Technology has exploded in recent history, and there’s no doubt that we are better off for it. Modern plumbing, travel by air, and medical advances are some of the first things that come to mind. I am happy that men and women have dreamed great dreams and sought to make them reality. And many now dream of where technology will take us next. Take the carbon nanotube, for instance. Some dream of a day when we will be able to build an elevator to space using this new molecular technology (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl083LAYnoU), and I hope that we can find a way to do it.
Of course, the hope for technology to bridge heaven and earth can be taken metaphorically to stand for the hope that technology can lead us into an ideal future, an “age of abundance” www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceEog1XS5OI). This vision for the future is quite popular today and sounds like very good news. But here’s the question: Will technology usher in a peaceful, secure and happy future? Is technology the good news; is technological advancement the gospel?
Let’s consider Genesis 28:10-22. This passage is famously remembered as “Jacob’s Ladder.” Here God appears to Jacob in a dream. The LORD stands above a ladder (or “flight of steps”) and makes great promises for Jacob and his family’s future. There are similarities and differences between Jacob’s dream and another famous passage in Genesis: the Tower of Babel. The connection between the two stories is clearest in the stairways or flights of steps (Genesis 28:12) that reach to the heavens (Genesis 11:4). In both passages, a ziggurat is being described. A ziggurat was a large building that invited the gods to come down the steps from heaven and bring their blessing to the earth. The builders of Babel set the ladder up in the earth; in Jacob’s dream, God is the builder and he sets up the ladder. Due to a distorted grasp of God, the builders in Babel thought he could be coerced to give them the heavenly life; in Jacob’s dream, the LORD comes to Jacob to explain how the heavenly life will be brought to the earth. The point is this: the blessed life that humanity desires will not come through human technological advancement but through God’s covenant with Abraham.
Eventually, many centuries after Jacob dreamed that dream, Jesus, a son of Abraham, spoke with a man named Nathanael. He explained to Nathanael that he is the ultimate fulfillment of Jacob’s ladder (John 1:51). Jesus Christ is the way that heaven and earth are bridged so that God’s Kingdom can come to earth as it is in heaven. And rather than pleading our great worth to the Father because of our development of super-computers, Jesus died for our sins. Ultimate human flourishing required the sacrifice of the Son of God, not more hours at the office.
Now, technology is not opposed to the Kingdom of God. Although some may say that we must choose between science and faith, we ought to see the two as linked: science and faith. Technological advancement is not enough to bring about true human fulfillment. God must be at the center of the equation and Jesus, the son of Jacob, is the only mediator between God and men (2 Timothy 2:5). He is Lord of all, and all, including technology, must be brought into submission to his good purposes for the world.
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION
1. What technologies do you use most? How are they typically used? Do you find yourself using them that way? Is that use helping to shape you and others into the way of Christ?
2. Have you ever heard anyone make the argument that humanity’s best future lies in technological advancement? Can you think of movies or TV Shows that have featured that hope?
3. How is the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12) the way that God will bring true human fulfillment to the earth?
4. How has technology furthered the Kingdom of Jesus? How might it hinder it?