Barnes and Noble Presentation
Here is a transcript of the comments I made at the Barnes and Noble book signing on Tuesday evening, September 29th, the official release date of “Know the Time, Change Your World”.
So what about year one? Before I can talk to you about my book and ultimately explain why I think year one just started. I need to talk a bit about time.
We count our years based on a full revolution of the earth around the sun. Our months are 28 to 31 days long, which is a nod to the lunar cycle of 29.52 days, and our days are based on a full rotation of the earth on its axis.
In other words, the sun defines our years which we have been counting in a straight line for 2015 years, and we have manipulated the lunar month so that 12 of them fit our solar year. Our days are also governed by the sun giving us evening and morning, night and day. To better manage our days, we created seconds, minutes and hours. However even without a clock, one can use observation to have some sense of what time it is by noticing sunset, sunrise, and high noon.
This leaves us with one mysterious segment of time—the 7-day week. Where is the sign in the sky to show us the beginning and the end of a week? All over the world the 7-day week is the standard. History shows other groupings of days were tried, but seven seems to be the one which somehow became the standard. The most recent deviation from the seven-day norm came about when the Soviets, in the late 1920’s tried a 5 day week but very quickly returned to the international standard of 7. So Why? Why is the 7-day week such a strong pull on mankind in spite of the fact that it has no sign in the sky?
My name is Barry Miller I am the author of this new Book entitled “KNOW THE TIME, CHANGE YOUR WORLD” subtitle “THE REAPPEARANCE OF THE 7 AND 50 YEAR BIBLICAL CYCLE”
I am a local business man born and raised north of Manheim, married to the beautiful and gracious Audrey, we live on the very west end of the Ephrata school district.
From the time I was a child I enjoyed Stories about days gone by, History they called it … Social Studies was my favorite class in school, and the historical stories in the Bible were my favorite subjects in church as well.
In my early adult hood I took a great interest in the business world and economics, holding my first subscription to the Wall Street Journal at 19 years of age.
Therefore, as man beyond the half-century mark, when I sat down to write a book in the fall of 2013, these three veins came together: History and Current Events, Business and Economics, and Faith and the Bible.
There are a lot of books on history and current events, there are a lot of books on business and economics, and there are a lot of books on faith and the Bible.
History and business seem to go together well, but the mix of business and biblical faith seem awkward in modern culture. Yet these are the three elements I felt needed to go into this book.
Therefore much of the book is written in a questioning tone, encouraging readers to ask “why” about many things we take for granted in our modern world. Especially as it relates to our time, our business decisions and our faith.
So here is my story; In the summer of 1987 Audrey and I were married two years and bought our first house, a cute little place in Lititz, I also signed a deal that summer to buy stock in a local Electrical contracting firm. So we were under obligation for somewhere in the range of $200,000 debt and clearly if we had to sell under duress at that point we would have been insolvent.
That year on October 19 the stock market dropped more than 22% in one session. I remember sitting in front of my TV that night asking this question; Are the Millers just unlucky? You see My grandfather had been orphaned at three years of age, that is his father had died and since it was a large family his mother could not keep the family together so at three years old my grandfather was sent to live with others.
By all accounts he had a pretty difficult childhood. As I know first-hand, we Miller boys are not easy to raise. We tend to get into trouble and ask “why” considerably more often than adults deem necessary. I am sure such a situation is difficult for any child but even more so for a nixy Miller Boy.
Anyway, he did grow up and get married, and he worked himself into a position to buy a farm in the late 1920’s only to lose it in the Great Depression which started with a stock market crash in October of 1929.
As I sat there watching TV in October of 1987 I could not help but think of my grandfather and wonder if history was about to repeat itself.
History shows that our Federal Reserve did what they could to inspire confidence in the marketplace, and the markets recovered nicely and everything turned out fine for my particular situation. But the events of October 1987 and October 1929 stuck in my mind.
Fast forward to the summer of 1991. That summer Audrey and I were spending time with my cousin and his wife, reading the Bible. That Day Debbie Hershey Read Deuteronomy 15:1, “At the end of every seven years you shall cancel your debts.”
My first reaction was, that’s a complete collapse of the credit cycle; these people are creating their own recessions. And then I thought, well at least they could plan for their recessions.
My next question was when is the end of the seventh year? Later that day, using my IBM clone computer which was loaded with the New American Standard Bible, I was able to find only one hint concerning when the end of the seventh year takes place.
Near the end of Deuteronomy we are told that the cancellation of debt was to take place at the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of the seventh year.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a fall harvest festival. The early New England record shows that Feast of Tabernacles is the biblical holiday on which the pilgrims based their first Thanksgiving.
Biblical holidays are based on a lunar calendar and the feast of tabernacle always happens in our September or October.
This led me to wondering if I could connect the fall of 1987 to the fall of 1929 using these ideas from the early part of the Bible.
In other words where these cycles still in play, could I find them and use them in my business decision-making?
My first attempt at trying to understand this pattern was trying to link October 19, 1987 (“Black Monday”) to October 29, 1929 (“Black Tuesday”). What stuck out was that, when I checked the Hebrew calendar, both of these events happened in the week after Feast of Tabernacles. But I also had a problem: there are 58 years between 1929 and 1987. Since the number 58 is only divisible by seven if you subtract two, I obviously had two extra years to account for if I was going to tie 1929 to 1987.
Recognizing that, in order to connect these events via the seven year pattern described in Deuteronomy, I would have to find two additional years in the space of the 58 that exists between 1929 and 1987. Leviticus 25 gave me a plausible answer in its description of a fiftieth year: Jubilee.
Now before I go any further, I want to approach this humbly. The count or the calendar I am proposing is based on observation. It is not informed by any authority or tradition, but it is simply, in my eyes, a historical observable rhythm or rhyme…
Based on a literal reading of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, I came to the conclusion that the fall of 1929 was the beginning of a Jubilee year. This made the fall of 1979 also the beginning of a Jubilee year, which, in turn, means that the present Jubilee fifty started in the fall of 1980, making the fall of 1987 the end of the first seven years of the current Jubilee fifty years.
Therefore, in 1991, I had a theory that the biblical cycle had shown itself, but I needed more information on the events of 1979. If the fall of 1979 was the 50-year partner to the fall of 1929 then some evidence should show itself.
I knew that era well, as I had lived through it, but even so the details were sketchy to me. In the local library, I found William Greider’s book about the Federal Reserve, entitled Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country.
In his writing, Greider details extensively the days of late summer into the fall of 1979, and he shows clearly the strain in the economic system as the dollar declined in value around the world and inflation grew and grew.
At the end of chapter three, Greider recounts the events of Saturday, October 6, 1979. In a special all-day meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee made a decision that would put the nation’s economy into a contraction. Their decision was to shrink the amount of money in the system, thus squeezing out inflation and strengthening the dollar. However, they also knew it would force interest rates to find their own higher level.
It worked! The U.S. dollar stabilized and inflation fell, but the economy also fell into recession as interest rates went to 21% over the next few months, destroying many highly leveraged businesses.
For the record, October 6. 1979 was the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. Just like Deuteronomy said, it would have been a good time to be neither a borrower nor a lender. I now had three strong witnesses to the biblical seven- and fifty-year rhythm.
I purposed that for the rest of my business career I would take risk early in the 7-year cycle and shed that risk as much as possible by the end of the seventh year.
Based on my research I made the plan in 1991 to be “Risk Off” in the fall of 1994, 2001, 2008, 2015, 2022, and 2029.
After all, I reasoned, if we have no sign in the sky for the very Biblical 7-day week but everyone follows it, maybe the 7-year cycle is out there also.
I did all this quietly and, for the record, the first year Audrey and I attempted to follow this pattern, nothing happened.
In 1994 we sold our house, rented a place and paid down what debts we could, debts that could not be paid we offset by putting cash in US treasuries.
Again to be clear, in 1994 nothing significant happened that would have affected our debts if we had kept our situation as it was. Nevertheless, we set out to do it again, this time focused on the fall of 2001.
When the calamity of 9/11 and the collapse of Enron, World Com and Tyco along with the general dot-com bubble bust developed in the fall of 2001 I was more or less beside myself.
I was not sure what to do. I told a few friends about it and told them about my plans for 2008.
When it happened again in 2008 I found it almost impossible to talk about since so many friends and acquaintances were experiencing very difficult times. By now I was almost desperate to talk to people about the 7-year cycle. A few told me I should write a book.
But as a Bible guy I still had one problem. I could not figure out the meaning of the well know biblical story concerning Joseph in Egypt and Pharaoh’s dream of 7 fat and 7 lean years.
The idea of writing a book seemed daunting to me, but I told God if He explained Joseph’s fat and lean years to me and gave me the time and resources to write the book, I would do it.
As they say, the rest is history. Joseph’s story was explained to me through personal experience, and events transpired so that I had time and resources to write the book. The last third of the book explains Joseph’s story using the 7- and 50-year cycle.
Which brings me to the question I started this presentation with: So what about year one?
If the fall of 1994, 2001, 2008 and 2015 are all the end of a seventh year then as we sit here right now in the fall of 2015 we are at the beginning of a new set of seven years and year one has just begun.
What should we expect from the next 12 months?
Let’s rerun every “year one” since 1994 when I first started to pursue this idea.
In the fall of 1994 there was no collapse or crash, but
Netscape Navigator was released on December 15, 1994, setting off an internet gold rush unlike anything ever seen before or since.
If you go back and look at the charts you will see that the American stock market began its steady climb shortly after the fall of 1994. The climb was so strong that by December 1996 Allen Greenspan, the Federal bank chairman, was calling the stock market “irrationally exuberant.” The marketplace paid no attention to Mr Greenspan or anyone else for that matter and continued its climb.
Eventually Mr. Greenspan joined the chorus that the internet had created a new “new paradigm.” In other words, “this time is different.” Of course it’s never different. Bubbles always pop.
The events of fall of 2001 marked another moment when it would have been wise to be neither a borrower nor a lender.
In the year one starting in the fall of 2001, everyone was aware that a new dynamic was in place; however, almost no one was optimistic.
Two things stick out to me about the 12 months after 9/11.
The stock index known as the Nasdaq, for which most tech stocks are traded in New York, bottomed at less than 25% of its peak value.
By the fall of 2002, a company had to have earnings to be considered to be of value. Very different from how things where in the spring of 2000.
The other thing that happened in the fall of 2002 was that houses began to sell for more than they were listed for, in other words if you wanted to buy a house you often needed to offer a premium above the listed price, if you did not someone else would. The idea took hold that houses always go up in value.
Sadly this lasted fairly long, although house prices tailed off some in 2007, it was the events during the fall of 2008 that marked the certain end of the housing bubble.
In the year one starting in fall of 2008, as the Great Recession took hold, Bernie Madoff was exposed as the fraud he was, and many other banking establishments had their own sins exposed.
After a very ugly fall and winter, the stock market found a bottom in the spring of 2009.
Nevertheless, on Main Street USA, businesses owned by the people that make America work were under siege, especially if they needed the help of their local banker. Simply because the local banker was having the rules changed severely by a government that was trying to figure out what just hit them.
In many ways we are only now getting back to some sense of normal when it comes to main street business and many of us are still very wary of becoming over confident.
There is one other event that happened in 2009. The iPhone had been around since 2007, but it was introduced in June of 2009 with “3G,” a platform which allowed it to truly operate as a mobile internet device.
Today many of us have forgotten how to live without our mobile device. Interestingly, by this past summer, the tech stock index had returned to the March 2000 value.
So what about year one?
What about the next 12 months?
Many of us who make our living on Main Street USA had a difficult time during the past 7 years, but we have managed to survive.
My observation has been that as you near the end of a 7-year cycle, it becomes harder and harder to know what to believe or what is true. And then as you roll into the fall, which marks the end of year seven and the beginning of year one, the divine light, the light the gospel writer, John spoke about, shines into the chaos revealing all the hidden things men have been trying to hide.
Keep your eyes open. I believe The Divine light of Day One in the biblical creation story is also the Divine Light of year one. Now that we have entered year one, the Divine light is on and you can believe your eyes.
The light has just shown that VW has been lying to its customers.
And at this early juncture there are some rays of light which seem to be indicating that China’s economic miracle may not be all we were led to believe.
Geo-politically, refugees are streaming into Europe, Iran is a loose cannon, Russia is building up its forces in Syria.
There will be many more revelations. Keep your eyes open for the good and the bad.
Abraham’s children are called to be a blessing. God says He will deal with those who curse us.
Begin now looking for opportunity to be involved in things that improve our world. Be a blessing. Take some risk. Most of the news will be bad; the temptation will be to keep the hatches battened down. But there is a work out there for each of us to do that will improve our world. If we hide our talent when the world needs us, the world will not need us when things get better.
But keep one eye 7 years out and plan now to be “risk off” by the fall of 2022.
The Prophet Habakkuk lived at a very dangerous and tumultuous time. Life was cheap and the enemy was at the gate, but he gave his generation words which are true to this day.
Regardless what chaos or evil may arise, he gives us guidance with these words: “but the just shall live by his faith.”
To live by the 7- and 50-year biblical cycle takes knowledge, understanding, and faith.
So, you see, History, Business, and Biblical faith really do belong together.