We’re always intrigued by people who claim somehow to be able to see beyond the veil of the present and tell us what’s going to happen in the future—especially if it’s going to happen to us. “Fortune tellers”, “psychics”, “mediums”, “seers”, and other classifications of prognosticating practitioners make that claim every day. In many cultures, consulting fortune-tellers is a routine part of life, and multitudes believe their claims are valid and pay for their services in the hope of getting some insight into what awaits them.
Some Bizarre Methods ~
The methods of acquiring this mysterious glimpse into the future are as bizarre as some of the claims made by those who engage in it. Among other methods, a LiveScience article tells us that “Gelomancy, for example, involves carefully listening to hysterical laughter (and even animal noises) for clues about the future.” Who knew?!!
In our day, people claim to see what’s coming by dealing tarot cards, gazing into crystals, examining the lines in someone’s palm, or interpreting patterns of numbers they declare to be indicators of coming events. Then there are the star gazers—the astrology crowd—those who believe that the alignment of certain stars and planets in conjunction with the date of one’s birth reveal things about the future that are uniquely personal.
And, of course, we mustn’t leave the religious fortune tellers out of that diverse assembly—those who declare that God has bestowed upon them a “gift”, whereby they are able to receive special messages from Him about certain people. No wonder the fortune-telling business is over a two billion dollar per year industry in America.
Didn’t the Prophets Do It? ~
Followers of Jesus sometimes find themselves caught up in conversations with those who believe in fortune-telling. When we take issue with the practice, we invariably get hit with the rejoinder that it’s in the Bible. We are reminded that God’s prophets, particularly in the Old Testament, predicted the future over and over again. “Doesn’t that prove that people can do it?” they say. And if we say that the fortune-telling is a scam, don’t we deny the claim of Holy Scripture?
Let me respectfully attempt to put the argument to rest once and for all. God did, indeed, give all human beings the ability to see into the future, at least to a limited extent, and thankfully we don’t have to butcher some poor animal and play around in its guts to do it. He had a much less messy way for us to see into the future.
A Simple and Accurate Method ~
God wants all of us to be able to predict the future, at least in general terms, and His method involves neither mystical nor esoteric elements. Knowing what might be coming in life is no more complicated or mysterious than observing patterns of behavior and making reasonable conclusions about what kinds of circumstances and situations tend to accompany them. What we say, things we do, choices we make, relationships we form, and the beliefs we adopt are incredibly accurate predictors of the kinds of consequential situations that are likely to come our way as life unfolds.
Samson’s story in Judges 13-16 stands out as a classic illustration of God’s preferred method of predicting the future. No one getting to the part of the story where Samson gets a haircut while snoozing on Delilah’s knees says, “Whoa… I didn’t see that coming!” Of course we did. It’s clear by that point in the story that Samson’s impulse control mechanism is erratic at best, and that he has developed a strong affinity for women who make a practice of exchanging the pretense of affection for money. To say the least, we don’t need to poke around in some animals guts or pull out a deck of tarot cards to predict that this story “ain’t gonna end well”.
God has been trying to tell us since the beginning that behaviors, and the belief systems that underlie them, are predictive. When He brought Israel out of Egypt and led them into the Promised Land, He gave them a lesson in fortune-telling.
“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NKJV)
During the kingdom years of Israel’s history, again and again God informed His people that obedience and faithfulness would bring prosperity, peace, and divine protection. Rebellion and self-indulgence, on the other hand, would result in agonizing loss and a return to bondage.
While we might not have known the details of Samson’s fall ahead of time, the harsh reality that his rebellious and foolish choices were a prelude to doom was plainly visible. When Israel embraced the worship of false gods, we knew destruction was coming if they didn’t repent and change their behavior—no star-gazing or crystal ball needed.
What Does the Future Hold?
Given the accuracy of God’s method of forecasting the future, might it not be worth asking whether we can expect a future characterized by ongoing peace, prosperity, and divine blessing when we slaughter over 3,300 babies a day in support of a lifestyle of self-indulgence, sexual obsession, and a worldview that is increasingly oppositional to the Christian worldview held by our founders? Can we really expect blessing when deception, duplicity, and the denial of God’s design are the hallmarks of everything from education to entertainment?
Though the current patterns portend some dire consequences, there’s another possibility. There were times when God’s people began to listen to Him. When they took a sober look around and saw where they were headed, they got their dormant fortune-telling skills in gear. Then they kicked out the false gods and changed their sinful attitudes and behavior – and when they did that, their whole outlook changed.
It comes down to this … God said, basically, “I’ve got blessings and I’ve got curses—the future is yours to choose.”
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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