Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Ned Ryerson? BING! Okay, the message isn't that clever but it does talk about the futility of false prophecy.


Almost two decades ago, actor Bill Murray starred in a comical movie about a man who was stuck having to experience the same day of his life over and over and over again. It just so happens that Bill Murray’s egocentric meteorologist character doesn’t understand either thankfulness or the importance of his life, so he evidently needs to be taught a lesson while experiencing Groundhog’s Day in the small rural town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania about 1000 times (maybe more but no one ever keeps track).

Oddly enough, though no one probably envisioned this while filming the movie, there really is a Punxsutawney, and since the advent of the movie, they really have a major Groundhog’s Day celebration. Just as the movie depicts, the city’s mayor gathers the townspeople together while wearing a long black coat and an Abraham Lincoln top hat, all in order to find out if their famous furry animal will see his shadow. And as Punxsutawney Phil (not kidding, they actually named their groundhog off of the movie character) emerges from his cage, folks wait with great anticipation to see if they will be having six more weeks of winter. The event is popular enough to actually have to face a protest from PETA who has suggested that the town use a robotic groundhog, but since the animal is most likely cared for better than some children, I am sure the mayor will have nothing to worry about.

Though Groundhog’s Day is obviously done in well-meant fun, there does exist great danger in attempting to predict the future outside of God’s will. Whether its tiny animals predicting the length of winter, or some obscure Mayan prediction made from ancient folklore about the end of civilization, or even some well known non-Christian religious group predicting the end of the world, time after time man’s attempts to predict the future has been futile.

The book of Isaiah addresses a people whose place in time led them towards multiple examples of astrological signs in order to help them explain the world’s happenings. Chapter 47 states, “You are tired out from listening to so much advice. Let them take their stand – the ones who see omens in the sky, who gaze at the stars, who make monthly predictions – let them rescue you from the disaster that is about to overtake you!” Though Jesus states time and time again to watch out for false prophets, we see them emerge time and time again, sort of like Bill Murray’s life in the movie. The whole typical sequence of events never seems to advance.

How about you? Are you like many who continue to search for a sign or for some type of confirmation of futuristic events? Or are you, like the old saying goes, let go and let God?

Listen, Groundhog’s Day is in a couple days and this columnist will make no predictions. But for anyone pondering their fate or wondering their next move, for those in the Lord the verses of Proverbs 23 hold true, “for surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

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