I have often wondered, as have others, what the ancients would have said or done, were they restored to life on this earth in our day. How they would have exclaimed at the diffusion of light from wall or ceiling at the pressing of a switch! How they would have wondered at beholding machines washing dishes and clothes! What would they have said upon hearing music or the spoken word from a little box within a room, or seeing pictures, colored at that, coming from a larger box? What would their remarks have been upon stepping into a vehicle with no visible power for mobility? How they would stare at airplanes streaking through the skies! And I doubt if it would be possible to convince them that men had traveled to and walked upon the moon.
Fact is, that though we take many things simply for granted, we live in a time of fantastic development and “progress.” Some have considered this simply as a normal process—unrelated to the prophecy of Scripture or to the signs of the end of time which are mentioned in God’s Word. I am convinced otherwise.
Man’s amazing “progress”
Man has developed much in the realm of the sciences. An itemized list of all of his development in the past century is both needless (for we repeatedly hear of it) and impossible in limited amount of space. A striking recent development, however, is the awareness of man that his “progress” is not in all respects to his liking. This “progress” has resulted in extensive pollution of this globe. Increasingly, evidence is produced showing the ill effects of recent “progress.” Besides, man is becoming aware of the fact that he is depleting available resources at a shocking rate. Even in present-day abundance, man understands that shortages are going to develop in the future. Nor has recent development satisfied all of mankind. The division between the “haves” and the “have-nets” grows. Material prosperity has generated greater lusts within mankind—creating the very situations man wants to avoid: war, crime, etc.
I read an interesting statement from a certain M.J. Kami, president of Corporate Planning Associates. I am not in a position to verify its accuracy, yet it points out what I believe is an obvious fact: the rapid development of man in the realm of the sciences in recent years. The statement claimed:
It took man thousands of years to reach the speed of 100 miles per hour. It took him a hundred years after that to reach a 1000 miles per hour. It took him ten years to reach 25,000 miles per hour.
The statement goes on to explain how this came to be:
If you take the amount of knowledge man had at the birth of Christ, and double that knowledge, and keep doubling it, you come up with these figures:
The first doubling of knowledge took 1750 years. It took man from the time of Christ until the year 1750 to double his knowledge.
The second doubling took only 150 years and happened in 1900.
The third doubling took only 50 years and occurred in 1950; this is now eight times that which man knew in 1 A.D.
The fourth doubling (which is sixteen times that which man knew in 1 A.D.) took only ten years and occurred in 1960.
The fifth doubling (which is thirty-two times that which man knew in 1 A.D.) took only six years and occurred in 1966.
The sixth doubling is occurring now in 1970 and has taken only four years since 1966. Today’s knowledge is sixty-four times the amount known to man in 1 A.D. and all this in the last four years!
These figures would suggest a certain geometric progression in man’s development in various fields of knowledge. On the one hand, man constantly increases the sum-total of his knowledge. That is a self-evident fact. But on the other hand, this increase in knowledge continues at an accelerating rate. According to the above quote, man learned as much in four years (1966-1970) as he did the preceding two thousand years. By now, two years later, he has likely doubled that amount of knowledge again. By now, mankind supposedly knows one hundred twenty-eight times more than he did at the time of Christ.
The point I would emphasize is that this accelerating rate of increase of knowledge has a limit—for man is finite. Man reaches for the infinite—he would be God. But there are bounds which no creature can cross. The continuing doubling of man’s knowledge over an increasingly brief period of time indicates to my mind another clear indication that man has about reached the limits which God sets for him. This I would consider to be another of the signs that the end of time is at hand. How many more years can go by in which man continues to double knowledge over ever shorter periods of time?
Scripture speaks of man’s “progress”
One finds in the Word of God mention made of some of the development of mankind. Already before the great flood, Scripture notes the inventions of Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain. After the flood, there was the erection of the tower of Babel—a mighty endeavor designed to keep men united and to encourage development of a Utopia below.
The ultimate development of mankind is presented finally in Revelation, especially the 13th chapter. There is seen in that chapter some of the marvels revealed by the beasts which proceed out of the sea and of the land.
But of special importance is the idea presented in Scripture of the full cup as well as that of the fulness of time. The latter is mentioned in connection with the coming of Christ (Gal. 4:4). There is that proper time, ordained by the Father, that Christ does come. That fulness suggests that all things would be accomplished according to God’s plan—then Christ can come. Christ could not come before that time in which He was born.
The “full cup” likewise suggests that specific things must happen. Just as Christ can only come in the “fulness of time,” so also the end of the world will arrive and the wicked shall be destroyed, when their cup of iniquity is full. We read of “Babylon the great” in Rev. 17:4 “. . . having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.” There is a definite measure of wickedness which must be filled—then final punishment takes place. Even so, there is the measure of man’s development which must be full. This goes together with the fullness of iniquity of the end-time. Man must develop scientifically to a full extent, in order that with these means, man will reveal his utter wickedness and corruption. And I would suggest that one with spiritual eyes to see will also recognize that man’s cup today is well-nigh full.
“Progress” and Antichrist
I see a definite relationship between man’s rapid advances in scientific fields, and the coming of the antichrist and his kingdom. Man, who refuses to subdue the earth in harmony with God’s mandate, will subdue it in the service of man—and ultimately in the service of antichrist. Man’s present-day advances reminds one that the kingdom of antichrist must be at hand.
Several presuppositions can be mention24 in connection with the antichrist. In the first place, he must have at his disposal the means to prevent war and the means to establish a measure of prosperity and health to all men. He will have the means to prevent men from warring with each other (cf. Rev. 13:4). He will be able to perform many wonderful works (“he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,” Rev. 13:13). He has the ability to give life to the image of the beast so that it both speaks and compels all men to worship it (Rev. 13:15). One can recognize that today we have reached that state of development in the various scientific fields where the above is already possible.
Secondly, the wound of the beast must be healed (Rev. 13:14). That wound, probably occurring at the tower of Babel when the languages were confused, will no longer be a hind.rance. The result of confusion of tongues was division of nations. The anti-Christian kingdom can not be established as long as such confusion continues. However, through scientific achievements, the means are now available to heal that “wound.” By means of modern and mass communications (radio, television, telephone, telegraph, etc.) the confusion of tongues has been minimized, and the nations of this world have been brought closer together than ever before. There are already such scientific inventions available that when antichrist comes, he will be able to communicate instantaneously to all nations. Differences in languages are no longer barriers. Added refinements in the field of communications in the years ahead will further contribute to the “healing of the wound of the beast” and contribute to the coming of the antichrist.
Finally, the antichrist, if his rule is to be, effective as well as universal, must be able to control all men. He must be able to enforce his rule: that without the mark of the beast, men will be unable to buy or sell (Rev. 13:16, 17). Already now, with the computers presently in use, information can be stored concerning all peoples of the earth. Inventions in the field of computers are already available, that one man could have the means available to him to know about and to regulate all men. He can know, through these inventions, who we are, where we go to church, what work we do, how much property we own, who our friends are. There are already available the means whereby the antichrist could demand that all receive his mark—and to know whether that command was being obeyed.
Therefore, when we read of the rapid advances of man in our day, children of God can not but be reminded that “the Lord is at hand.” (Phil.4:5)