Can You Know The Future?


August 2005

Dear Ministry Partners,

If God knows the future, why doesn’t He tell you the future more often? For that matter, even if He doesn’t tell you, why doesn’t God at least tell His ministers more often? Why don’t major ministers warn people about upcoming earthquakes, hurricanes, and stock market crashes? Is it possible to know the future?

First of all, God demonstrates over and over again in the Bible that He knows the future. There are hundreds of prophecies (which books of other religions do not have), and a huge percentage of the Bible’s prophecies have already come true. What God usually does not say when He predicts the future is when the event will occur. There are a number of reasons why God does not give more dates for future events, and we will discuss those below. However, God does know when future events will occur, and He sometimes give dates for them. For example, God said certain things would occur in 65 years (Isa. 7:8), in 3 years (Isa. 16:14), in 70 years (Isa. 23:15), in 15 years (Isa. 38:5), in 2 years (Jer. 28:3), and in 70 years (Jer. 29:10).

Why doesn’t God more often tell what will happen and when events will occur? There are a number of reasons. Reason number one is that God does not usually want to give specific dates to Satan for what He is planning to do. In every battle, the element of surprise is a valuable benefit. Further, just keeping your enemy ignorant is an advantage. Even the death of Jesus on the cross was confusing to Satan (it even confused the disciples — Luke 18:34). The Bible tells us that Satan’s principalities would not have crucified the Lord of Glory had they known the full ramifications of the sacrifice and death of Jesus (1st Cor. 2:8).

Reason number two is the nature of human beings. If God told people they would be in a car wreck on the way to work tomorrow, they would wake up and call in sick and stay home — and God could be called a liar! Similarly, if God told the average person he was going to win a contest and receive $100,000 next year, he would immediately charge the credit cards to the limit and buy a bunch of stuff and a new car ahead of God’s timing — and thwart God’s true purpose for the special revenue. The mere fact that God does not often tell us the future is testimony to the fact He has given mankind a free will. If God’s will always occurred regardless of man’s free will, He could tell us the future all the time, and we would not be able to do anything about it.

Reason number three is God does not want people to seek Him for what they can get out of Him. Knowledge of the future can bring enormous wealth in stocks, commodities, and other investments. If God freely told His followers the future, everyone would jump on the Christian bandwagon to have access to the "crystal ball". As a contrast, if God only told some of His believers the future all the time for their personal prosperity, and not others, God would be a "respecter of persons" (meaning partial to some). The Bible tells us repeatedly that God is no respecter of persons (He is impartial). References include Mark 12:14, Luke 20:21, Acts 10:34, Rom. 2:11, Gal. 2:6, and James 2:1&9.

Reason number four is God is so secure, He does not need to show off by telling the future. He is so powerful, so intelligent, so eternal, that He feels no need to impress a human being who has an IQ which is just a tiny fraction of His. When was the last time you felt you needed to "impress" a one year old child? Would you show him your college degree? Would you quote the multiplication tables to him to show him how much you know? No, you would probably hold him and tell him you love him. That is God’s attitude toward us. If you did know the key future events of your child’s life by the time he was in elementary school, would you tell him he would marry at age 22, be divorced at age 28, have one of his kid’s die in a drive-by shooting, get cancer at age 63 and die after a lengthy expensive chemotherapy program? I know what you are thinking — "But if I told him these things, he would live different and these bad things would not happen!" First of all, see reason number two above. But in reality, God does tell mankind many bad consequences of disobedience and wrong living, and the vast majority of all mankind ignores God’s predictions and warnings. As an extreme example, the future of the unsaved (damnation in Hell) is preached in every city, and on every TV set — every week — and very few pay heed. And the book of Proverbs alone is full of God’s statements that if you live a certain way, such-and-such will be the consequences. Many Christians ignore these "predictions" from God, and certainly nearly all unbelievers.

Along these lines, reason number five is an important spiritual truth that to spare you from greater judgment, God will only tell you more as you demonstrate you will obey what He has already told you. The more you know — but don’t do — the more accountable you are. Jesus told the knowledgeable Pharisees and scribes that they would receive greater condemnation and punishment for their disobedience because they knew more (Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47). This is at the heart of the obscure scripture, "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required." (Luke 12:48). This is the meaning of another obscure scripture, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given." (Mark 4:24). Disobedience brings a "famine" of God’s instructions (Amos 8:11).

Out of God’s mercy, He does often give special warnings for His own reasons which are rooted in compassion. Noah preached the coming flood for 100 years (and only saved eight people who were his own family). God has always used prophets to proclaim warnings and truth, but people have always been more interested in someone who will "tell them what they want to hear". 2nd Tim. 4:3-4 says, "They will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." (Frankly, that sounds uncomfortably close to the condition of much of American Christian television.) God’s prophets — and therefore God’s truth — have hardly ever been popular. The problem facing Christian TV is the economics of television are driven by ratings and viewer response. So don’t expect Christian TV to be your main source of truth. It is great for evangelism, and to a certain extent Christian entertainment, but due to the cost of air time don’t expect many TV preachers to tell the people what they don’t want to hear, because the people usually won’t respond with enough offerings to pay the huge costs involved, and the finances needed are enormous.

So where do we look for our answers? The answer is God. God will tell us what we need to know if we seek Him. He may not usually tell us "the future" but He will tell us the right thing to choose — decision by decision — if we will seek Him and listen to the various ways He will speak to us. As a rule, He uses "peace in our spirit" (Col. 3:15), but He also uses various other means of guidance (and He often uses Godly people) to show and confirm the right path for our lives. We cannot judge the right path just by what everyone else is doing. Jesus said, "Broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But...narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matt. 7:13-14). We can be the "few who find it" by praying and obeying, and experience the blessing of God upon our life’s journey. We may not know the future, but we can know the one who holds the future. God has already "been there" and He can be our guide if we will stay close to Him. Trials and tribulation might come, but with God we can over-come! "Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ." (2nd Cor. 2:14).

If we will follow God’s Word, we can "predict" our future to a certain extent. God’s Word already has predetermined outcomes. With God’s Word, we can "create" our future. Our life will be better if we will obey the Word. There is still persecution of believers, and a devil on this planet, but following God is way better than sinning because "the way of transgressors is hard" (Prov. 13:15). And there is one fact of the future God has made very clear — following Jesus leads to Heaven for eternity, and that is the main thing we need to know about the future!

Teaching God’s Word,

Dale & Judi Leander


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