In the 1960's the term "generation gap" was coined to describe widespread differences in the western world between the youth of that period and their parents, especially with respect to musical tastes. We live in a rapidly changing world that continues to witness major generational differences.
Since the 20th century the span of a generation has been about 15 years. Major historic events such as World Wars I and II and the Great Depression led to generational differences. Today, technology has replaced history as the major defining factor for generational change. So the life span of new generations has become increasingly shorter as technological knowledge opens new cultural horizons.
In 1967 Marshall McLuhan's book "The Medium is the Message" described key points of change in how man has viewed the world and how these views were changed by the adoption of new media. Neil Postman's insightful book, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1986), points out how television led to visual imagery replacing words as the main medium of communication.
The personal computer and the Internet have continued and expanded this trend. For example, previous generations wrote letters to family, friends and pen pals. Youth in the western world today communicate by text messaging, Facebook and Twitter. Cell phones, Blackberry smartphones and other multi-functional communication devices are rapidly replacing landline phones.
What does all this mean for our civilization? When did this trend begin and where is it leading us? Does the Bible have anything to say about this cultural phenomenon?
Daniel 12:4 speaks of "the time of the end" when, "many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase" (New Living Translation). What an appropriate description of the age in which we live today!
Despite the incredible advances in technological knowledge, the problems of human nature still plague mankind. In fact our technological advancements have led us to the brink of universal destruction rather than to universal peace. So technology not only widens the generation gap, it also paves the way for the potential annihilation of all generations living today—not only for the western world but also for all nations.
Matthew 24:21-22 foretells such a time when the very survival of all human life would be at stake—a time of trouble so great that, "unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive" (New Living Translation).
Ironically, the most recent generations are known as "Generation X," "Generation Y" (sometimes referred to as "Millennials") and "Generation Z." "Z" is the last letter in the alphabet. Could "Z" be the generation on which falls the world's worst ever time of trouble?
Mankind's problems with knowledge began with Generation A (Adam and Eve). Adam and Eve's decision to partake of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" contrary to God's command (Genesis 2:16-17) was the historical event that defined that generation. Their tragic choice resulted in a death sentence and removal from the source of spiritual truth that could have guided them toward eternal life (Genesis 3:1-24).
Mankind has continued down that road ever since, making wrong choices and relying on human knowledge instead of looking to God for spiritual truth.
Fortunately, a new "Generation A" is destined to begin with a second Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47). This generation will begin with a historical event—the return of Christ, as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:11-14; 19:11-16), to end warfare and establish universal peace.
This new generation (whose members can also be called "Millennials" because this time period will continue for a thousand years) will learn spiritual knowledge that eventually will result in peace and prosperity and health and happiness for all mankind. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
This knowledge will bring together people of all ages worldwide, eliminating the generation gaps that divide our cultures today.