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Well, another miscalculated Day of Judgment has come and gone, and another false prophet who tried to predict Judgment Day is left with egg on his face. I’ll never know why people feel the need to try and outsmart God in predicting the end of the world in direct opposition to Scripture, but there you are. I guess if Jesus had to warn us about such things 2,000 years ago, there was a strong tendency even back then to add up the number of “T’s” in the book of Isaiah, divide by the amount of time it takes to hop around Jerusalem on one foot and multiply by the number of Tuesdays in the year 2012 (along with other numerical hocus-pocus) and conclude the world will end on May 21 or whatever.

So what are we explicitly instructed to do, according to Scripture? Keep watch. Be prepared. Be ready. Always keep sufficient lamp oil on hand because you never know when the bridegroom will come.

So smart people keep their spiritual oil plentiful at all times.

Then there are the people who like to keep their physical lamp oil on hand as well. That would be the wacky subculture known as Preppers. After all, since we never know when the financial day of judgment is going to happen, we Preppers like to be ready.

The urge to be prepared has recently sharpened for millions of people as we’ve watched not only our own country’s problems increase, but the problems of the rest of the world as well. America is toppling under debt. North Africa is in shambles and moving ever closer to Shariah law. Europe is about to implode financially and drag who-knows-what down with it. China is not the bastion of financial stability it would like us to believe.

In other words, the economic bottom could fall out from under us at any moment. When that happens, non-Preppers would be as foolish as the virgins who forgot to stock lamp oil, because lamp oil will shoot through the roof in terms of price and scarcity.

We cannot predict the Day of Judgment, so it’s best to be constantly prepared for it. Nor can we predict the economic collapse of our nation … but it’s no longer a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN. So wise people keep their pantries stocked.

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But too many Americans remain riveted by the utterly trivial (a Hollywood twit misses her probation requirements; the semi-finals are showing on “American Idol”; your favorite sports team is in the playoffs) while dismissing the massive (Europe puts a Band-Aid over its economic hemorrhage; the $1.5 quadrillion derivatives bubble could collapse the world economy; another U.S. debt downgrade is coming).

We don’t need the wisdom of Daniel to read the writing on the wall. We spend and spend and spend and spend with no way to repay the debt we create. Then our government gives us bread and circuses, defined as appeasement of the populace through diversion, distraction and shallow gratifications via such tactics as the pseudo-compassionate “help” for student loan debt and underwater mortgages.

Unlike the absurd numerology false prophets use to make their predictions about Judgment Day, Preppers’ concerns are grounded in fact. It is a FACT that our government has plunged us into the greatest debt in American history. It is a FACT that our fiat currency has no value and cannot withstand inflation. It is a FACT that our government no longer even pretends to conform to the constraints outlined in the Constitution and instead is metastasizing at an exponential rate into a socialist régime.

Now don’t get me wrong, Preppers are not consumed with bad news to the point where we’re chronically terrified. On the contrary, because we have our physical (and presumably our spiritual) ducks in order, we can face the future with as much calmness as anyone. Like the Proverbs 31 woman, we can laugh at the days to come because we are serene and prepared.

The biblical precedents for preparedness are numerous, specific and unambiguous. Unlike the “I’m-smarter-than-God” crowd who think they can use obscure mathematical convolutions to predict the day the world will end, the Bible is very clear that we should have the smarts to prepare for bad times while the times are still good.

The most famous example, of course, is in Genesis when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream to indicate seven years of famine would follow seven years of abundance. Joseph informed Pharaoh that if Egypt didn’t stock up during times of abundance, they would starve during the coming years of famine. We all know what happened after that.

But there are other examples throughout Scripture citing the intelligence of preparedness, both physical and spiritual. In accordance with Isaiah and Daniel, we have called evil good and are now seeing the handwriting on the wall for our own nation. As in Proverbs 22:3, will we be prudent and take refuge when we see danger, or will we be stupid and pay the penalty?

In other words, why waste your time in predicting the unpredictable (such as the Day of Judgment) and ignore the inevitable (an economic collapse)?

Not only can we not know when Judgment Day will come, but we are instructed not even to guess because – drum roll, please – not even the Son knows. But ignoring the inevitable, such as the fact that the world is tipping into an economic abyss that could make the Depression of the 1930s look like a cakewalk, is foolish to the point of stupidity.

My suggestion is to be on guard against the false prophets Jesus predicted would plague us, but to also start paying attention to the predicted famine in Pharaoh’s dream. The years of plenty are coming to an end, and unless you want to be in a position of metaphorically traveling all the way to Egypt to beg for food, you’d better get that pantry stocked.

And soon.

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