Many fear the advent of A.D. 2000, year 2-Kilo (Y2K), could bring with it computer crashes resulting in TEOTWAWKI (The-End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It). Computers are certainly pervasive and the world is more dependent on them than any machine in history. But the Y2K preparedness message has caused some people to take overzealous survivalist measures, particularly in the Christian community.
The Y2K computer bug will either (1) set off a melt-down of the world's technological infrastructure causing widespread chaos or (2) it will be a relatively minor event that causes only short-lived disruption in life "as-we-know-it". From a Christian perspective, TEOTWAWKI is known as the seven-year Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21) which includes the rule of the Antichrist as the world leader (Revelation 13:7) and the War of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16) that Jesus ends when He again sets foot on earth. So if scenario (1) happens, Y2K could be what enables the Antichrist to come into power by providing the world a solution. On the other hand, scenario (2) would reinforce the idea that mankind can overcome their own problems and provide more proof that fanatical Christians heralding the return of Jesus are wrong again.
Christians who preach a preparedness for world chaos by stocking up on food and supplies are doing so from a flawed eschatology (study of end-time prophecies). This "save yourself" message is also contrary to Scripture which clearly teaches dependence on God for our necessities: "do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" (Matthew 6:25)
The view of end time events with the fewest unexplained issues is that Christ will remove His church from the world prior to the Great Tribulation (a.k.a. the "rapture"). When Jesus came the first time, many religious leaders of that day missed the truth that the conquering King Messiah would be preceded with the suffering Servant Messiah. Likewise, people in our day do not recognize that His return will be in two phases: first for the church and then to set up His Kingdom on earth. For a summary on why I believe the pretribulation rapture view is correct, see my article on The Pre-Trib Rapture.
I can certainly see the attraction to the idea that Y2K is the kick-off of the Great Tribulation. This would mean that Jesus snatches His church out of the world by the end of 1999 since the rapture must precede the Great Tribulation. I'm ready to get on with eternity and would prefer the Lord come back sooner rather than later. Certainly Jesus could remove His church at any moment so we should always be ready. As Jesus commanded us, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matthew 25:13).
Those who proclaim Y2K to be associated with the Lord's return are essentially setting a deadline. Date setters dismiss Matthew 25:13 by saying we can not know the day or hour but Jesus didn't say we couldn't know the year. This rationalization misses the spirit of what Jesus said. I believe Matthew 25:13 makes it more likely that Jesus will not return in conjunction with Y2K because this establishes a specific window of time where people are expecting Him.
If Y2K passes without the Lord's return, it will add credence to those who shrug off the idea that He will ever return. This will make the return of the Lord even more imminent since "scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2 Peter 3:3-4). Date and deadline setting for the return of Christ damages the credibility of Bible prophecy and is used by Satan to lure people away from Jesus.
I believe that the world crisis which provides the Antichrist his opening to come into power is the rapture of the church. This is consistent with Scripture because the Holy Spirit restrains the revelation of the Antichrist until He is "taken out of the way" with the church (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8). We also know that the Antichrist will "come in peaceably" and "by flatteries" because he "shall work deceitfully" (Daniel 11:21, 23). This means that the Antichrist will come into power by democratic principles, not by any Y2K-fix blackmail.
I do believe Christians should be ready for Y2K because there will no doubt be some problems. But our level of preparedness should be on the order of what we would do for a hurricane on the Gulf Coast. A hurricane could easily knock out power in some areas for two weeks. From everything I have read from non-sensationalist experts on the subject, preparation for two weeks of service disruptions should be more than sufficient.
As important as physical preparedness is, spiritual preparedness is way more significant. Jesus may return for His own at any time. If you don't know Him as your Savior, I urge you to open your heart to Him before this age of grace comes to a close.