Ken.jpg (5762 bytes)Daniel and The Net?

The Internet . . . Beast or Benefactor? For sure the latter, notwithstanding that some religious types see a "666" in its footprint. It’s neither a superhighway to heaven nor hell. In fact, it isn’t even a superhighway. It’s a network of unprecedented communication and information available to the average person with a phone modem connected to a computer linked to the Internet. And like many marvelous tools of man, it will be used for good and evil. I suspect this tool will function like a sharp knife—a hundred thousand good and helpful uses for every destructive one.

The Internet exists, but the superhighway we hear so much about, and about which President Clinton likes to wax, doesn’t. Not yet. The Internet is one thing, the superhighway another. That highway is coming, but as Brit Hume and T.R. Reid remind us in their syndicated Computer Corner column (Washington Post, 2/22/97), it is still under construction. The term information superhighway "refers to technology that will bring us, by a single carrier, all our data, video, audio and telephone communications. No one knows, however, if it will be a wire and, if so, what kind of wire. It could be a fiber-optic line of the kind now being used in more advanced telephone systems. It could be a coaxial cable of the kind that now carries your cable TV signals. It could be, with the advent of xDSL, a plain pair of copper wires just like your current telephone service is carried on currently. It could even be a satellite signal of the kind that now beams TV broadcasts, movies and music onto the 18-inch dishes that now serve millions of households in the United States."

Hume and Reid predict that if the Internet survives "the brave new world of the information superhighway, it is likely to be just a tributary of the vast river of material flowing into homes and offices.

Some have speculated that the Internet (and the coming info-superhighway) is a fulfillment of Archangel Michael’s puzzling comment to Daniel, "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase" (Da 2:4, NASB). Our century has certainly witnessed an explosion of knowledge—latest estimates claim our body of knowledge is doubling every three to five years. In some fields that’s no doubt true, though it is hard to imagine this unbelievable rate is across the board. But it is not knowledge in general to which this passage speaks. It is specific knowledge. Knowledge of what is shut up in that scroll Daniel is about to seal. Much he didn’t understand—especially the mysterious Fourth Kingdom.

What the verse states is that by "the time of the end" knowledge of this great prophecy will increase and its mysteries finally unlocked. The "back and forth" or "to and fro" (KJV) is a Hebrew expression of eagerness in moving quickly and excitedly back and forth in searching for a desired object (the scroll’s meaning), like the moving back and forth

of the eyes in the actual reading of the text. Plainly, what is prophesied here isn’t an end-time technological explosion (though we obviously have one), but an increase in knowledge concerning the true meaning of Daniel’s prophecy. The Book of Daniel is the Bible’s longest continuous prophecy and is the basis of Christ’s Olivet prophecy, and the entire book of Revelation. The Book of Daniel is key, and the big mystery is the Fourth Kingdom which exists in its final iteration right up until the end when it encounters The Stone Kingdom and is crushed by it. Look for an in-depth exposition on this subject coming soon in the pages of The New Millennium.

There may still be a connection between Daniel 2:4 and the Internet, but it will be in the biblical information broadly dispersed via that electronic miracle. Maybe you were not aware, but the Internet is proving to be a major forum for exchanging biblical information, religious news, and for hosting discussions and arguments on just about every area of faith imaginable. In fact, there is a book, God On The Internet (IDG Books, Foster City, CA, 1996), written by a friend of mine and of ACD, Mark A. Kellner. I picked up my copy at Barnes and Noble for $24. The 307 page book is, according to the jacket, "a complete guide to enhancing your spiritual life via the Internet and online services." Mark lists the best religious sites on the World Wide Web, best chat rooms, and newsgroups for all major religions—including many Sabbatarians. Mark is both a computer expert, with columns in major papers, and a religious writer who has been published in Christianity Today and other religious journals. If you want to break into the web, this book will take you there in easy steps. I found his historical aside (pages 120-133) on "the network that broke a church" fascinating. He speaks of the critical role played by computer networks and the Internet in the schism of the Worldwide Church of God. If such a network had been available in 1973/74 when I led a reformation movement of the WWC, what might have been the result?

--Ken Westby