Summary: All religious books claim to be the word of God, but prophecy sets the Bible apart as having God’s seal of authentication. This section focuses on the measure of a prophet and the accuracy of scripture.
Accuracy of Prophecy (Part 1 of 6)
Prophecy is an integral part of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. It is prophecy that sets the Bible apart from all world religions. Many religious leaders make predictions but none uphold the same standard as the Bible requires. The Bible sets two requirements for a prophet. First, the prophet must be 100% accurate; second, the prophet must draw others to the whole truth of God’s word. In the book of Deuteronomy, God said that if a prophet declares a prediction that fails, he is not to be believed or regarded as a man of God (Deuteronomy 18:22). If a prophet is able to make a prediction that comes true but undermines the Word of God that has already been delivered, he is not of God. The Bible even warns that false prophets will be allowed to rise up in order to test God’s people to see if they are seeking true God or something else (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).
Many false prophets have come and gone. Some are able to use divination to get a vague look into the future and many people are swept away by these prophets. Jeane Dixon boasted that she was 80% accurate. Dixon’s predictions are vague enough to fit many events, so it isn’t hard to see how she gained her accuracy. Michel Nostradamus is praised in the media and has many followers. Nostradamus was a French spiritist in the 1500s. His predictions are so vague that any number of events could fit. I watched a documentary that praised his abilities and then said, “His predictions are worded in such a way that it can be interpreted different ways by different people”. That is a friendly way of saying that his predictions are vague. Here are some examples of his predictions:
The year 1999 seven months.
From the sky will come the great King of Terror.
To resuscitate the great king of the Mongols.
Before and after Mars reigns by good luck.
Nostradamus followers claim that this was John F. Kennedy Jr.’s airplane crash in July of 1999. You may be able to squeeze this into July of 1999, but Kennedy was hardly a great king of terror. He was not a ruler at all. He was the editor-in-chief of George Magazine and had aspirations to run for political office, but he was far from a king and he did not terrorize anyone. He did not resuscitate any kings. This is a failed prophecy. This vague prediction could fit any number of incidents while at the same time fulfilling none.
Here is another example:
From the human flock nine will be sent away,
Separated from judgment and counsel:
Their fate will be sealed on departure
Kappa, Thita, Lambda the banished dead err.
This supposedly was the prediction of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s disaster in 1986. The matches are: 9 will be sent away and their fate sealed on departure. They were not separated because of judgment nor were they banished so the second and last lines are failures. What is the likelihood of 9 people departing and dying in a 440 year period somewhere in the world? If I predicted that 9 sheep would be killed in one slaughter, would I be a prophet if this came true within a 400-year period? There is also a hoax claiming that Nostradamus predicted the World Trade Center bombings. A teen-ager added a couple of details to make one of his predictions sound credible and circulated it on the internet. Hindsight additions don’t count as prophecy.
Even though these predictions are designed to avoid being pinned down with specifics, the Bible makes it clear that Satan has the ability to give mediums some insights. Look at Acts 16
16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.
17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation."
18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And he came out that very hour.
19 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.
It was through demonic possession that this girl was able to give divination. However, we know that Satan is limited in his ability to discern the future. Satan and his fallen angels are only able to exist at one place at one time and are bound to the time in which we live. God is outside of time and space. The Bible tells us that God sees the end from the beginning and has planned and ordained all things pertaining to this life for His purposes. Satan is not omnipotent. He cannot see into the future; he can only put two and two together and make a reasonable prediction or use deception. A vague prediction can be shoehorned into an event whereas a specific prophecy cannot. Sometimes Satan can be right, but more often he is wrong or intentionally vague.