The Acceleration of Life
Is it a Signal that Jesus is
by Dr. David R. Reagan
Have you noticed how almost everything in
life seems to be accelerating in growth? Knowledge has exploded.
We are traveling faster and farther than ever before. Instant,
world wide communication has become common place. And the power
at our disposal is mind boggling.
A Sign of the Times
The Bible teaches that this acceleration
of technology which we are experiencing will be a sign of the
end times a sign that will signal the soon return of the
Consider Daniel 12:4. In this verse the
Lord tells Daniel that one of the signs of the end times will
be an acceleration of travel and knowledge. Here's how the verse
reads in the Living Bible paraphrase:
Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret .
. . Seal it up so that it will not be understood until the end
times when travel and education shall be vastly increased.
The same concept of end time acceleration
is found in the New Testament. Jesus spoke about it when He talked
with His disciples about the signs of the end times that would
herald His return (Matthew 24:5ff). He mentioned a great variety
of signs spiritual, natural, societal, and world political
and then He said these signs would be like "birth
pangs" (Matthew 24:8).
As the birth of a baby approaches, the birth
pangs increase two ways. They increase in frequency and intensity.
Thus, Jesus was saying that the closer we get to the time of His
return, the more frequent and intense the signs will become. There
will be more earthquakes and more intense ones. Likewise things
like famine, pestilence and war will increase in frequency and
The Mathematical Concept
mathematics this acceleration is called an "exponential curve."
This term comes from what happens when rapid growth is plotted
on a chart. When graphing the growth of something, the growth
is considered to be on an exponential curve when the plot line
starts moving vertically because the growth is so rapid. You can
see a classic example of this principle in the illustration on
this page of the growth of the Internet company, America Online.
Now, the point is that the Bible indicates
that the exponential curve will be one of the signs of the end
times, and my thesis is that we are living in the midst of the
exponential curve. Therefore, we are living in the end times.
Examples of the Curve
The 20th Century has been the century of
the exponential curve. Let's consider some examples.
1) Population Demographers
estimate that the population of the world at the time of Christ
was only 200 million. It took 1,650 years for the world's population
to double! But thereafter it began to double very rapidly because
the Industrial Revolution produced modern medicine, which, in
turn, reduced infant mortality rates and increased longevity.
As the statistics below indicate, the rate of doubling has now
reached exponential proportions.
Throughout most of recorded history, the maximum power at man's
disposal consisted of bows and arrows, spears, and catapults.
Even at the beginning of this century, war was still primitive.
World War I turned into a stagnant war of attrition because neither
side had sufficient power to break out of the trenches.
Eighty years later, we have air power, armored
power, nuclear weapons, and sophisticated bacteriological and
chemical weapons. We have ICBM's that can deliver a nuclear payload
half way around the world. We have laser guided missiles that
can guide a bomb down a smoke stack. And we have nuclear submarines
that can circle the globe without surfacing. Incredibly, just
one of those subs today has more firepower than all the bombs
dropped in World War II! It is no wonder the Bible says that in
the end times "men will faint with fear" over the expectation
of "the things which are coming upon the world" (Luke
3) Transportation In 1900
the major means of transportation was what it had always been
throughout history namely, walking and riding a horse.
Bicycles had been invented, and the steam engine had been applied
to ships and trains. But steam powered transportation was too
expensive for most people.
I have photos that were taken in my home
town of Waco, Texas in 1912, and they clearly show that most people
were still getting around in horse drawn wagons and carriages.
Today we have automobiles (usually two or
more to a family!) and airplanes. We have bullet trains that travel
150 miles per hour and planes that travel faster than the speed
of sound. And then, of course, there are rocket ships that take
people into orbit around the earth.
In 1866 Mark Twain traveled to the Holy
Land. It took him three months to get there. Today, a group can
get on a jet plane in New York and be in Tel Aviv in 13 hours
(and most will complain about how long the trip took!).
In 1900 the average number of miles traveled
per year by a person inside the United States was 1,000. Today
it is 25,000 miles per year, and many of us put twice that much
mileage on an automobile in a year's time.
4) Communications At the beginning
of this century the telegraph had speeded up communications considerably,
but the fundamental means which most people used to get information
was still the newspaper.
Today our communication resources are overwhelming.
We have telephones, radio, and television. We have exotic devices
like fax machines, pagers, and cellular phones. And we can communicate
world wide through satellites.
I never cease to be amazed when I see someone
use a credit card in an Arab shop in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The shop may be nothing but a primitive hole in the wall, but
over in some dark corner there will be a machine where the merchant
can swipe the card. A few moments later he receives an authorization.
During those few moments, the card number has been transmitted
to Tel Aviv, from Tel Aviv to New York by satellite, from New
York to the credit card processing center somewhere in the States,
and then back to the Arab shop in Jerusalem!
I am equally amazed at the way I can sit
down at a computer at my home or office and use the Internet to
send a letter in seconds to almost any place in the world.
5) Computers Computer technology
has contributed to the rapid acceleration of many aspects of life,
but it is interesting to note that the exponential curve applies
to the development of computers as well. Anyone who tries to stay
on the cutting edge of what is new in computer equipment knows
that it is a never ending battle that requires a lot of money.
Advances are so rapid that equipment is out of date within a few
In 1970 I was a professor at a college where
we bought an IBM computer for $100,000. The computer filled a
room and generated so much heat that we had to have the room equipped
with additional air conditioning. The computer's memory was 64K!
Now, if you are not a computer buff, that
may not mean much to you, but keep reading because I'm going to
make it understandable; and in the process, I'm going to illustrate
how rapidly computer technology has developed.
Ten years later in 1980, this ministry bought
one of the first desk top computers made. It was a Tandy TRS 80,
Model II. It cost $4,800. When I turned it on, I was astounded
by the first thing that appeared on the screen: "64K Memory."
In ten years time we had gone from a computer that weighed more
than a ton to one that sat on a desk top, and the price had dropped
95%. But the memory was the same!
Ten years later in 1990, I went to Radio
Shack and bought an electronic Rolodex small enough to fit into
the palm of my hand. It cost $90. And when I turned it on, guess
what? The first message that appeared on the screen was "64K
The first floppy disk that we used in the
TRS 80 was 8" in size. It held 300,000 bytes of information.
A few years later the 5¼" disk appeared. It would hold
700,000 bytes. Then came the 3½" disk. Its capacity
was 1.4 million bytes! Now the hottest thing going is the CD Rom
disk. I recently read an advertisement for a CD Rom disc that
contained 134,000 pages of theological documents, the equivalent
of 1,400 pounds of books!
6) Knowledge The prophet Daniel
was specifically told that knowledge would vastly increase in
the end times, and it has. In fact, we have become so overwhelmed
with the flood of new information that it is difficult to find
wisdom anymore, because wisdom comes from reflection on knowledge.
When I was in graduate school in the early
60s, there were only two or three major academic journals
in each field of study. Today there are dozens in each field,
and they cannot begin to publish all the academic articles that
are being written. Many have to limit the articles to one page
abstracts, and even then most articles are rejected for a lack
Encyclopedias are out of date before they
can be printed. And I read recently where a research organization
had determined that one Sunday issue of the New York Times
contains more information than the normal person in the 19th Century
was exposed to in a lifetime!
The most amazing thing to me in the area
of information is the World Wide Web that can be accessed through
the Internet. Using it, I can access the documents of the Vatican
in seconds, and then in a matter of moments, I can go to the Israel
Museum in Jerusalem, or I can dart back to the Library of Congress
in Washington, D.C. In short, I can access information all over
the world without ever leaving my office.
7) Violence I don't think
I have to emphasize that violence and lawlessness have been increasing.
But it is hard to comprehend how rapid the increase has been in
It is estimated by experts that the number
of people killed in all the wars fought from the time of Christ
until 1939 totals 50 million. In the next six years (1939 through
1945), 57 million people died in World War II. Since that time,
almost 60 million have died in armed conflicts, either in wars
between nations or civil wars within nations. This has been a
century of unparalleled carnage.
Within the United States, violent crime
has increased 500% since 1960. During the same period, the country's
population increased only 41%.
8) Society The disintegration
of society has multiplied in speed as violence, wickedness, and
immorality have increased exponentially. Jesus prophesied this
would happen when He said that end time society would be like
it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39).
I have witnessed the decaying of society
with my own eyes. I was born in 1938. When I was born, abortionists
were sent to prison. Pregnancy out of wedlock was thought of as
scandalous. Homosexuals were considered queer. Pornography was
despised as a sickness. Marriage was sacred. Living together was
taboo. Divorce was a disgrace. Homemaking was honored, and day
care was provided by mothers in their homes. Child abuse was unheard
of. Ladies did not curse or smoke. "Damn" was considered
flagrant language in a movie. (A recent film featuring Jack Lemon
had the "f-word" in it 170 times in 120 minutes!)
I could go on and on about the many ways
in which our society (and societies around the world) have decided
to "call evil good and good evil" (Isaiah 5:20). But
the most dramatic way I can think of to illustrate how rapid the
deterioration of society has become in America is to consider
the results of a poll concerning public school discipline problems.
Consider the differing results between the 40s and the 80s
The Top Public School Discipline
2) Chewing gum
3) Making noise
4) Running in the halls
5) Getting out of turn in line
6) Wearing improper clothing
7) Not putting paper in wastebaskets
1) Drug Abuse
2) Alcohol Abuse
(Source: Time Magazine, February 1, 1988)
9) The Gospel But not all the
exponential curves are bad. Modern technology has made it possible
for the Gospel to be preached to billions of people through the
use of such media as short wave radio, motion pictures, and satellite
Billy Graham's recent broadcast from Puerto
Rico was carried by satellite to 185 countries and territories
in a total of 116 different languages!
In 1800 the Bible was available in 71 languages.
By 1930 the count had risen dramatically to 900. Today, the Bible
has been published in 1,700 languages, with 1,000 more in progress.
Computer technology has greatly speeded up the translation process.
10) World Politics The exponential
curve also applies to world events. Habakkuk 1:5 is as relevant
today as if it were written yesterday: "The Lord replied,
Look, and be amazed! You will be astounded at what I am
about to do! For I am going to do something in your own lifetime
that you will have to see to believe.'"
I took a Sabbatical in 1987 and wrote a
book called Trusting God. Seven years later, in 1994, I
took another Sabbatical and completely rewrote that book. The
exercise gave me an opportunity to reflect back over the seven
years between the two Sabbaticals. I was astounded even
overwhelmed by the rapidity and "stupendity"
of world events.
Who could have dreamed in 1987 that within
the next seven years any of the following events would have occurred?
- The tearing down of the Berlin Wall
- The peaceful liberation of Eastern Europe
- The collapse of the Soviet Union
- The reunification of Germany
- The resurgence of Islam and its emergence
as the greatest threat to world peace
- The sending of 500,000 American troops
to the other side of the world to defend a country most Americans
had never heard of (Kuwait)
- The handshake between Rabin and Arafat
that has led to Israel surrendering its heartland to the PLO
In 1987 if you had predicted any of these
developments, you would have been written off as "nuts."
The rapidity of these events and their radical nature is breathtaking.
They underscore the possibility of the impossible. And they certainly
reveal that man is not in control.
The Significance of
So, what does all this mean to you and me?
I would mention at least three things.
First, the exponential curve is proof positive
that Bible prophecy is true. The Lord has told us what He is going
to do in the end times, and we had better pay attention to it.
Second, the fulfillment of prophecy related
to the exponential curve shows that God is in control. Even when
it appears that everything on this earth is out of control, we
can be assured that God is orchestrating all the chaos to the
ultimate triumph of His Son in history (Psalm 2).
Third, the exponential curve is very strong
evidence that we are living on borrowed time. It points to the
fact that Jesus is at the very gates of Heaven, waiting for the
command of His Father to return.
I want to conclude by issuing a strong warning
against taking time for granted.
Many people are doing that today. They are
saying, "I'm going to get serious about the Lord when I get
out of school;" or "after I get a job;" or "after
I'm established in my job;" or "after I get married;"
or "after I get my children raised." Time is precious.
There is very little left. Now is the time to get
serious about the Lord.
Let me illustrate how critical the timing
is by returning to the exponential curve. Suppose you put one
bacterium in a jar, and assume it doubles every second. How many
bacteria do you think would exist in the jar at the end of 30
seconds? The answer, incredibly, is 1,073,741,824. That's more
than a billion in thirty seconds! That's the ferocity of
the exponential curve.
Now, let's carry the illustration a step
further. If at the end of 30 seconds the jar is half full, how
much longer will it take for the jar to become full? The answer
is one second (because it will double in the next second). That
is the suddenness of the exponential curve.
That's what the Bible means when it says
that people will be saying, "Peace and safety!" when
"sudden destruction" will come upon them (1 Thessalonians
Are you taking time for granted? Don't do
it. Non-Christian, now is the time for salvation.
Christian, now is the time for holiness.
exponential curve illustrated is the one that could easily lead
to the destruction of the United States. It took over 200 years
for the nation's debt to reach one trillion dollars. Then, in
only ten years, during the decade of the 80s, the debt more
As of April 1, 1996, the debt totaled 5.1
trillion. With a population of 264 million, that means every man,
woman and child in American now owes $19,182.84. The debt continues
to run at the rate of one billion dollars per day. Some experts
estimate that by the year 2000, all taxes collected will barely
cover the interest due on the debt. In short, America is bankrupt.