Sermon: The Third Horseman Summary: God often uses economic meltdowns as a tool to turn people's attention to himself. The message is a prophetic message of repentance, which includes a change in heart, humble repentance, and acceptance of God's values and ways even in the area of economics. Text: Rev 6:1-8 Intro: 1. As many know I working at Dominoes a. Several others working there in similar situation b. A couple of guys said they had to get new jobs, it all they could find c. Many people are hurting, some have lost everything 2. I not understand economic very well, but I understood these points made by a financial executive recently:
3. Lot of uncertainty, even among Christians a. Until recently, there has always been a positive outlook, even in the midst of downturns - Many large ministries grew in the 70's and 80's - T.V., Radio, Benevolent, bestseller books, etc. - There were bigger churches, some called mega-churches - Built such successful and large ministries, this just a passing low spot, it will get better b. This has changed - Christian Chronicle recently ran articles, many ministries hurting - Whether benevolent, children's homes, mission works, etc. - Some good ministries have had to shut down - One of our Christian Colleges closed their doors this year c. What can we do? How can we stay afloat? Keep ministries going? Keep from closing our doors? 4. There is a bigger and more important question: Is God saying something to us in all this that we might not be able to hear in any other way? Lessons: I. Economic Meltdowns don't just happen A. According to scripture, we believe that God is active in history 1. Our God raises up kings and nations and brings them down 2. The rise and fall of nations don't always just happen 3. Same is true with economic meltdowns a. Not called depressions and recessions b. Were called famines, plagues, natural disasters c. People suffered and died B. Biblical examples of meltdowns:(usually prosperity followed by poverty) 1. (1 Kg 17:1,10-12) - Did prosper, now fear, despair, starvation a. Innocent victims suffer for sins of king Ahab - He sinned in so many ways - He didn't change his ways b. Focused on killing Elijah, as if Elijah was responsible - Same today - Blame someone - It is the other political party, bankers, oil nations... c. Yes, need to identify those who did wrong, but, need to start with self, as prophets taught... d. Begin with - How have I been responsible in all this? 2. And there are other examples a. Plagues devastated Egypts livestock & crops, Ex 16 b. Midianites devastated Israel's crops - Jud 6 c. Famine in the land due to Saul's sin - 2 Sam 21:1 d. Famine during days of Jeremiah, etc. etc. etc. 3. The pattern is the same a. Usually a time of prosperity b. The people sin c. God causes economic meltdown 4. Point is - These things do not just happen a. God can cause it actively as in the case above b. God can cause it inactively (Rom 1:20-21, 24-25) - Not acknowledge God, served the "creature" -- What are "creatures?" -- Creatures are created things, not creator -- We ourselves are God's creatures - God "gave them over" -- Continued not to acknowledge God -- God gave them over - They suffer the natural consequence of their sin - Not live according to God's design and instruction C. ILL: Like not using something in intended way, suffer because of it 1. When I used to work on airplanes, had many tools 2. All had a design with specific instructions on how to use them 3. One was a probe with insulated tip a. One guy did not use insulated tip b. Doing tests on a power supply c. Shorted out a diode, blue flash, power out d. Fried the probe and power supply, end melted 4. That is sort of thing that can cause economic meltdown a. God has a design to his created order b. There are instructions to follow c. Whether it is in marriage, relationships, economics d. You insist on not following instructions, God may "give you over" to the resulting meltdown D. Point: Economic meltdowns usually don't just happen 1. Result of unjust, ungodly values and policies 2. When there is injustice, disaster usually follows 3. In all of this, God has a message for us... II. God speaks through economic meltdowns A. God often speaks through historical events 1. Often times through his prophets a. True prophets were usually not very popular b. They usually came from fringes of society c. Dressed funny, ate funny, often not have much d. Spoke the word of the Lord boldly 2. Other times, the message was just obvious a. If God gave explicit warning to change... b. You didn't change, disaster comes c. Obvious what the message is B. Some examples: 1. Examples that we have already seen show this a. Message to Ahab - Doing wicked, repent b. Egypt ruined, Ex 9:22 - 10:7 - Fish in the Nile died due to blood - Hail destroyed the crops in the field - Locusts came and ate everything - Message to Pharaoh & Egypt - Yahweh is God, heed him c. Days of Gideon, Midian ruined Israel economically - Destroy their crops and livelihood - Message - They needed to repent, turn to God 2. (Amos 4:6-9) - Economic meltdown, try get them to turn to God a. Look at the kind of life they have had - (Amos 6:1-7) - Luxurious life of ease -- They were at the "head" of the nations -- They will also be at the "head" of the exiles b. What is wrong with becoming prosperous??? - Is it inherently wrong to prosper? - Of course not, God said in Deut he would bless the righteous with prosperity c. Problem is their prosperity through ungodly means - (Amos 5:10-12) - Business practices, justice for rich - (Amos 8:4-5) - Unjust economics d. Amos not very popular message - (Amos 5:5-6, 14-15) - Message of change, repent - How dare he speak against the great nation! - Who he think he is? - Not professional, ordinary guy (Amos 7:12-15) 3. Even in New Testament a. (Rev 6:1-8) - Horseman of the Apocalypse - Third represents economic ruin, hyperinflation b. Throughout Revelation, God uses disaster for message c. Examples: - (Rev 9:20-21) - Those who survive not repent - (Rev 16:9) - Pains and sores, did not repent - (Rev 16:11) - Scorched, did not repent 4. Point: God uses meltdowns as a medium for the message C. ILL: Message not get through, so change medium to something more drastic 1. It is like trying to communicate with someone doing something dangerous or harmful that will not listen 2. Someone who gets drunk and tries to drive a. Speak to them about it, they not listen b. Speak more forcefully, grab and shake them c. Take away keys, tackle them, etc. d. God does something similar, steps it up 3. In Amos 4:6f, God kept stepping up the message a. Lack of food, drought, plague of bugs, war, etc. b. Kept stepping it up so they might listen D. When meltdown happens, God is talking the people 1. The message is always the same 2. Message is one of repentance, of change 3. Seek good and not evil, turn to God III. Does God have a message for us? A. The meltdown may have affected you in some way 1. May have lost savings, income, 2. May have had to take a second job 3. Some have lost their life savings, retirement B. Is there a message in all this? 1. What might God be saying a. To the nation? - Is there a message about our present way of life? - Is our system righteous, just, and godly? - Is our meltdown really the result of just a few greedy folks on Wall Street, or do we all share a general responsibility for buying into an economic system based on spending what you don't have that allows some to become obscenely rich and others to become obscenely poor? b. To the church? - Are there underlying economic values we accept without evaluating them theologically? - Is our economic system one of those principalities and powers that are opposed to the character of God. c. To you individually? - This is really where we need to start - How have I played a part of this? - Have I been irresponsible and foolish? - Have I lived beyond my means, lived indulgently? - Is my lifestyle influenced more by culture than Christ? - Has my purpose been to acquire and accumulate stuff, or living a life of generosity and compassion? - Do I need to reevaluate our priorities? 2. Do I need to think more about what God has to say in all of this? C. Some other important questions 1. What would it mean to be salt and light in all of this? 2. In times past, God spoke through the prophetic voice 3. The only prophetic voice God has today is his church D. What message 1. True blessedness is not found in investments, riches, accumulation 2. True blessedness is found in giving, generosity, poverty of Spirit 3. God has shown us how to be rich Concl: 1. Blessings begin with the Gospel (inv) 2. As for the meltdown, do not let it go to waste, God may be communicating something 3. This also another opportunity to be salt and light a. In the midst of all this uncertainty, we are a people of certainty b. In the midst of all this loss, we are a people with much to give c. In the midst of all the finger pointing, we point to God
- There is all kinds of evidence that this economic tsunami (the speaker's word) is radically changing the ways Americans think about money and the ways it has defined our modern way of life.
- We're seeing an economic paradigm shift in the way people are beginning to save rather than spend.
- New and cautious views of the meaning of career, risk, wealth, success, and personal satisfaction are emerging.
- Trust, the "glue" that holds financial systems together, has been almost destroyed.
- Economically speaking, the world has gone from peak to trough overnight, and we are likely to remain in that trough for several years. Better to plan with that long range view in mind than to keep getting disappointed by every quarterly business report.