End Times Technology – by Edward Wood – www.raptureready.com
Is it possible that the current state of our scientific achievements will play a role in some of the events that the Bible tells us are to occur as we reach the end of this age? Are we now at a unique point in time where our technology has made possible things which could have never occurred before? Let’s take a look at a passage from the book of Daniel:
Daniel 12:4, 8-9 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased . . . . And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
In 605 B.C. among the first exiles of Judea to Babylon were four young gifted men. Their Hebrew names were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah and were given the Babylonian names of Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshsch, and Abednego respectively. Though these four soon became known to King Nebuchadnezzar for their intelligence and wisdom, Daniel excelled them all, especially since God gave him special knowledge concerning the interpretation of visions and dreams. Among his many visions were those regarding kingdoms that would rise and fall right up until the end of this age. Yet despite these gifts, he himself readily admitted his own unease in not being able to understand all that God had given him to see. But as the time of the culmination of history neared, not only would the meaning of Daniel’s words but all of prophecy would become ever more clear.
Even from our Twenty-First Century perspective, we are far from having all the answers, but I believe we are now at a point where we are beginning to have tantalizing glimpses of what is soon to come. In the commentary which follows, let us examine some of the things revealed in prophecy which have for the first time in human history become literally possible due to the current state of our technology. Please understand that I offer only possibilities and I hope you will be open to other scenarios.
RAPID TRANSIT "Many shall run to and fro." So it says in our opening passage. After the expulsion from Eden of our original parents, humans have been on the move. However, up until a couple centuries ago, this was limited to the speed of our own feet, that of the beast upon which we rode (or which pulled our chariot or wagon,) or how fast our boat could be rowed or pushed by the winds. With the invention of the steam engine, we could build water craft and trains capable of much greater sustained speeds. The advent of the internal combustion engine led to the invention of modern automobiles, ships, and aircraft which could take us farther and faster still. As if this was not enough, rocket science has sent our human and robotic emissaries off the earth entirely – something we will examine a bit closer later.
THE PROLIFERATION OF INFORMATION
Let’s look at the next phrase that "knowledge shall be increased. Certainly our present time is not called "The Information Age" for nothing. We have far surpassed any other era of human civilization in the acquisition and availability of knowledge. Our communication initially limited to word of mouth, the advent of writing allowed information to be recorded and stored for both distant places and times. Yet for most of human history messages still had to be physically conveyed from one place to another, or in such limited "broadcast" forms as smoke signals, drums, etc. This all vastly changed with the invention of the telegraph in the 19th Century which allowed the virtual instantaneous transmission of information across vast distances. With the advent of radio, it soon became possible to send signals anywhere without wires. It is from these beginnings that our modern communications systems have developed. Because information can now be transmitted and received so easily and quickly to virtually any place on the planet – and even out into space and back – it has gone hand in hand with many other advancements. As we can see, in both travel and information, Daniel’s words have already been literally fulfilled. But can we find other passages which suggest the level of technology that would be present in the world in the "latter days?" I believe that there is.
From Matthew’s version of the Olivet Discourse we have: Matthew 24:14 [Jesus said to his disciples] And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. [Here and in the following passages, bracketed sections are added.]
Since the beginning of the church (Acts, chapter 2), followers of Jesus have gone to the ends of the earth to deliver the story of his life and his teachings. When the gospel message first began to be written down, it became possible for the accounts of Jesus’ life to be delivered to people far and wide. Those who had never met the Lord could read for themselves the words of either those who had personally known him, or their close associates.
Still, the production of books in those times was a labor-intensive process. These were actually hand-written scrolls of papyrus or parchment. (The codex, or form of book with covers and pages, was a later development.) This effort and expense kept them from being available to the general population, which in many cases couldn’t read them anyway. Even so, we have today over 5000 ancient copies of the New Testament books, either in whole or in part, dating back to the Second Century A.D. giving it an amazing pedigree.
With the invention of Johann Gutenberg’s movable-type printing press in the mid-1400’s, it became possible for the first time to mass-produce books and bring the prices per copy down to the range of more people. However, because he could not repay the loan he had taken out to set up his operation, it was foreclosed upon by the lender. But before that happened,his shop had produced its only major work – the now famous Gutenberg Bible.
Today for the price of a few dollars, one can get a hardcopy Bible for his or her own, not to mention all its electronic incarnations that are available. With a satellite link, small computer, a power source, a CD player or the Internet, one can literally view the Bible and hear it preached from virtually anywhere in the world. Once again, we see literally fulfilled Jesus’ words from Olivet. (Note: This is not to minimize the preaching of the gospel by the angel during the Tribulation in Revelation 14:6-7. God certainly doesn’t NEED our technology to accomplish his ends. However the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11:3-4 may very well reach the world via modern media. We’ll examine them in greater detail later.)
WARFARE ON AN UNPRECEDENTED SCALE
Luke 21:9-10 [Jesus said] But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. then said he unto them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
The reports of wars and conflicts do not require the need for instant communication, yet the fact that it is now possible to see and hear the many conflicts around the world in real time certainly increases their impact on the general public. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more so are moving pictures? Of course, if subjected to a constant barrage of these and other distressing events, a kind of "emotional anesthesia" can begin to set in. After a while, the shock wears off and even the most grotesque types of news can fade into the background noise of our lives. (In fact, Paul’s perspective on human behavior [Romans 1:20-32] as the end approaches is startling in its accuracy as we see an "anything goes" attitude becoming increasingly prevalent in our modern world.)
Our technology has also changed the very nature and scope of war itself. Where combat was once primarily a one-on-one "in your face" affair, our science is turning it into something increasingly impersonal and yet more deadly. With advanced electronics, missiles can find their own ways to their targets, tanks can plot their own positions and those of the enemy . . .. and the list goes on.
Of course, the biggest specter haunting the human race are the huge stockpiles of WMD’s, notably those of nuclear armaments. For the very first time in human history, we have the capability to put an end to ourselves and most of the life on the earth’s surface.
There is a particularly unsettling prophecy that Zechariah made some 2500 years ago: Zechariah 14:12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand on their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
Since this has never happened before, it must be an event yet to come – perhaps even part of the events which conclude Armageddon. Yes, it is quite possible that God will unleash a punishment like this upon the nations which stood against Israel by his own power, such as was the case in Sodom and Gomorrah. But possibly he will use the "materials at hand" and turn the aggressors’ nuclear weapons back upon themselves. Though we don’t know exactly how or when this prophecy will be fulfilled, we know for sure that it will be.
The next passage is from Revelation, penned by John at the end of the First Century A.D. and concerns several of the Trumpet Judgments: Revelation 8:8-9 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and a third part of the sea became blood; and a third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and a third part of the ships were destroyed. Revelation 8:10-11 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the fountains of waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. Revelation 8:12 And the fourth angel sounded, and a third part of the sun was smitten, and a third part of the moon, and a third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
Revelation 8:8-9 sounds very much like what would happen should an asteroid, large meteorite or comet collide with us. As it hits the atmosphere it would certainly burn intensely from friction before impact. It appears that this object will land in the sea and cause major devastation not only to ocean life but to any unfortunate ships near to "ground zero." Those vessels even in distant regions could very well be destroyed by the tsunami-like waves such a catastrophe could cause.
The next judgment is qualitatively different. Here we have a "great star" falling from the sky instead of a mountain. It is even given the name "Wormwood" and its falling causes freshwater supplies to become "bitter." Following this, we see what appears to be a reduction in the amount of light given by the sun, moon, and stars.
When we consider that the term "Wormwood" is "chornobyl" in Ukrainian (from which came "Chernobyl" – the reactor which suffered a catastrophic failure), and that a hydrogen bomb operates on exactly the same nuclear fusion reaction that powers our sun and all other main sequence stars. It can in a real sense literally be considered a tiny "falling star." That such devices can cause incredible amounts of smoke and dust to be projected up into the atmosphere which would obscure sun, moon, and starlight is common knowledge. We now know that the things John saw are absolutely and literally possible.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SPACE PROGRAM
The American and Soviet space programs of the mid-Twentieth Century in competition with each other made some truly amazing technological strides. Because of them, I think a case can be made that these leaps into space and the discoveries made to achieve them have affected virtually every aspect of our modern lives since the 1950’s.
From the development of exotic materials, the miniaturization of electronics to reduce payload weight, the encirclement of the planet with satellites which not only provide worldwide instantaneous communications but also peer both outward into the vast reaches of the universe and downward as watchful eyes on our weather, climate, and, yes, even each other, our space programs have indeed shaped much of our modern lives, one way or another.
Referring back to the Two Witnesses briefly mentioned before, it appears that the world will hear their preaching, watch as they are assassinated and then lie unburied in the streets for three days only to be resurrected and lifted into heaven AS IT ALL HAPPENS! It seems equally likely that the Antichrist will likewise use this capability as well to spread his dark and deceptive message to all mankind in those last grim years as well. All this has become possible due to the invention of the communications satellite in the 1960’s – something I myself watched happen!
Added to this technological mix are the computer and data systems that have become an integral part of the fabric of our lives. In the realm of finances alone, electronics are now fundamental. We’ve all seen in the industrial world an increasing evolution away from physical currency to that of electronic banking and transactions. It appears that even credit and charge cards are a passing phase to be replaced by RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) devices which even now can be reduced to the size of a grain of rice and injected under the skin and scanned remotely.
Also consider that if paper and coin money one day disappear, so will the anonymity of everyone’s financial doings. The reason is obvious. Every electronic transaction generates a record somewhere of time of purchase, place of purchase, what was purchased, and . . . WHO made the purchase! Should this "E-Banking" become the only game in town, imagine the power one would have if they could arbitrarily "exclude" someone from the system!
I’m sure by now most of you can see where I’m going with this – right to Revelation 13:11-18 where the Antichrist gains control of the world’s economic systems. The thing is, virtually NOTHING NEW NEED BE INVENTED to make this a reality!
THE GREAT SPACE REVERSAL
In a seeming paradox, the rush of technology which surges forward with such speed is no longer mirrored in the space programs that were so important in its advance. After the United States had beaten the Soviet Union in the race to the moon, public excitement and support rapidly waned. In fact, despite still existent and the rising of new space programs in other nations, we earth folks have no longer have the capability of sending people any farther into space than we had in the 1960’s! And the United States may even lose this ability if the shuttle program ends this year since there is no replacement for it.
I’ve personally pondered this apparent contradiction for a long time when it struck me that to the best of my knowledge, there is absolutely no mention of anyone escaping the Tribulation period (except, of course, by God’s direct intervention at the Rapture) or the Second Coming of Christ by being able ‘to ride it out" for seven years somewhere off in space.
All those grandiose visions of self-sustaining colonies beyond the shores of Earth proposed by futurists and scientists decades ago have never been realized. In my opinion, with the time that remains and the present state of the world, they never will – at least not in this age. (During the Millennium and the age which follows, all bets are off, however!)
In view of the topics we’ve explored today, I’m convinced that our modern technology will play a major role in the times that are soon to come. But one thing we should remember is that God’s Word has been steadfast and unmovable across the centuries. How and where each of us ends up depends on whether he or she will fasten themselves to the things of this world which are passing away, or on the things of God which will never fail. The Psalmist once said: Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
For those who accept the wisdom of this verse, the Bible can provide the Lamp and Light that will one day take us safely home!