y2k: Scriptures for Christians

By COGwriter

As a former manager of computer departments at two corporations, I cannot tell anyone what the y2k will cause. I can, however, state a few facts:

1) We all know a major problem could happen beginning January 1, 2000
2) Government leaders do not have a sterling reputation for telling the complete truth
3) Companies do not like to make announcements which could cause the value of their stocks to go down
4) Billions of dollars have been spent to correct y2k problems {which means that the problem has been recognized to truly exist and that millions of lines of new software code have been written}
5) Programmers often make errors in writing new code
6) It is impossible to correct everything as dates are imbedded in many subroutines and chips that would not be obvious and
7) None of these corrections have been fully tested in real life.

Remember the Ant

What should a Christian do? Here are some scriptures that might provide some possible answers:

"Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep--So shall poverty come to you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man" (Prov 6:6-11).

"Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, And an idle person will suffer hunger" (Prov 19:15).

But won't God provide? "The LORD will not allow the righteous soul to famish" (Prov 10:3). But look at the next verses, "He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in the summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son of shame" (Prov 10:4-5).

What should be done? "A prudent man forsees evil and hides himself, But the simple pass on and are punished" (Prov 22:3). "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing" (Mat 24:43-46). "gather His wheat into the barn" (Mat 3:12). In the parable of the virgins, the wise are prepared and rewarded, but the foolish are unprepared and turned away (Mat 25:1-13); while is is true that this parable (and the other scriptures quoted) have spiritual meanings, it does suggest that Christians should also be prepared physically.

Some do not think there will be a problem because things seem to be the same. Is that the acceptable biblical criteria? "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Mat 24:38-39). But what about all the official assurances we are receiving? "For when they say, 'Peace and safety!', then sudden destruction comes upon them" (I Thes 5:3). "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow...But now you boast in arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you" (Jas 4:13,16,17; 5:1). Are not the peoples in the first world countries rich?

Does the Bible teach that we are to ignore problems? "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that will he reap...Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart" (Gal 6:7,10). "The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly" (Prov 26:16). "But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was" (Jas 1:22-24).

Game Theory

As one familiar with statistics, there is a concept known essentially as game theory which in essence states, look at the end result and not always at the probability for occurence. Regarding y2k, let us assume that there is a 90% probability that nothing significant will happen.

Let us assume you do nothing. If nothing happens, you will feel vindicated. If something does happen, you may be impoverished or worse--you will also contribute to the panic that would ensue for those who also did not prepare.

Let us assume that tomorrow you store some water and go and buy a few hundred dollars worth of storable food (canned goods, dried foods, sacks of grain). If nothing happens, you will have food you can consume throughout the year that you bought prematurely. You may also eat more whole grains instead of refined ones, which while a little more difficult to prepare, will be healthier for you than the more processed foods. On the other hand, let us assume y2k leads to food shortages. You will not be as likely to panic and contribute to the problem. The fact that you bought early, will mean the stores will reorder and have replacements before December 31. You can even help your neighbor as Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than receive" (Acts 20:35). Remember, if you do not prepare early enough, you will hope that others will help you.

What does any of this have to do with game theory? Simply this, that even if the probability of an occurence is low, the consequences of each probability needs to be weighed. Or in the vernacular, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Concluding Comments

I should state that I am not convinced that y2k must lead to Christ's immediate return (though my own views on that are irrelevant per Mat 24:43). I am not convinced that y2k will bring gloom and doom I suspect that y2k may not be the actual test, but a pretest to see who would prepare. But hindsight, while 20-20, may be too late.

Unlike any natural disaster, we know when the y2k problem may start. It certainly seems prudent for Christians to take a few essentially no-risk preparations. After all, if as Jesus said, "you are of far more value than many sparrows" (Mat 10:31), shouldn't we prepare at least as much as ants?

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B. Thiel, 1999