The Validity of Prophecy
Let us not forget the Master's advice regarding scripture interpretation.
UB 1768 The
Scriptures are sacred because they present the thoughts
and actions of men who were searching for God . . . they contain
much that is true, very much, . . . but these writings also contain
much that is misrepresentative of the Father in heaven, the loving
Father I have come to reveal to all the worlds. (Jesus)
UB 1768 Nathaniel,
never permit yourself for one moment to believe the
Scripture records which tell you that the God of love directed your
forefathers to go forth in battle to slay all their enemies . . . Such
records are the work of men, not very holy men, and they are not
the word of God. The scriptures always have, and always will
reflect the intellectual, moral, and spiritual status of those who
create them. . . Many earnest seekers after the truth have been, and
will continue to be, confused and disheartened by these doctrines
of the perfection of Scripture (Jesus).
UB 1768 The authority of truth is the very spirit that indwells . . .The
revelations of divine truth are not sealed except by human
ignorance, bigotry, and narrow minded intolerance.
UB 1770 Jesus did
not hesitate to appropriate the better
half of a
Scripture while he repudiated the lesser portion.
Now, with the rudder set straight, let’s define and further consider the prophet himself. Consider the following quotes from The Prophets, by Abraham Heschel, 1962:
To a person endowed with prophetic insight, everyone else appears blind. (pg.16)
be a prophet is both a distinction and an affliction. . .
The prophet bears scorn and reproach (Jer. 15:15). He is
stigmatized as a madman. . . he is a lonely man. He alienates
the wicked as well as the pious. (p. 18)
Ezekiel was told not to entertain any illusions. . . ‘I (God) send you
to them. . . whether they hear or refuse to hear.’ Ezekiel 2&3 (p.19)
prophet claims to be far more than a messenger. He is a
person who stands in the presence of God (Jerermiah 15:9). (p. 21).
The gift he is blessed
with is not a skill, but rather the gift of
being guided and restrained. (p. 22).
He not only conveys but reveals. (p. 22).
fundamental experience of the prophet is a fellowship with
the feelings of God, a sympathy with the divine pathos. (p. 26).
Now consider the distinction between a false and a true prophet from Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 1972:
False prophets were usually paid staff under the king. . . They
"prophesied" what the king wanted to hear. . . he preaches of peace. . .
They steal the name of the Lord, use their own authority in His name and
claim their own self-exalted status. . . They lead the people with false
assurance. (p. 269).
True prophets. . .do not begin
with a message of peace because god-like
peace comes only through holiness, righteousness and repentance. The
theme of the true prophet has been set by Moses, which is the theme of
God’s law. The true prophet is commissioned by God and speaks in His
name, with His authority. . . He challenges his hearers head on to examine
themselves. (p. 270).
Now lets move on to
the accuracy of prophecy. Science
always asks, what does the data say? What is the prior success record? As with
all searches for truth, we must come to each question with an open mind, aware
of the biases we inevitably have. This
is particularly hard to do with prophecy because we have all been inculcated
with the same unexamined "modern" suppositions and assumptions
regarding reality. We are like fish
swimming in a sea of suppositions,
and fish are always the last to know about water, because it pervades their
universe, and its absence is never experienced/realized. After all, is it really so hard to believe
that our Father would want to warn, teach, and prepare His children regarding
events to come? Most modern,
"popular," scholars think something like this: "Miracles are not possible and so they
can not exist. And miracles cannot
exist because they are impossible. Now
we have proved it." Notice anything
funny? Perhaps, this is an example of how our "arrogance outruns our
reason," as per The Urantia Book.
Next, having "proved" the impossibility of prophecy, our most popular
scholars must now invent any possible scheme they can to "prove" that
the accurate prophecy was in fact
written after the event had
occurred. Thus the case is closed,
irrefutable to anyone with a "modicum of sense." And if the evidence
is too strong to refute, then the authorities of politically correct thought
step in to downplay, ignore, or obfuscate such evidence. This club sees no evil, hears no evil, and
does no evil.
There are many, many well-documented examples of detailed prophecies that have come true to the exact details. We must realize that mans simplistic notions of time, space, and causality have already been destroyed by a new and enlarged perspective largely forced on us by the evidences of quantum theory, chaos theory, Bell’s theorem, and Godel’s incompleteness proof. There is already a sound human basis for a philosophy that embraces both reason and intuition, matter and spirit, logic and faith.
The materialistic, reductionistic, mechanistic universe paradigm has been forever shattered. Yet the majority of conventional scientists cling to their old ideas of certainty and predictability. This is because there is a religion about science that scientists are not willing to admit to, just as stubbornly as any other religionist has, from time to time been. This religion is unexamined and lurks in the darkness of unrecognized assumptions, prejudices, and biases about the world and the way we want it to be rather than the way it really is. If we want to be "top dog" and in control of everything then we cannot also allow ourselves to believe in God. A belief in God would logically bring our self-sovereignty into question. Since we are too weak and prideful to allow for the existence of spiritual realities we must find the Universe to be strictly materialistic, strictly mechanistic, and strictly under our control. But then these religious beliefs of our conventional scientists, and many others, are masqueraded as proved scientific certainties to the untrained eye. Let it be known that a logical, rational, and intelligent person can examine phenomena outside of our present paradigm and make logical judgments regarding the unknown. The belief in God is neither irrational or unfounded. In fact we will see that a belief in a purposeful God is far more rational than a belief in an unending series of infinitely improbable "accidents." The scientific method is a good approach to all types of questions and always asks what does the evidence show. Even if there is only one well-documented case of a detailed and accurate prophecy, our assumptions about reality must be adjusted to allow for this. Instead, what happens is that uncomfortable facts are quickly swept under the rug to keep up appearances. Most people, including scientists, do not love truth. Therefore, the truth is crucified and sacrificed day after day in the halls of cowardice, laziness, and self-centeredness.
Now lets look at the evidence about the past predictive accuracy of prophecy. If the past evidence of accuracy is good, then we can confidently use prophecy to look into our future.
I have selected several prophecies that will be well known and therefore easy to evaluate by the individual reader. First, some material from an informative letter written by Preston Thomas to Larry Watkins, 1992, about prophecy. Both individuals are Urantia Book students.
Jeremiah lived in the time before the fall of Jerusalem to
Preston (of Babylon). He prophesied for twenty years before it happened…and for
Thomas this he was put in prison. I (Preston Thomas) am attracted to Jeremiah
because he (like us today) lived in a time before a great crisis – the fall of
all Jerusalem and Judah to Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah’s ministry began
around 625 B.C. and ended sometime after 580 B.C. In 586 B.C., after an
extended siege, Nebuchadnezzar leveled the city and the temple, and took
most of the remaining residents of Judea into captivity (in Babylon). The
first twenty chapters of Jeremiah record this prophecy of Judea many
Jeremiah’s prophecy is very specific and right on the money. For example,
20:4, "I (the Lord) will give Judea into the hand of the King of
Babylon, he shall carry you captive to Babylon."…By the way, this
prophecy is confirmed by the Urantia Book (1067D), "it was considered
blasphemous treason when during the siege of Jerusalem, Jeremiah said;
‘And now have I (the Lord) given these lands into the hand of
Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, my servant.’ And when
Jeremiah counseled the surrender of the city, the priests and civil rulers
cast him into a miry pit of dismal dungeon…" (Preston Thomas)
Other examples of the positive portrayal of prophecy (in the Urantia Book) include the following:
Ever and anon true prophets and teachers arose to denounce and
expose Shamanism. (UB 988). Guatama was a real prophet. (UB 1035)
Our Father did indeed speak through Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Amos, and
Hosea. (UB 1731) But true prophetic vision is a suprapsychologic
presentiment. Such visitations are not hallucinations, neither are they
trancelike ecstasies. (UB 1000) (Preston Thomas, letter 1992)
Preston Thomas continues. Another excellent example is found in Isaiah 53…(Written over 600 years before Jesus.)
Isaiah 53 He was
despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows,
KJV and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he
was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like
a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation,
who considered that he was cut off of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Preston Thomas points out…Notice how many "hits" this prophecy contains:
He was despised and rejected by men
. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief
. He was despised, and we esteemed him not
. He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows
. He was wounded for our transgressions
. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth
. Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter
. By oppression and judgment he was taken away
. And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich
man in his death, although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
(Preston Thomas, letter 1992)
I think you must admit that this is an excellent and specific, description of Jesus’ life here on earth.
Having heard from Preston Thomas, let’s consider some research from Grant Jeffrey, a well-known Christian prophecy interpreter.
EZEKIEL’S VISION OF THE REBIRTH OF ISRAEL IN 1948
The prophet Ezekiel, like Daniel, was carried off to Babylon as a captive.
He prophesied there for about 20 years.
Also he, like Daniel, was aware
from the prophecies of Jeremiah that the captivity in Babylon would last
only 70 years. Here is what he prophesied: Ezekiel 4:3-6, "this shall be a
sign to the house of Israel. Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the
iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity.
For I (the Lord) have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to
the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear
the iniquity on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of
Judah forty days: I (the Lord) have appointed each day for a year." (Grant Jeffrey)
In this prophecy
we are given a clear message that Israel (the Northern
tribes would be punished for 390 days of years plus an additional 40 days
of year for Judah’s (Southern Tribes) transgressions—which is a total of 430
years. From the Second Captivity they only served 70 years and then were
freed by king Cyrus. So it appears that we have a conflict since 430 years
minus 70 years = 360 years left for future punishment. (Grant Jeffrey)
Leviticus 26: I tell them the rules, and Verse 18
tells them that if they still
disobey God that their punishment will be seven times more severe. If
you continue this chapter you will see that God warns the Israelites more
than once that if they didn’t repent of their sins that the previously specifie
judgments would be multiplied by seven (the number of completion).
So now we have a
new duration of punishment, remember we had
years of unfulfilled punishment, and the Jews had not only not repented of
their sins but they crucified the very one who could redeem them. So, the
360 years remaining period of punishment is multiplied by 7 which equals
2,520 Biblical years. A biblical year is 360 days (Grant Jeffrey)
The end of the Babylonian captivity is well documented
536 B.C., so 2,520 years from 536 B.C. equals May 14, 1948—THE VERY
DAY THAT ISRAEL BECAME A NATION. (Grant Jeffrey)
The Lord in this
example is like the strict parent who lays out the rules and penalties in
advance and sticks to his word. He is
strict, but always fair, and always trying to give his children the benefit of
any doubt. The Lord’s time horizon,
2500 years, is a little longer than our own. Nevertheless, 2500 years earns a
lot of respect.
Next under consideration, The Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls, by Randall Price, 1996, states: "This fragmentary text, dated to about 100 B.C. is known as 4QaaronA (4Q541) because it refers to a sagely and priestly figure. The translation of the crucial fragments (9&24) are often considered together, but are probably not related, read as follows:"
Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls
DSC He will
atone for all the children of his generation, and he will
4Q541.9 be sent to all his children of his [pe] ople. His word is like a
word of heaven, and his teaching is in accordance with the will
of God. His eternal sun will shine, and his light will be kindled in
all corners of the earth, and it will shine on the darkness. Then the
darkness will pass away [fro]m the earth, and thick darkness from
the dry land. (spiritual darkness) (my parenthesis)
They will speak many words against him, and they will invent
many [lies] and fictions against him and speak shameful things
about him. Evil will overthrow his generation […] His situation
will be one of lying and violence [and] the people will go astray
in the days, and be confounded.
DSC Do [not]
grieve for [him] […] God will set many things right
4Q541.24 […] many revealed things […] Examine and seek and know what
the dove (or: Jonah?) sought (?) and do not afflict the weak by
wasting or hanging […] [Let] not the nail approach him. So you
will establish for your father a name of joy, and for your brothers
a proven foundation […] You will see and rejoice in the eternal
light, and you will not be an enemy. (dotted lines and parentheses
indicate missing original text)
The first paragraph
describes the Son of Man perfectly; his "eternal" existence,
"his word like a word of heaven," and his "teaching in
accordance with the will of God" could apply to no other person. The first line of this first paragraph refers to
the concept of atonement. This
erroneous concept is an example of how revelation is shaped by the cultural
mindset into which it is given, just as a cup gives shape to the coffee poured
into it. We must distinguish between
the facts described and the prophet’s
interpretation of those facts; i.e.
the same level separation that the Urantia Book teaches: fact, meaning,
value. The events can still be accurate
even if the prophet’s assumptions and interpretations of these is incomplete or
inaccurate; i.e. the coffee tastes the same no matter which cup you choose to
put it in. The method of level separation taught in the Urantia Book is a very
powerful tool for the understanding of all phenomena, as well as this specific
phenomenon, prophecy interpretation.
The second paragraph of 4Q541.9 describes the corrupt social and political scene found at the time of Jesus’ death, near the end of an age in 70 AD (Roman war). This corrupted socio-political scene of lying, violence and confusion can refer to any end of an age time period, as it is the same for all ends of ages: i.e. the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple in 587 B.C., the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple A.D. 70, and today; the end of the dispensation of the "gentiles/Christians" (as well as the end of the larger age of the Adamic default and the temporary Sovereignty of Man). Human ages end because the weeds eventually overgrow the good seed. This happens because there is no one to pluck up the weeds along the way. Only a divine leadership can have the authority and wisdom to do this consistently and effectively over long periods of time. Not only man, but even most lower orders of divine beings are incapable of self-governance as is discussed in The Urantia Book.
UB 766 Without help from superhuman sources the
strain of society
breaks down upon reaching certain limits, and these very
influences of social mobilization –hunger, love, vanity and
fear – conspire to plunge mankind into war and bloodshed.
understands this and just as surely would have provided a solution for it in
his "comprehensive plan" for rehabilitation of the planet. I wonder
if he is challenged by any impatience as he waits for harvest time and the
beginning of a new dispensation for his estranged children, to whom he has
devoted so much, for so long.
The third paragraph of the Dead Sea Scroll text 5Q541 under consideration, again describes Jesus’ situation accurately and specifically, this time crucifixion is alluded to, i.e. "do not afflict the weak by wasting or hanging […] [let] not the nail approach him." The "nail" and "hanging" are specific to ancient descriptions of crucifixion. No one knows for sure, but my intuition tells me that the Qumran leader, the Teacher of Righteousness, is addressing his community in this paragraph and is warning them not to have any part in the upcoming, near future crucifixion of the Son of Man, so that they and their families will stay on the side of righteousness. Very likely then, Melchizedek has already "collaborated" with the Teacher of Righteousness in a revelatory process that has included revelaton of Jesus and his crucifixion. The Teacher of Righteousness is God’s servant and prophet for that time period, 100 years before the birth of Jesus. The Qumran community is then a faithful Jewish remnant of that time who have elected to follow God's will, and who have chosen self-exile (isolation) from the corruption and lawlessness of their times. By the evidence of this accurate and important prophecy about Jesus, we can postulate that other prophetic material in the Dead Sea Scrolls may also be highly accurate and important. Since the Teacher’s prophecies clearly focused on a future Messianic time period, when all is set right in the world, this body of prophecy is likely to be very important to our situation today at the close of The Age, just before the arrival of the Messiah, Melchizedek. What a "coincidence" that these Scrolls have just been recently found and brought to our attention today, the very day of its relevance. We will return to the Scrolls at various points later on.
Now, continuing to explore the accuracy of past prophecy, lets look at an Old Testament prophecy regarding ancient Moab-Ammon. The following is an extended excerpt from Josh McDowell’s, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Vol. 1, copyright 1972.
Two small kingdoms, Moab, positioned east of the Dead Sea, and Ammon, north of Moab, were also objects of God’s judgment.
Scripture and Dating:
Ezekiel 25:3 …And say to the sons of Ammon, "hear the word of the Lord God!
Thus says the Lord God, ‘Because you said, "Aha!" against My
sanctuary when it was profaned, and against the house of Judah when
they went into exile, and against the land of Israel when it was made desolate,
Ezekiel 25:4 Therefore, behold, I (the Lord) am going to give you to the sons of the east for a
possession, and they will set their encampments among you and make their
dwellings among you; they will eat your fruit and drink your milk.
Jeremiah 48:47 Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days, declares the Lord.
Thus for the judgment on Moab.
Jeremiah 49:6 But afterward I will restore the fortunes of the sons of Ammon, declares the Lord.
Ezekiel 25:4 Will be taken by easterners who will live off the fruits of the land
Ezekiel 25:4 "Men of the east" will make Ammon a site for their palaces
49:6 People of Old Moab and Ammon will reinhabit their land
With this in mind, we will study the background and history of these lands. Howard Vos writes: "A study of the topography of the area demonstrates the impregnable nature of mountain strongholds, and an indication of the military prowess is seen in the fact that Baasha, the Ammonite, sent 10,000 troops to Quargar in 354 B.C. to do battle with Shalmanesser of Assyria. So rich and powerful was the nation (Ammon) when Jeremiah wrote, "Rabbah [Ammon] shall be a desolate heap that it seemed very unlikely that such a catastrophe would ever occur." (Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict)
The first and second predictions have been fulfilled as predicted, according to Howard Vos: "The Emir Abdullah of the East, ruler of Transjordania, built his palace there, fulfilling another prophecy that the men of the East shall possess Rabbah and set dwellings and palaces in her. In recent days the Emir has distinguished himself as director of the Arab Legion, which has taken such an active part in the fighting with the Jews in Palestine. Today the City of Ammon has a population of over 20,000, is a stopping place of the Damascus-Hejaz Railway, and has officials of other nations numbered among its population. The size of the city is significant when one realizes it numbered only a couple of hundred inhabitants in 1920."
Vos summarizes in a simple manner and states that "men of the east do inherit her (Moab) at the present…"
At present, however, Moab and Ammon are waking up. Keep in mind the third prediction as this quote from Davis is revealed. (Josh McDowell)
Both lands [Moab and Ammon] are making rapid strides forward
after their long sleep of centuries. Ammon, the Capital of Trans-Jordan,
is the Old Rabbath of the Ammonites, that was captured by Joab and the
Israelites acting under the direction of King David. Only a dozen years
ago Ammon was a mere village of two or three hundred people. Today
it is a flourishing city with a population of 20,000 and is the residence of
the ruler of Trans-Jordan, the Emir Abdellah. (George Davis, Evidence
that Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell, pg. 287).
Possibly the people inhabiting Moab and Ammon are not the ancient Moabites and Ammonites, but even if this possibility were to be entertained, is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to see it happening in the future? (Josh McDowell)
impact of this material has been so great that a writer in a
purely secular encyclopedia with a tremendous circulation has said:
‘But Israel remained a great power while Moab disappeared. It is true
that Moab was continuously hard pressed by desert hordes; the exposed
condition of the land is emphasized by the chains of ruined forts and
castles, which even the Romans, were compelled to construct. But the
explanation is to be found within Israel itself, and especially in the work
of the prophets. (Howard Vos, Evidence that Demands A Verdict, Josh
McDowell, pg. 287)
Peter Stoner evaluates the probability of this being fulfilled at one thousand-to-one.
estimates for the probable fulfillment of these items [relating to]
the Moab-Ammon prophecies were given as (1) 1 in 5 for the take-over
by men of the east; (2) 1 in 10 [for] palaces in Ammon; (3) 1 in 10 [for
the] return of the Moabites and Ammonites. This gives an estimate in
the whole prophecy of 1 in 10 (Josh McDowell)
example of well-documented, accurate prophecies is the book of Daniel. Daniel,
chapter 11, accurately and in great detail predicts over 400 years of
history. (Discussed in this book in the
chapter - Daniel.) This startling information has been buried in dust by the
naysayers, whose logic and premises are quite flimsy but have nevertheless
ruled the day for so long. However, studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls support
strongly the thesis that Daniel was written long before, and not after, the
These then, are but a small number of very accurate prophecies in the Old Testament prophetic scripture. I am no expert, by any means, but I know of no well-documented Old Testament prophecies that have been definitively shown to be inaccurate. The prophecies are precise and detailed, and sometimes include precise time frames for their fulfillment. Ultimately, prophecy is only possible because human minds are capable of tuning in to God’s mind. Only God can know the future. His mind is omniscient and absolute. The quality and accuracy of any given prophecy is determined by the intellectual capacity and spiritual receptivity of the prophet’s mind.
`The more complete the prophet’s subordination is to God’s will, the higher is the potential for safe and accurate receptivity. Dreams and visions are sometimes used, but the more common and mundane experiences are those "suprapsychologic presentiments" (UB 1000) given through the intuitive mind. This represents the same process as achieving close contact with the indwelling thought adjuster that is described in full detail by The Urantia Book and discussed in a later chapter. And so, the cup of our understanding grows and changes as we assimilate knowledge and concepts and grow spiritually in our lives. Our ultimate capacity is limited only by time, our will, and the biologic factors that condition intelligence and spiritual receptivity. However, no matter how large or small our cup may be, God will always fill us up over the brim of our capacity. And when the capacity of the material form is exhausted, another and higher form is given. This process of increase never ends because God never ends.