The world of the post-Industrial Revolution is one of vast material wealth, where average citizens enjoy a lifestyle that in generations past would have been the envy of kings and queens. Yet, in spite of this great material prosperity, most of the world ignores God, believing Him to be irrelevant in their quest for personal happiness. Unfortunately, this will not change in the near future.
In the coming days, the indulgent opulence of this world will only increase. The Bible reveals that, in the last days, the world will be a place of unprecedented material wealth and abundance.
Ironically, emerging technological developments also augur a world of unrivaled wealth and prosperity. And the catalyst for this great boom will be a technology of tremendous power.
The Coming Era of Molecular Manufacturing
A significant breakthrough is on the near-term horizon for mankind. The development of a revolutionary technology known as molecular manufacturing (MM) promises to usher in a new era of material abundance never before experienced in the history of mankind, and it promises to do so in an extremely short time frame.
Molecular manufacturing is the ability to manufacture products from the bottom up, one molecule at a time, with atomic precision. The central component necessary for the development of molecular manufacturing is a fabricator. A fabricator is a nanoscale device capable of precisely positioning molecules. Once a fabricator has been created, humans can use computer software to direct the fabricator to secure and position compounds at the precise locations where chemical reactions occur. Using this method, a network of fabricators working in tandem (i.e. “a nanofactory”) could construct atomically perfect objects of any size by repeating this process over and over. A simplified way to visualize this concept is to think of a fabricator as an atomic magnet able to attract and repel molecules.
Once achieved, this advancement will result in an almost endless number of relatively cheap products whose flexibility, durability, and power will rival today’s products by several orders of magnitude.
Staggering Wealth Will Be Created
It’s quite difficult to underestimate the implications of such a revolutionary technological breakthrough. The process of molecular manufacturing will eliminate much of the cost built into today’s consumer products—costs such as manual labor, shipping, warehousing, distribution, factory overhead, and raw inputs. In fact, in many cases, common dirt contains most of the molecules necessary for manufacturing the most popular consumer goods. This means that MM will literally make most products “dirt cheap.”
As Mike Treder and Chris Phoenix point out in their paper, “Challenges and Pitfalls of Exponential Manufacturing”:
“Exponential general-purpose molecular manufacturing obviously would be worth at least hundreds of billions of dollars, and perhaps hundreds of trillions. It is only a matter of time before the technology arrives, and when it does, the consequences could be staggering.”
Just as the personal computer launched the era of desktop publishing, the development of MM will launch the era of desktop manufacturing. In this era, the “personal nanofactory” (PN) will become one of the most important household appliances. In fact, in many ways, personal nanofactories will resemble a desktop printer or a microwave oven. As a result, individuals will be to produce most of the products necessary for meeting their daily needs at a fraction of today’s cost.
Steve Burgess describes how this will happen in his article, “The (Needed) New Economics of Abundance”:
“The advent of PNs should bring the cost of most nonfood necessities to near zero. Much of the raw material for most objects we commonly use can be found in air and dirt, with a few fortified materials thrown in. If we build things from the molecules up (and conversely, break things down into their component molecules for reuse), materials cost will nearly disappear. Information would then become the most expensive resource. Meanwhile, computing power—information management—continues to expand exponentially even as its cost drops precipitously. Furthermore, as true artificial intelligence (AI) approaches, computers will become self-programming, and information cost may drop even more dramatically. It’s already happening. Today, most of our products contain greater and greater information content (technology) at lesser and lesser cost. It appears that even food eventually could be manufactured on the kitchen countertop at practically no materials cost.”
Human Creativity Will Be Unleashed
Molecular manufacturing will unleash an explosion of human creativity as information becomes more valuable than most of the world’s physical objects. The need for most of today’s workers will disappear, and with most of their necessities provided in abundance, people will be able to spend their leisure time engaged in creative pursuits. As Treder and Phoenix further explain in their paper, this creative explosion will markedly increase the productivity, size, and reach of the global economy:
“Given a portable, self-contained, self-building factory system that can make a wide range of products directly from blueprints in essentially unlimited quantities, it should not be difficult to design and rapidly construct new products, whenever and wherever desired. An explosion of creativity similar to the World Wide Web could develop quickly. The good news is that general-purpose exponential manufacturing could create a level of low-cost abundance far beyond the capabilities of any present-day economy.”
This low-cost availability will be enabled by the combined power of desktop manufacturing, computer software, and the Internet. Just as today’s software, music, and book downloads are sold at a fraction of the cost of their retail counterparts, tomorrow’s physical goods will be downloadable as well. Treder and Phoenix address this concept in their article, “Three Systems of Action: A Proposed Application for Effective Administration of Molecular Nanotechnology”:
“It may be only a matter of time until the manufacture of products becomes as cheap as the copying of files. Molecular nanotechnology will help this process along, because the first practical self-duplicating factory will almost certainly be designed on the nanometer scale. A tabletop model might weigh a kilogram. The amount of raw materials required to produce a new factory might cost only a few dollars or Euros, and a well-designed factory could process that much material in an hour or so. Once one such factory exists, it and its copies can be used to make an unlimited number of tabletop factories, cheap enough to give away. Building a new product would be as simple as emailing its blueprint to the factory—which might be sitting beside your computer.”
In the same article, Treder and Phoenix further elaborate on the effects of molecular manufacturing:
“If personal nanofactories were ubiquitous, then their products would be readily available. The only limits would be raw materials—which would be completely renewable—and licensing fees for the products. If a product design were created and given away, as Linux is given away, anyone who wanted or needed one could have it. Any product that could alleviate poverty or suffering might be instantly available to everyone. As soon as a need was recognized, designers and programmers would be motivated by the desire to gain reputation through filling the need and by the knowledge that their work could improve the lives of millions of people.”
Solar Power Will Finally Realize Its Potential
Part of the reason material objects will become so cheap and abundant is due to the ability of MM to radically increase the efficiency of already existing technologies. Energy, which is today one of the costliest inputs in the manufacturing process, will become as cheap and abundant as sunlight.
In “Challenges and Pitfalls of Exponential Manufacturing,” Treder and Phoenix describe why this will be the case:
“The efficient, inexpensive construction of strong and lightweight structures, electrical equipment, and power storage devices would allow the use of solar power as a primary and abundant energy source. Computers and display devices could become stunningly inexpensive and available to nearly everyone.”
Solar power simply isn’t a primary energy source in today’s economy. This isn’t because the technology doesn’t work or because energy corporations have successfully launched some worldwide conspiracy to thwart it. It’s because solar power isn’t as cheap and efficient as alternative energy sources like oil and coal. With the advent of molecular manufacturing, this will no longer be the case. Solar power will become the cheapest and most efficient source of energy on the planet.
In What Time Frame Will This Occur?
The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology estimates that it won’t be long before molecular manufacturing is developed. In “Estimating a Timeline for Molecular Manufacturing,” it states:
“Assuming all this theory works—and no one has established a problem with it yet—exponential general-purpose molecular manufacturing appears to be inevitable. It might become a reality by 2010 (assuming the possibility, which we can’t rule out, that a large, well-funded, secret development program has been in operation somewhere for several years), likely will by 2015, and almost certainly will by 2020. When it arrives, it will come quickly. MM can be built into a self-contained, personal factory (PN) that makes cheap products efficiently at molecular scale. The time from the first fabricator to a flood of powerful and complex products may be less than a year.”
Essentially, this means that sometime between tomorrow and the year 2020, molecular manufacturing will become reality. And when it arrives, the world will be turned upside down.
What Does All This Mean?
What this means is that sometime very soon the world will experience great social tribulation and economic upheaval as the revolutionary changes of molecular manufacturing are thrust upon an unsuspecting global population. However, assuming a small group of people doesn’t monopolize the technology for itself, the benefits of molecular manufacturing will quickly lead to an unprecedented degree of material abundance throughout the world.
For those who are patiently awaiting the earthly return of Jesus Christ, the development of molecular manufacturing will bring with it many of the signs associated with the period just prior to His return. The Bible states that, in the end times, the world will experience great social, political, and economic upheaval. The Bible also tells us that, in the end times, the world will become hypnotized by the creation of never-before-seen physical beauty, wealth, and prosperity.
The World in the Last Days
While most people associate the biblical Tribulation period with unparalleled destruction and widespread misery, the Bible reveals that some will experience abundant prosperity. We first learn this in Revelation 6, where the rider on the black horse appears:
“When the Lamb broke the third seal, I heard the third living being say, “Come!’ And I looked up and saw a black horse, and its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. And a voice from among the four living beings said, “A loaf of wheat bread or three loaves of barley for a day’s pay. And don’t waste the olive oil and wine'”(Revelation 6:5-6, NLT).
This passage foreshadows a time of great famine throughout the world. However, the command not to “waste the olive oil and wine,” both of which were luxury items when this passage was written, is a reference to the fact that some will still indulge in the luxuries of this world while others scramble just to survive. Though the end times will herald scarcity and famine for some, it will feature wealth and opulence for others.
The unparalleled material prosperity of the end-times generation is clearly illustrated in chapters 17 and 18 of the book of Revelation, where the apostle John is allowed to view the city of Babylon, the world center of commerce in the last days. The following verse summarizes his reaction:
“I stared at her in complete amazement” (Revelation 17:6, NLT).
Many commentators believe John is left speechless because of the utter debauchery he witnesses in this vision; yet, up to this point, John has been blessed with many extraordinary visions of the future. None of them left him speechless and “staring in complete amazement.” Could it be that he was simply mesmerized by the worldly temptations available to those who inhabit this world of endless material abundance? Let’s examine what the Bible says.
A Place of Extravagant Luxury
According to the Bible, the earth—particularly the city of Babylon—will be home to extravagant luxury in the last days:
“Merchants throughout the world have grown rich as a result of her luxurious living”(Revelation 18:3, NLT).
In fact, the desires of an overwhelmingly materialistic society will lead to great arrogance and pomposity on the part of the human race:
“She glorified herself and lived in luxury, so match it now with torment and sorrow. She boasted in her heart, “I am queen on my throne. I am no helpless widow, and I have no reason to mourn'” (Revelation 18:7, NLT).
The following passages continue to point out the unparalleled luxury of the city of Babylon in the last days, citing her wealth as the source of worldwide weeping in the aftermath of her destruction:
“And the kings of the world who committed adultery with her and enjoyed her great luxury will mourn for her as they see the smoke rising from her charred remains”(Revelation 18:9, NLT).
“The merchants of the world will weep and mourn for her, for there is no one left to buy their goods. She bought great quantities of gold, silver, jewels, and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk, and scarlet cloth; things made of fragrant thyine wood, ivory goods, and objects made of expensive wood; and bronze, iron, and marble. She also bought cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle, sheep, horses, chariots, and bodies—that is, human slaves. “The fancy things you loved so much are gone,’ they cry. “All your luxuries and splendor are gone forever, never to be yours again.’ The merchants who became wealthy by selling her these things will stand at a distance, terrified by her great torment. They will weep and cry out, “How terrible, how terrible for that great city! She was clothed in finest purple and scarlet linens, decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls! In a single moment all the wealth of the city is gone!’ And all the captains of the merchant ships and their passengers and sailors and crews will stand at a distance. They will cry out as they watch the smoke ascend, and they will say, “Where is there another city as great as this?’ And they will weep and throw dust on their heads to show their grief. And they will cry out, “How terrible, how terrible for that great city! The ship owners became wealthy by transporting her great wealth on the seas. In a single moment it is all gone'”(Revelation 18:11-19, NLT).
As the Bible makes clear, the end times will be a period of great material abundance. From the materialistic viewpoint of the world’s inhabitants, life on earth will resemble Heaven. But due to their excesses, arrogance, and rampant sin—from a spiritual standpoint—the world will resemble Hell.
The Church in the Last Days
In His message to the seven churches, Jesus issued a grave warning concerning the evils of materialism and arrogance. Although this warning is relevant to every Christian throughout the ages, it is thought by many to be a message specifically tailored to those living in the last days:
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, “I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!” And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference'” (Revelation 3:14-19, NLT).
The Christian churches of this generation bear a striking resemblance to the one Jesus describes in the passage above. Today’s church is one of passive indifference toward Jesus. Self-reliance, or reliance upon personal development mantras and gurus, has replaced reliance upon God. The prosperity gospel of “ask and ye shall receive” has replaced the salvation gospel of Christ and the cross. In many instances, contentment with one’s career, social, or economic status has replaced the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In effect, the pagan god of materialism has become the object of our worship, and this is a road that leads to utter ruin.
A Promise from Christ
Despite the pathetic spiritual state of today’s church, all hope is not lost! Jesus follows His warning with a promise of victory for all who seek Him:
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches'”(Revelation 3:20-22, NLT).
So how does one become victorious? By loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul—for this is the beginning of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And with aid of the Holy Spirit, one can overcome the temptations of this world.
Remember, material wealth is not in and of itself a sinful thing. Only when we become attached to the things of this world, removing God from the number-one position in our lives, do we allow the world to corrupt us. Therefore, it is we who are sinful, for we allow outside forces to distract us from God’s purpose for our lives:
“Happiness or sadness or wealth should not keep anyone from doing God’s work. Those in frequent contact with the things of the world should make good use of them without becoming attached to them, for this world and all it contains will pass away” (1 Corinthians 7:30-31, NLT).
The people of the end times will be lovers of self—greedy, arrogant, and self-centered. But those who believe in Christ should ignore selfish desires and concentrate of the work of God, an endeavor that will provide everlasting dividends:
“Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19, NLT).
Material abundance should never be used to fulfill our own selfish desires. Instead, it should provide a position of strength from which we can serve others. Jesus used the stories of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) and the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21) in order to illustrate the folly of abusing one’s position of material abundance. Whether poor or wealthy in this world, the ultimate goal of each and every person should be a rich and rewarding relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our generation is one of enormous wealth and prosperity relative to previous generations. Unfortunately, this state of material prosperity has caused many to live their lives independent from God. They’ve simply forgotten Him, thinking they have no need for Him.
In the last days, this problem will grow increasingly worse as the world experiences an explosion in material abundance due to the development of molecular manufacturing. Yet, despite the fact that most people will realize material wealth beyond their wildest dreams, discontent will continue to plague mankind. Almost two thousand years ago, James addressed the source of this discontent:
“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong—you only want what will give you pleasure” (James 4:1-4, NLT).
A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the only pursuit that will bring lasting contentment. Those who wish to know Him must realize that friendship with this world makes them an enemy of God. A person cannot serve two masters, for he will hate one and love the other. Those who wish to belong to Christ cannot serve both Him and their materialistic desires.
To this end, the book of Ecclesiastes provides some astute observations that a wise person will take to heart:
“Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth–except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11, NLT).
Don’t live your life under a cloud of frustration, discouragement, and anger. This is the lot of those who seek out wealth in an effort to placate their emptiness. They hope to replace God with money! But those who are wise and live in the light will put God first, and He will give them ample reason for joy.
Britt Gillette is the author of Signs of the Second Coming: 11 Reasons Jesus Will Return in Our Lifetime and Coming to Jesus: One Man’s Search for Truth and Life Purpose. He’s also the founder of End Times Bible Prophecy.