The words of this title, taken from the book of the prophet Daniel (12:4), are generally agreed to refer to the time preceding the end of all things, and to characterize that time. There can be little doubt that Daniel speaks here of what we call one of the signs of the times. And when we are aware of the events in the world of our day, then we can see plainly that there is such an increase of knowledge. And in turn, when we perceive this increase of knowledge, then that perception strengthens our conviction that we are surely in the last times, and that the end of all things as Scripture describes it is fast approaching.
Undoubtedly the meaning of the prophet Daniel is that knowledge itself shall be increased, that is, the quantity of knowledge will grow. Exactly this phenomenon we are able to observe taking place in our world at the present time. We are told that the sheer quantity of knowledge increases proportionately every few years, so that the knowledge of today is several times as great as it was a generation or even a few years ago, and are told at the same time that this process will continue at a progressively faster and faster rate. Whatever the reasons and implications of this may be (and there are many), the point is clear: the knowledge of mankind is rapidly increasing.
But knowledge never stands as an entity by or of itself. Rather, it is applied to the world in which we live and to the problems which we face. Knowledge applied becomes technology. Thus, Daniel J. Boorstin, writing in TIME magazine of January 17, 1977, speaks of the “Republic of Technology.” While the author certainly does not write from anything approaching a Christian perspective, he makes several observations which we as the people of God ought to notice, evaluate, and apply.
For example he says this:
We have reaped myriad benefits as citizens of the new Republic of Technology. Our American standard of living is a familiar name for these daily blessings. Our increased longevity, the decline of epidemics, the widening of literacy, the reduced hours of labor, the widening of political participation, our household conveniences, the reduction of the discomforts of winter and of summer, the growth of schools and colleges and universities, the flourishing of libraries and museums, unprecedented opportunities to explore the world—all are by-products of the New Obsolescence and the New Convergence. They have become so familiar that they are undervalued. But some strange fruit is apt to grow in the fertile orchards of our technological progress.
Certainly all of this is true, although not exactly in the sense in which the author evidently meant it. Mankind has taken all of the good gifts of the Creator and has turned them to the service of sin. There are wonders in our world today of which our fathers could not even conceive, let alone bring to pass. And all of these things are in themselves good, the gifts of God; never must they be seen to be inherently sinful. But yet these wonders are invariably turned to the service of sin, twisted as to their purpose and function to fit the needs and intentions of sinful man under the control of the devil. And have their fruit they will, as the writer observes. He calls it “some strange fruit.” But to the child of God this fruit will not be strange. For it is exactly this “Republic of Technology” that will help to bring forth the antichrist and speed him on his rise to power and world domination, and, when that is achieved, to serve as his means to perpetuate his rule of darkness and at the same time provide him with the instruments with which he will attempt to annihilate the church of Jesus Christ.
That this conclusion is the truth will become clear if we look carefully at some of the observations made in this essay and evaluate them in the light of the Scriptures as they are being fulfilled before our very eyes. For example, Boorstin observes that “technology creates momentum and is irreversible.” “Driven by ‘needs’ for the unnecessary,” he says, “we remain impotent to conjure the needs away. Our Aladdin’s lamp of technology makes myriad new genii appear, but cannot make them disappear.” Here is the spirit and rise of antichrist, which are irreversible and unstoppable. We as Christians, of course, understand that this rise and power of antichrist are not sovereign, and we may not take a deterministic or fatalistic view of them. We understand that such is the counsel of God which He is pleased to work out for the salvation of His people and the glory of His name.
But to go on: “The supreme law of the Republic of Technology is convergence, the tendency for everything to become more like everything else.” To illustrate and prove this assertion, the author makes these points:
Technology is the natural foe of nationalism. With crushing inevitability, the advance of technology brings nations together and narrows the differences between the experiences of this people. The destruction of modern warfare tends to reduce the balance of advantage between victor and vanquished. The spectacular industrial progress of Japan and Germany after World War II was actually facilitated by the wholesale destruction of their industrial plant.
Is not this strikingly similar to the portrait that the Scriptures paint of the world rule of antichrist over all nations, accomplished in such a way that through their uniformity they give to him willingly their allegiance? And is it not also striking that according to this author even wars, themselves a sign of the last times, serve the cause of antichrist and his universal dominion? Or still more pointedly:
Broadcasting is perhaps the most potent everyday witness to the converging powers of technology. The most democratic of all forms of public communication, broadcasting converges people, drawing them into the same experience in ways never before possible. The great levelers, broadcast messages and images, go without discrimination into the homes of rich and poor, white and black, young and old.
Surely you as the people of God are familiar with what Scripture calls the mark of the beast, without which it will be impossible to buy or sell. Of precisely what this mark consists we cannot say, for that is not revealed to us. But is not the potential of broadcasting, and especially television, remarkable as a possible means of realizing the universal control of antichrist over all things? And remember, that purpose is not neutral or harmless, but dangerous to the church, for the intent of this “convergence” or “leveling” is uniformity under the rule of antichrist, which means that there will be no room for the people of God. Exactly how this technology will be utilized for this purpose we cannot now say, but the very fact that the technology is present and is being developed is a sign of the coming of the end. Even more concisely does the author make this point as he speaks of the characteristic of technology that it assimilates: “The Republic of Technology, ruthlessly egalitarian, will accomplish what the prophets, political philosophers and revolutionaries could not.” What will it accomplish? Assimilation, the attempted erasing of all difference among mankind, something which is indispensable to the rise and the power of antichrist. Without such assimilation he could never achieve the goal of world rule and domination. Of course, that is not the answer of the world; it should be, in the light of Scripture, but it is not, due to the blindness of sin. The rise and power of antichrist is so plain and clear that even those of the world can perceive it with startling clarity, but still they will not acknowledge the counsel and hand of God. That is to be expected, for that is the nature of sin, that is, deliberate and conscious denial of the revelation of God in the Scriptures, and in the kingdom and coming of Christ His Son.
But for the child of God all of this is clear. Clear, that is, if you are aware, if you have your eyes, both natural and spiritual, open. Oftentimes we are inclined to ignore these signs of the times, undoubtedly because especially in the area of technology they have become so commonplace and everyday. But we must be awake. The world is consciously and knowingly striving to realize the Republic of Technology, which, when it is realized, will be the kingdom of antichrist. And the world makes no secret of its intentions, as is evident from the essay to which I have referred in this article. The obligation of the people of God is, therefore, to take seriously the prophecy of Daniel; to be observant, to teach their children to be observant, to evaluate perceptively the signs of the times. But above all the calling of the people of God is to be faithful in the maintenance of the antithesis between the church and the world, so as not to be caught up in and become part and parcel of the Republic of Technology, the kingdom of antichrist. This does not mean that we may not make use of the fruits of technology or that we must withdraw from the world, but it does mean that we must use all things with discretion, and to the service of the kingdom of Christ, at the same time keeping ourselves unspotted from the world.