MOTHS AND MOWERS By A. Prentice Part Two of Two Part One can be found here Scripture references are to the New International Version-UK Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered in- nocent men, who were not opposing you. James 5: 1-6 THE FIRST INSTALMENT on this subject argued that the early Jewish-Christian congregations of the diaspora, to whom James addressed his epistle, comprised both worldly rich and poor. The imbalance in social standing fostered elitism – a sort of celebrity worship, replete with sycophants, reserved pews for the few and the back seat for the rest. It posed the questions as to whether James’ diatribe against the rich in chapter 5: 1-6 is to be read, (1) as an indictment of that immediate, local problem (and thus his attempt to reform the practice in the affected churches) or, (2) as a wide-ranging prediction of a future, mighty clash between Capital and Labour. It suggested that the apocalyptic interpretation of James’ words has not yet occurred (and might not), but noted that there have been clashes of a similar nature at the state and sub-national level. Painting the Scene One may infer from the tenor of the epistle that some present at the reading of it were indeed rich, and guilty of the sins which James rails against in Chapter 5. Possibly some had – in the words of St. Paul, with reference to a different setting – ‘infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves’ (Galatians 2: 4; compare, 2 Peter 2: 1-3). Perhaps other members were attempting to reconcile friendship with God and friendship with Money (‘Mammon’) – an im- possible juggling act, which Jesus condemns (Luke 16: 13). Perhaps their being treated as ‘special’ by other members of the congregation had turned their heads. A like situation existed in the denominational church much later on, during the Gospel Age, with all its frippery, along with the tendency for congregational authority to leech from laity to hierarchy, resulting in an autocratic institution. In Revelation 3: 17-19 the Laodicean phase of the Gospel-Age church is castigated in terms similar to those in James’ epistle. Analysis of James 5: 1-9 and 19-20 To make the following analysis easier to read, the Bible text is displayed in italics and is followed by comments in Roman type. Editorial comments within the text itself appear in brackets. The bibliography at the end of this article supplements the analysis with illustrations and sources from ancient and modern history. James employs ‘listen’ (2: 5) or ‘now listen’ (4: 13) to get the attention of his audience. Likewise, he prepares them for his criti- cism in 5: 1: 1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. The use of the personal ‘you’ perhaps suggests a direct application to his hearers, that his words are more than a rhetorical flight of abstract condemnation, detached from the experience of the congregation. These rich persons may have included land- lords, money lenders, merchants – those who (directly or indirectly) recruited indigent workers at low wages, especially in agrarian industry, the principal mass occupation of the day. [See Matthew 20: 1-7.] The rich indicted in James’ epistle were such as liked to be on display. Jesus condemns their equivalents of His day, the Pharisees, who dressed to be noticed (Matthew 23: 5-7): ‘Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries [leather cases which held sacred parchments and served as amulets] wide [conspicuous] and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the market-places and to have men call them “Rabbi”.’ 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Not only did the rich hoard their monetary treasures, but also their expensive garments. Rust would eventually ravage the former, insects the latter. The process was already under way (‘has’, ‘have eaten’). 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. They will lose everything, as one might in an audacious stock market gamble. Angry, and broken in spirit, their lives will feel burdensome and useless. [Compare this with the Lord’s parable of the farmer in Luke 12: 16-21.] The expression (5: 3), ‘in the last days’, might also be rendered ‘against the evil day’ or ‘fully expecting to use it later’. The phrase has prompted some com- mentators to locate the fulfilment at the ‘end time’ – the classic ‘Time of Trouble’. If this is its meaning, then its application to those in James’ audience becomes moot. For how would his admonition then have relevance to his audience at that particular period? Would the brethren have understood that there could be no satisfaction for their grievances in their own lifetime? On the other hand, if James addresses the rich men at that particular time, we may understand his warning as a pastoral effort to move them to urgent reform. And so he underscores, in general terms, how the rich as a class will in the long run get their comeuppance. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the har- vesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. ‘The Lord of armies’; carried over from the Hebrew, sabaoth, a military term. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves [by your usurious profits as] in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you [effectively depriving them of a livelihood]. The rich were often despised by the population at large, not unlike the case of the Scribes and Pharisees, who exploited the people in religious matters, and by their unscrupulous practices in monetary exchange at the temple, and so on. The predatory rich cheated the workers, holding back their just remuneration on technicalities. See Deuteronomy 24: 14, 15. 7. Be patient [forbearing], then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming [‘parousia’, presence]. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near [close by]. James shifts rhetorical gears from prophetic to pastoral. Offering them an alternative view, he invokes the agricultural figure of verse 5 and beseeches the ‘brothers’ (including the rich among them) to forbear. Don’t be anxious or neurotic about the future. No need for selfish hoarding, for the Lord will fulfil His promises to you in due course. But you must wait for the appropriate season. In what sense was the Lord’s ‘coming’ close by? Certainly not in the way Jesus meant it in Matthew 24: 37: ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man.’ The Lord here describes events which were to occur centuries later, at the end of the Gospel Age – a time far distant from the brethren of James’ acquaintance. Indeed, the Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, cautions the brethren not to fall for the rumour that Christ had already come. He tells them how many events were yet to occur before the Second Advent (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3). In one sense the presence of the Lord is perpetually imminent. For example, Jesus announced in Matthew 10: 7 that the ‘king- dom [basileia] of heaven is near’, in the sense that the calling of the heavenly elect had begun. And in Matthew 28: 20 He com- forts His disciples with the promise that He is ‘with them’ until the end of the (Gospel) age – a long period of waiting until His Second Advent. This so-called dialectical tension on the matter of the Lord’s Coming – it is ‘at hand’, it is ‘far off’ – baffles many approaches to this subject. But it serves to remind us that from the time Christ first appeared in the earth, He has never effectively been absent. All events since the First Advent have step by step accomplished His Gospel mission. Through the epistle of James and the other New Testament writings, the elect Church was exhorted to live as though the ‘time is short’. They are reminded that although being in this world, they are not ‘of’ it. It is as though they had vaulted over the present age into the presence of the returned Lord. Indeed, from the personal point of view, the presence of the Lord is as close as one’s death. 9. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you [too] will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! [near you] Summing up, James tells the brethren, you cannot safeguard your eternal future by hoarding. ‘Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy’ (Matthew 6: 19, 20). You can’t control the future, so don’t be anxious or fretful, for that only breeds discontent and arguments. Remember that the Lord is watching your intentions. (Compare Genesis 4: 7, re  Cain.) In verses 10 and 11, James urges the brethren to follow the examples of the patient prophets – Job, for his suffering without complaint, and Elijah, who waited three-and-a-half years for rain. (Interestingly, James does not cite the sufferings of Jesus.) In the final two verses of his epistle, James returns to the encouraging optimism with which he began: 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. One likes to imagine that some of the rich in the congregation were converted by these words. Perhaps some left for good. Of Predictions So might this application of James 5: 1-6 prophesy a coming global clash? It has been applied this way by some in the past, and it’s stating the obvious to say that it hasn’t been fulfilled this way. Nonetheless, other biblical prophecies regarding the ‘last days’ have likewise failed to materialise, not because they are in themselves false (God forbid!), but because those interpreting them have lacked, not sufficient piety, but sufficient data. Events which prevail at the time the prediction is made might be so complex – they may even ‘match’ the expectation – that one is misled into a false certainty. The Adventist expectation of the Lord’s coming in 1844 is one of several examples. Caution is apropos when one attempts to extrapolate trends from the nineteenth century – an ‘analogue’ age – to the twenty- first – a ‘digital’ age’. Our generation is unique in history: exquisite technologies have forced the re-distribution of Industry, Capital and Labour, away from their traditional bases. The upheavals have also altered the behaviour, mores and operations of society, introducing new benefits and perils along the way. Human nature may remain the same, but the milieu in which man- kind must now function is very different from that of previous generations. The impact of these changes is hard to overstate: they have modified not only the way in which individuals and nations think and interact, but have introduced new trends, trends which may dictate the manner in which the future unfolds. One’s situation in the present precludes knowing with absolute accuracy what will happen years hence. It is reasonable to con- clude that if the thing predicted does not occur at the time forecast, then either, (a) the interpretation is wrong or, (b) the predic- tion is right, but the time for its fulfilment is farther away. Either way, a mistake has been made. How many times have we heard someone say of world events, ‘things can’t go on like this much longer’? But yet they do ‘go on’, decade after decade. This is a source of puzzlement and anxiety for many Bible Students. The social order is far more resilient than we give it credit for. And man is creative in adjusting his affairs to anticipate or address the various crises, thus deferring the ‘inevitable’. In Closing Assessments of future economic conditions vary from cautiously optimistic to dire. The long-term effects of the crisis in the Eurozone and the impact of sovereign debt for the United States are unclear. In this age of austerity, budgetary restraints, low rates of investment returns, erosion of currency values and rising prices, can nation-states shore up their pension and social se- curity funds to satisfy the income needs of the large cohort of workers retiring over the next decade? What would be the con- sequences to civil society if they cannot? Would there be worldwide uprising, Greece-style, along the lines of James 5: 1-6? This is guesswork, and perhaps one ought not to press the James 5 passage to fit such an application. Nonetheless, if one insists that the passage does predict such an outcome, then one must prepare to be patient. In view of other biblical prophecies still awaiting completion, it might be many years until this world winds down and the Kingdom of Christ is established in the earth. ____________________ Selected Bibliography On James 5 Barnes’ Notes on the Epistle to the Hebrews and the General Epistles (London: George Routledge and Sons; 1866): 2: ‘As the fashions in the East did not change as they do with us, wealth consisted much in the garments that were laid up for show, or future use. . . . Horace tells us that when Lucullus, the Roman, was asked if he could lend a hundred garments for the theatre, he replied, that he had five thousand in his house . . . .’ 4: ‘. . . used to denote labour in general . . . . the reaping of the harvest seems to be more immediately connected with the accu- mulation of prosperity.’ Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon Press; no date of publication): 3: Clarke opines that the destruction forecast for the ‘rich men’ was fulfilled in 70 A.D. (less than a decade after this epistle was circulated), when the Romans laid siege against Jerusalem. He writes: ‘the last days of the Jewish commonwealth . . . were not long distant from the date of this epistle.’ Author’s Note: The warfare against the holy city conducted by the Romans was mirrored inside by the persecution of Jew against Jew. Of this period, Josephus writes: ‘As for the richer sort, it proved all one to them whether they stayed in the city or attempted to get out of it; for they were equally destroyed in both cases; for every such person was put to death under this pretence, that they were going to desert – but in reality that the robbers might get what they had.’ (Wars; Book V, Chap. 10, 2.) C.T. Russell, The Battle of Armageddon (Brooklyn: International Bible Students Association; 1897 [repr. 1914]), pp. 410, 411: 4: ‘All the thinking people of the world are agreed that the laboring and mechanical classes of Christendom are ripe for a re- volution which would sweep present social institutions with a besom of destruction, and that, if the large and hitherto conser- vative farming element were to join the ranks of the discontents and revolutionists, the combination would be irresistible. . . . Evidences on every side are that a very few years will suffice to bring about such an uprising. . . . Whoever will compare all these facts with James’ prophecy must be impressed with its accurate fulfilment.’ Commentary on the New Testament (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; 1880): 5: ‘It is not impossible that . . . the Apostle may refer to the wanton luxury of the Jews, leading to the terrible overthrow of their City and Temple by the Romans under Titus.’ Miscellaneous Pierre Berton, The Great Depression 1929-1939 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, Inc.; 1990), pp. 446, 447: ‘Bloody Sunday’, 1938, Canada): ‘When the government closed the relief camps in 1936, it had instituted a program of farm placement camps in which single men were to be paid five dollars a month for agricultural labour. That was no more than the so-called “slave camps” paid . . . . The farm employment scheme ended with each harvest, after which the men were left to fend for themselves. The government justified the callous policy by pretending that they could exist all winter on their summer savings. That was patently absurd.’ Carlton J. H. Hayes and Parker Thomas Moon, Modern History (New York: The MacMillan Company; 1944), p. 841: The New Deal, 1930s, USA: ‘The New Deal also took pains to improve the condition of the farmers, many of whom had been experiencing depression throughout the post-war years. Under the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), hundreds of millions of dollars were paid to farmers to increase their purchasing power, while the farmers agreed to cut down their production so as to raise the prices of farm products.’ Jean Sigmann, 1848: The Romantic and Democratic Revolutions in Europe (New York: Harper & Row; 1970), pp. 33, 34: Peterloo massacre: ‘The participation of the masses infused into an ideological trend already ancient, a revolutionary window unrivalled on the continent until the Parisian days of 1830. . . . With William Cobbett, son of a farm labourer and creator of the cheap popular press, and Francis Place, a former journeyman tailor, the radical press reached the proletarians of the countryside and the towns. Formidable slogans – universal suffrage, repeal of the Corn Laws – attracted large crowds: in 1816 at Spitalfields near London thousands of workers cheered . . . a green, white and red flag, symbol of a dreamed-of Republic of Great Britain. The agitation persisted until 16 August 1819, the day when fifty thousand workers met at St Peter’s Fields near Manchester. The troops charged; eleven dead and hundreds injured was the price paid by the English workers who, the first in Europe, dared openly to demand universal suffrage. . . . The English workers, however, soon withdrew from a foreign ideology to devote themselves to a specifically British form of activity, trade union action.’ _____________ March 2012
MOTHS AND MOWERS By A. Prentice Part Two of Two Part One can be found here Scripture references are to the New International Version-UK Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are cor- roded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the har- vesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have con- demned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. James 5: 1-6 THE FIRST INSTALMENT on this subject argued that the early Jewish-Christian congregations of the diaspora, to whom James addressed his epistle, comprised both worldly rich and poor. The imbalance in social standing fostered elitism – a sort of celebrity worship, replete with sycophants, reserved pews for the few and the back seat for the rest. It posed the questions as to whether James’ diatribe against the rich in chapter 5: 1-6 is to be read, (1) as an indictment of that immediate, local prob- lem (and thus his attempt to reform the practice in the affected churches) or, (2) as a wide-ranging prediction of a future, mighty clash between Capital and Labour. It suggested that the apocalyptic interpretation of James’ words has not yet occurred (and might not), but noted that there have been clashes of a similar nature at the state and sub-national level. Painting the Scene One may infer from the tenor of the epistle that some present at the reading of it were indeed rich, and guilty of the sins which James rails against in Chapter 5. Possibly some had – in the words of St. Paul, with reference to a different setting – ‘infilt- rated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves’ (Galatians 2: 4; compare, 2 Peter 2: 1- 3). Perhaps other members were attempting to reconcile friendship with God and friendship with Money (‘Mammon’) – an im- possible juggling act, which Jesus condemns (Luke 16: 13). Perhaps their being treated as ‘special’ by other members of the congregation had turned their heads. A like situation existed in the denominational church much later on, during the Gospel Age, with all its frippery, along with the tendency for congrega- tional authority to leech from laity to hierarchy, resulting in an autocratic institution. In Revelation 3: 17-19 the Laodicean phase of the Gospel-Age church is castigated in terms similar to those in James’ epistle. Analysis of James 5: 1-9 and 19-20 To make the following analysis easier to read, the Bible text is displayed in italics and is followed by comments in Roman type. Editorial comments within the text itself appear in brack- ets. The bibliography at the end of this article supplements the analysis with illustrations and sources from ancient and modern history. James employs ‘listen’ (2: 5) or ‘now listen’ (4: 13) to get the attention of his audience. Likewise, he prepares them for his criticism in 5: 1: 1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. The use of the personal ‘you’ perhaps suggests a direct applica- tion to his hearers, that his words are more than a rhetorical flight of abstract condemnation, detached from the experience of the congregation. These rich persons may have included landlords, money lenders, merchants – those who (directly or indirectly) recruited indigent workers at low wages, especially in agrarian industry, the principal mass occupation of the day. [See Matthew 20: 1-7.] The rich indicted in James’ epistle were such as liked to be on display. Jesus condemns their equivalents of His day, the Pharisees, who dressed to be noticed (Matthew 23: 5-7): ‘Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries [leather cases which held sacred parchments and served as amulets] wide [conspicuous] and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the market-places and to have men call them “Rabbi”.’ 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Not only did the rich hoard their monetary treasures, but also their expensive garments. Rust would eventually ravage the former, insects the latter. The process was already under way (‘has’, ‘have eaten’). 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. They will lose everything, as one might in an audacious stock market gamble. Angry, and broken in spirit, their lives will feel burdensome and useless. [Compare this with the Lord’s parable of the farmer in Luke 12: 16-21.] The expression (5: 3), ‘in the last days’, might also be rendered ‘against the evil day’ or ‘fully expecting to use it later’. The phrase has prompted some commentators to locate the fulfilment at the ‘end time’ – the classic ‘Time of Trouble’. If this is its meaning, then its applic- ation to those in James’ audience becomes moot. For how would his admonition then have relevance to his audience at that particular period? Would the brethren have understood that there could be no satisfaction for their grievances in their own lifetime? On the other hand, if James addresses the rich men at that particular time, we may understand his warning as a pas- toral effort to move them to urgent reform. And so he under- scores, in general terms, how the rich as a class will in the long run get their comeuppance. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the har- vesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. ‘The Lord of armies’; carried over from the Hebrew, sabaoth, a military term. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves [by your usurious profits as] in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered inno- cent men, who were not opposing you [effectively depriving them of a livelihood]. The rich were often despised by the population at large, not un- like the case of the Scribes and Pharisees, who exploited the people in religious matters, and by their unscrupulous practices in monetary exchange at the temple, and so on. The predatory rich cheated the workers, holding back their just remuneration on technicalities. See Deuteronomy 24: 14, 15. 7. Be patient [forbearing], then, brothers, until the Lord’s com- ing [‘parousia’, presence]. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the au- tumn and spring rains. 8 You too, be patient and stand firm, be- cause the Lord’s coming is near [close by]. James shifts rhetorical gears from prophetic to pastoral. Offering them an alternative view, he invokes the agricultural figure of verse 5 and beseeches the ‘brothers’ (including the rich among them) to forbear. Don’t be anxious or neurotic about the future. No need for selfish hoarding, for the Lord will fulfil His promises to you in due course. But you must wait for the appropriate season. In what sense was the Lord’s ‘coming’ close by? Certainly not in the way Jesus meant it in Matthew 24: 37: ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man.’ The Lord here describes events which were to occur centuries later, at the end of the Gospel Age – a time far distant from the brethren of James’ acquaintance. Indeed, the Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, cautions the brethren not to fall for the rumour that Christ had already come. He tells them how many events were yet to occur before the Second Advent (2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3). In one sense the presence of the Lord is perpetually imminent.  For example, Jesus announced in Matthew 10: 7 that the ‘king- dom [basileia] of heaven is near’, in the sense that the calling of the heavenly elect had begun. And in Matthew 28: 20 He comforts His disciples with the promise that He is ‘with them’ until the end of the (Gospel) age – a long period of waiting until His Second Advent. This so-called dialectical tension on the matter of the Lord’s Coming – it is ‘at hand’, it is ‘far off’ – baffles many approaches to this subject. But it serves to remind us that from the time Christ first appeared in the earth, He has never effectively been absent. All events since the First Advent have step by step accomplished His Gospel mission. Through the epistle of James and the other New Testament writings, the elect Church was exhorted to live as though the ‘time is short’. They are reminded that although being in this world, they are not ‘of’ it. It is as though they had vaulted over the present age into the presence of the returned Lord. Indeed, from the per- sonal point of view, the presence of the Lord is as close as one’s death. 9. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you [too] will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! [near you] Summing up, James tells the brethren, you cannot safeguard your eternal future by hoarding. ‘Store up for yourselves treas- ures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy’ (Matthew 6: 19, 20). You can’t control the future, so don’t be anxious or fretful, for that only breeds discontent and arguments. Remember that the Lord is watching your intentions. (Compare Genesis 4: 7, re Cain.) In verses 10 and 11, James urges the brethren to follow the examples of the patient prophets – Job, for his suffering without complaint, and Elijah, who waited three-and-a-half years for rain. (Interestingly, James does not cite the sufferings of Jesus.) In the final two verses of his epistle, James returns to the en- couraging optimism with which he began: 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. One likes to imagine that some of the rich in the congregation were converted by these words. Perhaps some left for good. Of Predictions So might this application of James 5: 1-6 prophesy a coming global clash? It has been applied this way by some in the past, and it’s stating the obvious to say that it hasn’t been fulfilled this way. Nonetheless, other biblical prophecies regarding the ‘last days’ have likewise failed to materialise, not because they are in themselves false (God forbid!), but because those inter- preting them have lacked, not sufficient piety, but sufficient data. Events which prevail at the time the prediction is made might be so complex – they may even ‘match’ the expectation – that one is misled into a false certainty. The Adventist expecta- tion of the Lord’s coming in 1844 is one of several examples. Caution is apropos when one attempts to extrapolate trends from the nineteenth century – an ‘analogue’ age – to the twenty-first – a ‘digital’ age’. Our generation is unique in his- tory: exquisite technologies have forced the re-distribution of Industry, Capital and Labour, away from their traditional bases. The upheavals have also altered the behaviour, mores and oper- ations of society, introducing new benefits and perils along the way. Human nature may remain the same, but the milieu in which mankind must now function is very different from that of previous generations. The impact of these changes is hard to overstate: they have modified not only the way in which indi- viduals and nations think and interact, but have introduced new trends, trends which may dictate the manner in which the fu- ture unfolds. One’s situation in the present precludes knowing with absolute accuracy what will happen years hence. It is reasonable to con- clude that if the thing predicted does not occur at the time fore- cast, then either, (a) the interpretation is wrong or, (b) the prediction is right, but the time for its fulfilment is farther away. Either way, a mistake has been made. How many times have we heard someone say of world events, ‘things can’t go on like this much longer’? But yet they do ‘go on’, decade after decade. This is a source of puzzlement and anxiety for many Bible Students. The social order is far more resilient than we give it credit for. And man is creative in adjusting his affairs to anticipate or address the various crises, thus deferring the ‘inevitable’. In Closing Assessments of future economic conditions vary from cau- tiously optimistic to dire. The long-term effects of the crisis in the Eurozone and the impact of sovereign debt for the United States are unclear. In this age of austerity, budgetary restraints, low rates of investment returns, erosion of currency values and rising prices, can nation-states shore up their pension and social security funds to satisfy the income needs of the large cohort of workers retiring over the next decade? What would be the con- sequences to civil society if they cannot? Would there be worldwide uprising, Greece-style, along the lines of James 5: 1-6? This is guesswork, and perhaps one ought not to press the James 5 passage to fit such an application. Nonetheless, if one insists that the passage does predict such an outcome, then one must prepare to be patient. In view of other biblical prophecies still awaiting completion, it might be many years until this world winds down and the Kingdom of Christ is established in the earth. ____________________ Selected Bibliography On James 5 Barnes’ Notes on the Epistle to the Hebrews and the General Epistles (London: George Routledge and Sons; 1866): 2: ‘As the fashions in the East did not change as they do with us, wealth consisted much in the garments that were laid up for show, or future use. . . . Horace tells us that when Lucullus, the Roman, was asked if he could lend a hundred garments for the theatre, he replied, that he had five thousand in his house . . . .’ 4: ‘. . . used to denote labour in general . . . . the reaping of the harvest seems to be more immediately connected with the ac- cumulation of prosperity.’ Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary (Nashville: Abingdon Press; no date of publication): 3: Clarke opines that the destruction forecast for the ‘rich men’ was fulfilled in 70 A.D. (less than a decade after this epistle was circulated), when the Romans laid siege against Jerusalem. He writes: ‘the last days of the Jewish commonwealth . . . were not long distant from the date of this epistle.’ Author’s Note: The warfare against the holy city conducted by the Romans was mirrored inside by the persecution of Jew against Jew. Of this period, Josephus writes: ‘As for the richer sort, it proved all one to them whether they stayed in the city or attempted to get out of it; for they were equally destroyed in both cases; for every such person was put to death under this pretence, that they were going to desert – but in reality that the robbers might get what they had.’ (Wars; Book V, Chap. 10, 2.) C.T. Russell, The Battle of Armageddon (Brooklyn: International Bible Students Association; 1897 [repr. 1914]), pp. 410, 411: 4: ‘All the thinking people of the world are agreed that the la- boring and mechanical classes of Christendom are ripe for a re- volution which would sweep present social institutions with a besom of destruction, and that, if the large and hitherto conser- vative farming element were to join the ranks of the discontents and revolutionists, the combination would be irresistible. . . . Evidences on every side are that a very few years will suffice to bring about such an uprising. . . . Whoever will compare all these facts with James’ prophecy must be impressed with its ac- curate fulfilment.’ Commentary on the New Testament (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; 1880): 5: ‘It is not impossible that . . . the Apostle may refer to the wanton luxury of the Jews, leading to the terrible overthrow of their City and Temple by the Romans under Titus.’ Miscellaneous Pierre Berton, The Great Depression 1929-1939 (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, Inc.; 1990), pp. 446, 447: ‘Bloody Sunday’, 1938, Canada): ‘When the government closed the relief camps in 1936, it had instituted a program of farm placement camps in which single men were to be paid five dollars a month for agricultural labour. That was no more than the so-called “slave camps” paid . . . . The farm employ- ment scheme ended with each harvest, after which the men were left to fend for themselves. The government justified the callous policy by pretending that they could exist all winter on their summer savings. That was patently absurd.’ Carlton J. H. Hayes and Parker Thomas Moon, Modern History  (New York: The MacMillan Company; 1944), p. 841: The New Deal, 1930s, USA: ‘The New Deal also took pains to improve the condition of the farmers, many of whom had been experiencing depression throughout the post-war years. Under the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), hundreds of millions of dollars were paid to farmers to increase their purchasing power, while the farmers agreed to cut down their production so as to raise the prices of farm products.’ Jean Sigmann, 1848: The Romantic and Democratic Revolutions in Europe (New York: Harper & Row; 1970), pp. 33, 34: Peterloo massacre: ‘The participation of the masses infused into an ideological trend already ancient, a revolutionary win- dow unrivalled on the continent until the Parisian days of 1830. . . . With William Cobbett, son of a farm labourer and creator of the cheap popular press, and Francis Place, a former journey- man tailor, the radical press reached the proletarians of the countryside and the towns. Formidable slogans – universal suf- frage, repeal of the Corn Laws – attracted large crowds: in 1816 at Spitalfields near London thousands of workers cheered . . . a green, white and red flag, symbol of a dreamed-of Republic of Great Britain. The agitation persisted until 16 August 1819, the day when fifty thousand workers met at St Peter’s Fields near Manchester. The troops charged; eleven dead and hundreds injured was the price paid by the English workers who, the first in Europe, dared openly to demand uni- versal suffrage. . . . The English workers, however, soon with- drew from a foreign ideology to devote themselves to a specifically British form of activity, trade union action.’ _____________ March 2012