Retroactive clairvoyance or Divine revelation?

I’m sure that you have heard of the French prophet, Michel de Nostradame, or better known today as Nostradamus. He has been credited by some with prophetic writings that have supposedly predicted modern events ranging from Hitler’s rise in Germany to the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. It is not my purpose to answer whether or not this man actually did predict these events. I will say though that many of his prophecies seem to fall into a category called ‘retroactive clairvoyance’. This is when something written beforehand needs to be changed and modern events squeezed into a very vague and unspecific statement in order for the prophecy to have fulfilment. Sadly many Christians seem to be doing the same thing today when interpreting current events in light of Bible prophecies. This is what we call ‘Newspaper exegesis’ rather than ‘Biblical exegesis’. As Arnold Fruchtenbaum has stated “Bible prophecy must be determined from the scriptures and then applied to current events.” Newspaper exegesis is dangerous and leads to all types of sensationalism and emotional hypes. These things will sweep you away and unsettle your faith.

We are living in incredible and frightening times. Many people are asking questions about the future like never before. Many are fearful, anxious and uncertain. Who wouldn’t be? Economic meltdowns, the menace of pandemic plagues, cataclysmic disasters, rapid changes in technology, growing tensions in the Middle East, the development of weapons of mass destruction and threats to global peace fill newspaper headlines each day. The world is like a dormant volcano that is ready to explode any moment. In light of current events I want to know and, I’m sure you do as well is, “What does the future hold?”

Bible Prophecy itself can be divided into two categories: The first refers to a person who speaks forth the Word of God (the Bible) into the lives of people so that they would be edified, exhorted, and comforted (1 Corinthians 14:3). The second instance refers to someone who foretells future events before they happen with specificity and with 100 percent accuracy. Is this possible? Absolutely. Only the God of the Bible can predict the future with perfect accuracy though. Listen to God speaking to the prophet Isaiah about Himself, “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it” (Isaiah 46:9b-11). In these verses God Himself declares that He knows the past and the future. He goes on to say that He is able to call men from different countries to reveal His purposes and speak about events that He will accomplish in the future. Has God spoken to men and revealed the future to them? Yes. Listen to Hebrews 1:1, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets.” The Hebrew prophets were men of God who preached God’s word and also predicted the future. Their messages revealed events that had not yet come. In this regard, their messages were divine revelations. How would someone know if the prophet was speaking the truth about the future? Deuteronomy 18:22 answers this question, “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.” If a false prophet prophesied in the Lord’s name and deceived His people then He gave the people instructions to put that person to death! (Deuteronomy 18:20). Would Nostradamus have survived if these rules were applied to his prophecies?

Friends as Christians we are in such a privileged position. Unlike so many clairvoyants we do not need to guess what might happen in the future. We have the inspired Word of God in which God has graciously revealed the future for us to know. In this sense the future is not a mystery. However it will require careful reading and studying to uncover the truth for ourselves. But there is great blessing if we do “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).


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