Editorial – Millennium Meltdown?

In 1998, I received stacks of printed material about the world fiasco that would occur at midnight, December 31, 1999.

There was “proof” that power companies would shut down because of the Y2K computer bug. This would be ominous in the United States, because most home heating systems will not work without electricity. Public utilities would shut down, so there would be no lights, heat, running water, and maybe no phones.

It was also predicted that banks would erase, or corrupt, records of accounts, causing world-wide panic that would create the greatest economic shutdown ever.  Chaos would ensue, air travel would become unsafe, or impossible, records of tax payments, and issuance of government checks would be paralyzed.

By mid-December,1999 there would be serious oil shortages. The “fix” would take years, during which time we would be in the worst economic collapse of all time. It was called, “millennium meltdown.” Banks and supermarkets would shut down, and life savings could vanish. Americans were counseled to stock up on medications because they would not be available after January 1, 2000. We were warned to get several months supply of food that could be prepared without electricity.

With the shutdown of government and essential services, corporate collapse and banking disasters all predicted to happen at the same time, worldwide, panic was in the air!

We received communications about the seriousness of this problem, and about warning the Adventist people through Landmarks magazine.  After prayer, we decided we would not publish or preach about the coming Y2K problem.  Not because there was no potential for something serious to go wrong, but because that is not our mission. We have a God-given mission, and it is to get the Three Angels’ Message to the world, to prepare people for the coming of the Lord (Luke 1:17). Our mission is not to speculate about the precise nature and timing of disasters Jesus said would come upon the world in the last days (Matthew 24, Luke 21.)

We do not believe in sticking our heads in the sand— the Bible says that the wise man foresees evil and hides himself, but, the Y2K experience should teach us that the wisest men in the world cannot predict the future—they cannot even predict what their computers will, or will not, do, or what effect it will have. The only way to be prepared for the future is to study what God says and follow His counsel.  “We know not the future.” Manuscript Release, vol. 20, 10. “The Lord knows the future.” General Conference Bulletin, 4-10-1903.

For many decades, international agencies advised people to have an emergency water supply in case of problems with the public water supply.  It is always well to have enough food on hand to provide for your family until the next harvest. However, millions of dollars of “emergency food” gets thrown away every year because it has become too old. We must not let  these things detract us from the central issue.

The devil is trying, in every way, to detract Adventists from getting the Three Angels’ Message to the world. The Y2K predictions were not the first, and will not be the last, erroneous human predictions. In the 1970s it was predicted that the world would run out of petroleum by 1997 and we would revert to pre-industrial revolution primitive living, with worldwide economic collapse. According to Bible prophecy, worldwide economic collapse will happen in the future. (See Revelation 18 and Ezekiel 7.) Our mission is not to predict the precise timing or nature of this, but to get the Three Angels’ Message to the world so that those who accept may be delivered from the coming trouble.

“In the name of the Lord I advise all His people to have trust in God and not begin now to prepare to find an easy position for any emergency in the future, but to let God prepare for the emergency. We have altogether too little faith.” 1888 Materials, 487.