“Knowledge Shall Be Increased”

IT IS true that God does not regard man-made divisions of time; nonetheless this artificial arrangement can be useful, in that it provides points of reference from which to view past events, to measure change, and to consider the future. This is particularly true of the Lord’s people as they watch the unfolding of world events, especially as these relate to the outworking of God’s great plan of salvation for man.

From this standpoint, the year just ended was the last in a decade almost unmatched in the history of mankind. The Prophet Daniel said that when Michael should stand up there would be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. He further indicated that at that time many would run to and fro, and that knowledge would be increased. (Dan. 12:1-4) We believe we are witnessing the fulfillment of this wonderful prophecy. We believe that Michael has now been standing up for many years; and we are witnessing an almost incredible increase in communication and transportation and of troubles upon the world, all of which are closely related to the foretold increase of knowledge.

Knowledge has been increasing for a long time, but for many centuries it moved at a snail’s pace. With the invention of moveable type by Gutenberg in the year 1444, permitting the mechanical printing of books, the addition of new knowledge to old began slowly to advance. But few among the masses, and even among the more affluent, could read or write, and the progress of learning was slow. It was not until the nineteenth century, when education became somewhat more general, that knowledge began more rapidly to increase, until now, in this present day, when more and more of our youth consider a college diploma to be their minimum educational goal, the gain in knowledge is accelerating at a dizzying pace. Books on virtually any subject are available to and may be read by all.

Indeed, today, through the medium of modern electronic equipment—itself a product of the increase of knowledge—the proliferation and dissemination of knowledge is assuming the proportions of an avalanche. No longer can anyone hope to have more than a partial grasp of what there is to be known about various subjects, or even about any single subject. Practicing professional men continue to return to school year after year to keep up on the latest findings and techniques. Knowledge at the present time is so broad, diverse, and detailed that specialization is the order of the day in almost every field of endeavor. Today, in the event of illness, one does not usually go to the old-fashioned family doctor. He goes to a heart specialist, a brain specialist, an ophthalmologist, a geriatrician, a dermatologist, etc. The general practitioner is, in fact, not easy to find. When one has a legal problem, one doesn’t just go to any lawyer. He finds a tax lawyer, a real estate lawyer, a maritime lawyer, a criminal lawyer, an estate lawyer, etc.

New Techniques

Within the decade just past the advance of science and technology almost staggers the imagination. New techniques have been devised and older ones refined. One may be reached by telephone while traveling in his car, flying across a continent, or aboard an ocean liner. Our television sets take us daily to the far corners of the earth; whatever is happening anywhere may be known immediately to all. The inventiveness of man even gives us the dubious privilege of having a war, with many of its horrors, that is taking place half way around the world, presented to us in our living rooms.

Nuclear powered submarines armed with sufficient destructive power to annihilate hundreds of millions of people can traverse the oceans of the world without rising to the surface, and without losing contact with headquarters. Supersonic transport planes carrying upwards of five hundred passengers will soon be cleaving the skies between the continents in a matter of a few hours—almost too rapidly to permit one to settle down to enjoy the fine meal that is served. Small passenger ships ply between England and France without touching the water. And doubtless man’s crowning technological achievement to date has been the landing of men on the moon, and bringing them back safely to the Planet Earth.

As a result of the increase of knowledge the workweek has been shortened and wages raised in more or less degree throughout the world, thus affording more leisure time to workers. More people are enjoying the good things of life than ever before. And while there are still great areas of the world where poverty reigns, the standard of living generally has been on the rise. But is this relative abundance for the many bringing peace and contentment to all? Is it improving the quality of life on this earth? And is it increasing understanding and harmony between nations?

Attitudes Changing

The present high state of the art of gathering and disseminating news from and to all parts of the world, as a result of the increase of knowledge, has brought about far-reaching changes in attitudes. It has awakened under-privileged individuals and nations to a realization of the great gulf existing between their own status and that of the more affluent and the more powerful. And they are raising their voices to demand that changes be made and inequities be banished. Thus we find that we are living in a day presenting the seeming paradox of a phenomenal increase of knowledge bringing greater abundance and better living on the one hand, and on the other the unprecedented rise throughout the world of violent protest and dissent. There has developed a growing feeling that just because a thing is ancient, or rich, or powerful, it is not necessarily right. Nor needs to be endured.

In this country no individual or institution seems immune from these attacks, which assume many forms. Civil rights protesters take to the streets to demand more and better jobs, better housing, improved schooling. Rioters ravage, loot, and burn whole areas of cities to signal their dissatisfaction and frustration with conditions in the ghettos. Students, many from middle and upper class families, seize college buildings, destroy costly equipment, and hold officials hostage, to gain a voice in the selection of courses of study and faculty and in the administration of the school.

Even church organizations are subject to open blackmail by those demanding redress for wrongs a century old. People from all walks of life join in unprecedented numbers in demonstrations in opposition to having their government engaging in an unpopular war. And whereas these demonstrations have grown in number and violence, often resulting in death and injury, to say nothing of destruction of property, there has been relatively little retaliation by the civil authorities, there being no unanimity of thought as to how best to react to these conditions.

Church Also Affected

Also affected by the voice of dissent of these latter days is no less an institution than the Roman Catholic Church. Along with the other remarkable events of the past decade, we have the spectacle of a heretofore unyielding church entertaining demands for liberalization of its dogmas and practices and to a curtailing of its central power. These demands have come from within the church itself; they are evidenced in the increasing pressure by a substantial segment of Roman Catholic bishops, often urged on by their own priests and laymen, to bring about a revision of the age-long “conservatism” of the church. It is hoped thus to gain some share in the decision-making process as it relates to the local operations of the church, in order to make the church more “relevant” to the lives of its constituents.

This trend has not gone unopposed by the entrenched few who sit in the seats of power. However, the push for change has gained considerable momentum, and indications are that concessions will be forthcoming. This may be in recognition of the departure from the fold of many Catholics, including growing numbers of priests. Some idea of the strength of this movement may be gained from the fact that criticism of the Holy See and certain aspects of its operations, even in the presence of the pope, went unrebuked.

The voice of protest, the doctrine of dissent, like a contagious disease, has even infected that seemingly invulnerable institution, the home, where in many cases the exercise of authority is being questioned by the children and abdicated by the parents. This rebellion against authority and discipline, against formerly accepted ideas and standards, has given birth to a new phrase in our time—the generation gap.

Ever since sin entered the Garden of Eden man has had to apply himself diligently to the basic task of earning his bread by the sweat of his brow. But the affluence and relative freedom from toil afforded many in the world today by the use of modern machinery and technological processes has provided the means and the time for many to challenge those very established ways and institutions which in fact produced that affluence and that freedom. And the misuse of these same blessings has also provided young and old with greater opportunities to fall into dissolute, and iniquitous, and corrupt ways.

Menace of Pollution

Among the problems of these last days of the decade just finished must be numbered the growing menace of pollution—pollution of the air, the earth, and the water. This problem, too, is a direct by-product of the misuse by man of the increase of knowledge. Our air is polluted by nuclear fall-out, by the exhaust from our automobiles that serve our transportation needs, by furnaces that keep our homes warm. Insecticide run-off from our farms, sewage from our cities, and industrial wastes from our factories contaminate our lakes and rivers, killing off bird and fish life, and rendering the water unfit for human or animal use.

And then there is the problem of the population explosion. This, too, is, in some measure at least, related to the increase of knowledge. For centuries the rate of increase in world population remained fairly constant. With the latter-day increase in medical knowledge and improvement of facilities for the care of mothers and babies, the ratio of births to deaths has increased; and of the number of babies brought into the world today, more live into adulthood than formerly. Also, for the same reasons, the span of life of man is in general increasing. There is serious concern in the minds of those who study these matters as to how, in twenty-five years, or fifty years, the increased population of the world will be fed.

Already, the effects of this increase in population are to be seen in the big cities of the world, where the overcrowding produces crime, tensions, disease, immorality, poverty, competition for jobs and for available housing. As with people, so with nations, when overcrowding occurs, friction and misunderstanding develop, sometimes leading to economic wars.

Thus we have seen that as knowledge along all lines has increased, lengthening the span of life for man and providing greater abundance and leisure time for many, yet these have not been shared by all, nor in equal degree, due to the selfishness of man. Nor have all those who have been the chief beneficiaries of these advantages been made happy and contented; for it seems that no matter how much one has, the desire for even more is ever present in the heart of fallen mankind. And with the passage of time, the many problems besetting the world seem, to its leaders, to be growing in complexity.

The Future

What may we expect in the period ahead? The Prophet Daniel has already given us the answer. The extraordinary increase of knowledge that so markedly characterizes our day continues unabated and, combined with the selfishness of man, is inevitably producing the foretold trouble. Just as surely as the promised increase of knowledge has been experienced by the world, so also will come the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation. Indeed, the increase of knowledge, as we have seen, is closely related to and interwoven with the impending trouble, which will culminate in the complete destruction of all of the unrighteous institutions of this “present evil world” in the day of the Lord, which has already begun.

The trouble comes upon the world because men have forsaken the Lord, and have selfishly and cruelly exploited one another. On one occasion a Pharisee, who was a lawyer, asked our Lord a question, saying, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matt. 22:34-40) A wholehearted love for God that is manifested in reverence and obedience, and love for one’s fellow man—this is what has departed from men’s hearts; and this is the lesson the world must learn. And they will learn it for all time in the severity of the trouble coming upon the world in this prophetic day of the Lord.

The Prophet Zephaniah describes this day of the Lord, and says that it comes upon men because they have sinned against the Lord: “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.”—Zeph. 1:14-18


The entire first chapter of Joel pictures the utter desolation and misery that results from the coming of the day of the Lord. “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.” (Joel 1:15) The second chapter carries forward the same theme, and describes it as a day of darkness, in which the Lord’s symbolic great army will bring about the destruction of the present social order and the removal of the kingdoms (mountains) of this world. The prophet shows it as an earthquake so great as even to reach up to and affect the ecclesiastical heavens, “for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?”—Joel 2:2-11

In the thirteenth chapter of Isaiah, the prophet confirms Zephaniah’s statement that the day of the Lord comes as a punishment on the world for its iniquities: “Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt; … behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. … And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. … Therefore I will shake the [ecclesiastical] heavens, and the earth [social order] shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.”—Isa. 13:6-13

The Apostle Peter also tells us of the destruction of all evil institutions in the culmination of this time of trouble: “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and … the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” And then he sounds a note of joy: “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”—II Pet. 3:10-13

According to his promise! Just as surely there has been, according to his promise, an increase of knowledge, just as surely will the time of trouble culminate in the destruction of all evil institutions. And just as surely will there follow the new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, the glorious kingdom of God—according to his promise! May thy kingdom soon come, Lord!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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