Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
March 9th, 2022
“Woe! Woe to you, great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!” Revelation 18:16-17
If you drive a gasoline-powered car, you have no doubt been experiencing ‘pain at the pump’ lately, with gas prices having floated well above the unprecedented $5/gallon mark this past weekend, and probably headed up to and beyond $6 soon. While this was almost entirely unexpected 6-months ago, interestingly, contrastedly to other times gas prices have surged, I have not heard the outrage expressed as I have with previous fuel price peaks. News reports I’ve seen in which reporters interview gas customers as they fill up have been more filled with resignation to the fact, rather than being livid with anger or vitriol.
And that is largely because this latest price surge (on top of the post-pandemic surge in demand) has a very different and dreadful reason behind it: the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the subsequent sanctions, and the resulting volatility in the commodities market. I think that people realize that, while it is certainly a discomfort for us paying a full dollar more per gallon than we did a few weeks ago, it is a comparatively small and light burden, compared to the devastating bombardment and attacks that Ukranians are daily facing in their homeland. The images and reports coming from there are just wrenching my heartstrings. I pray you’ll join me in praying for them.
Jesus of course predicted that wars and rumors of wars would continue up to the time of the end (Matthew 24:6, Mark 13:7), but that we shouldn’t be overly concerned about them. They themselves will not bring about the end: the end is yet to come. How terrible for those who have to endure it, though!
But it does surprise me that a war being waged halfway around the northern hemisphere from us (Ukraine is 10 hours ahead of us in time-zones) would affect our gas prices so sharply. I understand that oil is sold, and therefore the prices are set, on the international market. So, despite the fact that oil can be dredged and refined right here in California, the worldwide supply vs. demand factors influence the value, and therefore selling point, of each barrel. This is part of what comes with an internationally-integrated, worldwide economy. I suppose sometimes such a system works to a majority of people’s benefit, but it sure feels like a drawback right now.
Perhaps surprisingly, a worldwide, mutually integrated economy was foretold by scripture. The great “Babylon” of Revelation 17 is described as a global religio/political and economical empire. While the religious/political aspects are often highligted in prophecy seminars*, the economical aspects can tend to be overlooked.
Yet, when the Babylonian system falls in Revelation 18, over a third of the chapter is spent on producers, shippers, merchants, etc. wailing in agony over the loss of their lucrative trade deals. While obviously for Christians, the fall of a corrupt and oppressive empire is good news, those who got inextricably involved in such an economic system can do nothing but lament its downfall. Verses 11 through 19 are kind of a laborious, churning record of the angst of the traders. Though of course in the Apostle John’s time & place (1st Century eastern Mediterranean), a worldwide system of communication and travel couldn’t have been imagined, yet we see prophetically portrayed here a worldwide integrated system of trade and money. But the prophecy also dictates that the gigantic system must fall (and quickly! “One hour”, which would indicate somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 weeks using the prophetic day/year prophecy principle).
So: let us take Jesus’ advice of not putting trust in money/trade or wealth-amassing, but rather in God’s everlasting Kingdom of Righteousness (Matthew 6:19-20, 33). While it may seem ‘backwards’ to the world, it is the only way to avoid the inevitable lament of those who’ve committed everything they had to such systems.
I hope we can all take this latest inflation & price surge in stride, remembering that our problems are comparatively small to what others are going through. Let’s be compassionate for them: praying for them and donating aid when & where we can. I encourage you to go to either www.unicef.org or www.adra.org to see how you can help in a practical manner.
May God bless you and your families this week and beyond.
Pastor Mark Tatum
* The religious aspect is depicted as a woman (often representing a church, in either its pure or impure form), while the political aspect is described as a beast (frequent symbolic usage in Daniel for nations). Combined they are described as a prostitute riding a beast. Revelation 17:3.