Iconic Last Days & False Images—Part I
development of our time is the image—the icon, the picture, and the moving
video. These images are an inextricable part of our culture. What household
today does not have a camera, television or a DVD player?
They are so compelling that we cannot not watch them. They are so seductive that
they have revolutionized human social communication. Oral and written
communication are in decline because a new form of communication, communication
by image, has emerged.”
Actually, this age of “image communication” was really born with the invention
of photography a little more than 150 years ago … a very recent development,
viewed in terms of the human timeline on earth.
all such sudden and recent trends that have impacted the world, one must ask:
Why now … why during these last days? Is the “image”
just another friendly technological development? Or, are there also some side
effects to consider, along with novelty and convenience? Could perhaps the video
phenomenon be playing handmaiden to key last-day trends?
though the eyes of mankind are engaged as never before with icons and moving
pictures, "Though seeing, they do not see” (Matthew 13:13). Being so taken up
with communicating through sight, they are largely blinded to the rapidly
approaching judgment. Yet, as we will see, this very same society is better
equipped than ever before to comprehend the prophetic imagery of the Bible. Not
only that, the Bible seems to have anticipated our last-day era, communicating
in graphic form much of the last-day prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled.
2-part series, we will first delve into the vulnerabilities of this “image
society.” In Part 2, we will further explore the significance of why God so
purposed it that He would communicate primarily through visions to the prophets
about the last-day pre-millennial period.
As well, we will review a companion trend—an explosion of false visions.
emergence of the image has had a great effect upon the world. Following the
invention of photography, it then only took 50 years or so for this new method
of illustration to become a major influence in the communication of social
values. A little later, moving pictures were invented
… otherwise known as movies. As old as the moving picture or photography may be,
the impact of the image upon society is still unfolding today.
Images are now
shot or viewed virtually everywhere, from cell phones, to computers,
surveillance cameras and a whole host of other media devices. According to 2005
census data, adolescents and adults now spend, on average, more than 64 days a
year watching television and a little over a week using the Internet.
Of course, images are found almost everywhere, from newspapers and billboards,
to elevator video screens and the exteriors of city buses.
invasion of the image continues. According to Gartner, a technology consultancy,
over 1 billion phones with cameras
(representing as much as 80% of total sales) will be sold in 2010. That
would mean that as many as one-half of the world’s population will soon have
camera phones. There will hardly be an event or occasion in the world that will
not find its way into recorded media.
Not that there
haven’t been plenty of things to watch already.
Since Louis Lumiere invented the first movie camera in the 1890s,
approximately 370,000 motion pictures have been made around the world
(to the end of 2002). If the entire
universe of original film and video titles produced over that period were played
continuously, the show would continue for 2,108 years.
With all the new digital
technology these days, increasingly the whole world is on stage. Consider that
you are already likely to be caught on closed circuit TV (CCTV) at least several
times a day if you are out shopping. In Britain, people are captured on
video media an average of at least 8 times a day. Almost every retail store
today has surveillance equipment, as do key traffic intersections and highways.
A British report in 2004 estimated that there were up to 4.2 million CCTV
cameras in that country (about one for
every 14 people).
With websites proliferating such as YouTube, where people can post short
videos of themselves or on virtually any topic or interest, everybody can be on
We use and process images
virtually everywhere and anytime. Is it not
unreasonable to conclude that visual images clog the mind today? From
every direction, the human eye is being lured by images and their potentially
influential messages. We are attuned to the icon, this communication medium
barraging us with worldly values imbedded in both real and un-real images.
The Impact of
a Visual Society: Seeing is Believing
is little doubt that our image culture today opens up mankind to a greater
vulnerability to perceptual deception. Images can
powerfully manipulate our emotions and perceptions, hampering our ability to
interpret facts and truths today.
modern-day marketers of products well understand the persuasive powers of icons.
Not surprisingly, according to estimates,
95% of consumers are more likely to buy a product because of a visual image or a
taking in information through graphic images involves a very different mental
process than aurally or through the written word. Studies have shown that “brain
images” can even subconsciously affect our perceptions and interpretations even
of written text.
indeed a documented fact that graphic images, whether moving or stationary, have
very powerful and unique impacts upon perception. Images can have emotional or
cognitive effects that the viewer may not ever realize. As such, they can be an
effective medium for manipulation and deception.
Is it then
any wonder that the False Prophet mentioned in Revelation uses an image to
deceive the world? Says the Bible, “And
he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the
beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image
of the beast should be killed” (Revelation 13:15, KJV).
There is little doubt
that our generation is being prepared to be deceived by images—ultimately by the
images of the beast. However, at the same time, God allowed it to be so that our
intensely “image conscious” generation would also be ideally equipped to
understand endtime prophecy. To discover why this is the case, we must first
briefly review the main form of God’s communication to mankind—the written Word.
God chose to
mainly communicate His truth and revelation to most of mankind through written
pictures and moving images had been the more reliable means for mankind to
study, interpret and contemplate Scriptures, would God not have used this
technique instead? At creation, would He not have designed it that images would
be the main form of communication rather than speech and writing? Though a
picture may claim to represent a thousand words, the fact is that images alone
are inadequate for all communication and are far too unreliable for literal and
precise interpretation of truths and facts. Therefore, instead, we were given
the written Scriptures.
how did the Scriptures come to be recorded? How were prophecies revealed? No
Angel Moroni appeared with neatly typeset golden plates as the Mormons claim
occurred to Joseph Smith. Indeed, God did write the 10 commandments on 2 tablets
and gave them to Moses … twice. Yet, with a few exceptions, all of the original
impartations of revelation were not in written form, but rather visual or aural
or both (though not necessarily in the
physical sense of being actually seen or heard). They received visions and
dreams. On this point, God said, "When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I
reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams” (Numbers 12:6).
Though we may
think that the moving picture (the movie)
was an invention of the late 1890s, in reality a form of video communication had
been already invented by God a long, long time ago. God used visions to
communicate with his prophets. We see that the Holy Spirit frequently used
“neural movies” to impart the content and meaning of much prophecy.
Ancient Media Device
(if not all) of the major prophets
mentioned in the Bible—both Old and New Testament—experienced either visions or
dreams. Consider that virtually the entire book of Revelation is the product of
a vision. Apostle John wrote down what he saw and heard. Another example is the
book of Zechariah, 5 chapters of which consist of 8 separate visions. Other
prophets expressly received prophecy in visual form. Examples abound.
Said Ezekiel, “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God (Ezekiel
1:1). “The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision” (Genesis 15:1). Jeremiah
was asked, "What do you see?” (Jeremiah 1:11), and, “God spoke to Israel in a vision at night”
(Genesis 46:2). These serve as only some of the examples.
But why did
God give visions and dreams to the prophets when the written Word
(Scripture) was the intended form of
communication to following generations? We see here that a two-stage process was
involved. The prophets saw visions and then accurately wrote down what they
heard and saw. In a sense, they served as ancient “high fidelity” media players.
Crucially, the writing down of these visions was guided by the Holy
Spirit. For the Bible says, “For
prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they
were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). What we see then is that
God many times chose to impart revelations in the form of
images, then to be written down in words, and not
likely a number of reasons we theorize. For one, God was able to show the
prophets things of the future for which adequate words to describe them did not
yet exist. Moreover, visions and the symbols could contain much more information
than could be understood through hearing.
No doubt there
are other reasons. However, we observe a significant fact:
A high proportion of prophecies and the
greater volume of information that applies to the latter days—the very last of
the last days and the events of the Great Tribulation—were given in the form of
“image-rich’ visions. Why should God have chosen to communicate more of His
prophecies to later generations such as ours, in visions that are full of
symbols and imagery?
Could it be
true that God knew that our “last day” generation would be an “image conscious”
society, one highly attuned to communication through images? As such, it is our
generation that has the suitable aptitude to understand and interpret the
visions and dreams described in the Bible better than any other. While, on the
one hand, our age of visual communications opens up our world to greater
manipulation and deception, it also gives this generation the means to better
understand prophecy, as we will further show.
generation, namely the last generation—as the Bible defines this term with
respect to the re-establishing of Israel in its own historical land and its
reunion with the Messiah—is also the very last to experience actual visions and
prophecy. We are not referring here to “personal prophecies” as some like to
interpret today, but rather the type of prophecy that is inspired by “the spirit
of prophecy,” that being the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 19:10).
Scripture clearly says that there will be no more prophecy after the Tribulation
period. "Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to
finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in
everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most
holy” (Daniel 9:24). Here it is confirmed that visions and prophecies will be
sealed up after the 70th week
(the 7-year tribulation period). That is because no new visions will be
necessary after this time. Jesus Christ himself will reign during the millennial
period. No longer will it be necessary for Him to enable visions to be uttered
and written down by men. His own words are the Word … no visions required.
the Bible expressly promises that the person who studies the book of Revelation
will be blessed.
“Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book” (Revelation
22:7). Of course, one is only able to keep the words of prophecy if one studies
them. Moreover, we are also told in the Book of
Daniel—the Old Testament book which most closely parallels Revelation—that the
day would come near the end that “Many will go here and there” (Daniel
12:4) to gain the knowledge with respect to its
prophecies and the divine plan of God. Both these books of the Bible
(as well as Zechariah), which
emphasize endtime prophecy, rely heavily upon imagery, symbolism, visions and
It is true
that many of the things prophesied in these books are more understandable today,
given the technological advances, scientific knowledge and globalization of our
generation. Our video-exposed society today is also ideally suited to this task.
We will further explore
these observations in Part 2. Even more interestingly, we will outline other
perspectives on endtime prophecy which our generation is the first to uniquely
appreciate. However, at the same time, much danger prevails. Like no age ever
before, the world is besieged by a last-day flurry of false visions.
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About the Author:
Wilfred J. Hahn
is a global economist/strategist.
Formerly a top-ranked global analyst and chairman of the country’s largest
global investment operation his writings focus on the endtime roles of money,
economics and globalization. He has
been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other
publications and languages. His
most recent book is The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free.
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Accessed May 10, 2008.