. I also realise that those living unrighteously will fight very hard to protect their investments into wealth and position, leading to severe conflict for a short time.

Everyone without exception can find protection from this coming trouble by sincerely calling out to God for help. Although the church is far from perfect with many within not truly following Jesus, there remains a substantial core within the church that love Jesus and are living in the joy of God’s presence. Seek them out for they can really help to guide you to find God and are seeing amazing miracles of provision, protection and healing. At the same time, the prophetic sense I have is that there will be a major shift towards greater trouble around 2015 to 2016. Now is the time to prepare.

Peace in the Middle East? Part 1

Over the last few years, it appears that from time to time tension mounts in the Middle East and war involving many nations seems very likely. Then the protagonists appear to back off. Such a war between many would also be significant since there has not been a major war with such a large number of nations directly involved since World War 2 or perhaps the Korean War.

The current civil war in Syria is, as we all know, a humanitarian disaster. It is also most extraordinary because there are many nations who have aligned their support behind one side or the other in Syria and have therefore succeeded in prolonging the conflict. At the same time, although not directly at war, these nations are fighting their political battles behind the scenes without direct military conflict, but through providing supplies and training and perhaps advisors on the ground. Some want Assad to remain in power others desire a more democratic government to be put in place. Underlying all this is the dark shadow of the world economic crisis, the threat to water security and climate change. Our inference would be that nations are far more reluctant to enter direct conflict because it is so expensive in money as well as life and the outcome very uncertain. To a certain extent, the U.S. seems to be exhausted by its many wars and reluctant to be caught up in another. Iran also seems reluctant although threatening war, probably because they know they are not yet strong enough.

To illustrate, around August 2012, reports suggested that there was a substantial military build up by the major powers and that many of the Middle Eastern countries were preparing for war. Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia very definitely were. Saudi Arabia especially was (and still is) very concerned with war against Iran, at least in part because their oil production would be severely threatened by the huge economic impact that would result. The U.S. reportedly positioned 4 aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf and France was sending one there too. There was also a build up in the Eastern Mediterranean with Russia positioning substantial forces there in part to prevent intervention by the West in Syria. The UK and Greece and probably other nations were also involved as well as the US, Israel and Turkey. Then the tension eased.

Thus, the threat of many nations at war rises and falls. In recent days, bolstered by the military support it has received, Assad seems to have recovered somewhat leading to the situation that the internal war could drag on for much longer. So it is heartening to read that now it seems that the U.S. and Russia, who are on opposite sides, are talking of coming together with many nations and seeking to find a treaty solution to stop the disaster. At the same time, Russia seems to be strongly backing Assad, whereas the U.S. clearly wants to see a democratic government without Assad. Surely, in all this mess, a solution which brings peace to Syria would be best. But perhaps, it is oil and gas supply, lack of trust and fear of economic collapse that underlies everything.

At the same time, the antagonism of many nations against Israel never seems to abate. Israel’s political stance is always motivated by long term survival; that of the world to stop fighting now in the quest for peace. So any kind of military intervention by Israel always leads to strong protests from many nations just wanting to stop immediate conflict without giving Israel the security that it seeks. Since Israel has returned to the land of Abraham in the last century, the many attempts to stop their return or to expel them from this territory have failed. And they have failed catastrophically with huge loss of life and great pain. Hamas, who control Gaza, continue to maintain their charter to destroy Israel and so continue to be technically at war with her. By Hamas refusing to back off from their aggressive stance, the people living in Gaza suffer tremendously and have attracted the sympathy of the world. Recent history reveals the fact that all nations that have attacked Israel have suffered far more and continue to live in relative economic poverty.

When we study the Bible, we discover that it paints a picture of the approach to the end times where all nations who oppose Israel will suffer tremendously. That is exactly what we are seeing unfolding before our eyes.

My personal alignment in this is towards God and towards all the nations. God loves the world and by His grace I am working towards more love for the world as well. Although I am tremendously grateful to the descendants of Abraham, because they have given us the knowledge of God and Jesus, I also recognise that all nations have given us wonderful leaders and terrible ones too and many in between. But the Bible is very clear, God will vindicate His name to the world and He will be utterly faithful to His promises. It would be far better if we would fear God more than our neighbour; that would be the beginning of wisdom. It would also be better if our loyalty was to the world first and our nation second rather than the other way around. Then our commitment would flow with God’s desire.

Our Energy Future

There is growing, world wide debate and research about energy supply and cost, its impact on climate change, food supply and water security and the world’s economy. Underlying all these outcomes is the world’s burgeoning population, currently over 7 billion, which published research such as the annual “Living Planet Report” now suggests it is at least 1.5 times the population that our planet earth can sustain. Currently, we are managing to support this population, but primarily because of high technology which depends critically on energy supply and cost.

There is growing evidence that we are rapidly approaching the “Limits to Growth” projected in 1972 according to that books business as usual scenario. Our human ingenuity is enabling us to maintain our current prosperity levels and may continue to succeed in this for a number of years, but our conviction is that the limit will soon be reached which will precipitate a world wide crisis. It may be very soon or a number of years away, but we do believe that it is inevitable.

If we took action now, the pundits suggest we could still prepare for and learn to manage the lifestyle changes which are inevitable. However, the world authorities cannot help taking decisions along the lines of what will sustain or cause growth in their own nations now, because immediate demands and potential financial gains override the potential long term future pains. I’m still impressed by the title of James Hansen’s book on climate change, “Storms of my grandchildren” where he makes a powerful plea for strong action now against global warming to avoid creating a world of great difficulty for our future generations.

As we see it, our sinful human nature is fundamentally selfish and greedy and ignores God’s clear guidance to us and so we are inevitably destroying our future. For inevitably we will use wealth and resources we discover to improve our own house first before we will use it to help others.That same selfishness and greed is evident in our nations today as it has been throughout history as we prioritise their own nations welfare above that of other nations. In contrast, the Biblical standard is to love our neighbour as ourself which is a fundamentally different principle. History is repeating itself today for if we examine the past (research has looked into this closely), all previous civilisations have eventually collapsed, even the most powerful. So we believe that unless we change our fundamental character and self-preservation priorities, the current civilisation must eventually collapse. We see that the evidence of impending collapse is all around us.

The problem, is that although some of our experts continue to suggest rightly and wisely what we need to do, the fundamental nature of our modern, world wide national leaderships, does not have the inner power and philosophy to motivate and instigate those changes. As a well known writer penned many years ago, fundamentally “the love of money is the root of all evil” accurately reflects are human mindset from the beginning of history. To change our deep inner motivations requires a dramatic, fundamental religious change that only some are prepared to make.

We need to listen to the modern voices of such people as Richard Heinberg, Gail Tverberg, Lester Brown, Janes Hansen and many others who see the writing on the wall for the world of today. We should also visit web sites such as the Post-Carbon Institute and Peak Prosperity and others who are sounding powerful warnings and constructive suggestions about our future. Yes, there are many other voices that differ from these, but a study of their backgrounds suggest that many of them have a vested interest in the present which exceeds their longer term interest in the future.

I came to investigate all these things, because I first saw them in the Bible and wished to verify what I felt it was saying. I was stunned to find that the picture the Bible presents of the approach to the end times matches very well what we see unfolding today. Most end time theologies anticipate some of the things we see happening in the Middle East, but are far from seeing a picture of our modern civilisation and its collapse due to economic decline, food and water supply and global warming.

Energy supply and cost is a key factor. Our modern civilisation is founded on energy supply from fossil fuels, primarily coal, oil and natural gas. We have been extracting the fossil fuels at an ever increasing rate and as we do so, they have become harder to extract and increasingly expensive. In a general, big picture sense, this had made industrial production and farming and pretty much everything we do increasingly expensive and less profitable. There is still large resources available, but they are approaching the point where the cost of extraction is closing in on the financial return from the investment. So developed nations which rely more on industry are coming into increasing debt which they are finding increasingly difficult to reduce.

Enormous effort is now bring made to keep the good things going. Huge gains in efficiency have been made, but at the cost of making our world systems increasingly interdependent and tightly coupled. What we are doing is holding off collapse, but at the price that when it does happen it will be increasingly catastrophic in its impact the longer we continue this route. We are doing this in order to try to preserve the current glory, but at the price of long term pain rather than implementing some pain now to preserve a less glorious, but less painful future.

My perspective on all of this that what we are seeing unfold is heading towards the end time picture that the Bible presents which leads to a climax when Jesus returns. I see that it is not reasonably possible for there to be another global civilisation as long as we continue to live with a “me first” philosophy. We have lived contrary to God’s direction and are now reaping the consequences of our free will choices. God is not to blame for the current crisis and enormous suffering. We are. God has given us all we need and then some. We just haven’t listened.


The Living Planet Report, WWF,

Limits to Growth, The 30-Year Update, Meadows, Randers and Meadows, Earthscan, 2005.

Storms of my Grandchildren, James Hansen, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009

Richard Heinberg is a well known author of books such as “The Party’s Over” and “The End of Growth”.

Gail Tverberg has a web site “Our Finite Planet” and is well respected for the continuous stream of quality articles she writes.

World on the Edge, Lester Brown, Earthscan, 2011