It seems like most people are either already "on-line" or plan to be real soon. Some don't even know what they're going to do on the Internet, there is just a feeling that if they don't get on the information superhighway, they'll be left in the cyberdust. If we look past all the media hype about getting "wired", we'll see that the Internet is indeed an important prophetic development.
The Internet is a significant because it can connect all the world's computers together. The World Wide Web is a user-friendly format for the Internet which makes it easy to access information. Communications via email is virtually free and instantaneous when compared to the post office's "snail-mail". Almost everything is free on the Internet, free software, free information, free services. It's all part of the "open" culture that has made it grow so rapidly.
Advances in technology have also contributed to the unprecedented growth in the Internet. Statistics on the growth of users, the communications traffic, number of Web pages, etc. all show exponential increases (accelerating growth rate). And more is to come, we are not far from having a large screen computer in the home serving as both a video telephone and a television where programs can be selected on demand.
The accelerated growth of the Internet is typical of the developments which will characterize the time before Christ returns. Daniel 9:26 says, "the end of it shall be with a flood" when referring to events leading up to the second coming of the Messiah. Jesus said that the signs preceding His return would be like birth pains, increasing in frequency and intensity (Matthew 24:8).
The prophet Daniel also wrote that at the time of the end, "knowledge shall increase" (Daniel 12:4). Web search engines make it easy to find what you're looking for even if you don't know where to begin. You can find something on just about anything you can imagine.
Along with easy access to useful information is also easy access to some pretty worthless, even dangerous stuff. As every good thing in this world can be miss-used, so has the Internet. The "open" culture and relative anonymity of users produces the foulest garbage the depraved human mind can conceive. It's all there, the trash along with the gems. Discernment is called for and it is easy enough to avoid the bad content, you just don't go looking for it.
Another Internet pit-fall is getting addicted to the search process, called "surfing". One of the great features of the Web is that it allows you to jump around to get more details about something. This can lead to excessive, aimless searching that can be as mindless as watching TV sitcoms. Addictive web surfing and TV watching are among the activities Paul alerted us about when he said, "in the last days... [there will be people who would be] ...always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7).
Another prophetic element of the Internet is that it is world-wide. Thanks to the Internet, the common man can now communicate with other "world citizens". This will help people see the need for a world-wide authority to address the world-wide issues that come up.
God told us that there would be a world government in place when Christ again sets foot on the Mount of Olives. This government will be headed by the Antichrist in whom, "authority was (prophetic tense) given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation" (Revelation 13:7). The nations of the world are rapidly moving in the direction of a world-wide governmental authority, the Internet is helping them reverse what God did at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).
The world's banks have electronically transferred money between themselves for some time. Wiring money has many advantages including efficiency, security, exchange rates, and timeliness. Individuals conduct their own electronic transactions in every credit card purchase. The Internet is the infrastructure which will make it possible to entirely replace physical money with electronic transactions.
Along with the great conveniences the Internet will bring, will be a loss of privacy. Electronic transactions leave a signature of where a person has been and what he did. Email is easily intercepted by authorities to use as evidence against people.
The public will accept the Internet's loss of privacy because the mechanism of society will become dependent on it. People will rationalize that it will not matter if everything they do is legal. (If cash is outlawed, only outlaws will have cash.) The problem is the potential for abuse. And the coming world ruler will abuse it. Revelation 13:17 tells us that the Antichrist will control the world economy so "that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark." This kind of world economic control wasn't possible before the Internet.
One of the signs Jesus gave for His return was that the "gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations" (Matthew 24:14). As you are reading this, the gospel of Christ and His second coming is being presented to the world via the Internet which can be accessed in every nation on earth.
English has become the defacto common language of international commerce. U.S. leadership in computer technology and the world's economy has made English the most pervasive language on the Internet. As Greek was the language of commerce which helped spread God's Word the first time Jesus came, English is filling this role for His second coming.
The rapid growth of the Internet is just one of the indicators that Jesus will soon return. The exponential rates of change we observe in nature and technology is God shouting at us to make Christ Lord of our lives before it is too late. As one technology company put it in an advertisement touting their contribution to the Internet, "it's a great time to be alive." It certainly is if you are a Christian. If you have never asked Jesus Christ into your life and you hunger for the peace that surpasses all understanding I urge you to do so today. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).