In Part 1 of this look at where technology and eschatology intersect, we contrasted the good from the bad when it comes to today’s technological marvels. In this part, we will next speculate how the biblical authors may have described modern technologies.
Describing the Indescribable
Imagine teleporting back 300 years into the past. How would you begin to describe jet aircraft, space vehicles, or computers to someone in that era? How could you explain television, telephones, or the vast array of gizmos that run on electricity? Then, consider how a person from the early 1700s would describe all those miraculous technological developments if they were given the foresight to witness them personally.
Now we realize the challenge Daniel and the other prophets faced when told to record their prophetic visions of the future. Words often cannot communicate concepts that exceed finite human understanding or even imagination.
The American astronauts who landed on the Moon recognized the limits of their ability to express the beauty of what they saw. Several remarked that although they were extensively trained in science and engineering, a writer, poet, or artist might have better communicated the wonder they saw with their own eyes.
I do not take away from the adequacy of God’s Word as recorded by the various prophets and writers He commissioned. But until hindsight offers us complete clarity, “we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12). So, some of our speculation regarding the specifics of wheeled vehicles (Ezekiel 2), the sky rolling up like a scroll (Revelation 6), and demonic locust hordes (Revelation 9), is just that: speculative.
Still, there are clear indications that technological advances are allowing many prophetic pieces to fall into place right before our eyes.
For example, consider the nuclear weapons capable of inflicting cataclysmic destruction in an instant. We know that when a thermonuclear weapon is detonated, “the powers of the heavens are shaken” (Luke 21:26) and the sky seems to “split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up” (Revelation 6:14).
Certainly, the radioactivity that is unleashed leaves survivors covered with loathsome sores (Revelation 16:11). Since the 1950s, mankind has dreaded the possibility of nuclear annihilation.
Am I adamant that what Jesus and John were describing is a nuclear blast? No. But does that technological “advance” in weaponry allow for the descriptions they prophetically foretold? Absolutely.
Making the Impossible Attainable
Until 70 years ago, anyone who read Revelation 11 had to wonder how the entire world will one day look upon the bodies of the two witnesses lying in the streets of Jerusalem. Will God provide supernatural vision? Will people they see in their mind’s eye instead of literally? But today, through television and satellite technology, this incredible ability has become a commonplace reality.
Throughout history, dictators and despots have aspired to exert autocratic control over their subjects. Such domination was unwieldy, even with extensive bureaucratic systems of spies and informants. The Nazis, the Soviets, and some Third World tyrants went to great lengths, but could never craft an ironclad surveillance state… until now.
Modern technology provides every tool necessary to monitor, control, and enslave entire populations. The Bible speaks of the Antichrist’s global government mandating a personal mark — giving it absolute control over buying and selling. The world is already marching eagerly toward electronic identification and digital currency — embracing the technology the Antichrist will utilize to achieve the dominance Scripture warns about.
The Antichrist wield unprecedented power over commerce, employ proactive population control measures, and utilize raw military force to coerce the world into submission. The infrastructure necessary to control masses of people is already being perfected in places like China and North Korea. These evil empires have employed video surveillance, massive data storage, and artificial intelligence to evaluate their citizen’s “loyalty” to the state.
And the rise in technological threats is not limited to Third World countries. London, England, has that highest number of public video cameras per capita. The United States has invested untold billions in secret data collection and storage facilities. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that the NSA (National Security Agency) is the leading employer for America’s best mathematicians. Certainly, surveillance state methodologies are not limited to despotic regimes.
It is difficult to grasp how rapidly this particular technology is advancing. Most people have smartphones, with camera and storage capabilities that spy agencies developed at exorbitant cost just a few decades ago. And these exponential technological advances are about to become even more pronounced with the introduction of quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
The Digital Age on Steroids
Just 40 years ago, computers were still relatively rudimentary. The Apollo program that took men to the moon was equipped with computers literally programmed by hand-woven wiring — and far less capable than video gaming consoles today. Data was stored on magnetic tape. While these devices have been dramatically decreased in size and energy use (a key consideration), they have grown tremendously in capability.
Quantum computing offers the potential to shrink the size of data storage and multiply computing power by many orders of magnitude, unlocking the elusive possibility of artificial intelligence — a machine that thinks, learns, and formulates new ideas. That capability has already been demonstrated in surprising ways.
The software that manages Target stores’ online and app sales famously began to predict when female shoppers were pregnant, based entirely on their spending habits. This startling discovery offer occurred weeks before the expectant mothers even knew they were pregnant! Discerning patterns out of mind-numbing streams of data, Target’s computers then followed their own algorithms to offer baby items to the unwitting mothers-to-be.
As you can imagine, military and intelligence services were among the first institutions to recognize both the potential and the threat of such technology. But ensuring control over such power is the quandary that causes industry experts to advise extreme caution.
In 2023, an Air Force simulation utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) discovered that the system charged with attacking an imaginary enemy instead turned its weapons against programmers and their communications infrastructure when it discerned that they were impeding it from completing its assigned mission.
In the third and final part in this look at where technology and eschatology intersect, we will explore the prophetic shadows of our brave new world.