Y2K: Genuine Crisis or Over-Hyped Circus?

(This originally appeared in the Spring 1999 edition of the MCOI Journal)

For the last several years, many of us who are involved in discernment ministries have been wondering what type of doomsday cults would surface to herald the new millennium. There is something about the turn of a new century that feeds people’s fearful imaginations of the future. If a new century fosters such gloomy speculations, how much more hysteria will be ignited by the turn of a new millennium! We fully expect 1999 will turn out to be a banner year for doomsayers and end-time doomsayers and end-time.

y2k artwork

Eschatological errors in theology are nothing new, of course. The Millerites of the last century dressed in white robes and fled to a mountaintop to await the Second Coming. Nothing happened, and so they came down again. The pseudo-Christian groups that branched off of the Millerites, such as the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Jehovah ‘s Witnesses have been declaring Armageddon to be right around the comer with regularity ever since, all with the same result. But aside from their own members living in fear with their lives on hold, the rest of the world has been pretty much able to ignore their false prophetic shenanigans. Their own people have been the ones to bear the brunt of their erroneous claims. In other words. like people say about the weather: They talked a lot about Armageddon, but they didn’t do anything about it! But, today that is not always true. Quack theology in our day can cause grave harm to the cultist and to society at large. For example, cult leader Asahara (Aum Shin Rykyo) tried to bring on Armageddon by releasing poison gas into the subway system of Japan, and many people were killed or injured in that attack.

More recently, cult leader Monte Kim Miller led his band of merry men and women (aka the Concerned Christians) to sell their homes and businesses and disappear one night last year in advance of Denver’s imminent destruction which Miller had prophesied. Many of them went to Israel where “God” (i.e., Kim Miller) would be killed in Jerusalem and resurrected three days later. The Israeli government didn’t waste any time giving this group their walking papers, because they fear this group and others like it may actually attempt to bring on some of the events they expect to happen.

The aforementioned groups are genuine false prophets 1 (according to Deuteronomy 18:20-24), so I guess we should expect problems there. What is more disconcerting is to see some evangelical Christian leaders promoting Millennial hysteria – tying the much ballyhooed “Y2K bug” into speculations regarding the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible is clear that no man knows the day or hour of Christ’s scheduled return but there is one detail we do know. Jesus took pains to inform us He would come when He was not expected! (Matthew 24:44) This makes us seriously doubt He will arrive when almost everyone is expecting something!

The Sky is Falling . .. Pass it on ..

It is true that it is not only some Christians who are obsessed with the Y2K bug; but we fear they will be the ones most remembered (and ridiculed) for it. Since it is indisputably a genuine problem (and one with unknown consequences, even to our gods of technology), it has become the “sky is falling” favorite of the decade. Even normally calm people are going over the edge on this one. We believe Christians are especially drawn to the Y2K disaster scenario because we are well aware of how far our society has slidden off its God­ centered foundation … and it grieves us. We have to admit: The idea that God would use our technological hubris to bring our pagan culture to judgment is appealing to our sense of justice. However, if there is one thing we’ve learned in our walk with the Lord, it is that He does not often go along with our timing of events.

We do not at all take a cynical view of Bible prophecy. We believe, in fact, that it is quite possible we are living in the last days of our age. After all, Jesus is going to return someday, and we do so hope He comes in our lifetime! Also, we think, very interesting are the events happening in Israel and the Middle East, and around the globe. But, whether we believe that we are living in the last days of this age is really beside the point when analyzing the Y2K situation. It must be considered upon its own merits. And whatever our opinions of end-time events, we should approach the entire subject with a sense of humility, without dogmatism , remembering that lots of folks have misjudged issues in Christian history before. At the very least, we must be careful not to unwittingly provoke a hysterical reaction to our prognostications which could be detrimental not only to ourselves but to society as a whole.

Far from exercising such care, however, the evangelical Y2K “experts”­ Chuck Missler, Michael S. Hyatt, Jack Van lmpe, Hal Lindsay, Grant Jeffrey, Larry Burkett, and Theonomist Gary North, among others-have been declaring everything from the end of civilization as we know it to financial collapse and/or ever­ lasting recession. In their view, the tick of the clock from 11:59 PM December 31, 1999 to I2:01 AM 2,000 will stop all com puters in their tracks. Electrical plants will come to an unexpected screeching halt, and our world will go black, not for days but for months or perhaps, years. Overwhelmed banks will close their doors. Planes will fall out of the sky. Nuclear bombs will launch of their own accord.

For example. the cover of Michael S. Hyatt’s book, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos, has the following bullets:

  • 12:01 am, January 1, 2000. Your electricity goes off.
  • Phones aren’t working.
  • The computer at your local bank crashes.
  • Police and 911 are nowhere to be found.
  • The illusion of social stability is about to be shattered … and nothing can stop it. 2 (emphasis added)

Writes Hyatt,

“The Millennium Bug is a sort of ‘digital time bomb.’ When the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2000, computer systems all over the world will begin spewing out bad data-or stop working altogether! 3 (Emphasis in original)

He continues,

“When this happens, it will be similar to a giant hard disk failure: It’s inevitable, and it’s go ing to be terribly ugly when it happens. The only difference is that it is going to be a billion times worse than the worst microcomputer crash you have ever experienced or could ever imagine. It will affect al­most every mainframe computer on earth, many micro­ computers, and even embedded computer chips in various appliances, instruments and other devices.”4 (emphasis in original) “Unless the Millennium Bug is tracked down and squashed, you, your family, your friends, and your friend’s friends are at risk.5

Ah, UNLESS … Dare we hope maybe someone will indeed. squash that bug before disaster strikes? No – the situation appears hopeless. Several pages later we read,

“If you are like most people, you are probably thinking, Surely someone, somewhere will write a program that will fix the problem. Right? Wrong.6“We know exactly what the problem is and how to fix it we just don’t have enough time.”7

And to make sure the readers understand the great likelihood of the bug squashing us, rather than vice versa, “we read in bold letters,

“Even if all programmers did nothing except work on Y2K projects, they could not fix the problem in time.8

Jack Anderson, who has been part or Larry Burkett’s ministry (Christian Financial Concepts) for 20 years, says there are up to 40-billion embedded computer chips- some compliant and some not. He states,

“There’s one in every transformer, by the way , on the power poles out here … {and} what about the 27 million of them that are in the Alaska pipeline? If one of those shuts down and the pipe­ line is stopped for one hour in January it will not be operational until August because it will take that long to thaw it out. There are another several million chips in the oil wells in the North Sea, same problem there.” 9

We are happy to report that Larry Burkett and his organization appear to be softening their position as the year progresses.

Christians are advised, by some of our experts, to consider moving to rural areas to avoid the desperate and hungry mobs that will pour out of the cities resolved to loot and kill us. We are to seriously stockpile food-perhaps a year’s supply or more, plus guns and ammunition (to defend ourselves from the aforementioned marauding masses). Hyatt suggests we move to an area with

“A small population .. . A volunteer fire department

…Slack zoning laws … An armed citizenry.”10

Hyatt poses the question,

“Would you be willing to hu rt someone-perhaps seriously? Would you be willing to shoot him? Even kill if necessary?”11

Some questions must be asked at this point. How reliable are these experts? Do they, perhaps, have a past record of prognosticating future events that we could examine?12 Is it possible the crisis they are heralding has been blown out of all proportion to likely eventualities? What is a Christian’s responsibility in this world: Is our first duty to take extraordinary and extreme measures to look out for number one, even if it means abandoning our mission and ministry?

Separating Fact from Fantasy

As most who are reading this are aware, through the volumes of Y2K information in both Christian and secular media, the Y2K problem is simply “century perception.” In other words, when the computer clocks roll over from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000, will the computers “realize” it is the year 2000 or will they “think” it is 1900 again? The fear is if it is the latter, the computers will become confused and shut down. People have been given the impression that until our “Y2K brigade” began sounding the alarm, no one was working on this potential problem. This understanding is incorrect. In an interview we recently did in preparation for this article, Russell Lowe,13 founder and president of The Earlsfield Corporation (a computer consulting firm in the Chicago, IL area), stated that this is ill informed. In fact, he said the projects he had worked on in the 1980’s included four-digit- year storage in the programming they were doing. We {Don and Joy} have been aware of the problem since 1994, when our and Advisory Board Member AI Axelson (who worked for Lucent Technologies) told us about it. He wasn’t worried but only hopeful the IRS would be forced to simplify the tax code or go bust! Well, you can fageddaboutit, friends. No such luck, it seems…

What are the myths and what are the facts of Y2K? The myth most promulgated by the gloom and doomers is that this is primarily focused on the roll from 12/31/99 to 01/01/00. The facts are that this is a multi-year process. The computers in various industries look ahead days, weeks, months, and even years to perform their various calculations and functions. For example, in 1997, there were rejections of credit cards with the 00 and beyond dates. However, for the most part, this problem already has been rectified and many of us have received updated cards with expiration in 2000 and beyond. In some cases, this inconvenience may rear its ugly head again due to a problem with the card reader. But even in those cases, if the account number is manually typed in, the transaction works just fine. Steve Hewitt,14 founder and president of Christian Computing Magazine, pointed out that as of January of this year, 58% of the companies that will have Y2K-related computer failures have reported said problems already have occurred and have been repaired. The majority of the funds going into Y2K compliance are spent testing the systems to see if there is a problem. When one is discovered, it generally takes less than two hours to make the repairs and have the systems running again. 15 Most of the failures that have occurred to date have not adversely affected our daily lives.

Planes, Power, Panic and Provisions

One of the nuttier scare-narios our popular speakers posit is that when the clocks tick over the magic hour, jet planes will shut down and fall from the sky. Although this is admittedly a great film plot, it is not going to happen in the real world. The airline industry has recently published a report of their Y2K testing. Their results? All systems are go. 16

Others have said automobiles built after 1964 will stop running due to imbedded chips. Jim Mateja of the Chicago Tribune wrote in his December 10, 1998 article in the auto section,

“In checking with the automakers, we’re told no problems are expected because computers in cars are programmed to run on cycles, not dates.”

With the exception of the clock, the automobile doesn’t know what time of the day, what day of the week, what week of the month, what month or even what year, much less what millennium.

The biggest scare-nario, by far, is the threat of power failure. We love our electricity, don’t you? Our pessimistic experts push the point that even if everything else is taken care of, it won’t matter because there will be massive power failures and nothing will work anyway. Michael Hyatt, in his book, The Millennium Bug, says this will result in reverting back to nineteenth century dark ages. He lays out three scenarios called, “Brownout” (two weeks to three months), “Blackout” (four months to three years), and “Meltdown” ( four to ten years) and attempts to assess the likelihood of each coming to pass. 17 His conclusion is we will experience a catastrophe that falls between his “Brownout” and “Blackout” options18 – or three months to three years.

To buttress their gloomy claims concerning massive power failures, some are pointing out that the power companies are not guaranteeing power for January 1, 2000. Several things come into play here.

The power companies never guarantee power. In fact, when we have a heavy storm in our area, we are fairly confident we will lose power for at least several hours. As a result, if a bad storm is predicted, we fill buckets with water for flushing the toilet and have flashlights, candles, and lanterns on hand in case our justifiable fears are realized.

Steve Hewitt points out that there are approximately three power outages per month somewhere in the country. These are usually resolved in a matter of hours.19

The misinformation is communicated that if power goes down in one area, it will cause the entire power grid to go down. Again, this is false and misleading. Power company representatives for Commonwealth Edison (our local source) told us if power outages occur in other places, they will stay in the grid to help supplement power to those other locations only until such time as it begins taxing their systems. At that point, they will simply disconnect from the grid. And, it is worth considering this: as Steve Hewitt points out: If the power company isn’t sending us power, we aren’t sending them money!

Embedded Chips: Our Hidden Doom

Jack Anderson, Michael S. Hyatt, and others assure us that even if the computers, by some miracle, were brought to Y2K compliance, embedded chips could prove to be our downfall. In the earlier quote by Jack Anderson, he mentioned there were

 “up to about 40-billion embedded chips”

some of which would be compliant and some would not Michael Hyatt continually warns that even if the computers are repaired, the embedded chips will cause massive failures.20 Grant Jeffrey flatly states,

“Billions of hidden embedded chips will fail!”21

Sounds pretty scary. huh?

ln discussing the “embedded chip problem” and the proposal for massive systems failures related to this, Russell Lowe maintains that

“As the Project Director for the Piper Bravo Project of Occidental Oil in the North Sea, I   can say that the safety systems mandated by the oil industry was (sic) for triple redundancy. In 1990 we installed Y2K compliant systems which monitored each other as well as the processes. In addition, there is nothing put on any petrochemical establishment worldwide which cannot be manually overridden.”

Christopher McHarg, a programmer for Lucent Technologies, was startled at the claims of Hyatt. Anderson, and others, regard ing embedded chips. When McHarg read Hyatt ‘s breathless assertion that one firm with “approximately 10,000 embedded systems buried i n the North Sea,” will need to spend “approximately $75,000 to check each chip under the seabed,”22 his first response was:

“Why would we go to the seabed to check each chip? A visual inspection wouldn’t tell us anything. Any intelligent programmer would go to the chip that is not in stalled yet and look at the actual programming to assess compliance. Also, for the most part, the chips have no need to know the time, day, week, month, year, decade or millennium.”

As he explains it. the very reason the Y2K issue arose in the first place was to save programming space in the computers, which had very little available memory at that time. For the same reason-lack of space–date-specific information would not be put into chips which range from .5k to about 32k of available memory. A good programmer would only program functions which keep track of dates if it was absolutely essential to the operation that particular chip performs. The “Y2K Facts Repository ” website (<www.home.inreach.com/bolsonly2kfacts.htm>) reports that as of May 24, 1999, there have been NO confirmed failures of any devices related to embedded chips.

Bank on This …

The banking industry is also ready. The doom sayers of the Y2K brigade have been promoting the idea many banks and bankers are idly sitting by as Y2K approaches. Think about it: How many bankers do you know who would be sanguine about a return to the 19th Century? Can you picture your bank president hunting for food or killing and plucking chickens? Contrary to that view, we are finding tremendous strides have been made in the last few months.

But how could the banks get prepared so fast? The alarmists have been confidently asserting there is no “silver bullet”- no programs (according to them) can or will be developed that can avert the impending crisis. They have pointed out some banks have between 500-800-million lines of code to go through, and there is no way this task can be accomplished in time. Well, that pessimistic outlook may have been justified before the “silver bullets” which could not be invented were invented! Dave Hunt, in his excellent book Y2K: A Reasoned Response to Mass Hysteria writes:

“Then along came StepWise Solutions with a system that automatically zips through software and hardware at the rate of 4 million lines per hour. So 800 million lines of code would take less than two weeks. Not enough time? That dirge doesn’t frighten anymore.”23

Boeing, Oracle and others have developed software programs that repair in 60 days what would have taken years before.24

A More Likely Potential Banking Problem …

Many banks are now issuing notices to their clients stating they are Y2K compliant. In a recent edition of Computerworld Magazine, there was an article titled “Banks Confident About Y2K, Worried About Customers.” Melon Bank Corp. will have many of its banks open on New Year ‘s Day in order to alleviate its client’s fears.25 Why are the bankers so anxious about customer confidence? They know a major financial crisis could indeed occur if people panic and withdraw their funds from financial institutions. That’s the terrible irony about this situation. Since our entire economy is based upon public confidence in its soundness, these dire predictions could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Dave Hunt points out that if everyone were to follow even the relatively mild advice given by Larry Burkett (who is one of the calmer voices of the Y2K brigade) to keep a month’s supply of cash on hand, such action “would break the banking system,” because ”there simply isn’t a month ‘s supply in print for everyone.”

Panic in the Grocery Aisles . .. Leggo my Eggo!

What about the food supply? Panic, if not averted, could be a factor there as well. Steve Hewitt predicts there, indeed, may food outages due to Y2K. Says Hewitt,

“Of course, these will only be found during the last week of December 1999, and will be due to those who clean out the shelves because of fear of Y2K. The interesting thing is that I predict that if you stood outside the grocery store and took a poll, you would discover that those who are purchasing last-minute food supplies are doing it because they believe there will be a panic and not because of Y2K. So in a weird sort of way, we will probably have a three-day shortage of food in our stores because everyone believes that everyone else might panic.”26

We feel this underscores the major flaw in these “stock up, store up, buy up” scenarios, friends. There simply are not enough “stockpile-sized” supplies of life’s necessities on our market shelves for EVERYONE. And MOST PEOPLE do not have the financial capacity to stockpile as the “experts” suggest. If they DID, that action could cause a REAL crisis in reaction as people fought over available supplies. Would there be an ethical problem then, if Christians were to hoard extreme amounts of supplies that are needed for all?

The End is Near . .. Get Ready to Rule

One of the most egregious Y2K alarmists is Gary North. Time Magazine said of North that he:

“… not only hopes that America will fall; he believes that it’s part of his duty to bring it down, to be replaced by a Bible-based Reconstructionist state which will impose the death penalty on blasphemers, heretics, adulterers, gay men and women who have had abortions or sex before marriage. So it’s a fine line for him between warning against a calamity and encouraging panic.”27

 Time, although generally a liberal-biased news source, in our view is accurate in their analysis of North. Gary North, being a Reconstructionist, firmly believes Christians are to take over the world. So it makes perfect sense (if you hold to that view) for Christians to organize and stockpile goods to prepare for ascension to power. But, the odd thing is many of the Christians who are listening to North do not hold to his dubious theology. So why are they giving North so much credence?

Making the Pieces Fit the Puzzle

There are many that have been looking furiously in Scripture to see how Y2K disasters might align with end-time prophetic scenarios. Frankly, we do not see how a worldwide computer meltdown fits into Bible prophecy. But, current events usually can be shoehorned into prophetic speculation. In fact, it seems every five to ten years a new flock of prophetic speculations spring up. Many people believed Adolph Hitler was the anti-Christ; and for some Christians over the years, “pin the tail on the anti-Christ” has been a favorite pastime. Henry Kissinger seemed to fit the bill for awhile as did Gorbachov after him. Poor Gorbachov was unlucky enough to have a noticeable birthmark on his forehead that became in popular Christian imagination, the Mark of the Beast. To err is human, and to forgive divine; but to keep on making the same blunder over and over is just plain dumb.

On his May 30, 1999 telecast, Jack Van lmpe let his audience in on a little secret he had recently stumbled upon. You see, if you just take the alphabet and assign numerical values to the letters, A=6, B=12, C= l8, etc. – the word “computer” totals up to 666! (He was suggesting, of course, the computer is the beast of Revelation 13, although he did say he was not dogmatic about it. Well, friends, this is a game you can play at home! If we assign the same numerical values to the alphabet that Jack did, and add the seven letters in the name “Rexella” (his wife), and then add the number 19 to make Louis Farrakhan happy, “Jack Van lmpe” also adds up to 666! Try it yourself! By the way, we’re not dogmatic either …

We tuned into the broadcast specifically to hear what Van lmpe had to say on how Y2K “fits” with his interpretation of end­ time events. We don’t wish to be unkind, but we found his position to be illogical and contradictory. On the one hand, he teaches that a world dictator (the anti-Christ) will come to power and control the masses through the computer. Well, okay, we can understand a computer would be invaluable in controlling the masses as Revelation 13:16-17 teaches regarding the anti-Christ. But then Jack strongly suggests, based on what the “experts” are saying about Y2K, the world may soon be in total chaos because of a massive computer crash which, he claims, will lead directly into the tribulation-era events. Huh? How does one fit with the other? How can computers control every aspect of our lives if all the computers crash, setting our society, and any would-be dictator’s ability to control us, back 100 years?

Irresponsible speculation is not likely to evaporate, however, because there’s gold in them thar ‘ hills! And Y2K is the mother lode! Prophecy experts can make big money as they travel on speaking tours at a cost of $60.00 per attendee and market their Y2K preparedness videos, tapes, books, and other assorted paraphernalia. Some churches have climbed onto the bandwagon storing up food and other provisions for the anticipated crisis. Proponents of this view offer the argument that we will need lots of food, so that non-believers can come to us when they are in need, and we can feed and evangelize them. That is not a bad motive certainly. But in all honesty, we think this argument is mostly a Christian-sounding cover for panicky self-interest. Those Christians who are interested in caring for people in need can find plenty of those available right here and now; and those Christians who are interested in evangelizing the lost aren’t waiting for 2000. Who knows if we’ll even get there? NOW is the day of salvation, so the Good Book says (2 Cor. 6:2). Also, to think gratitude for being fed will magically turn unbeliever ‘s hearts to the gospel is not realistic. It does not do so now; it will not do so then. It is sobering to reflect on a fact Dave Hunt brings up that

many whom Christ had previously fed and healed were later in the mob that screamed for His crucifixion.”28

It is not our desire to make Christians who have bought into the Y2K panic feel bad about their God-given desire to provide for their families. After all, we love Christians. Our desire is to calm their fears by offering them a somewhat brighter outlook on the problem than they may have been exposed to thus far. We also wish to reassure them of the Father’s care in whatever circumstances may lie in the future. God is, as always, our Refuge and our Strength, and our Provider, is He not? We are not to trust only when the good times roll. Spread the word .. . God is trustworthy in the dark times too.

What about Joseph and Noah?

Some are using the life experiences of Joseph and Noah as examples that Christians should emulate today. Steve Hewitt addresses the arguments of those who are calling Christians to prepare like Joseph and Noah did. He writes,

“In the first place, God personally instructed these two men that a disaster was coming, and they were commanded to prepare. I was on a recent radio show with a person that stated ‘God has historically warned us before disaster strikes.’ After stating this twice, I asked him to clarify his statement. He used Joseph and Noah as his examples.”29

Hewitt continues,

“If God historically informs His people before disaster, why did Christians as well as the lost die on the battleship Arizona when Pearl Harbor was attacked? Did Christians get advanced notice before the great San Francisco earthquake? Did Christians get a chance to flee Chicago ahead of everyone else before the great fire? Did our prophets warn us about the Great Depression so that Christians could be prepared for a great time of ministry? The answer as far as I know is NO.”30

Using Joseph and Noah to justify stockpiling seems to be a case of proof-t exting-drawing out examples from Scripture to make one’s case-without respect for the different times and circumstances involved. We believe it is a mistake to correlate Y2K with the circumstances of Joseph and Noah. They clearly are not the same case. Who stockpiled the food in Joseph’s day? The Egyptians! Do you see the glory of it? God saw to it that pagans supplied His people with sustenance; not the other way around! And.although Noah certainly warned the pagans of his day of a coming disaster, once the disaster was upon them. it was too late for conversions. Jesus said that His Second Coming would be “as in the days of Noah” (Matt. 24:37-39). People were eating, drinking, marrying and partying until disaster struck. By then, though, the Ark had pulled out of the station.

Dave Hunt makes a great point regarding this issue as well. He points out there is a New Testament situation in which God revealed to His prophet, Agabus, who then warned the early Christians that a terrible famine was coming on the entire Roman Empire in the near future. What did the Christians do about this life­ threatening crisis that had been indisputably revealed to them ahead of time? Did they stockpile provisions to feed the unbelieving masses so they’d “be open” to the Gospel? Did they tell everyone, so that when it came to pass, the world would know they were speaking for God? Did they wait until the disaster hit before they evangelized their pagan neighbors? Did they make piles of money selling videos and books? No, they took care of their own. They collected money to send to the Jerusalem saints. That’s it. What were they thinking? Couldn’t they have done something more noble, more 20th Century American?

One more thing … Noah, Joseph, and Agabus were genuine prophets to whom God’s will was explicitly revealed. If God has warned us of this impending doom. who is the prophet(s) to whom this message was revealed? Are they willing to stand up to the test of a true prophet, which requires 100% accuracy? If so, we fear they will join the long list of prophet wannabes such as the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses in their folly of false prophecy.

Should Y2K Be Different from Other Potential Emergencies?

How should Christians respond to other potential dangers we face every day in this world? Is it really possible to prepare for every eventuality? Should we, if we could? Currently, two nuclear powers (Pakistan and India) are shooting down each other ‘s war planes and amassing troops on their shared border. Can we not “foresee” this situation may quite easily erupt into a terrible world war? Should we be building bomb shelters in preparation? Should we also be preparing for the possibility that a rogue nation might steal some small pox bacteria and put it in our water supply? Should we load up on vaccines for every biological weapon? Should we be learning Chinese? Are Christians to lead lives of hoarding and hyper-vigilance because of all the terrible things which might happen? We are not saying that some preparation for unforeseen circumstances is a bad thing. Individual Christians should prepare for such things as loss of employment, floods, televangelist-induced panics, and other natural disasters such as tornadoes, snowstorms, etc., as they see fit. That is just normal Christian stewardship. We are of the opinion that extremely costly and time-consuming preparation for an over-hyped crisis is a waste of precious resources. And yes, we are also saying that any organized Christian “feed the Egyptians” campaign is nowhere to be found in the Bible!

Fear of the Unknown. . .

Russell Lowe believes the problems associated with Y2K are less computer related and more related to

“fear of the unknown. People have the illusion of control over their own lives”

We would agree with him on that The UNKNOWN aspect of Y2K is, we believe, what has scared people the most. For too long, the flood of negative information to be found on the Internet and else­ where has overwhelmed calmer voices. There were those who scoffed at the wild predictions, but not many refutations were offered.

The January 18, 1999 Time Magazine article we quoted earlier, while seeming to hold the stockpilers up to derision, did not refute their pessimistic picture of events. Why? We surmised, as we’re quite sure the Y2K stockpilers did, it was because they had no refutation to offer. Can you guess what effect scoffers (especially scoffers without contrary evidence to cite) have on convinced believers? Yep. It tends to confirm them in their belief the end is near. After all, didn’t Peter say that in the last days, scoffers will come and cast doubt on the Second Coming? But Christian friend please consider: Just because there are scoffers, it doesn’t mean it is the end! Don’t forget there have been scoffers on the scene for a long while now, and they are batting a thousand so far!

We do not enjoy criticizing Christians, and we do not mean to be unnecessarily harsh toward those Christian leaders who are warning people of a disaster they sincerely fear will take place. And, although we are not prophets, we can “foresee” this article is likely to set some people’s hair on fire! But we made the decision some time ago to call it as we see it, and let the chips fall where they may. We are well aware most of those who are preparing feverishly for Y2K are doing so out of natural human desire to preserve their families. But, perhaps, some should take another look at the situation and see how much progress actually has been made while they were not looking.

Mainframe programmer and analyst, Stephen Nielsen, is one of those addressing the Y2K issue. What he has to say should be of great interest.

 “We thought Y2K jobs would last a long time, and that we would be kept steadily busy until 2002 at least. But the market is incredibly soft right now, and many programmers from other countries are now out of work and being sent home. The companies that are going to address the issue already have, and are merely mop ping up now, and those who haven’t, mostly smaller companies without resources to spend on the problem, are adopting a wait and see attitude.”

It is certain some companies will fail in the year 2000, whether due to Y2K or other factors. After all, companies fail every year, while other companies benefit from their demise. It is the way of capitalism.

When 69 CEOs of Chicago’s top 100 public companies were asked how satisfied they were with their company’s progress in preparing their computer ‘s software for the year 2,000, 78% were very satisfied, while 22% were at least somewhat satisfied.31 ZERO PERCENT were selling their homes and moving to Arkansas. ZERO PERCENT reported taking chicken plucking classes or crash courses in home dentistry. Nielsen believes there will be problems associated with Y2K, but he does not foresee Armageddon. He strongly encourages people to keep hard copies of financial transactions, since he feels that is where headaches are most likely to arise.

… Do Not Be Anxious For Your Life …

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus cautioned His followers to

“…not be anxious for your Life, as to what you will eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on.Is not life more than food,and the body than clothing?”

He started this passage off with these words,

“For this reason I say to you …”

For what reason? For the reason stated in Matthew 6:19-24. Whatever we are focused on is what our treasure really is. I am not saying, nor did Jesus say, we should act irresponsibly. We go to work each day to earn a living and provide for our daily and future needs. We have health and life insurance, retirement plans, and so forth, in order to be good stewards of both our present and future resources; but that should not be our primary focus.

It is okay if people want to buy a moderate amount of provisions in case of glitches or a possible panic, such as they would for a coming storm, as long as they do it in such a way that does not exacerbate any problems that may arise. Just use common sense, and do not be afraid. God will be there with is the same as He is now. Most of the preparations we should be making for Y2K are things that should normally be done as good stewards. A paper trail of bank accounts, owed bills, birth certificates, etc. Occasionally, Y2K or not, banks and creditors make mistakes and hard copies of our business affairs ease the process of clearing up discrepancies.

But, by no means should we allow our time, energy, and money to be gobbled up by our “storm preparation.” If we neglect our mission to reach out to the lost, while we are busy doing what we have not been called to do, that is wrong, my friends. The spiritual needs of people are far more important than their physical needs. How much of our time and treasure is allocated to preparation to share with outsiders the Gospel of Peace? How can we show the world how to trust God, if we continually give in to our fears?

Rather than focusing on Y2K which, according to Senator Bennett in the last Senate report, will be a “bump in the road,” believers need to focus on those things having eternal value. Jesus did say to prepare for the future,

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven …” (Matt. 6:20).

We should not have “bigger barn” mentality. After all, like the rich man in Jesus’ parable, we cannot know if we will be here to use the things we have carefully hoarded. All we will be taking with us to eternity are the people we have touched for God. Where is your treasure? That’s where your heart will be.Ω

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  1. Biblically, a false prophet is a person who claims, first of all, to be God’s prophet (God’s channel) speaking directly for the Almighty (so all must listen) and then issues prophecies which do not come to pass. Unless one calls oneself God’s prophet one cannot be labeled a false prophet. To offer opinions as to what Is going to occur in the future, without claiming prophet status, is everyone’s prerogative. To dogmatically do so is just plain old dumb. If Johnny says, “I think the world is gonna end tomorrow’,* and in fact it doesn’t, Johnny made a mistake in judgment. If Johnny says, “God says ‘the world is gonna end tomorrow’,” and in fact, it does not end, God would be the one who was wrong; or what is more likely the case, Johnny is a false prophet and has not had a genuine word from God on the subject.
  2. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998),cover.
  3. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 3.
  4. Loc. cit.
  5. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 5
  6. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 8
  7. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 12
  8. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 23
  9. Jack Anderson, “Y2K Disaster Preparedness” audio cassette of talk given at the Bend Ministerial Association meeting, 25 October 1998 (available from Westside Church, 2051 NW Shevlin Park Road, Bend, OR 97701). Quoted in Dave Hunt,Y2K: A Reasoned Response to Mass Hysteria (Eugene,OR:Harvest House Publishers, 1999), p. 22.
  10. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 188
  11. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998), p. 190
  12. Some of the very folks who are scaring the daylights out of Christians today with the Y2K bugaboo, scared the daylights out of them in the past over other issues … and were dead wrong in their gloomy predictions. Hal Lindsay strongly suggested Armageddon would occur in the 1980’s. It did not. Jack Van lmpe led his listeners to believe the rapture would occur in 1993. It did not. Larry Burkett scared the daylights out of many, a few years back, with his dogmatic assertions of imminent financial collapse. The economy boomed instead. Grant Jeffrey (with Hal Lindsay right behind him) has recently been “decoding” the Bible and looking for eschatological clues.
  13. Russell Lowe has over 40 years of experience in the electronics field, 30 of which have been with mainframe, mini-frame, micro and personal computers. For 20 years, he has specialized in PCs for industry, commerce, and personal use. He also acted as the Queen’s Advisor to Her Majesty’s (the British) Government on Industrial Process Control and Instrumentation, DCS & ESD Consultant from 1975-1985. For the past 10 years, he has been in private practice and is currently a computer consultant to companies such as: Unisource, Aurora Public Schools (Aurora, IL), Hitachi, and Publishing Business Systems. Mr. Lowe can be contacted at P.O. Box 331, Winfield, IL 60190, 1-630-790-4100. Visit his web site at or e-mail him at RBLowe@TECPC.net.
  14. Steve Hewitt can be contacted at Christian Computing Magazine, P.O. Box 198, Raymore, MO 64083, 1-800-456-1868. You can visit their web site at
  15. Steve Hewitt, “Y2K: The Challenge Ahead” video cassette, (Christian Computing Magazine, 1999)
  16. Associated Press in The Daily Herald (12 April 1999), sec. 1, p. 3.
  17. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998),pp 176-179
  18. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998),pp 180
  19. Steve Hewitt, “Y2K: The Challenge Ahead” video cassette, (Christian Computing Magazine, 1999).
  20. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998),pp 29-30
  21. Grant Jeffrey, The Millennia/ Meltdown (Frontier Research Publications, 1998), p. 64
  22. Michael S. Hyatt, The Millennium Bug: How to Survive the Coming Chaos (Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1998),p 28
  23. Dave Hunt, Y2K: A Reasoned Response to Mass Hysteria (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), p. 221.
  24. Dave Hunt, Y2K: A Reasoned Response to Mass Hysteria (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), p. 220-221
  25. . “Banks Confident About Y2K, Worried About Customers,” Computerwortd Magazine (5 April 1999)
  26. Steve Hewitt, “Editorial,” Christian Computing Magazine   11, no. 4 (April 1999), paragraph 3 of   on-line article <www.gospelcom.net/ccmag/articles/edit499.html>
  27. Richard Lacayo, “The End of the World as we Know It?,” Time Magazine 153, no. 2 (18 January 1999), p. 70.
  28. Dave Hunt, Y2K: A Reasoned Response to Mass Hysteria (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), p. 162
  29. Steve Hewitt, ‘Y2K: The Challenge Ahead” Part 7 Christian Computing Magazine 11, no. 3 (March 1999) paragraph 1 of on-line article <www. gospelcom net/ccmag/articles/ msty399.html>.
  30. Steve Hewitt, ‘Y2K: The Challenge Ahead” Part 7 Christian Computing Magazine 11, no. 3 (March 1999) paragraph 2 of on-line article <www. gospelcom net/ccmag/articles/ msty399.html>.
  31. David Greising, Chicago Tribune (Sunday, 2 May 1999), sec. 5, p. 1.

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