Summary: Do you know the difference between a prediction and a prophecy? If you don’t, my prayer is that you will before I finish this sermon.
PREDICTIONS AND PROPHECIES
Text: Luke 2:1 – 20
Do you know the difference between a prediction and a prophecy? If you don’t, my prayer is that you will before I finish this sermon.
We hear predictions every day. If you watched the news this morning, you probably heard a weatherman predict the weather for today and the rest of this week. If you follow politics around election time, there is no shortage of experts that are making predictions about the outcome of the election. Environmentalists make predictions about the impact of ecological disasters like the oil spill will make on the environment over the next decade.
I can make predictions. I can predict that we will have a bad winter this season. I can predict that cars will no longer use gasoline by the year 2025. I can predict that a world leader will pass away over the next year.
Some predictions are easier to make than others. I can predict that someone I know will be in the hospital next year, and be reasonably certain that my prediction will come true. How can I say that? Because I am basing my prediction on what has happened in the past. I cannot remember very many years over my entire lifetime in which someone that I knew wasn’t in the hospital. Therefore, I can guess with some degree of confidence that someone I know will be in the hospital next year.
It is a little more difficult to predict the name of the President of the United States at the end of this century. I could base my prediction on popular names given to children today, or just take a stab at it. But it would be very difficult to predict that because it doesn’t depend much on past events, and because it is so far ahead in the future.
A political philosopher once said this about making predictions: “Predictions of the future are never anything but projections of present automatic processes and procedures, that is, of occurrences that are likely to come to pass if men do not act and if nothing unexpected happens.” (Hannah Arendt) What this person is saying is that predictions are just best guesses based upon the best information that you have available at the time. That’s why Tony Cavalier can say that we are going to have 6 inches of snow tomorrow and we end up with nothing. He was basing his prediction on the weather patterns he saw yesterday, but a lot can change between now and then.
Prophecies are very different, but before you can understand what a prophecy is, you must understand a few things about God. First of all, God exists outside of time. The Bible says that God created time on the first day of creation. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:3 – 5) This means that God stands outside of the timeline and can see any point of history that He wants to, past, present, or future. Think of it like this: Time is a 500 page novel. Page 1 is the beginning of time, and page 500 is the end of time. You and I are the characters in the novel. For us, time moves forward as the story goes from one page to the next. God is holding that novel in His hands. If He wants to, He can turn to page 25 and see what happens there. If He wants to, He can turn to page 448 and see what happens there. God is not a character in the story; He is the author, and He knows everything about the story. He knows who the characters are, how the story progresses, and how the story will end. We are in the story, and we must wait for the story to play out to find out how it will all end.
God is also sovereign. This means that He is in complete control of everything that happens, just like an author is in complete control of how His story develops. God created everything perfect, including humans. But part of mankind’s perfection was God’s gift of a free will. God gave us the privilege to make our own decisions. This was not a mistake on God’s part, but a part of His perfect will. We may decide that we are going to get married, or move to a different state. We can decide if we will live for Him or reject Him. But since God does not live in time like we do, He was able to view your life from beginning to end thousands of years before you were even born. Before God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He knew that you would be here in this service today. He knows when you will die, He knows what you will have for supper on Tuesday of next week, and He knows if you will give your life to Him. God does not force you to do any of those things, but because He can see all of time all at once, He already knows what choices you will make and how it will affect your life and the lives of the people around you.