We are living in apocalyptic, revelatory times
We are living in apocalyptic, revelatory times. In a sense, all stages of history give glimpses into the apocalyptic, but contemporary phenomena are especially revealing.
Apocalypsis, the Greek word from which we get “revelation,” refers to the lifting of a veil, or curtain.
Jesus, in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) pulled back the veil and gave us a glimpse of the buildup to His second coming. “The coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah,” says Jesus (Matthew 24:37). The core characteristic of Noah’s day was that of a time when there is no “king”— no legitimate, respected, authority — and every person did “what is right” in his or her “own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Randomness nurtures paranoia and desperation.
The randomness of evil characterizes “end-times.” Hardly anything reveals that in our own day as do sudden mass shootings and their frightfully random locales and motives.
But there is another lifting of the veil in our age, revealing the styles of attempted governance in such an unstable time. Christ’s Revelation visions given to the aging apostle John and distributed through him to the churches in all eras and styles are full of conditions that might only be possible in contemporary times.
At least they are setting precedents to justify strategies for the future control of the world and its people.
For example, Saint John has a vision of a beast arising out of rough, heaving seas, symbolizing restless, turbulent nations. The storms of evil and tragedy are so great that a monstrous being, the Antichrist who promises peace and tranquility emerges, and is worshipped and received as a savior (hence, anti-Christ).
Recent events in our period provide a peek at that world to come and its desperate efforts to resist chaos. A glimpse behind the “curtain” of our day on history’s stage shows that regimes to come might either be police states or cyber-surveillance states, or a mixture of the two.
For one thing, leaders in cities and states where individuals and groups pushed for the defunding and reduction of police departments are now regretting their decisions because of intensifying anarchy.
This is exactly what has happened recently in Los Angeles. The newly installed mayor, Karen Bass, wants to add 1,000 officers to the police force and has come under criticism from progressives who supported her in the mayoral election.
New York is adding more than $60 million to hire more officers to police the city’s subway system, staggering under random assaults.
Rather than constituent complaints about turning such metropolises into police states, there is widespread public support.
Back to the apocalyptic element: How could an “Antichrist” gain control of governance? The answer: By promising to end the chaos. People living amidst random disorder will be driven by desperation that will compel them to support anyone whom they think will bring order.
This is how tyrants gain control across history.
We are also seeing now how nations can become cyber-surveillance states. This is a society where artificial intelligence and other cyber functions can be used to force people into compliance with the worldview and values of the governing powers, or the party line.
China is giving the world a glimpse of this phenomenon presently through its social credits score program. As one observer put it, “the state uses vast quantities of data and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to build a nimbler form of authoritarianism capable of exercising unprecedented social control … The ultimate goal is a perfectly engineered society that automatically neutralizes dissidents while rewarding those who comply with lives of convenience, safety and predictability.”
When the mayor of one of America’s largest cities becomes desperate enough to call for the hiring of 1,000 police officers despite an earlier determination to defund the police department, and when China, a huge nation, plans to use artificial intelligence to track its citizens’ allegiance to the nation’s dominating political party and its philosophies, worldview and values, it’s time to take a long look behind the “veil” of biblical revelation, along with that of time and history. Events and phenomena in finite, or existential, time and space unveil the signs that point to something greater to come ultimately.
It is all about God’s plan for His people in the finite world He has made for them, and its redemption..
Wallace B. Henley is a former pastor, daily newspaper editor, White House and Congressional aide. He served 18 years as a teaching pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church. Henley is author or co-author of more than 25 books, including God and Churchill, co-authored with Sir Winston Churchill's great grandson, Jonathan Sandys. Henley's latest book is Who will rule the coming 'gods'? The looming spiritual crisis of artificial intelligence.