The Bible has very important things to say about our future. It has been estimated that nearly 25% of the Bible was prophetic in nature at the time that the passages actually were written. The Bible contains extensive predictions or prophecies of future events – including events happening in our time – and it also contains information related to the process of making those predictions and why they were put there in the first place. This section is dedicated to revealing the principles of prophecy from God’s perspective, and these principles might be quite different from the impressions of most people based upon popular Church teachings. In fact, the true principles of Biblical prophecy are rarely taught; however, if people took the time to learn these basic truths, then most of the misunderstandings, misconceptions, or misinterpretations concerning future events and the Return of Christ would disappear and the reality of the end times would be revealed. Too many people that preach or teach about prophecy and the last days have made interpretations of prophetic passages in the Bible that have turned out to be inconsistent with other passages or just plain wrong. Some of these misinterpretations have included the injection of personal predictions alongside of Biblical prophecies, which often have led to fantastic fantasies not supported by the Word of God. For instance, literally hundreds of people have made predictions concerning the date of the Lord’s return and when those dates have come and gone without Christ’s appearing, we are all made to look foolish. If people would only take the time to learn the basic principles of Bible prophecy, then it would be very difficult to be deceived by false prophecies or incorrect interpretations. These fundamental principles of prophecy will guide us in understanding what is happening in our world and what will soon occur as we live in these last days and await the Coming of Christ.
The Source of All Prophecy
Many people say that there is no evidence of God’s existence. They say that the universe and everything in it including life came about purely by chance with no divine intervention. It is true that the human eye cannot perceive God, nor can anyone demonstrate his reality by causing him to be revealed, but what most people fail to understand is that the Lord has provided proof of his existence through an irrefutable series of amazing predictions. Instead of showing his power for the casually curious as though he was a mere circus performer, he rather has chosen to place in the Bible predictions of future events, which eventually would come true as surely as the rising of the sun. To those that scoff at the existence of God or the inspiration of the Bible, consider this honestly: what more spectacular proof could God offer of his existence than the detailed prophecies of a future that only an all-knowing Creator could reveal? In the book of Isaiah God says plainly:
“Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them”.
Astrologers and those who claim to have extra sensory perception (ESP) continually try to see into the future. Daily astrological forecasts in local newspapers and popular radio talk shows with ESP-empowered psychics ready to answer any inquiry attract millions with their supposed powers. Weekly tabloid magazines continually have predictions prominently displayed on their covers, claiming knowledge of future events that are foretold for the coming years. Some of them even contain predictions claiming to foreshadow the end of the world and the return of Christ. But how accurate are their alleged abilities and predictions?
In 2005, the Sun magazine inserted a prophecy section within their April 4 issue that contained a number of predictions for that year and beyond. These are some of the events that were predicted:
1. A huge tsunami in the Pacific Ocean will hit the west coast of the United States between Los Angeles and San Francisco, causing extensive damage and loss of life in the thousands.
2. By the end of July 2005, a virus coming out of Africa will spread throughout the U.S. and result in over 200,000 deaths.
3. There will be an assassination attempt on President George W. Bush, severely injuring him and Vice President Dick Cheney will take power.
4. Jesus will return on September 11, 2005.
5. The world will end on December 21, 2012.
So did any of these predictions come to pass? Now that many years have come and gone since the predicted time for fulfillment of these events, it is easy to see that the overall accuracy of the predictions was exactly zero. Not even one came true! Even the predicted and much hyped date for end of the world in late 2012, which was tied to the Mayan calendar predictions and became such a popular media phenomenon, was not in truth any more likely to occur than the other predictions. Was there any real doubt that the year 2012 would come and go without the end of the world taking place?
Even people who claim to believe in the Bible attempt to make absurd predictions concerning the coming of Christ and the end of the world. In the spring of 2011, Harold Camping predicted that the world would end precisely at 6 PM (EDT) on May 21 of that year. He said that he had calculated the date and time from Biblical references, but it was very difficult to follow his logic. When the time came and went without the world ending, it became just another one of hundreds of similar predictions that have been made over the years—and all of them without success.
Such examples of the psychic powers of modern day “prophets” are just a small indication of the normal odds of attempting to predict the future without divine help. Grocery stores are littered with these weekly tabloids, which sometimes owe most of their sales to the sensationalism created by off-the-wall predictions. Almost every week more predictions of the end of the world or the return of Christ are splashed on their front covers. Yet people continue to fall for this type of hype—never even bothering to prove to themselves whether or not the prophecies really occur.
Biblical prophecy, however, is totally different from the shaky world of horoscopes or ESP or tabloid journalism. Instead of relying on some “sixth sense” that proponents claim to be present in everyone but only workable in those knowing how to use and develop it, the Bible says that no man has any such inherent ability. Rather, the true source of all insight into the future is a gift that comes only from the Lord. The Apostle Peter tells us plainly in the New Testament:
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy, unto which ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts;
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
2 Peter 1:19-21
Peter says that there is a certainty in the prophecies of the Bible and that assurance doesn’t come from man. He indicates that not even one prediction was made as a result of a prophet’s own abilities, but that God himself provided the insight and even gave them the words to speak and write down. This is very important to understand: no one becomes a prophet by an act of his own will or by gaining insight into future events through a study of the Biblical prophecies. Too often, people who have been given understanding of the prophecies of Christ’s return have begun to think that they too are prophets and can add to the Bible’s words with predictions of their own.
If you look carefully at the people in the Old and New Testaments that were chosen to be prophets, it becomes clear that no one ever thought he had a special ability in and of himself. In fact, the Bible tells us plainly that no man chosen by God to reveal the future ever dared to take credit for the accuracy of his predictions. When the prophet Daniel stood in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar and outperformed all the astrologers and magicians of Babylon in interpreting the king’s dream, did he brag about his powers? No. He willingly admitted how he was able to do it:
“The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, reveal unto the king;
But there is a God in heaven who revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king, Nebuchadnezzar, what shall be in the latter days….
But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living…”
Dan. 2:27-28, 30a
Daniel knew the truth of the matter. Only an eternal God who is in control of all things can possibly know the future before it occurs. Even in our advanced scientific society with all its technology which we pride ourselves, we can’t do any better than astrologers can when it comes to predicting what will happen tomorrow. Meteorology is a classic example. Today, weather prediction has developed into a complex science, using computer networks and thousands of monitoring stations the world over in hopes of being able to obtain an accurate forecast. Each weather prediction is built using complex nonlinear equations that stem from many years of brilliant mathematical insight. However, even with all these high-tech advantages, the question of whether it will rain tomorrow constantly eludes us.
The source of all true prophecy according to the Bible comes not from our own ability to somehow perceive the future, nor from some shrewd use of the scientific method, but from the Lord himself. Only an infinite God who has created the very space-time we travel through can possibly know what tomorrow will bring.
Since the Bible and its prophecies were written down literally thousands of years ago, to see the fulfillment of many of these predictions in our day is nothing short of incredible. It is through this inspired book that the Lord is now revealing his existence for the entire world to see—and proving that the Second Coming of Christ is at hand.
Next: The Test of a Prophet