by Charles Whitaker
Why has our sovereign God directed Israel to "push" the world's nations into a global economic and political system in these last days? To set the stage for an eleventh-hour work, using the infrastructures developed by globalization to facilitate the preaching of the gospel and servicing of God's people? To establish English as a worldwide language in the Millennium? To develop nations with the power and motivations to lead them into the final confrontations? We looked at all three possibilities last month. Each one of them may be a reason God is using Israel to build a "global village" today.
God's work is so vast, dealing as it does with so many different people, that He usually has a large number of reasons for taking any action. His purposes may be to bring about certain changes in nations—as well as in individuals in those nations. His actions may have different purposes—at least different short-term purposes—for different nations or for the various individuals in those nations. This being the case, it is easy to perceive that God is using globalism to bring about a number of consequences.
In this article, we will look a fourth possible reason.
Running To and Fro
Globalism may serve as the tool God uses to bring about widespread dispersions of peoples just before the Millennium. Remember, market capitalism is one of the two pillars of globalism. Strictly speaking, capitalism does not just mean free, relatively unrestricted movement of goods, but also the easy movement of the workforce that makes those goods, that is, the unencumbered movement of people—migration. The connection of migration and capitalism is an old one. Economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo both believed that "the international movement of goods, services, people, and ideas is welfare enhancing for the world in general. . . ."1 Hence, the globalists speak about worldwide "open borders."
As we will see, their aim has not yet been realized. However, globalization may come to provide the social, legal, and political milieu that will make it possible in "the time of the end" for "many [to] run to and fro" (Daniel 12:4).
In an earlier article, we saw that God frequently uses the metaphors of sheep-scattering and grain-sifting to refer to population dispersion [see "Globalism (Part Six): Tide and Countertide" in the December 2001 issue of Forerunner]. Importantly, the scope of the end-time prophecies using these metaphors is global. For that reason, these prophecies fit well into the context of today's globalization. It is instructive to see the global nature of a few of these prophecies.
Even before the children of Israel entered Canaan, God warned through His prophet Moses that He would scatter them "among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other" (Deuteronomy 28:64), if they refused to "obey the voice of the Lord" (verse 62). The scope of Israel's dislocation is clear: Among all people, from one end of the planet to the other.
Much later, the prophet Ezekiel refers to this same warning:
Also I lifted My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries, because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers' idols. (Ezekiel 20:23-24)
Ezekiel wrote after Assyria had taken Israel captive. His warning words about population dispersion were not for ancient Israelites of the past, those already dispersed, but for the peoples of an Israel yet future—the Israel of today.
The prophet Amos speaks of this scattering through the use of the sifting-of-grain metaphor:
"Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob," says the Lord. "For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground." (Amos 9:8-9)
I remember as a boy watching my mother sift flour over pie dough. She made an effort to sprinkle it evenly over the surface of the dough, not missing this section, not piling it up in another section. Sifting connotes even distribution over an entire surface. Verse 9 makes it clear that the range of Israel's dispersion is global, "among all nations."
Prophecies Not Yet Fulfilled
Clearly, these prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. To date, God has not actually scattered Israel among all nations. Historically, He did not use the Assyrians to scatter Israel so much as He used them to resituate Israel to locales south of the Caspian Sea, in what is now northern Iran. In process of time, God further resituated Israel through a number of migrations into rather localized areas of the earth, such as northern Europe, the British Isles (including Ireland), the North American continent, Australia, and New Zealand. Notice that these areas are isolated from the capitals of the Gentile world. The British Isles and New Zealand are islands; Australia is a continent-sized island. North America is separated from other northern hemisphere power centers by two large oceans.
These lands to which God led Israel were generally under-populated before Israel invaded them and displaced the aboriginal—Gentile—populations. These aboriginal peoples did not constitute the bulk of Gentiles. Far from it. The majority of the Gentiles lived, and continue to live, in areas isolated from the lands of national Israel. The Gentiles are concentrated in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Asian Subcontinent, and South America, as well as in certain areas of southern and eastern Europe. With the exceptions of the State of Israel and South Africa, Israelite migrations to these Gentile areas have generally not been extensive to date.
So today's world looks like this: The Gentiles are concentrated in certain areas of the world, while Israel is concentrated in other areas of the world. Relatively low numbers of Gentiles live among the Israelites, and, again in relative terms, even fewer Israelites live in Gentile areas, such as Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa. Clearly, those Israelites residing in South Africa make up an exception to the pattern. However, when God scatters Israel to all nations, the exception will be the rule. The present plight of Israelites living in South Africa will become Israel's commonplace plight everywhere.
To this day, God has not yet scattered Israel among the Gentiles en masse, not yet sifted them "among all nations." Today's demographic reality does not look at all like the population distribution of which God speaks in Deuteronomy 28, Ezekiel 20, or Amos 9.
Scattering and Sifting—When?
This level of scattering is yet to come. A number of scriptures appear to connect this vast displacement of Israelites with Israel's fall and the time of "Jacob's Trouble." For example:
One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them. (Ezekiel 5:12)
Does the scattering mentioned here occur before Israel's fall or after? As an approach to that question, it may be instructive to compare Matthew 24 with Ezekiel 5. Note, however, that the order in which the terrible events cataloged in them is not the same. Comparing the number of thens in Matthew 24 with the number of thens in Ezekiel 5 suggests another difference. Matthew wins out, with his ten to Ezekiel's two. As Herbert Armstrong so often pointed out, Matthew 24 is sequential—first this, then that, "immediately after" the other.
However, aside from the last clause of Ezekiel 5:12, where it is quite obvious that the sword will follow the third God has scattered "to all the winds," there is no explicit idea of sequence in the Ezekiel passage. Nothing in verse 12 (or in its companion, verse 2) argues for a sequence of events: first pestilence, then famine, then war, then scattering. Even though war is mentioned in this passage after pestilence and famine, the war of which God speaks could cause—and hence, precede—the pestilence and famine. Historically, this is not at all an unusual sequence. War comes first, causing famine.
So, it is possible, even plausible, that some part of the prophesied scattering could take place before the pestilence. It could even take place in a time of relative peace and prosperity.
Of course, none of this denies the fact that the final dissolution of the nations of modern-day Israel will not be accompanied by vast, involuntary migrations. That will certainly be the case. Yet, given the magnitude of the prophesied sifting/scattering, it remains plausible that God may at least begin to scatter Israel before her national destruction, using as His vehicle the widespread "open borders" established by a globalized international community. Such borders would facilitate easy migration from nation to nation (just as between Canada and the United States today).
What circumstances might "kick off" a flight of Israelites from their homeland? A prolonged drought-induced famine could become such a catalyst. The panic caused by some incident of grand terrorism, such as the spreading of a toxic contagion by air or water, could also trigger an exodus. The economic and social chaos resulting from a limited nuclear attack would certainly motivate some to flee. As a result of these types of circumstances, an international arrangement of "open borders" could induce a large number of Israelites to migrate into Gentile areas. In addition, a harried federal government, pressed to resolve severe problems, might strike "treaties" with foreign nations needing educated American laborers. The United States government, under these treaties, would probably "incentivize" Americans to leave by paying travel costs, ensuring adequate housing in the host nation, and the like.
There is certainly scriptural precedent for famine- and drought-induced migrations by Israelites, beyond the classic one of Jacob's journey to Egypt at the invitation of his son, Joseph. Notice just three:
» Genesis 12:10 makes it clear that God uses famine to induce His people to migrate. This is the account of Abram's journey to Egypt, "for the famine was severe in the land."
» Amos 4:8 alludes to circumstances wherein, due to prolonged and severe drought, "Two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water."
» Ruth 1:1-6 tells how Elimelech, Naomi's husband, traveled to Moab because "there was a famine in the land" (verse 1). After his death, Naomi, accompanied by her daughter-in-law Ruth, returned to Jerusalem after "about ten years" (verse 4).2
Remember, the prophet Daniel's comment that "many shall run to and fro" (Daniel 12:4) is highly general. It can refer to strictly voluntary migrations, as well as to migrations induced by weather patterns and, of course, by governmental edict.
The Two-Way Street
Nor, of course, does Daniel indicate that only Israelites "shall run to and fro." Like the free trade of goods in today's globalized trading regime, the free movement of peoples will be a two-way street. Migration in a globalized world will be reciprocal, Gentiles migrating en masse into Israelite nations as readily as Israelites relocating into Gentile ones. (Japheth, under this scenario, will literally come to "dwell in the tents of Shem.")
As the Gentiles move into Israelite territory in their multitudes, the second pillar of globalism, liberal democracy, will become an important factor. Democracy entails the rule of the majority through voting. As tens of millions of Gentiles flow into Israelite nations, they will demand, and eventually obtain, the franchise. Politically, they will gain the upper hand in time.
Who of us today, knowing as we do the power and prevalence of our democratic institution of majority rule, has trouble grasping Deuteronomy 28:43? "The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower."
Folk in the less egalitarian past might have had trouble understanding this verse. After all, historically, it was not at all unusual for a very small minority of elites to establish and maintain a position of dominant leadership for centuries at a time over a subject people who far outnumbered them. The classic example, of course, is the Spain-based rule of South America beginning in the 16th century of this era—the time of the Conquistadors.
But, now, when democracy is the order of the day, it is easy for us to understand how an alien majority, even an economic underclass, could soon gain political ascendancy over their hosts. How many school boards in America's Southwest have been actually (and legally) "taken over" by non-Israelites, simply by virtue of their majority! Thus, in a globalized society, with its pledge to democracy (majority rule) and free immigration policies, host populations could find themselves quickly outnumbered by voting immigrants.
Deuteronomy 28:44 tells of the economic and then the social-political inversion that will take place as resident aliens come to exercise the franchise: The immigrant "shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail."
Is it fantastic to suggest a soon-coming era of high international mobility of people? Consider the historical precedent. Vast migrations characterized the "first age of globalization,"3 spear-headed by Britain in the 19th century.
[T]he greatest era for recorded voluntary mass migration was the century after 1815. Around 60 million people left Europe for the Americas, Oceania, and South and East Africa. An estimated 10 million voluntarily migrated from Russia to Central Asia and Siberia. A million went from Southern Europe to North America. About 12 million Chinese and 6 million Japanese left their homelands and emigrated to eastern and southern Asia. One and a half million left India for Southeast Asia and Southwest Africa.4
Notice the timing of these migrations, which "peaked during the 1890s."5 They started about the time God restored the birthright blessings on modern Israel, generally dated 2,520 years after ancient Israel's fall in about 721 BC (see Leviticus 26:14-39; II Kings 17:5-23; Daniel 4:16, 25). They ended with the First World War, which closed globalization's first era. During that 100 years, about 90 million people migrated,6 usually by walking or sailing. With today's larger, faster ships, coupled with the prevalence of rail and air transportation alternatives, the timeframe required to move that many people could be significantly compressed.
Trouble in Denmark
Today, however, in this second age of globalization, worldwide migration rates are low indeed. For example, in the 1990s, "the United States was the only country in the world with a high immigration rate. . . ."7 This seems ahistorical. Given the extent and scope of current globalism, today's relatively tight immigration controls—"generally far tighter now than they were a hundred years ago"8—do not seem to fit into the pattern. In our globalized world, one would expect to see higher-than-ever migration figures, not only for America, but also for all the member nations of the "global village." Yet, the worldwide figures are low.
In fact, some economists actually blame the apparent failure of globalism to deliver on its promise to redistribute wealth worldwide on the current lack of migration. In the words of one analyst, globalization is failing because "most rich countries have largely excluded the international flow of labor into their markets since the interwar period."9
This economist's answer to today's failing globalism is to foster more globalism: Couple the capitalistic idea of free movement of goods with the capitalistic idea of free movement of labor.
Right now, however, publics are not looking favorably on such proposals. In fact, First-World nations exhibit a great deal of resistance to unrestricted immigration, even in those that claim to be in the van of globalization. Denmark's recent refusal to relinquish her "national currency, the krone, in favor of full participation in the European Monetary Union"10 is an excellent example of the strength of xenophobia—fear of strangers—in Israel today. Analysis of the 53 percent "no" vote leads to only one conclusion: Danes, worried about "preserving Danish identity," voted to disconnect the krone from the euro.11
Denmark's population increased about 7 percent since 1980 through widespread immigration of "guest-workers" from Turkey and Pakistan. The government's assimilation policy failed miserably, as crime and corruption among immigrants increased. Finally, the Danes had enough: Their "rejection of the euro was indeed bound up with apprehensions about the consequences of immigration."12
The suggestion, then, that essentially unrestricted immigration will become a norm in our future appears unsupportable by present European voting trends. If massive, worldwide immigration does become a reality in the next few years, in spite of the present apprehension of the world's publics, we will have witnessed a powerful example of the sovereignty of God, who overrides the will of the masses and vetoes the plans of the policy makers. God has the final say.
God In Charge of Change
If God does overrule current public attitudes toward migration,13 thereby freeing up today's restrictive policies, the world could change quickly for Israelite nations. The prophecies of widespread scattering mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:65, of sifting prophesied in Amos 9:8-9, and of political and social-economic inversion predicted in Deuteronomy 28:43-44—all of these—portray the running-to-and-fro-world we could soon come to inhabit.
Globalism might become the vehicle by which God scatters Israel and at the same time destroys her homeland:
» God may employ global capitalism, where people will be able to migrate in significant numbers, to disperse Israelites widely into Gentile areas in response to famine, drought, terrorist attacks, and like disasters. That migration will be reciprocal, permitting the Gentiles to pour into the lands God gave national Israel.
» As a result of this reciprocal movement of people, God may use globalism's other pillar, the majority rule of democracy, to weaken the hold of Israelites on their "home" territories.
What a perfect setup to accomplish His end-time purposes! In process of time, God will regather Israel "from the ends of the earth . . . from its farthest regions" (Isaiah 41:8-9). Then, setting "His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left" (Isaiah 11:11), He "will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (verse 12).
With the scattering and sifting of millions of Israelites so broadly around the world, little wonder that people someday will come to remember God's second gathering of His people more than His first gathering, when they were pretty much localized in Lower Egypt.
"Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "that it shall no more be said, 'The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' but, 'The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.'" (Jeremiah 16:14-15)
There remains yet a fifth possible reason behind God's development of a globalized world. It is a reason of immense significance. God may use globalism to destroy the sovereignty of the nations of Israel. Next month, we will see how globalism has eaten away at the concept of national sovereignty, especially in the United States.
Inset: And, Trouble in California
We do not have to go all the way to Denmark to witness deeply rooted popular resistance to immigration. In California, which is today less than 50 percent white,
whites are scared. The depth of white fear is underestimated and misunderstood by progressive thinkers and the media. Whites dread the unknown and not-so-distant tomorrow when a statistical turning point will be reached that could have very bad consequences for them. . . . They fear losing not only their jobs but their culture. Some feel that California will become a version of South Africa, in which whites will lose power when minorities are the majority.
California whites are fleeing, to "'islands' that are surrounded by vast ethnic or transitional communities, as well as deserts, mountain wilderness, and the ocean, . . . demonstrating what the rest of America might become."
The result of this paranoia was Proposition 187, an anti-immigrant initiative later overturned by the courts. Hysteria spawned this Proposition, not a year-2000 hysteria, but a year-2050 hysteria, when America will be only 53 percent white.
Even staunch globalists have their doubts about immigration. In the pages of Foreign Affairs, certainly one of their leading publications, appears this warning:
It is time to recognize the hazards of unreasonable and uncontrolled immigration. Instead of being a source of strength, upwardly spiraling immigration has begun to create imbalances in education, income distribution, employment levels, and welfare demands. It is creating tensions between immigrants and natives, between immigrant and nonimmigrant states, and among state, local and federal governments.
1 Richard Vedder, The Independent Review, Summer 2000, p. 143. Mr. Vedder's comments appear in his review of George J. Borjas' book, Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).
2 The Midrash, as well as Jerome, connect this incident to I Chronicles 4:22. This passage mentions that certain people of the tribe of Judah migrated to Moab and even came to hold positions of rank there. A number of translations decline to render "Jashubi-Lehem" as a place name, but as a clause "returned to Jerusalem." See, for example, The Amplified Bible: "Now the records are ancient." It may be that Elimelech was among these migrants searching for food in Moab.
3 G. J. Ikenberry, "Don't Panic: How Secure Is Globalization's Future?" Foreign Affairs, May/June 2000, p. 145. Mr. Ikenberry's remarks appear in a review of Robert Gilpin's book, The Challenge of Global Capitalism: The World Economy in the 21st Century, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. See also, Martin Wolf, "Will the Nation-State Survive Globalization?" Foreign Affairs, January/February, 2001, p. 179. Foreign Affairs is the principal organ of the Council on Foreign Relations.
4 Paul Hirst and Grahame Thompson, quoted by Martin Wolf, "Will the Nation-State Survive Globalization," Foreign Affairs, January/February, 2001, p. 178 (emphasis added).
5 Martin Wolf, "Will the Nation-State Survive Globalization?" Foreign Affairs, January/February, 2001, p. 178. Mr. Wolf is Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times.
6 Above and beyond this figure, of course, is that of the estimated 25 million Africans imported into the New World (and elsewhere) during the period. This was, of course, strictly involuntary migration.
7 Wolf, ibid., p. 181 (emphasis added).
8 Wolf, ibid., p. 184.
9 Bruce R. Scott, "The Great Divide in the Global Village," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2001, p. 160. Scott argues that free migration policies will allow the world's disenfranchised and disadvantaged workers to migrate to other nations in search of better jobs for themselves and better education for their children. The result will be to force corrupt, incompetent, and backward governments worldwide to develop policies and institutions that will promote economic growth. Doing so, he concludes, governments will be able to keep their current workforce and, indeed, attract workers from other, less progressive, nations.
10 Henric Bering, "Denmark, the Euro, and Fear of the Foreign," Policy Review, December 2000/January 2001, p. 63.
11 Bering, ibid. He adds that the Euro "has lost more than 30 percent of its value against the dollar since it was introduced in January 1999."
12 Bering, ibid., p. 72 (emphasis added). It is worthwhile to note the larger results of the Danish vote:
Denmark has shown that it really does want to limit its participation in the European venture. Accordingly, it will become relegated to B-team status. . . . As for the rest of Europe, the Danish referendum result will probably delay Sweden's joining the euro; EU skepticism there mirrors that in Denmark. Britain, where anti-EU sentiment runs even stronger, will also postpone its participation. The result will be a European Union in two speeds, in which core countries move ahead with common projects and others are left behind. (p. 67)
Note that the A-team/B-team cleavage is basically a split between the Gentile and Israelite nations of Europe. The EU is fragmenting. Who will attempt to heal the breach? A charismatic religious leader? Or a military strongman? Or both?
13 There are some interesting proposals flying about. Gary Becker and Richard Vedder "have suggested using markets to allocate immigrant visas." Visas sold at $10,000 each would generate enough money to give each American a two percent tax reduction. See The Independent Review, Summer 2000, p. 146.