In an article entitled, “And What About the Future?” Dr. James M. Houston reflects on “the growth of technology in a postindustrial age with its temptation to substitute rational, mechanical order for the life of the spirit and for what is personal and of God.”  He envisions a new idolatry, which we may call technolatry – or “the worship of techniques for their own sake.”  It is, he believes, “the most formidable of all contemporary idolatries because it can pervade everything, everywhere.  It is a misplaced concreteness that defines all that life is and should be, with a scientific spirit that questions neither the validity nor the necessity of all spiritual, moral and human values.” 

Houston wonders about the relevance of technology to the book of Revelation, where John testifies, “I…saw a beast rising out of the sea… ” (Rev. 13:1).   He notes, “This suggests that it arises among the nations, self-directing, unquestioned. No power on earth can resist its arrival and diffusion… There is a widespread feeling today that technology is an autonomous force, largely out of control… today, technology has become such a force that it threatens to overwhelm every realm of man’s being and activity.”

I thought of Dr. Houston’s remarks when I read Isaiah’s challenge to the leaders of his day: “‘Present the case for your idols,’ says the Lord.  ‘Let them show what they can do,’ says the King of Israel. Let them try to tell us what happened long ago so that we may consider the evidence.  Or let them tell us what the future holds so we can know what’s going to happen.” (Is. 41:21-22).  He challenges them to do anything.  “In fact, do anything – good or bad!  Do something that will amaze and frighten us.  But no!  You are less than nothing and can do nothing at all'” (v. 23).  Then Isaiah warns the leaders about being taken in by their idols, “Those who choose you pollute themselves” (v. 24).

Men, it is extremely difficult to stand against and resist the dominance of technology in our daily lives. It can have a smothering effect on our thinking and behavior.  Both religious and secular observers are actually frightened by what they see coming.  In the first chapter of Revelation,  John saw a vision of the risen Lord and fell as though dead.  Jesus placed his right hand on him and said, “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever.  And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Rev. 1:17-18).  He then told John, “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later” (v. 19).

What can we learn from these verses in Revelation? 

First, don’t be afraid.  The idols of our age cannot give hope. But Jesus can.  At Jesus’ resurrection the angel declared, “Don’t be afraid.”  Jesus breathed on his disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  The idols of our day are lifeless.  But we have resurrection power flowing through us.  Paul declares, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you” (Romans 8:11).

Second, Jesus is before and after all things.  In Rev 22:13, Jesus declares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  Jesus is the Lord of history.  He knows the beginning of history and what will happen at the end.  So, our focus has to be on him.  Trust Jesus to forge a way through to the end.  He holds the keys of death and Hades.