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Biblical Prophecies' High Standards

What separates the extra-Biblical predictions of mystics, fortunetellers, and soothsayers from Biblical eschatology? Predominately, it is the Bible’s authority, its prophecies’ accuracy, and the longevity of its predictions. What separates the extra-Biblical predictions of mystics, fortunetellers, and soothsayers from Biblical eschatology? Predominately, it is the Bible’s authority, its prophecies’ accuracy, and the longevity of its predictions. Starting with their authority, Amos declares prophecy comes directly from God to eliminate doubt and confusion about God’s plans and actions:

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)

Old Testament law lays out two fundamental criteria for determining a prophet’s authority. The first, in Deuteronomy 13:1-5, focuses on the prophet’s message:

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

Anyone directing or encouraging people to worship or follow any other gods does not speak with God’s authority and is by definition a false prophet (God never sends prophets to contradict His word, tempt people, or lead people astray). The second law governing prophets extends this standard to include prophecies made in the name of other gods:

The third criterion separating God’s prophecies are their longevity. Genesis’ Garden of Eden was the scene of the Bible’s earliest recorded prophecy, roughly 6000 years ago. Other Old Testament prophecies have survived for over 2500 years while New Testament prophecies have survived for almost 2000 years. As a whole, these prophecies cover events spanning the time from the dawn of man to the glorious future new creations. Some prophecies are direct, unequivocal pronouncements while others seem to hide behind symbolism. For example, prophecies foretelling the Babylonian captivity and Israel’s subsequent return generally fall into the first category while the vast majority of Daniel’s prophecies fall into the second. Regardless, the Bible’s prophecies have remained unchanged since they were recorded hundreds and even thousands of years ago. They are recorded where skeptic and believer alike could readily scrutinize them. No other predictions even begin to approach these levels of longevity.