The Collapse of New York City

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Recently U.S.A. Today ran a front-page story entitled, "Is New York Down for the Count?" The illustration showed New York City dressed as a boxer, lying on the canvas — nearly unconscious from a knockout punch. The story went on to say that the city is spinning out of control, and that this time many believe it may not survive.

New York has the highest rents in America, the highest taxes, the worst crime rate and some of the most dangerous schools in the world. The police consider certain neighborhoods, such as East New York and the Bronx, to be war zones. Officers simply won't go to some areas.

One of the commentators on a morning program warned his viewers to stay out of this filthy, crime-infested place. He said New York is Calcutta without the cows. To top it off, he added that he was moving soon — with no plans to return!

The latest crime statistics for New York show an alarming increase in killings. The city also has the largest AIDS population in America, as well as the highest number of babies born as drug addicts — innocent children who die, never knowing a moment's freedom from agony.

An army of unemployed homeless people walk this city's streets, many of them mentally ill or on drugs. They're frail, emaciated — and begging all the while they are dying. It is incredibly heartbreaking to see them wasting away in front of your eyes. Many die of AIDS right on the streets. This tragedy will only increase, because New York's hospitals cannot handle the load.

Just over thirty years ago this city was relatively quiet and peaceful. Central Park was a lovely place with very little crime. But in the late fifties, heroin hit New York like a bomb. Although many neighborhoods spawned teenage gangs and drug battles during this time, "turf" was the main issue — and these kids basically kept to themselves, isolated in the ghettos.

But all that has changed. People are now asking, "What is going wrong with this city? What is happening here?" New York seems to be on the verge of anarchy. The prisons are jammed with criminals, the vast majority of whose crimes are related to crack! No reasonably intelligent person can stand by and ignore the rapid demise of this city. We all know that something is about to give!

Four years ago, when God called me to return to New York City, He gave me two mandates: to find and encourage a holy remnant and to warn New York of impending judgment. The Word of God states that the Lord does nothing in the area of judgment until He forewarns His people through His prophets or watchmen. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

Beloved, I won't come anywhere near to speculative prophecy. If a prophetic message or word is not grounded in the Word of God, we will find ourselves tossed and blown about by every wind and wave of doctrine. Today all kinds of so-called prophecies sound spectacular but haven't an ounce of truth to them. A tell-tale sign of dubious prophecy is if it is not anchored on examples from the Word of God.

The Lord has left us patterns in His Word by which we may discern how His hand will move. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and his principles of judgment do not change. The Bible says that everything which happened to those in Scripture serves as an example to us, "upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). With all precedents based on Scripture, we can see clear warnings in the Bible of the crises coming our way.

Ezekiel 33:1-9 tells us that the watchman who sees danger coming but doesn't warn the people will be held responsible by the Lord God for what he didn't say — that the people's blood will be on his own hands. I do not wish to have the blood of anyone on my hands — so I must tell you several things the Holy Spirit has shown me about New York City:

First of all, consider that God has been warning New York for years. These warnings have been largely ignored. The city almost went bankrupt in the 1970s: but the moment the scare was over, a wild spirit of greed and pride moved in! Wall Street began to strut it's stuff — building skyscrapers and padding payrolls. Money quickly returned to its throne as the god of this city.

Again on October 19, 1987 (now known as "Black Monday"), God gave New York a warning impossible to ignore. The stock market plummeted sharply, and afterward people ran up and down the streets shouting, "It's all over!" But the "survivor" mentality again prevailed: "We have existed for 200 years, and we've always had some violence, panics, stock market crashes. We've been on the brink of disaster so many times that we know we'll stagger through again this time, just like before!"

Once more God was warning New York about its greed and pride. But this city would not listen and continued killing its babies, pushing God out of its schools and flaunting promiscuity and homosexuality. Today's New Yorkers merely blinked when homosexual activist groups stormed St. Patrick's Cathedral and lay down in the aisles, seeking to disrupt the services.

All this has happened without so much as a glimmer of repentance. But other warnings are just ahead — and the signs of their coming are clear:

First, New York will experience a huge, black hole of financial chaos. The present mayor entered office a few months ago only to be greeted by a staggering financial crisis. His forerunner had left office without making any allusions to the existence of this crisis.

To make matters worse, the state has cut aid to New York City by $125 million — in the face of a billion-dollar deficit. Tax revenues had been overestimated, and now the city's expenses are spinning out of control. There have been — and will continue to be — layoffs in every branch and department of the city's government and services.

You may ask where we can find a precedent or prophecy in the Bible for this present situation. The Lord took me to 1 Kings and ancient Jerusalem. While under the reign of Solomon, that city had a lot in common with modern-day New York. If we study the fall of Jerusalem, we will see also New York's soon-coming collapse.

Solomon clearly had been blessed by God more than any man on earth. He possessed more wealth that anyone in all of history. And there was no city as prosperous in Solomon's day as Jerusalem. It had become the center of all world trade and commerce. Merchants flocked to the city's markets with linens, yarns and silks. "And all the kings of Arabia and governors of countries brought him gold and silver" (2 Chronicles 9:14). The markets were flooded with wheat, barley, oils and wines from all nations.

Most of the citizens had servants. Ornate buildings were created from marble, copper, precious stones, fine-finished lumbers such as fir or cedar. These magnificent edifices were surrounded by beautiful palm trees. Solomon sent ships all over the world to obtain animals for fancy zoos, filling them with ostriches, zebras, monkeys and birds of paradise.

The Bible also tells us that Solomon saturated Jerusalem's streets with exotic, gorgeous chariots. He had 1,400 of them, along with 12,000 horses that were brought up from Egypt. Yet he did this in defiance of the law of Moses, which prohibited the kings of Israel from multiplying for themselves horses out of the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 17:16).

Solomon Became More of a Politician — And Less of a Man of God!

It occurs to me that with all this expansion Solomon must have had very little time to pray! He must have spent the bulk of his time with his architects in the drawing rooms. It's no wonder he found it easy to ignore the law of Moses — but his negligence had severe consequences for the city.

Jerusalem had become the New York of its day in culture and commerce. When all the heathen servants and outside laborers entered her gates, they brought their own forms of worship. People didn't just enter as individual servants and automatically adopt Jewish customs. They came in enjoying their whole style of living — including foreign gods.

The Israelites had been warned of these alien gods and were ordered to stay away from them. Yet Solomon himself imported the idols right alongside the other exotic things he collected. And in order to support all this, he levied heavy taxes on the people — which soon became a grievous burden on them.

The same man who once built the temple, who once burned with a desire to please God, ended up a politician! At the height of his prosperity he turned to the reasoning of the world rather then the wisdom of God's Word. Expediency became more important to him than intercession and supplication.

For example, when he married Pharaoh's daughter, he secured an instant treaty of peace with a once formidable enemy. Instead of doing what is right in God's eyes, Solomon operated with the world's mind set and did what was most convenient. Eventually everything became a matter of politics for him — and he simply "went through the motions" with God. This is the kind of thing that would bring down any city — or believer, for that matter!

In addition, Solomon harbored a tremendous lust for women, owning 700 wives and 300 concubines. This too was in direct contradiction to the law of Moses: "Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away" (Deuteronomy 17:17).

Solomon became so addicted to his wives and concubines that his uncontrolled lust led to and increase in idolatry — because each wife brought into the kingdom their own gods. Solomon provided each one with a temple and a staff: "And likewise he did for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods" (1 Kings 11:8). These temples must have included many priests, attendants, virgins and treasurers. There was a great temple to Ashtoreth, goddess of the Zidonians, as well as for Milcom and Molech of the Ammonites, and Chemosh of Moab.

I believe that, aside from the horrendous spiritual destruction that they caused, every idolatrous institution erected in Jerusalem became a greedy entity gobbling up the treasury. Before Solomon's death, the city was inundated with godless, worthless institutions that drained and bankrupted the whole nation of Israel.

The tax system that Solomon devised was rigid and binding in order to support the massive expansion of the kingdom, the idolatrous temples, the pleasure-madness and the sensuality. Drinking had no doubt clouded his wisdom, because he admitted "he gave himself to wine."

Solomon died a sick, decrepit, disillusioned man. I wonder if, as he died, he had any regret at leaving his son a legacy of hopeless debt — for his son Rehoboam came to the throne with the nation facing certain economic disaster!

Multitudes of special interest groups stretched out their hands saying, "We have no room to cut! We need every dollar!" Rehoboam got a quick education — just like the mayor of New York — when his financial advisors told him the extent of the financial disaster looming overhead!

God Is Going To Bring Down New York City Just As He Brought Down Jerusalem!

How was Jerusalem brought down? It's tax base was destroyed! After Solomon's death a man named Jereboam, who had fled to Egypt during the reign of Solomon, led the entire population to petition king Rehoboam for tax relief! "Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee" (1 Kings 12:4).

Rehoboam gave himself three days to make his decision. During that time he consulted both the old men who had "stood before Solomon his father while he yet lived" (verse 6) and the young men with whom he had grown up. He chose to ignore the advice of his elders, which was to lighten the load of the people. Instead, he followed the advice of his peers — who told him to add to the people's tax burden rather than reduce it.

Yet there was a solution to the entire problem, had Rehoboam wanted to see it: Shut down the idolatrous temples! This would have laid off thousands of heathen priests, stopped the financial bleeding and thus relieved much of the burden from the people. Instead he proclaimed, "My little finger shall be thicker than my father's loins (thigh) father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" (1 Kings 12:10-11).

Rehoboam did not want to face the ire of those well-entrenched special interest groups, so he cried, "More taxes!" "And the people replied, What portion have we in David? Neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents" (1 Kings 12:16). The revolt was on!

This is exactly the way God will bring down New York City. History will repeat itself: We will see the tax base crumble because businesses, families and individuals who are weary of the grievous taxes will depart and say, "See to your own house, New York! We are departing! No more taxes for us!"

Believe me — the exodus has begun! We hear that new jobs have been created and that statistically there are more opportunities available — but what the analysts ignore is that those new jobs are on the lower end of the pay scale. Middle managers, who are being laid off as companies cut back, are not able to find comparable new jobs. So more and more people will simply move out, unable to finance living in the city.

When Rehoboam sent out his tax collectors, the people of Israel responded by stoning them and sending their chariots rumbling home empty! Jerusalem degenerated into an idolatrous, wicked city. Everywhere men indulged themselves. The city spun out of control, ruled by lust and greed.

I have thought to myself that perhaps a weaker tax base would cause the government to stop funding abortion clinics, and they would have to shut down. Or that degenerate art shows endowed by federal funds would halt without support from arts grants. But not so! Abortions would be carried on in kitchens with knives, and art exhibits would continue on, staffed with volunteers in donated space. Because even in the face of undeniable warning signs, lust, greed and sin continue on uncontrolled!

Soon New York will no longer be the "in place" for business and pleasure. God is going to orphan and isolate this city! As we see in the example of ancient Jerusalem, the loss of the tax base here will lead to greater iniquity. It is all foretold in Moses' curse on godless peoples: "And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee."

No money is being apportioned to fix roads or bridges, to improve schools or to hire more police. Broadway will face some very dark days, because people will fear coming to town even for one night. The general public will have no money for luxuries because of mass unemployment. The time will come when high-paying government jobs — ones that require no work but which utilize huge expense accounts and chauffeur-driven limousines — will shut down!

And what about the real estate market? Beloved, there will be none! A market implies buyers and sellers, but soon there will be only sellers. No one will have the money to buy! Right now, 14 percent of New York City's available commercial space sits empty! That amounts to 6 million square feet of empty, non-tax-producing space! The Japanese have bought a number of Manhattan office buildings, but their economy has begun to reflect problems as well. Very likely, they soon will be in exodus from New York, too.

Wall Street Will Be Called "High Street" Instead!

I don't foresee another Wall Street panic. Instead, I picture a fatalistic, lethargic madness — caused by drugs. Wall Street will drift into disaster during a cocaine high. Few will care — they will be stoned!

Recently, a beloved brother in the Lord told me he lost his job as vice president of a Wall Street firm because he refused to snort cocaine with the other executives. Apparently all but two in his entire department were hooked on the drug. How much of their financial risk-taking was done under the influence of coke? Their attitude was: "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we will be canned! It's not our money, so who cares anyhow? Risk it all!"

The Tokyo market could collapse 15,000 points and they'd ignore it. All the warnings — old and new — are being ignored. It is as if the market is a Las Vegas casino, and the stakes are the American pension and insurance funds.

Wall Street will go out on the biggest cocaine high ever recorded! Economic power will soon shift to the common market! Wall Street will whimper and die of neglect as Europe rises. The preparation for the coming kingdom of the Antichrist is underway.

God Himself Will Be The Refuge in Time Of Trouble.

The Hudson and East Rivers bear no meaning to those of us in the Body of Christ — because we depend wholly on the River of Life! To those who rely completely on the Lord, the stock market has no meaning. The real estate market may come or go, and the tax base may crumble, but we are not citizens of this world's cities! We are citizens first and foremost of Zion, the City of our God!

God always has had a city within a city. In the midst of all trouble and danger, God Himself will come down and fight for Zion! We have read in Revelation, "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth...the devil is come down unto you having great wrath..." Beloved, he will have to engage in hand-to-hand combat with Almighty God, because my Lord promised to "come down and fight for Zion" (Isaiah 31:4).

He will personally lead this final war, going before us to subdue all our enemies before they can raise a hand. You have heard about the war on drugs and the war on AIDS — but there is a bigger war: It is God's war on anyone or anything that would dare touch His children! "For the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you" (Joshua 23:10).

Psalm 121:8 says, "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore." And Revelation 3:10 promises, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."

God is very personal with us. He is watching our comings and goings in cars and buses and subways: His eye is on us as we walk the city streets. He promises to be our guide and our protection.

In the third chapter of Daniel we read of the three Hebrew boys who were thrown into King Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace because they would not bow to an idol as ordered. Where was God during that ordeal? Far out in the cosmos? No! He was in the very midst of the flames with them! "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt: and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God" (Daniel 3:25).

So will our God ever be with us — for He is our "very present help in the time of trouble" (Psalm 46:1)!