Up next in our series on what I’m calling fantastic creatures – creatures which some people believe don’t exist, and thus they conclude the Bible is full of fairy stories and make believe – is seers. This is from a list posted to a tweet:
“He follows a holy book with a jealous & genocidal god, ghosts, zombies, seers, devils, demons, witches, satyrs, unicorns, talking animals, a man who lived in a fish and a 7 headed dragon.”
(Not listed but also already covered: The Cockatrice)
For this one, it is not a terminology issue, or a translation issue, or a misunderstanding of Biblical genres of anything of that sort. This is squarely a worldview issue. There’s a simple question to answer to demonstrate that fact:
Do you believe there exists a an immortal, immaterial God who created the heavens and earth who can communicate with his creation?
If your answer to that question is “no” then like the author of the tweet, you’re going to have a problem with this concept of God speaking through people regardless of what I write here. If the answer is yes – or if you’re at least willing to suspend your disbelief long enough to learn what’s going on, read on for clarification on “seers” in the Bible.
What is a “Seer” in the Bible?
Fortunately we have a very clear answer on this, because the Bible addresses the question directly:
(Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)
1 Sam 9.9
So a seer is not a fortune teller, leader of séances or or anything like that. A seer is a prophet. Put another way, originally, prophets were called seers, but as time moved on, they became known as prophets. Which brings up the next obvious question: What’s a prophet? Before we look at that, let me point out the important role of prophecy: to establish that The God of the Bible is the true God. Who else but the true God can tell the end from the beginning (Is 46:10), even if that means foretelling events hundreds or even thousand of years in advance? No other religion can claim a God that does this. So besides making prophecies, what does a prophet do?
What is a “Prophet” in the Bible?
In all cases, a prophet speaks forth the word of God. Sometimes the content of what a prophet said concerned current events, sometimes it contained future events, or “prophetic” events as they have come to be known. Thus a common saying about prophets:
Some prophets tell forth the word of God (current events)
Some prophets foretell with the word of God (future events)
And of course some prophets did both.
Some prophetic ministries were accompanied by miracles (like that of Moses, Elijah and Elisha). But performing miracles was not the primary role of a prophet. The miracles were performed to provide further evidence that the prophet (or prophetess – there were female prophets Jud 4.4) was from God and was speaking the truth. So the primary role of the prophet is to speak forth the word of God – whether that be a current or future event.
Examples of Biblical Prophets:
Samuel – One of the first prophets. Though primarily known as one who spoke forth the word of God, he also spoke of future events:
The prophecy of the Ark’s Return 1 Samuel 6:1-7:2
The Philistines had defeated Israel and captured the ark of the covenant. (You know, the thing Indiana Jones was after in Raiders of the Lost Ark.) The ark however proved to be more than they could handle, causing disaster after disaster. Samuel correctly prophesied its return.
The prophecy concerning Israel’s Kings (1 Sam 8:1-22)
Samuel, the prophet, was the leader of Israel. However the people rejected Samuel and wanted a king “like the other nations”( 1 Sam 8:5). God explained to Samuel it was not the prophet they were rejecting, but God himself. (1 Sam 8:7-8) God told Samuel to listen (give them) what they wanted, but to warn them what the king would do (the high cost of supporting a King in taxes, labor, creating armies, creating royal fields to farm, etc. etc. etc.) The people didn’t care and didn’t listen. They wanted (and got) a king.
Moses – Writer of the Torah, whom the Messiah would be “like” (Deut 18:15)
Or course Moses performed the mighty miracles of the Exodus, (Ex 4 through Exodus 12:29), as well as after the Exodus. He gave the Israelites God’s 10 Commandments (Ex 20:2-17) – thus speaking forth the word of God. He also spoke prophetically. For example:
The blessings or curses that would come upon the Isrealites based on whether they were obedient or disobedient to God (Deut 27:15 – 28:68)
This passage speaks clearly of the disasters that would befall Israel if they disobeyed God and his covenant, and chased after foreign, pagan gods; as well as the blessings they would receive if they were obedient.
Notably – Moses predicted the Israelites would be expelled from the promised land they were about to enter for disobedience to God. (The book of Deuteronomy – which records what Moses told them – was given in the land across the Jordan from the promised land. Deut 1.1.)
The prophecy of being expelled: Deut 28:36 – For fulfillment see 2 Ki 18:10-11 for the Northern Kingdom: 2 Chr 26:11-21 for the Southern kingdom – (fulfilled more than 800 years after it was uttered for the Southern kingdom)
Prophecy – of the Messiah – One like Moses to come
And perhaps, most notably a prophet that would be like him would come (Deut 18:15,) . That prophet was the Messiah.
The same messiah that the people were looking for in Jesus’ day (John 1.21) but did not recognize. (Luke 19.44)
John the Baptizer – John did neither miracles (John 10:41), nor gave future prophecies. Yet in his forth telling of the word of God, he is considered the greatest of prophets Matt 11:11 (some would say of Old Testament prophets) because he was able to directly point to the Messiah (John 1.29) – something other prophets could only describe with prophetic words.
Prophecies of the Messiah
One of the main reasons for giving prophecy is to establish that God, creator of heaven and earth, is the true God. God also used it so people could identify the Messiah, and could be certain it was God’s true messiah, because only the true Messiah could fulfill all the prophecies. The prophecies become a type of finger print – which are unique to the Messiah. So we know, for example where ever the current Netflix series “Messiah” winds up, he cannot be the true messiah because he cannot fulfill the messianic prophecies. Just as importantly, we know that when Messiah comes the second time, he’s coming in power and every eye will see him. For that’s what the prophecy says:
“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.”
So there will be no mistaking the return of the Messiah, the Christ when he returns to reign on earth. Without further ado, here are a selection of the many prophecies that have been fulfilled concerning the messiah, Jesus, the Christ from Nazareth:
|Gen 3:15||Would be human – “Born of a woman”||Gal 4:4|
|Gen 18:18||Promised Offspring of Abraham||Matt 1:1|
|Gen 17.19||Descendant Of Jacob||Luke 3:34|
|Gen 49:10||From the Tribe of Judah||Luke 3.33|
|Isaiah 9:7||Heir to the Throne of David||Matt 1.|
|Micah 5:2||Place of Birth||Matt 2.1|
|Dan 9:25||Time of Birth||Luke 2:1-2|
|Isaiah 7:14Matt 1:18||Born of a Virgin||Matt 1:18|
|Hos 11:1||Escape to Egypt||Matt 2:14|
|Deut 18:15||Prophet Like Moses||John 6:14|
|Isaiah 53:3||Rejected by the Jews||John 1.1|
|Zec 9:9||Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem||John 12:13-14|
|Ps 41:9||Betrayed by a friend||Mark 14:10|
|Zec 11:12||Price paid for betrayal – 30 pieces of silver||Matt 26:15|
|Ps 27:12||Accused by false witnesses||Matt 26:60-61|
|Is 53:7||Silent when accused||Mat 26:60-61|
|Ps 69:4||Hated without reason||John 15:23-25|
|Is 53:12||In death, placed with sinners||Matt 27:38|
|Ps 22:16||Hands and feet pierced||John 20:27|
|Ps 22:6-8||Mocked and Insulted||Matt 27:39-40|
|Zech 12:10||Side pierced but…||John 19:34|
|Ps 34:20||…Not a bone broken||Johnn 19:33|
|Isaiah 53:9||Buried with the rich||Matt 27:57-60|
|Psalm 16:10||Resurrected from the Dead||Matt 28:5-6; 9|
|Ps 68:18||Ascended into Heaven||Luke 24:50-51|
What about False Prophets, and non-biblical “seers”
False prophets – those claiming to speak for the LORD but have shown to be speaking lies (Jer 27.14-15), or otherwise not speaking on behalf of God are to be avoided like the plague. (Deut 13.1-4) In fact the Old Testament punishment for false prophets was death. (Deut 13.5-9) This was a very serious crime because such people were leading people away from the true God, putting in jeopardy the eternity of those who follow him or her, and the obedience of God’s people.
What are we to think of people like Edgar Caycee and Nostradamus?
There are two primary tests for a biblical prophet: first you must prophesy with 100% accuracy to even has a chance of being recognized as a prophet from God:
“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. Do not be afraid of him.”
Second, the content: Scripture says the only spirit we are to have anything to do with is God’s Holy Spirit (Deut 18:9-12, Ep 5:18); and the primary thing the Holy Spirit will testify about in this age is Jesus (John 15:26 – once poured out on people as in Acts 2.1-4 which happened in the first century). This is the age of guidance by the Holy Spirit. Thus if a prophet starts speaking of aliens, or other angels or unknown spirits which should be followed or obeyed – that’s a strong indication the spirit you’re in contact with is not God’s Holy Spirit, but a demon masquerading as an angel of light. (2 Cor 11:14). It’s even more evident the spirit is evil if the spirit is repulsed at the name of Jesus and doesn’t want it spoken.
Of course these considerations only apply for those claiming to be a prophet of the LORD, the true God. It doesn’t apply to any other prophets. But then why do we care what any other prophet says? As mentioned in the article on witches, the Lord has forbidden us to deal with any diviners or mediums. Deut 18:9-12
Thus who cares what people like Nostradamus or Edgar Caycee say? Not only has the Lord forbidden us to deal with prophets not from the Lord; our rule of faith, the canon, the Bible – is closed. No additions are to be made. (Rev 22.18) But if that’s not sufficient for you, here are more problems for Cayce and Nostradamus being prophets of the Lord, the true God:
Edgar Cayce was known as the “Sleeping Prophet” and performed “clairvoyant healings.” He’d go into a trance, and provide information that would lead to a healing. Most disconcertingly is 1.) He didn’t appear to give credit to the Lord for the healing (Compare the apostle Peter in Acts 4.10) and 2.) He spoke in the first person plural (we) similar to how demons spoke. (See Mark 5.9)
A third criteria of the biblical prophet: scripture says the “The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.” (1 Cor 14:32) meaning someone claiming to be a prophet of God can control when he or she makes a prophecy. They’re not controlled like a puppet, driven to some kind or mania, nor do they need to go into a trance because – God’s spirit is one of order and peace, not disorder (1 Cor 14:33). Though God used dreams, the description of these hypnotic trances of Caycee do not fit well the biblical pattern. Draw your own conclusions.
As for Nostradamus: He was a well educated man – a physician, apothecary and astrologer when the sciences were not so well distinguished. They were all considered “natural philosophy.” But our concern is not his education or whether he was well suited to the task (as many thought he was) since the Lord can and often did use simple, uneducated people to speak through. The question is, does he meet Biblical criteria?
Let’s start with the 100% accuracy part. Nostradamus wrote his prophecy in poetic quatrains (4 lines of text). One expert says of them, “…some quatrains were so stunningly accurate and so prescient that one really can’t avoid accepting that he had some great gift.” Only some? What about the rest? Here’s one magazine reporting that Nostradamus predicted the world would end on 5/11/2008. Clearly false. This alone is disqualifying to be a biblical prophet. Another problem – experts state that his verse writing is so obscure, so hard to translate, it can mean many things – leading to many diverse translations. Douglas Kibbe, professor of French, Univ of IL (Nostradamus wrote in French) explains:
“Nostradamus wrote in a way that left as much unsaid as said. And so each person can interpret Nostradamus how one wishes.”
“The translation of the quatrains is extremely difficult because there’s many things he leaves unsaid.”
Compare the obscure and difficult writing of Nostradamus (a fact well recognized) with the clear, straight forward predictions of the messiah above. And note sometimes Biblical prophecies are so specific, they identify by name the very person prophesied about. (See on Josiah 1 Ki 13.2 (fulfilled 2 Ki 23.14-17; and Cyrus Is 44.28, fulfilled Ezra 1.2-3)
Notice how Biblical prophecies don’t depend on how a translator translates them, or how you read them. They are written plainly for all to see; no need to go searching for some “hidden” meaning in what’s written as many do with the works of Nostradamus.
Finally, where is the testimony to the LORD and his Christ? If Nostradamus wrote about them at all, they too are obscure – not what scripture says to expect from a prophet of the Lord.
So summing it up: 1. Nostradamus has not been 100% accurate. 2. He writes in a way that leaves everyone guessing; can’t be exactly sure what he’s predicting – unlike Biblical prophecy; and 3. He has little or no interest in what the scripture says the spirit of God would do, namely: testify about Jesus. Once again draw your own conclusions.
The bible does indeed have seers known today as prophets – of a unique type: They are 100% accurate; speak in plain understandable language; are under control of themselves when they prophesy; they don’t need séances, dark rooms, hypnosis, trances and the like to prophesy; and most importantly, they glorify God by exalting Christ. If your so called prophet requires a séance or a trance to prophesy; or is so vague it could have been written by anyone who knows you or current events, or speaks of aliens and spirit guides; and most especially doesn’t exalt Jesus or recoils from the name – run the other way.
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 1: Jealous God and Unicorns?
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 2: Satyrs, devils and demons
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 3: Cockatrice
Is the Bible full of fantastic creatures? Part 4: Witches and Ghosts
Messianic References (selected) from:
Thompson’s Chain Reference Bible, Zondervan , 1978, pp. 1567ff
For Historical context:
Every Prophecy of the Bible, John F. Walvord, David C. Cook, 1960, 1995
2.Some would call Noah “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pe 2.5) a prophet, as well as others, so we shouldn’t be too dogmatic on who the first prophet was.
3. As described in Mysteries At The Monument episode “Sleeping Prophet Mysterious Death Of Mozart UnsungHero” Travel Channel Documentary, 2013
4. God often revealed things in dreams, (see Joseph son of Jacob (Gen 37-42) Joseph, husband of Mary Matt 1:20, 2.19-20), Daniel – Dan 7.1 ) but he did not use hypnotic trances. Visions (for example, Daniel – Dan 7.2, 8.1; Peter: Acts 10.10-17) appear to be a different state of mind than hypnotic trances.
5. Michael Shermer, ref. from Nostradamus Decoded, Discovery Channel documentary, 2009
6.Douglass Kibbe, ref. from from Nostradamus Decoded, Discovery Channel documentary, 2009
All images used by permission
Featured: Prophets Isaiah and Moses picture by Duane Caldwell © 2017