Sunday, November 8, 2015
Prophets Foresaw the Effects of the Internet
After reading Ezekiel 37:15-17, which talks about the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim becoming “one in thine hand”, a sister in Sunday School shared this thought. She held up her smart phone and commented, “They truly are one in my hand. I can hold the scriptures right here--in one hand. That prophecy is being fulfilled."
Another prophecy being fulfilled in our day is found in Isaiah. “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:18). Thanks to modern advancements in science, medicine and technology many of the deaf and blind are able to see and hear the truth for themselves.
But the prophets also foresaw other events in our days that are not as wonderful. They warned us that in the last days even the very elect will be deceived. And how will they be deceived? Paul may have been on to something when he wrote his second letter to Timothy.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good; Having a form of godliness but deny the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses and lead captive silly women (and men) laden with sins…ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7).
He foresaw a day when these “despisers of those that are good” will “creep into houses” and lead people astray. What better scriptural description do we have of the internet than that!
Everything on the internet is free to "creep" into our house at any time and lead us into spiritual captivity. Where we go on the internet and what we choose to study and learn may lump us into that group which Paul said was “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Do we use our time on the internet to feast on the truth or graze on what the world has to say?
Even earlier than Paul the prophet Amos testified, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).
Daniel also testified in the last days that “many shall run to and fro” in their search for knowledge (Daniel 12:4). Yes, the internet truly allows us to run to and fro, from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east without leaving our homes; yet this ability, Amos, said would leave us famished for the word of the Lord…not because it isn’t on the internet but because we are looking in all the wrong places.
Paul again taught the youthful Timothy (which is apropos for our youth), “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned onto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
With this easy access to knowledge in the palm of our hands we can be ‘turned onto fables’; we can get caught up in media frenzies and internet firestorms. It takes a wise man, indeed, to know where not to go and what not to read.
Not all knowledge or sources are equal. Having over 30 years of journalism experience I know the value of checking my sources. I have also learned this powerful truth: the source and the substance will tell me the motive.
Any source or any substance that tears down the belief of another person or shakes their faith should be avoided. Some people, however, think it is their obligation to share with others the negative they have ‘discovered’ about a religion in an effort to save other people from it. Their attitude just goes back to what Paul said about some being "lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…” They obviously love their own intelligence enough to they think they are doing a stranger a great service by sharing the negative and shaking that person’s faith. These "accusers", as Paul called them are, in truth, fulfilling prophecy. “And their word will eat as doeth a canker….and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:17-18).
We also know that in the last days grievous wolves shall enter among the Lord's Church, “not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).
Hosea prophesied more specifically about what would happen to the tribe of Ephraim. He foresaw that there would be members of the Church who “have made ready their heart like an oven…they are all hot as an oven and have devoured their judges” (Hosea 7:6-7). He saw our day--when members would be ready to criticize and condemn the Church and its leaders and they are doing it now--in church hallways, on blogs and internet forums, to friends and strangers and anyone who will click on their link.
Hosea explained why the members would become this way. “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people…strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not….they do no return to the Lord their God….(instead) they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria” (Hosea 7:8-9 and 11).
When the call comes to follow the Lord God, these members check out what the internet is saying first. They check out the headlines. They align themselves with the clamor of world who cry ‘that is not what the Savior would do!’
Does the world, bathed in sin, really know what the Savior would do?
“Woe unto them!” Hosea proclaimed. “For they have fled from me: destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against me; though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heart…. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me….their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue” (Hosea 7:13-14 and 16).
What a perfect description of members on the internet who rage with their keyboard tongues…who repeat the lies they have heard others speak…who have imagined mischief by the Church and its leaders. They have not cried long enough unto God with their hearts. Instead, they have found their quick ‘answers’ on the internet. They would rather return to the flesh pots of Egypt than to eat the unchanging manna of the Lord’s truth. They think, as does the world, that the Lord should change His commandments to keep up with the times.
Hosea warned, “They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria….Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them.”
Thankfully, Paul told us what we need to do to stay strong during these times. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
We do need to study…the scriptures and the words of the prophets. We need to rightly divide the word of truth from the sullied version of the world, and we need to avoid anything that would shake our faith. So, in a vast internet world, how do we decide what to study?
Indeed, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul…If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
We need to drink deep from the fountain of pure light and truth. We need to speak kindness and love even if we disagree. Above all, we are not here to offend others with a word or a blog. We are not to destroy or weaken someone's faith as a means of saving them or helping them 'see' what we believe is the truth.
We also need to make sure that the sites we visit are full of light and truth, are speaking kindness and love and are not attempting to destroy anyone's faith or are speaking poorly about someone's religion or their leaders. What we post and what we view reveals our motive and our spirit.
Above all, we need to remember that negativity is a trait of Satan.
Edification is a trait of God.