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:
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:
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:
So a seer is not a fortune teller, leader of sťances 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 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 what the prophet was from God and was speaking the truth. So the primary role of the prophet (or prophetess - there were female prophets Jud 4.4) 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:
Moses - Writer of the
Torah, whom the Messiah would be "like" (Deut 18:15)
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.)
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
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:
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.
And 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:
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?
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
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.
The bible does indeed have seers known
today as prophets - of a unique type:
Duane Caldwell | December 18, 2019
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.