Beyond ''Crystal Balls''
There is more than simple curiosity that lies behind man's attempt to perceive the future. Practical business requires forecasts and an understanding of what Peter Drucker calls the ''futurity of todays decisions.'' Forecasts underlie all decisions, whether they be market planning, inventory management, establishing cash flow requirements, or staffing an enterprise. Managers solve problems; executives anticipate them.
National security depends on threat assessments - strategic or tactical. Empires have been established - or destroyed - on the basis of anticipated implications of technology and other changes.
Our personal decisions about education, careers, and raising a family, or buying a new home, all rely on our perceptions - or more precisely, our presumptions - about the future.
Banks dealing with loan decisions are, in effect, predicting both the experience encountered with the specific application as well as the anticipated credit climate that lies ahead.
One of the problems is that we all make linear assumptions in a non-linear world. We tend to assume linearity: that tomorrow will be like yesterday; that next week will resemble last week; next year like last year, etc. Linear extrapolations can be blinders.
Natural non-linearities can occur, such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane. Medical non-linearities can include a stroke or car accident. Financial non-linearities can emerge from a bankruptcy, a lawsuit, or a wife visiting a shopping mall. Our most critical crises arise from non-linearities.
Sound management requires a broader, long-term perspective, an accurate assessment of the environment, and an awareness of the impact - and likelihoods - of non-linearities. It is disturbing to the informed that most crises could have been anticipated through diligence. Those that anticipate the non-linearities survive them. That's what the insurance industry is all about.
We don't take prophecy seriously because it is in the Bible. We take the Bible seriously because of the track record of its prophecies! The Bible also lays out a detailed scenario of the final climax for mankind on the Planet Earth. It also provides testable reference points to determine just where we are in that scenario.
But theres far more than just a few historical episodes involved. The Bible has anticipated our most advanced discoveries on the very frontiers of our sciences!
High Technology Statements in the Bible
It is remarkable to discover the technological perspectives in the Bible. There are many technology statements that the average reader takes for granted: The idea that the earth is round,1 the fact that the solar system itself migrates throughout the galaxy,2 and the fact that space itself has properties that transcend our three-dimensional understand-ing of reality.
Many of the recent insights of modern medicine are anticipated and are in stark contrast to the myths and superstitions of the ancient cultures of the past.
Furthermore, Jesus warned of a day in which ''unless those days be shortened, no flesh would be saved.'' A statement like that would seem fanciful if studied over a century ago: in the 1860s we couldnt imagine the world wiping itself out with muskets and bayonets. But today the nuclear cloud hangs over every geopolitical decision on the Planet Earth.
Ezekiel speaks of a battle that will be resolved by hailstones of fire, and in which the leftover weapons provide all the energy needs of the nation Israel for seven years.
Further, that professionals will spend seven months clearing out the remains, burying them downwind. (And he even indicates that a traveler, passing through the battle zone and finding something the professionals have missed, he doesnt touch it. Rather, he marks the location and leaves it for the professionals to deal with. Surprisingly contemporary procedure for nuclear-biological-chemical warfare.)3
Zechariah describes the unique properties of the neutron bomb.4 Jeremiah speaks of smart weapons, in which the intelligence and perception is in the arrow rather than the shooter - arrows that cant miss.5
Perhaps most profound are the perceptions of the properties of the universe itself.
Most of us assume that the vacuum of space is empty. It is surprising to discover that space itself has properties: zero point energy, permittivity, and impedance. And that it has more dimensions than the three we are familiar with.
The Bible describes the ''firmament'' as a solid, which can be rolled up, stretched, and ''torn.'' This is all quite a contrast to the fanciful conjectures of the ancients.
What may be a surprise to many is that the more you know about the frontiers of modern science, quantum mechanics and astrophysics, the more comfortable the creation account in Genesis appears!6
Bible prophecy suffers as much from its enthusiasts as it does from its detractors. Too often, prophetic studies suffer from inadequate scholarship, fanciful conjectures, and contrived conclusions. However, my particular view springs from two astonishing discoveries:
1) That the collection of 66 books which we traditionally call ''The Bible,'' even though penned by over forty authors over a period of several thousand years, is an integrated message system. Not just thematically, but the various texts evidence a skillful craftsmanship in which virtually every place name, every detail, even the hidden structures lying beneath the texts, bear testimony to an overriding systematic design; a design which vastly transcends the insights of the individual contributors.
This integrity of design yields the second discovery:
2) That the source of this message system had to originate from outside the domain of time itself. We find history written before it happens. Allusions throughout the Bible reveal an anticipation of pivotal events long before they are realized. And the presence of these passages raises profound insights about the very reality we live in. Setting aside many controversial points of view, it appears that we are presently being plunged into a period of time about which the Bible says more than it does about any other period of history - including the events of the New Testament.
New Book This Fall!
This fall, Thomas Nelson publishers will release my newest book, Prophecy 2020: Profiling the Future through the Lens of Scripture. Look for details in the September issue of Personal UPDATE, or visit your local Christian book store.