Gospel Age Ending
“Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
by Robert Goodman
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The end of the Gospel Age is a time when the systems of this world are stressed to the point of collapse. The phrase “distress … with perplexity” has the thought of “no way out.” This is characteristic of our day. The systems of this world are precariously balanced and ready to fall.
Revelation chapter seven pictures the climax of trouble as four winds to be loosed upon society. “I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of
the earth … Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there
were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand” Revelation 7:1).
There are two aspects to the loosing of the four winds. First, the social, political, financial, and religious systems of the world must, and will, collapse. Second, this collapse will occur
simultaneously in the four corners in the earth. Has this ever happened? During World War II, all of the systems collapsed in some parts of the world. However, North America and Australia were isolated and their systems did not fail. They were of strategic importance to providing men and materials in the war effort.
We gain insights into the end time in Matthew 24:21-22: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And
except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” This passage informs us that this will be a period unlike any ever experienced by the world. Later, we read in Romans 9:28 (NIV): “For the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth with speed and with finality.” God assures us that when the culmination of this trouble comes and the systems of this world collapse (Matthew 24:28-29), He will quickly intervene to establish His Kingdom.
God is able to foresee all things. He tells of this unique ability in Isaiah 44:6-7 (NAS): “Thus says the Lord … Who is like Me? … Let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place.’” He provides the answer in Isaiah 46:9-10, “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring
the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” God assures us that He is able to foresee the circumstances that will cause the world to bring itself down.
These scriptures set the stage for our expectations for the very end of the Gospel Age:
(1) God’s plan is perfect, complete, and he knows exactly what will happen.
(2) Simultaneously, there will be a worldwide collapse of the religious, social, economic, and political systems.
(3) Circumstances will facilitate this happening quickly.
With these premises in mind, we will examine technology trends that are lining up to facilitate the quick collapse of the systems of this world. It is important to note that these systems will fall under their own onerous weight and God will intervene to rescue man.
The growth of precision engineering is one that coincided with the Industrial Revolution. Prior to this time, products were individually crafted and precision standards were lacking.
To make the steam engine viable, it was necessary to manufacture pistons and cylinders that were precisely cylindrical and that had only a 1/10th of an inch gap. This innovation in precision allowed the steam engine to work efficiently.1 Today it is not unusual for manufacturing to incorporate precision measured in millionths of an inch. Computer chips use measurements on an atomic scale and time measurements in
nanoseconds (billionths of a second).
The journey to reach this level of precision involved thousands of incremental steps and took hundreds of years. A disruption of modern infrastructure would leave man unable to duplicate the precision that runs our world. Without replacement parts, our precisely engineered systems deteriorate quickly.
The world population is increasingly migrating to urban areas. Highly dense populations require the delivery of goods and services. Across the world, rural areas are losing population while urban population densities are increasing. Urban populations are highly dependent on their infrastructure and systems. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, London grew to about 650,000 people. It was not able to grow beyond this because the infrastructure to provide goods and services was limited by the systems, technology, and transportation of the day. One-hundred-and-fifty years after the start of the Industrial Revolution, the population of London had grown to 4,500,000.2 Industrial Revolution technology improved the systems that
brought goods to market in a way never before possible. This period coincided with the agricultural revolution in England. Crop rotation, fencing, mechanization, the introduction of
new crops, and selective breeding all were factors that doubled food production in England between 1700 and 1850. This period marked a shift from an agricultural to an industrial based economy.3
The problem with urbanization is that when infrastructure systems fail, the high population density can no longer be supported and chaos ensues.
Transportation networks have transformed the global economy and made growth in urbanization possible. At the grocery store, we are presented with global food choices: fruits and vegetables from Central and South America; cheeses and wines from Europe; and fish from around the world. This is the result of inexpensive global transportation. A number of factors revolutionized transportation. The introduction of containerized
freight and refrigeration revolutionized global trade and allowed goods to be shipped around the world for almost nothing. For one meat distributor in Australia, it is cheaper to ship meat
to Japan than to pay for transportation to a city only a few hundred miles away.4 With the development of modern transportation infrastructure and speedy transport a whole new era of global trade became a reality. The GPS system allows us to navigate and track position around the world. The introduction of autonomous (self-driving) vehicles is poised to further solidify transportation’s total dependence on technology.
(1) The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World, Simon Winchester, 2018, Harper
(2) http://www.demographia.com/dm-lon31.htm “Greater London, Inner London & Outer London Population & Density History,” Demographia
(3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/history/uk_through_time/economy_through_time/revision/5/ (BBC Bitesize)
(4) Use case from a brother who works in the meat
processing industry in Australia
Transportation is completely dependent on infrastructure. Long-term interruptions in electricity, communications, fuel, roads, traffic control, GPS, networks, computers, or logistics would
grind transportation to a halt. Coupled with urbanization and just-in-time inventory systems, this sets the stage for catastrophic failures.
Electrification of the world is one of the most significant trends of the past 100 years. The introduction of electricity transformed our world from being run by muscle power to machine power. It is hard to imagine living without the conveniences that electricity affords. Modern buildings incorporate elevators and high-efficiency environment systems. If electricity is out, these buildings cannot be occupied. Batteries have revolutionized portable power applications.
The requirement for electricity is the Achilles heel of modern infrastructure. Electricity is an absolute necessity to industry, further power generation (oil refineries run on electricity),
transportation, power appliances, machines, electronics, and computers. Without it, we would be thrust back to the 19th century.
The world is now wholly dependent on computers. The Information Age started in the second half of the 20th century with the advent of computers. Since then, computerized
systems have transformed all aspects of life. In 2016, IBM announced that we were entering the Cognitive Age, a time when “thinking machines” would start to run many aspects of
our lives.5 For the first time in history, computers are able to learn without requiring custom programming. This technology is being used to supplement or eliminate large numbers of professional and technical jobs that previously could only be performed by humans. In mid-2018 it was announced that IBM’s Watson computer can accurately read mammograms and detect suspicious masses.6 Watson is also starting to perform micro-surgeries with astounding precision.
Because Automated Intelligence technology constantly learns, is lightning fast, can run 24 hours a day, and costs a fraction of human wages, it will be widely integrated into business and government. However, these systems are built by imperfect humans and the failure of these systems is inevitable. What will happen if the power goes down for an extended period of
time? All computers and networks will grind to a halt and reliant systems will collapse.
The value of modern networks is in their linking of human beings and allowing them to communicate on a vast scale. While a single phone is of no value, millions of interconnected
phones are extremely valuable. This model of interconnected networks is the underpinning of today’s communication and technology. Today nearly everything is connected to the web or to “The Cloud” in some way. The value of modern technology companies including Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Tesla is based on their networks. They tie the world’s communications and financial system together.
Networks make our technology susceptible to cyber attacks and disruptions. Our increasingly interconnected systems are vulnerable to disruption. What happens when the network is down? Our computerized systems are also down.
(5) 2016 World of Watson Global Information Conference, Las Vegas, NV, Keynote Speaker
(6) http://www.research.ibm.com/haifa/dept/imt/mia.shtml#, IBM Researchers Bring AI to Radiology, 2016 Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America
Our world is enamored with technology. Computer technology allows us to efficiently manage the increasing complexity of the world. As a result, people have introduced complex processes that cannot be supported without this technology. Thirty years ago, most patients’ medical records were paper-based. Today, medical records are electronic, typically containing thousands of data points. Modern medicine is largely dependent on computerized systems to deliver patient care.
When complex systems are down, business and government grind to a halt. Manual downtime procedures are not an option for complex systems.
(8) Just-In-Time / Specialization
Businesses formerly stored inventory in local warehouses. Today, the concept of “just in time” — where supplies are shipped almost at the same time products that use them are being
manufactured — allows businesses to forego “just in case” inventory in order to minimize storage costs and taxes. At many automobile plants, parts are delivered by trains that pull
up to the plant with parts loaded in specific quantities and in a specific order so that they can be unloaded directly to the assembly line. This eliminates intermediate steps to unload,
organize, store, and deliver the parts to the assembly line. This makes any disruption to the supply chain a big problem. Business continuity planners review their suppliers to assure that
they can provide critical goods and services.
However, when infrastructure fails, “just in time” fails as well, having a cascade effect on all systems dependent on it.
(9) Electronic Accounting
Virtually all accounting for businesses and financial institutions is now done electronically. The traditional “books” are now stored in computerized systems. The paper ledger is largely
a thing of the past. Computerized systems store data in electronic format. In the past, this data was stored on optical disks or magnetic tapes. More recently this data has migrated onto magnetic disks (hard drives).
In the event that the reading mechanism was destroyed, the data could still be retrieved from these recording media. In 2017, commercial solid-state drives (in memory disk) reached cost parity with the magnetic disk. Solid state drives offer more dense storage, higher performance, and more energy efficiency than disk storage. If the trend continues, soon we will also be storing backup data on solid state drives as well. However, the vast majority of solid state drives can be erased by power surges or electromagnetic pulse. This leaves electronic memory subject to a whole host of disruptions.
When infrastructure fails, so does electronic accounting. Without power, banking and financial systems will shut down.
(10) Virtualized Money
Money is an accounting system that stores wealth. The world is quickly transitioning to electronic money. Businesses are increasingly going cashless to minimize theft, reduce costs, and streamline payments and accounting. Banks save money and reduce the need for branches and employees by going cashless.
Governments reduce fraud, costs, and improve fiscal control by going cashless. Sweden is quickly moving to electronic money and may be “cashless” in the next five years. Even developing countries like Nigeria are investigating cashless options but are hampered by weak electronic infrastructure.7 The issue with cashless money systems is that they are totally dependent on electronic infrastructure. When Hurricane Irma hit Florida, ATMs were shut down, credit card networks were unavailable, and cash was the only way to pay. Electronic systems are vulnerable to theft, disruption, and volatility from worldwide events. If infrastructure fails for an extended time, financial systems collapse.
(7) http://www.ft.com/content/9fc55dda-5316-11e8-24ecad6aa67e23e “We don’t take cash”: is this the future of money? Patrick Jenkins May 10, 2018
(11) Homogeneous Systems
In biology, heterogeneous (diverse) ecosystems are healthy. In a heterogeneous ecosystem, the loss of a single species generally has little effect because other species quickly fill their niche. In homogeneous systems, the loss of a single species can be catastrophic. This is the case with our technology ecosystems. The internet operates on a single standard that interconnects the world. Most computers run on one of a handful of operating systems. That makes these systems vulnerable.
In 2017, “WannaCry” ransomware infected myriads of computers and caused an estimated eight billion dollars of damage worldwide.8 It attacked security flaws in the Windows operating system that make these machines vulnerable.
The US electrical grid is divided into two major interconnects (Eastern, Western) and three minor interconnects (Quebec, Texas, Alaska).9 In 2003, the Northeast blackout affected major areas of the northeast and Midwest and Ontario for two days.10
These “blips” demonstrated the vulnerability of our electrical, communications, network, and computer systems caused by lack of diversity.
The Fatal Flaw in All Recovery Plans
All systems of this world are designed by imperfect men, and thus these flaws in these systems have unintended consequences. Despite man’s best efforts, they are susceptible to catastrophic collapse. All public and private disaster plans are based on being able to bring in outside support and resources. If systems collapse quickly and worldwide, there are inadequate outside resources to rectify problems within an acceptable timeframe. Seeing this vulnerability demonstrates that the only solution to global problems is God’s intervention. He assures us that He will let things go only to the brink of disaster before He intervenes.
What should our attitude be? In Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) we are promised, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has foreseen all, and promised to deliver mankind from imminent disaster. Let us demonstrate our faith in Him when we pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” To this we say Amen.
(8) http://www.reuters.com Global cyber-attack could spur $53 billion in losses: Lloyd’s of London, July 17, 2017, Suzanne Barlyn
(9) http://www.wikipedia.com Continental U.S. power transmission grid
(10) http://www.wikipedia.com Northeast blackout of 2003