Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

Y2K

Written by Rev. H. Bergsma
The year 2000 is some 12 months away, but at this early date already many people are anticipating it with fear and dread, or at least with some apprehension. The reason is "Y2K", computer lingo for the "millennium bug." This matter should interest each one of us whether we own a computer or not. Y2K is for many Christians and non-Christians alike a veritable year 2000 problem. Experts describe this problem as one which originated with software and microchips that use two digits instead of four to represent a calendar year. When the year changes from 1999 to 2000, technology that uses two digits will change from 99 to 00. Computer programs may misinterpret 00 as 1900 and give incorrect data or stop working altogether.

For any of us who have a computer only for home use, this might be considered as only a small problem, but if you are in business and must rely on even one computer, you could experience business disruptions on January 1, 2000. But the problem is considered far bigger with large businesses and companies on whom we rely for our vital services and necessities. They are served by what are called "main-frame computers," some of which require much work to bring them up to date, or as it is called "Y2K-Compliant."

I will not bore you with the details of how much work is required, other than to say that more computer programmers are required than are available and, in many cases, much more time is required to make the necessary repairs than what is available. It is said that Y2K will affect personal computers, main-frame computers, and, the embedded micro-chips, which are the tiny integrated circuits, invented and put into production in 1965. Those tiny chips are to be found in nearly every modern device we use today to make our life easier.

With all this information circulating, some have begun to draw very gloomy scenarios, or as one calls them "scare-narios". In other words, there is much hype and hysteria about Y2K. Some speak about a "Millennium meltdown." Newsweek magazine of June 2, 1997 speaks about "The Day the World Shuts Down," still others speak about "The Year 2000 Doomsday Virus" or "Time-Bomb 2000." Much of this can be gleaned from the world-wide web (Internet).

Much of it however, can simply be dismissed as fear-mongering. But not everything is to be considered as nonsense. Official government papers are also coming out with some information which should make us stop and think. One Member of Parliament sent all his constituents the following government notice: "Clearly, large critical systems like financial and payroll systems are most at risk. Pay cheques or pension cheques could be wrong or not [be] produced at all."

The government is taking Y2K seriously (although some people say that the government is not taking it seriously enough!) We have learned from reliable sources that the Canadian Defense Department, for instance, has set up "Operation Abacus" so that the troops can be called on to help in the event of a possible interruption of important or vital services. The Toronto police force will be in full strength by January 2000, in preparation for possible civil unrest, and the RCMP has made the ruling for its man-power that no holidays will be allowed for any of its staff for the first several months of 2000. In he USA similar rules are being put into place. In other words, governments (at least some of the western-world governments) are taking Y2K seriously, and preparing for it.

How seriously should we take Y2K, and how should we prepare for it? Some say "Move out of the city and find a place to live in the country!" "Withdraw all your money from the bank and stash it!" "Buy a gun and know how to use it!" "Fill up your barns with grain, rice and bottled water!" Some are even suggesting that churches should begin "Joseph-Projects"!

What to say about all those suggestions of preparation? First of all, let us not get hyped-up about this problem and make dramatic changes. Let us use common sense--Biblical sense! Hoarding provisions and then protecting those provisions with a gun should be out of the question. But storing some food and water and some basic necessities of life should always be done, Y2K or not. Remember last winter's ice storm? It could happen here too! Use common sense; you should never be caught without the basic necessities of life. And, by the way, learn to be satisfied with more of the basic necessities.

Vegetable gardening might not be a bad a way of providing for some of the basic necessities. And, it would be good to get into the habit of preserving and canning again, as our parents and grand-parents used to do.

What about our money in the banks? That is a touchy subject! Should Christians really have a great deal of money in the bank? Remember that the Bible says that the love of money is the root of evil! Should not more of the banked money by Christians be spent on the poor in the church or in the community? Does the cause of God's kingdom not warrant that more of the Christians' money go there? What about mission work? We know it could use more money than what it is getting. And Christian educational institutions will gratefully accept more financial help. Banked money brings it own unique problems with it.Y2K may prove that true.

But, if you are still worried about your money in the bank, you could perhaps write a letter to your bank and explain your Y2K concern, and request a letter of assurance that your money will still be there after January 1, 2000. If your bank cannot give that kind of assurance in written and signed form, it is time to switch to a more reliable and Y2K-compliant bank.

But what about the call for everyone to move out of the city and settle down somewhere in the country? Certainly, country living does have its advantages, especially if it provides you with opportunities for some serious gardening. But such a move into the country is simply not possible or practical for everyone. Therefore, be responsible, use common sense, and stay where the Lord has placed you. Do your duty and your task; live as a Christian should. Do not get caught-up in the hype of fleeing to the country or fleeing to the mountains.

Will Y2K, then, not present serious problems? I am not suggesting that. I am no prophet. Various newspaper articles of late do point to a potentially serious problem. We have become too reliant upon computer technology and upon those who are behind it, while the Bible has warned not to put our trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help! (Psalm 146:3) Y2K might become very telling in that respect!

Moreover, we are living in the end-times; the times that Jesus has spoken about in Matthew 24. Y2K may very well be the catalyst for those end-time days. We must prepare ourselves for dark and difficult times. Christians, especially, will have to carry the brunt of such darkness and difficulties. The reality is that Y2K is only a small indication of what lies ahead. There are other matters which should give us cause for concern besides Y2K. The volatility of the global stock-markets. Is another recession like 1929 in the offing? What about the great decline in the morality of the western world? Immorality is given high approval ratings in the very manner in which US President Bill Clinton's seamy activities are being condoned! Jesus said that the love of many shall wax cold. This can readily be observed today, not only in the increase of immorality, but also (and it often goes hand in hand) with the increase of divorces, abortions, mercy-killings, and child-abuse or abandonment. Love has turned cold for many people!

What about the decline in this western world of Christianity itself, and the growth of Asian religions, and the Muslim religion in particular? Consider how Christians are presently being persecuted in Islamic countries. Is that a foreboding of what is to come in our part of the world soon?

Regardless whether Y2K will present problems, as Christians we must prepare ourselves to face difficult times. Christ said, "Watch!" and "Be ready!" We must be spiritually prepared; we must have oil in our lampsÑChrist in us, and the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Perhaps society will drastically change at January 1, 2000. Who knows? There are some strong indications that it will. Only a spiritual preparedness will do. It may not at all be unreasonable to have some extra food and water and basic necessities at hand. It may not at all be unreasonable to learn to be satisfied with the more simpler things of life. But what is most reasonable at this time is especially that we take God and His Word seriously. No better preparations can be made for whatever is coming, than to make peace with God through repentance towards Him and faith in Jesus Christ. Then we need not get ÒhyperÓ about anything, or as the Bible says: "Be careful for nothing" [(that is, full of care and anxiety]. After all, God is in control. He takes care of those who trust in Him, even if their computers crash! We are told in Philippians 4 : "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Some people are greatly troubled about the future, and Y2K has greatly added to their troubles. It is all they can think of or talk about. Y2K has become a veritable obsession with some. If that happens to be your dilemma, turn away from such thoughts and talk; repent of your obsession. Set Psalm 37 before you and prayerfully meditate upon it. "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."

Whether Y2K will bring trouble, time will tell; but one thing is certain: Knowing the time, that now is high time to awake out of sleep É redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

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