"In Such An Hour As Ye Think Not"
Y2K weekend came and went, without any serious glitches to speak of. No major power outages, no disruption of commerce, no accidental missile launches. On New Year's Eve, as the sun and celebrations swept through continents and time zones, the world seemed lose itself in a nonstop orgy of champagne, fireworks, and optimism.
Despite the hype given to Christian millennial expectations by news articles and reports over the past year, New Year's weekend saw no reports (at least none that I heard) of people waiting for Jesus to come and the world to end at the stroke of Y2K midnight. We can be sure that if such groups existed, the media would have found and followed them, and doubtless reveled in their folly as midnight came and went! But it seems that the only "Great Disappointment" the weekend brought was for those who spent all that money stockpiling food, generators, and other survival supplies they may or may not be able to return.
Inspiration assures us of many things about Jesus' coming. One of the most important is that His coming will be sudden and unexpected. Jesus declared to His disciples:
"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 24:44).
Elsewhere we find a similar warning:
"Great pains should be taken to keep this subject before the people. The solemn fact is to be kept not only before the people of the world, but before our own churches also, that the day of the Lord will come suddenly, unexpectedly" (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 336).
Morality and Technology
The January 1, 2000 issue of Newsweek magazine opened a window into the future of personal morality, courtesy of the computer. In an article titled, "Was It Virtually Good for You?", author Yahlin Chang describes in depth this bizarre new world, where partners can "change gender," or turn one another "into someone else." We could change shape, even species, declares Jaron Lanier, considered the inventor of virtual reality.
Chang writes: "All the communication technologies we've ever inventedthe telephone, movies, the Internethave eventually been used in the service of lust. Tomorrow's advanced technologies will be no different."
The Article continues:
"Fidelity and monogamy will have to be completely redefined. Is it cheating if you have virtual sex with another person? . . . By that time computers are supposed to be so astoundingly intelligent they'll be able to answer these questions."
Along similar lines, the January 13, 2000 broadcast of the CBS Evening News reported a new major stride in cloning technologythe cloning of a Rhesus monkey named Tetra in Beaverton, Oregon. Experts interviewed for the CBS report declared that this makes human cloning far more likely than the early cloning of Dolly the sheep in Scotland.
We don't need to wait for "intelligent" computers to answer these questions for us. Jesus answered them long ago, declaring: "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt. 5:28). Whether in Cyberspace or the heart, what difference does it make to God?
Jesus also predicted: "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26). The idea that "virtual reality" can fabricate a change in one's gender or even species, and the reported progress on cloning calls to mind what Inspiration declared about the world before the Flood:
"But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. God proposed to destroy by a flood that powerful, long-lived race that had corrupted their ways before Him" (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 64).
The turn of the millennium witnessed a new outbreak of strange weather, on both sides of the Atlantic. A violent, almost-unheard-of windstorm lashed much of Western Europe during the final week of 1999. It spawned winds of nearly 100 miles per hour leaving over 85 dead, plus major paths of destruction throughout France, Germany, and Switzerland. Some of France's major historical treasures, such as the Notre Dame cathedral and the palace of Versailles, were badly damaged by the winds.
The first week of 2000 saw another batch of savage tornadoes in the American South, storms which almost never occur in winter. The twisters, accompanied by rain and flooding, left hundreds of homes and other buildings in ruins, from Kentucky to Louisiana.
More bad news was announced on the January 10, 2000 broadcast of the CBS Evening News. A scientist interviewed for the broadcast stated flatly, "the earth is getting warmer." Unnatural warmth throughout the current winter has caused signs of spring to appear even in January throughout much of the U.S. East Coast. 1999, according to the U.S. Weather Bureau, was the hottest year on record, and the decade of the 1990's is believed by the Bureau to have been "the hottest in a thousand years."
Drought, excessive rain, and other forms of severe weather are predicted in increasing volume for the remainder of 2000 and beyond.
The modern prophet's words come again to mind:
"The restraining Spirit of God is even now being withdrawn from the world. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the near approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause" (Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 408).
When we think especially of how many killer tornadoes we've experienced in the past few years, we should consider the following inspired statement:
"How frequently we hear of earthquakes and tornadoes, of destruction by fire and flood, with great loss of life and property! Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of disorganized, unregulated forces of nature, wholly beyond the control of man; but in them all, God's purpose may be read, They are among the agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger" (Prophets and Kings, p. 277).