Have you ever considered the significance of the timing of Christ’s first coming? Why did Jesus come 2,000 years ago? Why not 3,000 or even 5,000 years ago?
I believe much of the answer lies in the revolutionary new communications technology that came about in His time. Jesus was born at the height of the Roman Empire after it had taken control over much of the known world. The Romans built innovative road systems so that they could send messages faster, engage in commerce farther, and move their armies to and fro very quickly. This new form of rapid transit, coupled with a common language, revolutionized the way an empire could be held together. And for 1,000 years, the Roman Empire flourished much in part due to their superhighways.
The same Roman transit technology that had allowed the communication of information and ideas also provided a small backwater nation the ability to speak to an entire empire. While Jesus stayed predominantly in Galilee, His disciples took to the highways to spread the gospel message across the known world. And so Christ’s first advent was perfectly timed to utilize this new technology.
A Second Revolution
I believe we are now witnessing a second massive leap in communications, for the technology that unites today’s world comes from the amalgamation of the many technologies that make up the Internet “Information Superhighway.”
The Internet consolidates a virtually mind-numbing array of various technologies: radios, transmitters, televisions, cell towers, satellites, cable, cameras, Wi-Fi, fiber optics, and the complicated infrastructure that connects print, audio, and video technologies into one massive network. And this list covers only the tip of the communications technologies iceberg.
The true birth of the Internet came some 60 years ago when all these technologies began to be linked together. We may call it the Internet today, but this wonder of modern-day life was initially created as a means for scientists to share their computer data across vast distances in combating the Cold War.
As soon as the Soviet Union launched the first manmade satellite Sputnik into orbit on October 4, 1957, a spooked US federal government quickly responded by forming the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). These agencies would wage the Cold War by developing space-age technologies that would lead the world into the digital age.
Military experts in the 1950s worried that a few missiles could take down the entire network of telephone lines that make efficient long-distance communication possible. So in 1962, a scientist at ARPA by the name of J.C.R. Licklider proposed his solution of building a “galactic network” of computers that could talk to one another and enable government leaders to communicate, even if the Soviets destroyed the phone system.
On October 29, 1969, two house-sized computers, one at a research lab at UCLA and the other at Stanford University, shared their first node-to-node message, which read “LOGIN.” By the end of 1969, the two computers linked together became four, and throughout the 1970s, more and more military and research computers all around the world were identifying each other by Internet Protocol (IP) address and sharing their data.
Then in 1991, a Swiss computer programmer named Tim Berners-Lee (not Al Gore) opened up the expanding connectivity to the general public over what he called the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee created the first Web server (CERN HTTPd) and the first website (http://info.cern.ch/). Now anyone with a personal computer can access the Web over browsers such as Mosaic, Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari.
With such massive amounts of data being shared as millions of new computers were being connected to the Internet every day, search engines such as Google, AltaVista, AskJeeves, Yahoo, and later, Bing mapped and indexed all that data, recently aided by artificial intelligence (AI). Literally a world of information is available at anyone’s fingertips via their desktop or mobile device.
As of 2020, 4.54 billion of the 7.77 billion people in the world were connected to the Internet, and 4.18 billion of them utilized mobile devices. In the United States, 100 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, 97 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds, 88 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 73 percent of 65-year-olds and older are Web surfers. The average Internet user spends 6.5 hours online every day, generating 88,555 gigabytes of Internet traffic every second. The average smartphone user will spend an average of 3 hours and 49 minutes each day on their devices, dedicating 90 percent of their time to downloading any of the 5-plus million applications (apps) from leading app stores such as Google Play, Apple’s iTunes, and Amazon.
Truly, the Internet has developed into today’s Tower of Babel. Language barriers are even becoming a thing of the past as translation apps such as Google Translate have been developed to turn one’s smartphone into a Star Trek-like universal translator.
Networks are getting faster and more robust, with fifth-generation (5G) technology being implemented at record speed to keep up with the exabytes of data being shared. And the Internet continues to expand into its third phase, seeking to include every device from your coffeemaker to your car onto the Internet of Things (IoT), and from your Neuralink brain chip to your pacemaker on the Internet of Bodies (IoB).
Alphabet, the parent company that owns Google, has risen to become a monopoly, channeling 92 percent of Web searches and 44 percent of all emails generated, and it now decides who sees what information. Cries of Internet censorship, especially against Christian and conservative viewpoints, are on the rise. As TV fiction writer J. Michael Straczynski stated through one of his characters, “He who controls information controls the world.”
A New Opportunity
While Satan continues to purge the Christian voice from the Internet in his mad climb toward global domination, his control is not yet absolute, granting the church a short window of opportunity. After all, isn’t it amazing that right now we can reach out to more than two-thirds of the world’s population through the Internet? The apostles of the first century could have only dreamed of such an outreach!
In just the last decade, smartphones and other smart devices have become so widely popular that they have exponentially increased online connectivity, thereby giving more and more people the opportunity to be exposed to the gospel. The opportunities to reach distant people with the good news are more prevalent now than they have ever been.
I believe that the Scriptures were, in part, prophesying today’s communications technology when Jesus said that in the last days, the gospel would be spread throughout the entire world. That’s why God has provided this second revolution in worldwide communications.
Recognize the Times
Knowing the Lord has given us this window of opportunity, how should Christians respond? Is there an “app” for that?
First, when you accept the fact that the Lord could return at any moment, you will begin to recognize the times in which we are living. You will be comforted knowing that God has got everything under control, that He has a great plan in place, and that His children play a vital role in that plan. As we wait for Christ’s return, we are called to holy living and to serve our Lord through evangelism.
For non-Christians who recognize the significance of the world’s huge paradigm shift toward darkness, the realization should act like an alarm clock buzzing them awake to the fact that the world doesn’t have much time left. Everyone is living on borrowed time. Therefore, they need to respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading, praying from their heart in faith and repentance, and asking Jesus to be their Savior.
Utilize to E-vangelize
Second, knowing that our Savior will be returning soon, consider how you can utilize all the great technologies that God has given us to e-vangelize the world for Jesus Christ. Pretty much all of us have access to the Internet, so that means anybody can become an Internet evangelist by picking up a smartphone and tweeting, getting on Facebook and sharing a post, building their own website or blog, or sending emails.
Almost the entire world is now accessible at your fingertips. So, take a ride on that Gospel Information Superhighway! Share the good news about Jesus Christ and His soon return.
Dr. Nathan E. Jones has authored seven books and serves as the Director of Internet Outreach and an Internet Evangelist at Lamb and Lion Ministries, where he cohosts their weekly TV program, Christ in Prophecy, and their podcast, The Truth Will Set You Free. Nathan and his wife, Heather, have three grown children.