You do not even know what will happen tomorrow.
Think predicting the future is hard? Check out this slide show of French postcards from a century ago and see how eerily accurate some guesses turn out to be. (If you find the Curious George connection in slide 15, I’ll award you 10,000 interwebz. The insignificance of interwebz can be found in the middle of this post.)
A lot of people have tried, some more successfully than others, to convince the world that they can predict the future. I think some of those predicters sincerely thought they had a gift, but most were just con artists trying to separate gullible people from their money.
The Bible warns about trying to predict the future. One passage is in James 4:13-16 –
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
Another is in Deuteronomy 18:22 –
If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.
I get two principles out of this – well, actually three.
First, we shouldn’t claim we know something we don’t know. We don’t know the future. Why act as if we do? Even those who are good at seeing trends and figuring out where they are headed will tell you that nothing is a sure thing. That’s why those stock broker commercials on television always add a disclaimer that past performance is not a guarantee of future earnings on your investments.
Second, we shouldn’t get wigged out by someone who claims to speak for God if what they say doesn’t come true. God himself told us “do not be alarmed” when that happens, and he’s someone whose advice I think we should all follow.
I said there’s a third principle in all of this, right? Here it is: both James 4 and Deuteronomy 18 lead to the conclusion that none of us know the future. The Bible states this truth clearly in Ecclesiastes 7:14 and 8:7 –
“Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.”
“Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?”
If everyone knew this truth, the market for fortune tellers would dry up. Let them look for that in their crystal balls!
My thanks to Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy for starting me thinking on this with her post here.
P.S. Bonus fourth principle – God knows everyone’s future: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16.)