The sturdy values upon which America was built are less in evidence these days. Often we farm out thinking on critical issues to experts or to people we simply decide we trust. It is selective abdication. Time is limited; we can't delve into everything and form all our opinions with care.
Having studied Daniel and Revelation, we understand that somewhere between now and the total moral collapse of America:
- Tolerance and fairness declines
- The power of the state increases
- Some Adventists will lose their way and be absorbed into the mainstream
- There will be widespread and severe economic dislocation
- The influence of apostate Protestantism on citizens and legislatures will increase
- Serious Adventists will be recategorized as fringe, with the faithful finally targeted for liquidation
There is nothing new here. But our location in the timeline is shifting rapidly. The advent of cell phone and internet networks concentrates an enormous capability to regulate speech into the hands of a relatively small number. They are not idle.
It is in the power of Alphabet (Created by Google in 2015 to manage Google, YouTube and other corporations they own) to manipulate search rankings and to ban video presentations it doesn’t like from its platforms. Its managers can ban a video from medical professionals disagreeing with the prevailing narrative about COVID-19, just as they can promote transgender sexual behavior, or anything else they might wish.
More than just shaping opinion, through Email and searches, Google warehouses troves of sensitive personal information on every American. In 2012 Julian Assange wrote, "We are all living under martial law as far as our communications are concerned, we just can’t see the tanks—but they are there" (Cypherpunks, p. 33). In 2014 he called Google, "a burgeoning digital superstate," When Google Met Wikileaks, p. 49).
In reality, corporations like Google and Facebook are not as much a new kind of state as they are extensions of the existing order. They are the secret police monitoring the videos you watch and sleeping in your inbox. They read all your text messages and take careful notes about what you are buying online. They built it all and said, "You can use our software and services, but we get to take pictures and keep a copy of everything you do here."
And we—knowing the Bible's end-time scenario—said "OK, it’s a deal!"
When I was baptized in 1989, none of these things existed. The actual technological and government mechanisms for taking us to the Revelation 13 scenario were mostly undeveloped.
Not in 2020.
In the early 2000s the US government began to collect troves of data on Americans without their knowledge. What began to be done has been well documented in other venues. Suffice it to say that something began to happen on a large scale which was antithetical to the nation’s stated lamb-like foundation principles.
That fact might shock most Americans. But Adventists are realists. We understand Revelation 13 and 18; we anticipate such developments. But it still seems surreal today to be living in the period when those shifts in values have gone "live."
In spite of the prophecies many continue to hold fanciful views of government. Benevolent intentions are assumed along with general good will. We conveniently postpone the prophetic transformation foretold in Revelation 13:11 to a distant and fuzzy future.
We want to assume the best intentions in others, and, mostly, that is a good reflex. We cannot read minds or hearts. And yet, we should not be blind to their actions and decrees. The prevailing viewpoint of many agents of big state and big tech is that it is their business to tell us where to stand and where to sit and what to watch and when to stand on one foot doing nothing; all for our own good. We have a Heavenly Father, yet a humanist priesthood seeks to mediate reality to us as they prefer it be constituted.
Since boiling the frog tends to be non-transparent to the frog, it is well to pause, look round, and realize we are very, very deep along the forest trail leading to the conclusion of all things.
We need to be especially wary of developments that might devitalize the church. We are passing from daylight to twilight, and we need to be Issacharans—having an understanding of the times, and knowing what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32). The best interests of God’s cause will not be well served if we hold fanciful views of the government. Yet neither should we be bitter. Times were coming, we were warned, more intense and dangerous than could be humanly described. We do not know how far on those times are, or, or whether they might be just around the next bend. Regardless, Jesus will be with us if we trust in Him.