WHAT IS PROPHECY? Biblical Predictions

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Biblical Predictions

By Rav B. Horovitz

Some assume that prophecy was purely a matter of Divine Grace, while others hold that it was the highest stage of spiritual self-perfection. It is a combination of both: ‘Prophecy rests only upon a very wise man, strong in moral qualities, whose mind always rules his inclinations. When he enters metaphysical contemplation, sanctifies himself, and trains his mind not to think about temporal matters, but to be bound always to the Throne of Glory, the Holy Spirit rests upon him and he becomes a different man greater than all the sages. Then, as a gift of Grace, while his bodily functions are weakened, he may be shown symbolic prophetic visions in dreams. The highest state of prophetic Revelation was granted to Moses, who was the chief of the prophets, both of those that preceded him and of those that followed him. Moses saw Divinity through a transparent glass while other prophets only had a vision of Him through a mirrored glass — the revelation passed through the personality of the prophets. Hence their variety of style. But G-d spoke to Moses directly, without the above limitations’ (Maimonides).

‘Moses and the succeeding leaders of Israel were outstanding personalities whose moral integrity and love of truth is shown by every word they left behind. They levelled the most acrimonious accusations against the false prophets who dared to present their own words as Divine Revelation. They would never have presented their words or the Torah as coming from G-d if this were not the full truth’ (Biberfeld). The prophets were conscious of the over-mastering pressure of G-d who forced them to speak even against their inclination’ (Gore). ‘The prophet’s message bears the stamp of originality, of opposition to contemporary thought, of a word of G-d forcing itself to find expression through the human instrument. Here we may reasonably claim to have a Revelation from G-d to man, independent of human reflection and discovery; a downrush from the super- conscious rather than an uprush from the subconscious’ (James).

Predictions

Many Biblical predictions have been fulfilled. (This is regarded as a test of the truth of prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:2:1).

The cultural development of mankind was predicted by Noah: “G-d grants beauty to Japheth, but He shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan will be their servant.

“(Genesis 9:27) Greece, descended from Japheth, has given the arts to civilization, while the world’s religious ideas have gone forth from the tents of Shem, the Hebrews. The descendants of Ham and Canaan were, for many generations, the slaves of other nations.

The 70 years exile predicted in Leviticus, Ch. 26, was literally fulfilled in the Babylonian Exile (Jeremiah, Ch. 11). The destruction of Judea by the Romans is foretold in all detail in Deuteronomy, Ch. 28. A Jewish king would be led into captivity before the ultimate destruction (verse 36), which happened to Aristobulus. “The stranger that is in your midst shall mount above you higher and higher, and you shall come down lower and lower,” (v. 43) was fulfilled when Herod, the Idumean, became king and maltreated the Jews. “He shall put a yoke of iron upon your neck... The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar... as the eagle swoops down... a nation of fierce countenance, that shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young. “(v. 50) This is a vivid description of the iron rule of the Romans, the only nation of antiquity that fought under the symbol of the eagle. The war of the Romans, the siege of Jerusalem with its resulting famine, the sale of Jewish captives to Egypt, mentioned in that chapter, were all literally fulfilled. The horror-full exile of the Jewish people was predicted thousands of years ago: “The L-rd shall scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth unto the other end of the earth.... Among these nations you will have no repose, and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot. But the L-rd shall give you there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes and languishing of soul.” (Deuteronomy, 28: 64-65)

The extraordinary devastation of the Holy Land throughout the centuries up to recent times, was predicted... “when they see the sickness which the L-rd has laid upon that land, which is brimstone and salt and burning, that is not sown, nor anything grows therein. “(Deuteronomy, 29: 2 1-22)

The predicted survival of the Jewish people. against all odds and despite all efforts to destroy it, with the Torah in its arms, is evidence of the truth of the words of the prophets. “The survival of the Jews, their resistance to destruction, their endurance under absolutely perilous conditions, and the fateful role played by them in history, all point to the mysterious foundation of their destiny” (Berdyaev). We are witnessing today the return of Jews and the revival of Jewish national life in the land of Israel, materially and spiritually:

“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, you will return to your heart among all the nations, whither the L-rd your

G-d has driven you. And you will return to the L-rd your G-d, and listen to his voice, according to all that I command you today.. ..And the L-rd G-d will bring you back from your captivity and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples whither the L-rd your G-d has scattered you. He will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and He will do more good and multiply you more than your fathers. He will give you increase in the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your land, for good.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-9).

The United Nations and the ideals of universal justice and peace which have become the hope of mankind (Isaiah, 2:4, 11:8; Micha 4:1-5; Zechariah 8) are clearly foretold in the Bible. The Bible has become the religious Book, per se, of hundreds of millions. It has inspired nearly every great man, and has helped to build up the culture of most nations and is the greatest moralizing power of civilization — a fulfilment of “I will bless those that bless you, and through you will be blessed all the families of the earth.” (Genesis 12:3).