I am preparing a post for tomorrow, but if everyone is right about the Mayan calendar I am wasting my time, and this will be my last post. Of course, I have to hurry; it’s already 21 December 2012 in New Zealand.
Somehow, I think tomorrow’s post will still go through. The Mayans, after all, didn’t predict the end of the world; it was just the end of their calendar. Had they lasted as long as this, they would no doubt have had the same excitement we did around the Y2K scenario, with their computers also threatening to implode. Of course, with the Mayans being so advanced, their computers would probably have solved the problem for them, and written up a new calendar while they were about it.
But the problem with predictions is that you just never know.
Of course, the weather bureau has it fine tuned. They simply put it out there. If we want to plan a wedding or cancel a picnic based on their prediction, that’s our lookout. They take no responsibility at all. Yet we keep coming back for more–every day!
Economists are the same. If we choose to put our money on their predictions, or refrain from buying on their fears, that’s our problem–read the fine print, they would tell us. But still, we listen.
Prophets on the other hand get bad press if their predictions fail. I guess, “Thus says the Lord” carries more clout and greater expectation than, “Expect rain and thunder showers in the early afternoon….”
But does God declare the future in that way? It would break the “rules of engagement” as it were. Giving us a direct heads up allows us to prepare for (and perhaps even adjust) the future, which isn’t the way God usually works in his world.
The rich man sweltering in the fires of hell, in Jesus’s story of Dives and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), said to Abraham, “Send Lazarus to my father’s house, where I have five brothers. Let him go and warn them so that they, at least, will not come to this place of pain.”
Abraham’s answer was, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.” (Or, presumably, if someone claimed to have a direct word from God.)
But God does break his own “rules”. He does engage directly; he does give specific instructions; he does allow some to see the future; he does raise the dead and heal the blind. These may not be the everyday, every-person norm, but they do happen enough for us to accept that they might happen again, soon.
There were those around the time of Herod the Great, who sensed that God was doing something new in Israel. But most would have scoffed at Mary and Joseph had they tried to declare the angels’ visits, and justify her pregnancy. “Yes, God is doing something new, but a baby?”
God does speak directly to us, but he doesn’t often expect us to declare that word directly to the world: “God said….” “God told me….” And even less often, “God told me to tell you….”
God proclaimed the truth of the baby Jesus in unique ways to the individuals and groups involved. Mary had a personal visit from an angel; Joseph had a dream (two, actually); the shepherds had the entire heavenly host (a flock of angels?), the astrologers, a star. And Simeon got to hold the baby, and sensed God’s presence. None of them appear to have openly declared their insights for some thirty years or more. But that didn’t lessen the profound and universal impact of the message when it did become known.
What about you? What has been your experience of prophecy?