Good morning. Today we continue our sermon series dealing with several “Signs of the End Times”. By familiarizing ourselves with these signs, we become more capable of recognizing the season of Christ’s return. This should, in turn, foster an urgency within us to prepare ourselves for His arrival and to tell others the wonderful truth of the gospel. The forthcoming message is titled “Increased Knowledge” and is the 7th installment of this 2-month study.
Jesus stated that the greatest commandment is to “love the LORD with all of your heart, soul, and mind” (Matthew 22:37). In making this declaration, the Lord identified 3 distinct facets of the human condition. Each is important to the makeup of an individual. The Bible describes the state of mankind during the last days in relation to each of these areas.
The “heart” pertains to the emotional and moral nature of man. It speaks to our conscience and inherent ability to differentiate between good and evil. In the last days, people will become angry, cold, bitter, and exceedingly corrupt. We dealt with these issues already in a message called “Rampant Immorality”.
The “soul” refers to the spiritual nature of man. It speaks to our closeness, intimacy, and communication with God (or lack thereof). In the end times, people will be far from Him, groping in spiritual darkness, and will chase after false teachers and empty lies. We dealt with this earlier in a message titled “Spiritual Delusion”.
That leaves the “mind”, which relates to the mental and intellectual capacity of man. The Bible predicts that in the latter days knowledge will increase upon the earth, as evidenced in a multitude of ways. This aspect of humanity will be the focus of today’s discussion…
I. TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS
The technological advancements of the past few centuries undeniably reveal an explosion of human knowledge. New discoveries, approaches, and inventions have transformed virtually every aspect of life. The ability to communicate with one another has vastly improved. The ways we produce and construct products has vastly improved. The understanding of science and how things work has vastly improved. In almost every industry and on practically every subject there are massive amounts of knowledge that were completely unknown just a relatively short time ago.
As an example of this remarkable progress, Daniel foresaw that in the end times “many will go back and forth”. This seemingly refers to an advanced means of travel. For most of human history people moved rather slowly from place to place, either on foot, on horseback, or by carriage. Many people lived their entire lives having never journeyed any significant distance from their home. In modern times however, due to the invention of cars, trains, airplanes, and other modes of travel, people quickly and routinely travel from place to place. Society has become much more mobile than in past generations, in keeping with the Bible’s prophecy.
Think about all of the inventions that have come into being since the turn of the century. Kids grow up today with gadgets that their parents thought of as science fiction. Entirely new fields of study are being opened on an ever-increasing basis. The breadth of human knowledge continues to expand and the rate of its acquisition quickens. Sadly, as the world’s knowledge has increased so also has its distance from God.
II. GREATER EMPHASIS ON PROPHECY
The increased knowledge of the end times will not be limited only to earthly things. The LORD told Daniel to conceal and seal up his prophetic message “until the end”. Some scholars suggest that in the last days these prophecies will be opened and revealed, at least to a greater degree than before. In other words, man’s knowledge and understanding of these prophetic passages will improve somewhat - even if still incomplete.
There are many would-be prophets today who make all sorts of predictions regarding the end of the world. Some of these seem plausible and scripturally sound while others are utterly ridiculous. Nevertheless, man’s fascination with this topic can be seen almost everywhere. Numerous best-selling books deal with prophecy and/or the end times. Several doomsday movies have been produced for the big screen. Talking about and depicting the apocalypse has become a lucrative undertaking for some.
While many varied interpretations remain, there is little doubt that new technologies and inventions have shed a greater light on the possible meanings of many end time prophecies. There are now realistic explanations of the cryptic imagery that was once almost impossible to comprehend. Though inaccuracies and questions certainly remain, a growing number of people seem drawn to discussions and debates over the end times. This widespread awareness is itself another indication that the Lord’s return is near.
III. ABILITY TO ENFORCE THE MARK (Revelation 13:16-17)
Perhaps the most specific end time sign which can be attributed to increased knowledge is the ability to enforce the mark of the beast. The book of Revelation plainly states that in the last days, the Antichrist will rise to power. He will enact a reign of terror over the entire earth, and will forbid anyone who does not receive the mark from buying or selling. Up until recent times, such a restriction would have been impractical and impossible to enforce.
Nowadays, however, this economic prediction seems much more realistic. Cash transactions are increasingly rare, as modern business is largely conducted by digital means through the scanning of credit and debit cards. Even this process is currently in transition, as more and more people are starting to use their smartphones to make purchases. Some have proposed that soon barcodes or QR codes could be tattooed directly on the skin for the same purpose. Others suggest that microchips will be implanted into people, perhaps just under the skin, which will be necessary in order to conduct business. Could any of these possibly be “the mark of the beast” mentioned in Scripture?
No one knows for certain, but the fact that such things are even possible should serve as a wake up call. The increased knowledge and technological advancements of mankind in recent history have enabled things that were once unimaginable. Man’s growing knowledge has, unwittingly, paved the way for Jesus’ return.
Though their technology and ingenuity was much more rudimentary than ours, in ancient times the people of earth gathered together on the plains of Shinar to build a tower that would reach into heaven (Genesis 11:1-9). They sought to use their advanced architectural knowledge and skills to make a name for themselves throughout the earth. Their intent was to create a pathway to heaven which would render God obsolete. The LORD recognized their potential and acted to prevent them from achieving their ambitious goal.
Compare this with today. As a people, we are smarter now than we’ve ever been before. Imagine the tower that we could build and are building, figuratively speaking of course. We use our knowledge to marginalize and explain away the truths of God all the time. Yet despite the exponential increase of human knowledge we’ve experienced, our world remains spiritually deceived and morally depraved. Knowledge abounds while wisdom seems increasingly hard to come by…
When we boil it all down, there is really only 1 thing that we need to know. His name is Jesus Christ. Those who come to know Him as their personal Lord and Savior will receive forgiveness of their sins and be given the assurance of eternal life. Everything above and beyond this is just “icing on the cake”. I close today’s message with this verse:
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” - Proverbs 9:10