Tag Archives: prophecy

The Story of the Inauguration of Saul
Your Cattle or Your Eyes

When Samuel was getting old, his evil sons were next in line to take over the nation. The people of Israel suggested appointing a king to lead them instead. But Samuel didn’t think that was a good idea, so he asked God about it. God didn’t like the idea either, because he thought that meant his people wouldn’t consider him their king. But he told Samuel to do it anyway.

So Samuel warned Israel that their king would steal their property and enslave them. And he said God would never save them by putting an end to the king’s reign. The people said they wanted a king anyway, because all the other nations had kings. When God heard this, he said Samuel should go ahead and give them a king.

A tall, handsome young man named Saul came to Samuel to see if the prophet could tell him where his father’s lost donkeys were. Before he could ask him, Samuel told Saul that the donkeys had already been found while he was away looking for them.

Then Samuel took Saul home with him and kissed him and oiled him and told him God had made him the ruler of his people. Saul hid, but when the people of Israel found out that he was to be their king, they got God to find him for them. And they dragged him out and made him their king.

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Your Cattle or Your Eyes
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The Story of the Calling of Samuel
Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed

A man named Elkanah had two wives, named Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah didn’t, because God wouldn’t let her. Peninnah kept tormenting Hannah about this for years, and she was miserable. Her husband told her she should stop crying, because she had him, which was better than having children. Hannah silently asked God to give her a son. When Eli, the priest and leader of Israel, saw her mouth moving but didn’t hear her saying anything, he told her she needed to stop getting drunk.

Then God let Hannah have a son, and she named him Samuel. She was so happy to finally have a son that she gave him away to Eli, whose sons were scoundrels. Eli tried to get his sons to change their ways, but God wouldn’t let them repent, because he wanted an excuse to kill them.

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Why the Family of Eli Was Cursed
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False prophets in the Bible

The Bible expects you to take the words of God’s prophets very seriously, because they speak for God. It doesn’t approve of all prophets, though, and it’s equally adamant that some prophets should be ignored. But even false prophets can do miracles and stuff. So how can you tell who the real prophets are?

The Bible provides a few different ways to tell which prophets you shouldn’t listen to. And it encourages us to test prophecies and reject every kind of evil. So let’s see how many of the prophets in the Bible are not actually true prophets of God, according to the Bible’s own criteria.

Some of the Bible’s prophet tests are not so useful: It suggests that if a prophet doesn’t acknowledge Jesus, his prophecies are not coming from God. But most of the prophets in the Bible lived before Jesus, so can we really expect them to acknowledge him? Well, we are talking about prophets, so maybe we should expect that of them. But still, there’s no way to know for sure that a prophet didn’t ever acknowledge Jesus. Maybe they did, but the Bible just doesn’t mention it. So that test isn’t going to be useful for evaluating prophets of the past. But don’t worry, the Bible has other methods we can use to spot false prophets.

Prophets the Bible specifically calls false

The most obvious way to tell that someone is a false prophet according to the Bible is when the Bible specifically says so:

Now that you have a good idea of what the God of the Bible thinks of false prophets, let’s see who else God’s law says should have been treated the same way…

Prophets of other gods

The Bible says if a prophet tells you to worship other gods, God did send that prophet… but he has to be executed anyway. So does anyone who claims to speak for other gods. That means these people should have been killed and not listened to:

  • Aaron was “Moses’s prophet“, but he made idols and encouraged the people to worship them.1
  • Balaam got the Israelites to worship the gods of Moab.2
  • Micah’s priest, who was also a prophet, served a guy who made his own household gods. And then when some other people convinced him to go with them and be their priest instead, he took those idols with him, so those people could worship them too.
  • The prophets of Asherah were brought along with the prophets of Baal when Elijah challenged them to prove that their gods were real. But for some reason it doesn’t say what the outcome was for the prophets of Asherah. If they had failed as well, you’d think the author would have been eager to report it… But even if their gods were real, the Bible still says prophets who speak in the name of other gods have to be killed.

Prophets who made false predictions

There are a ton of false predictions in the Bible, so that’s another easy way to spot false prophets. The Bible says if what a prophet predicts turns out to be false, God has not actually sent that prophet or spoken through him, and that false prophet must be killed. That makes all these people false prophets:

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False predictions in the Bible

The Bible says you shouldn’t “treat prophecies with contempt”… at least not without testing them first. Then you can reject the bad ones. So let’s do that. Let’s see how many of the Bible’s prophecies have turned out to be wrong (according to the Bible and/or in reality).

I’m not quite going to be able to “test them all“, though, because a lot of prophecies are unfalsifiable. That means even if they are in fact false, even if those predictions are never going to come true, there’s no way to know that. It’s always possible that those particular things just haven’t happened yet. But here’s what I will be evaluating:

  • Prophecies that specify or imply any kind of deadline for fulfillment. (These can be falsified (shown to be false) if the deadline has gone by.)
  • Prophecies that are no longer possible to fulfill, even if they didn’t originally have a deadline. (If it hasn’t happened yet in that case, it’s a false prophecy.)
  • Prophecies that say something will never happen. (These can be falsified if it does happen.)
  • Prophecies that are considered to be already fulfilled. (Some of these may not exactly be falsifiable, but I can still dispute the supposed fulfillment.)

I’ll be writing about true predictions in later posts. For now, here are some of the false ones:

Acknowledged false prophecies

The Bible doesn’t completely deny that prophecies can be false. Usually it tries to portray the false ones as having nothing to do with God, but then of course it has to go and contradict itself and attribute ALL prophecy to God.

Sometimes in the Bible, God even intentionally has prophets make false predictions. He had Ahab’s prophets tell him he would be victorious, when he knew Ahab was going to die in battle. Even God’s own prophet Micaiah, who could never prophesy anything God hadn’t put in his mouth, gave the same false prediction at first. God’s prophet Elisha, too, told a king he would live when he knew the king was about to die. God deceived his people when he told the prophet Jeremiah that they would have peace.

No more false or delayed prophecies?

In Ezekiel 12, though, God tells Ezekiel that from now on, not only will there be no more false prophecies ever again, there won’t even be any more delayed prophecies. God is tired of people thinking his predictions aren’t going to come true any time soon (if ever). So he says from now on, all prophecies will be fulfilled without delay.

That means every prediction that is made after this chronologically and isn’t fulfilled immediately is not only a false prophecy itself, but also shows that this Ezekiel 12 prediction is false. And there are plenty of those. The very next chapter is all about false prophets, who aren’t supposed to exist anymore.

In the chapter after that, God says his people are going to stop going astray and sinning. Did that happen immediately? No, if they had, God would have instantly forgiven them and not punished them. Instead, God immediately starts talking about how much he’s going to punish his people, and how much they deserve it. And he goes on like that for at least several chapters.

A few chapters later, we hear about the false prophets again, who are still having “false visions” despite God’s prediction that they wouldn’t anymore. Then God says he’s going to destroy Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia. But that doesn’t happen without delay. All of those nations lasted at least another century, except Philistia… which had already been conquered two centuries earlier.

Next, God claims that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon will completely and permanently destroy Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar did attack Tyre during Ezekiel’s time, but unsuccessfully. It wasn’t really conquered until decades later (by a different king, after Babylon was taken over by Persia). Tyre wasn’t actually destroyed until hundreds of years later, by Alexander the Great. And Tyre did later recover. It existed in the New Testament, and it still exists today.

God also claims he’s going to make Egypt a desolate uninhabited wasteland,1 which never happened. Then in the next chapter, he says the day of the Lord is near, when all nations will be destroyed. That certainly didn’t happen immediately. A couple of chapters after that, God describes a bunch of nations being destroyed. But that should have already happened if the “no more delay” thing was true, since he had already said all the nations would be destroyed. Some of those nations had in fact already come to an end before Ezekiel was written, and others continued to exist for a long time after.

God told Ezekiel that the Jews would return from captivity, which didn’t happen for a few more decades, and that the other nations would never scorn or oppress them again, which wasn’t true at all. He said Israel would no longer have malicious neighbors, but Israel has never been completely at peace with its neighbors.

He went on to claim that all the Israelites would return from the nations where they had been thoroughly scattered, so the twelve tribes would live in their land again. That never happened. The people from the former kingdom of Judah returned, but the majority of the tribes (which formed the kingdom of Israel and which were exiled first) never came back as far as I know. God says Israel will then be attacked after reassembling “in future years”. That sure doesn’t sound like it’s happening without delay.

Daniel, too, made false or delayed predictions after God claimed that those would never be made again. He predicted the rise of a unique kingdom that would “devour the whole earth“, which never happened. And he predicted that sin would permanently come to an end in “seventy sevens” (490 years?), which would be a significant delay even if it was true. And then there’s Jesus, who is said to have promised he would return “soon“, yet 2000 years later he still hasn’t come back. His words were certainly not “fulfilled without delay”.

More unacknowledged false prophecies

Back when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, God claimed that from then on all animals would become submissive and would fear humans. But the Bible says some animals, like the Leviathan, remained fearless and never submitted to humans at all.

God said if Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, all the water in Egypt would turn into blood. Not just the big exposed natural bodies of water, but all the water everywhere in Egypt. But that’s not quite how it turned out. People were still able to get actual water in Egypt. They just had to dig a little.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised his people that he would never inflict his wrath on them again, or even rebuke them again. But God does continue to constantly rebuke his people and talk about how he’s planning to punish them, all throughout Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and quite a few times in other later books as well. God can’t even predict his own behavior.

Isaiah said the uncircumcised would never enter Jerusalem again, but Jerusalem does not have a ban on uncircumcised visitors. God failed to predict his own actions again when he said he would bless his people from then on, but then later he decided to curse them all.

John the Baptist predicted that someone greater than him would come after him. This is supposed to have been fulfilled by Jesus. But according to Jesus himself, as someone born of a woman, he could not have been greater than John.

Jesus claimed that anyone who came to him would never be hungry or thirsty again. So are all Christians “breatharians“, able to live without eating or drinking? Of course not. Jesus is wrong, as usual. Even if you interpret his claim metaphorically, he’s still wrong.

Jesus also claimed that everyone who believed in him would be able to do everything he could do and more. Specifically, he said they would be able to handle snakes and drink poison without being harmed. Unfortunately, he was wrong, and a lot of people have died trying to do those things. Being a Christian doesn’t give you any of those abilities.

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The Story of Balaam’s Ass
God Can't Make Up His Mind

The Israelites wanted to peacefully pass through the country of the Amorites on the way to Canaan. But the king of the Amorites wouldn’t let them, because God made him stubborn. So to punish the king for what God had made him do, the Israelites murdered all the Amorites, stole all their possessions, and took over their land. When Balak king of Moab found out about this, he was terrified of Israel. So he decided to hire Balaam, a prophet of God, to curse God’s chosen people. Great idea, Balak. /s

Balak sent messengers to Balaam to ask him to come and weaken the Israelites so Moab could defeat them, but God told Balaam not to do that, so the messengers returned to Balak without him. Then Balak sent more messengers to Balaam and offered him a large reward for cursing Israel. For some reason, “God” changed his mind and said Balaam should go with them this time.

So Balaam got on his donkey and started to go with the messengers to see Balak. But when God saw that Balaam was going with them after he had told Balaam he should go with them, God was very angry. So God tried to get Balaam to stop by putting an invisible angel in his way. Balaam’s donkey could see the angel standing in the road with a sword, so the donkey turned away from the road. Balaam beat his donkey to get it to get back on the road.

Then while Balaam was on a narrow path between two walls, the donkey saw the angel again, and it crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. Balaam beat his donkey again, but there was nowhere the donkey could go, so it lay down, and Balaam kept beating it with his staff.

Then God enabled the donkey to talk, so it could tell him that it had a good reason not to keep walking, and that he had no good reason to beat it. God also enabled Balaam to see the angel. The angel told Balaam that he was being reckless by going down the straight and narrow path to meet Balak, and that if his donkey hadn’t turned away, the angel would have killed Balaam, but spared the donkey.

Balaam said he had sinned by going with Balak’s men when God had told him to go with Balak’s men. He was going to go back home, but the angel that had been sent to stop him from going to meet Balak told him to keep going and meet Balak.

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God Can't Make Up His Mind
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Mundane miracles

A miracle is a supposed event that is contrary to the laws of nature.1 The idea is that an event like that can only be explained as the work of a supernatural being like God. But what if it turns out that an apparently miraculous event can actually be explained in terms of ordinary natural phenomena? It may still be amazing, and it may be useful… But there’s no reason to think it’s a true miracle in that case, and it’s not very strong evidence of anything supernatural.

How many of the miracles reported in the Bible (supposing the stories aren’t entirely made up) have possible natural explanations?2


There are a lot of prophecies in the Bible. A lot of them have turned out to be false. A lot of them fail to specify a deadline for fulfillment, making it impossible to tell whether they’re false. Some of them seem suspiciously like they were written after the fact. Some of them predict events that are nothing out of the ordinary. Some of them are so vague that it’s no surprise that something happened that could be considered to fit the description. Some of them have only been fulfilled because people who knew about the predictions fulfilled them on purpose. And a lot of the passages that are considered prophecies weren’t even meant to be predictions at all. That doesn’t leave very many actual impressive predictions, if any.

Jesus and other prophets in the Bible are said to have been able to read minds and demonstrate inexplicable knowledge of other people’s pasts. It’s surprisingly easy to give the impression that you have abilities like that. When people want to believe that you’re psychic, they will perceive your readings as amazingly accurate no matter what you say. They’ll do most of the work for you, interpreting whatever you say as something meaningful and accurate. And they’ll ignore everything you get wrong.

Creation, destruction, and transformation

There’s one miracle that the Bible actually admits was faked: Joseph and his steward secretly put Joseph’s brothers’ money back in their sacks, after the brothers had spent it. Then Joseph and his steward lied to the brothers, and let them think God had created some new money and put it in their sacks. How many other fake miracles are there that the Bible isn’t telling us are fake?

What’s up with that burning bush Moses found that wouldn’t burn up, before he started hearing God talking to him? Maybe it was some kind of Acacia. They can be easily flammable and slow to burn up, and they can even trigger religious experiences.

Moses and Aaron tried to prove that God had sent them by turning a staff into a snake. But the Egyptian magicians were able to do the same thing. So either they were prophets of God too, or that trick doesn’t prove anything. I’ve heard it’s possible to do the stick-to-snake trick by holding an Egyptian Cobra and applying pressure near its head. That makes it go stiff and motionless so it looks like an inanimate stick, until you put it down.

The Bible says during the first of the ten plagues of Egypt, the water turned into undrinkable blood and killed everything in it. That sounds a lot like a phenomenon known as a red tide, where a certain kind of algae causes water to turn red and toxic. That could explain some of the other plagues, as well. Frogs flee from the unhealthy water and die, bugs get out of control because of the lack of frogs, bugs spread disease among the people and livestock, etc. And the remaining plagues could be explained by food poisoning and a volcano.

The collapse of Jericho could have been the result of a convenient earthquake that the Israelites later took credit for causing.

Why did the Philistines keep finding the idol of Dagon fallen over in the morning, bowing down toward the ark of the covenant, and eventually broken to pieces? Might one of the Israelites have snuck in and vandalized the idol during the night? It wouldn’t be the first time.

How could a crowd of over 5000 people eat and be satisfied if Jesus’s disciples only had five loaves of bread and two fish to offer them? Well, it never says nobody brought their own food. And why wouldn’t they?

Some branches of Christianity consider the Eucharist ritual to be a miracle. They believe the bread and wine actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus… which just happen to be completely indistinguishable from ordinary bread and wine for some reason. Least impressive miracle ever! No explanation needed.

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The end of the world

This is a summary of what the Bible says will happen when the world ends. The predictions are scattered throughout various parts of the Bible, which makes it hard to tell how they’re all supposed to fit together. Some things just don’t fit together at all. But I’ve attempted to put everything in order and make a fairly coherent narrative out of it, using whatever chronology clues I could find in the Bible.

Fantastic beasts

In the end times, God will send many false Messiahs and false prophets. They will perform miracles, which can only be done with God’s help.1

Satan and his angels will lose a war in heaven. Then he will be thrown down to earth, where he will go to war against the Christians. A beast like a leopard with bear’s feet, a lion’s mouth, seven heads, and ten horns will come out of the sea. Satan will give the beast power over everyone for 3.5 years. All the people God arbitrarily decided not to save will worship the beast and Satan. The beast will speak against God and conquer his people.

Then a second beast with a lamb’s horns and a dragon’s voice will come out of the earth. It will perform great signs, confirming that its word is true. It will make a talking image of the first beast, and kill anyone who doesn’t worship the image. It will force all people to receive the mark of the number of the beast on their hands or foreheads.

An angel will preach the gospel to the world.2 Then Jesus will come on a cloud and harvest the earth. An angel will throw trillions of people into a winepress so Jesus can trample them to death, and a five-foot flood of blood will flow out of it. Seven more angels will bring seven plagues on the world. Festering sores will break out on the people who have the mark of the beast.3 The water will turn into blood and the Euphrates will dry up. The sun will scorch people, but the kingdom of the beast will be in darkness.

Then three frog-demons will perform signs, proving that God is on their side. They will gather the kings of the world for battle at Armageddon. God will send storms, giant hailstones, and an unprecedented, city-destroying earthquake that will split Babylon into three parts. All the islands and mountains will be removed.

The beast4 will be put in the Abyss and come back out. Then God will give power to the beast, which together with ten very briefly-reigning kings will burn down Babylon. With a sword from his mouth, Jesus will destroy the nations, the kings of the earth and their armies, and the beast and the false prophet5 will be thrown alive into hell.

God saves Jerusalem from himself

Satan will be locked in the Abyss for a thousand years, and God will resurrect Christian martyrs from every nation who have not worshiped the beast or received its mark,6 and bring them to Israel to reign alongside Jesus as priests. After the thousand years are over, God will bring unprecedented distress on everyone.

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The Story of Joseph and his Brothers
The Interpreter of Dreams

How God got Joseph into Egypt

Jacob made a fancy robe for his favorite son, Joseph. This made Joseph’s brothers jealous. Then Joseph started having dreams about his family bowing down to him. This made his brothers hate him. So Joseph’s brothers stole his robe and dipped it in goat blood, so their father would think Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. They sold Joseph to some merchants, who took him away to Egypt and sold him as a slave to Potiphar, the captain of the guard.

Inmate interprets increasingly insane imaginings

Potiphar’s wife kept trying to get Joseph to sleep with her, but he refused. Then she accused him of trying to rape her, so Potiphar put him in prison. Two other prisoners, who had been Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, got Joseph to interpret their dreams for them. Pharaoh’s cupbearer had dreamed about bearing Pharaoh’s cup, which Joseph said meant he would become Pharaoh’s cupbearer again. And it was so. Pharaoh’s baker had dreamed about birds eating Pharaoh’s bread out of a basket on the baker’s head, which Joseph said meant the baker would be executed. And it was so.

Later, Pharaoh had a dream about seven skinny cows eating seven fat cows, and a dream about seven thin heads of grain eating seven full heads of grain. None of his magicians and wise men could tell him what his dreams meant, so his cupbearer suggested asking Joseph. Joseph said both dreams meant that there would be seven years of abundance, and then seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed by this claim that he put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt, without even bothering to wait and see if Joseph’s prediction was accurate.

Do not worry about tomorrow

During the seven years of abundance, Joseph took away all the grain that was grown in Egypt and stored it up, so the people could starve sooner rather than later. Then during the seven years of famine, he sold grain to everyone who needed it in Egypt and Canaan. Joseph gave the Egyptians food (that he had stolen from them) in exchange for all their money, all their livestock, all their land, and their slave labor. He also made them give a fifth of the food they were able to grow to Pharaoh, so that they could have food.

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The Interpreter of Dreams
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Did Daniel normally eat choice food, meat, and wine?

The first chapter of the book of Daniel establishes that Daniel is not willing to ever eat choice food or drink wine. Daniel makes a big deal out of this. He has religious reasons for his dietary restrictions, as well as health reasons. He insists on eating nothing but vegetables and drinking nothing but water, even if doing so risks incurring the wrath of the king.

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Is it more beneficial to unbelievers to prophesy or to speak in tongues?

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul discusses the relative merits of prophecy versus speaking in tongues. He says as far as the church is concerned, it’s better to prophesy, because no one can understand you when you speak in tongues.1 But what about when unbelievers are around? What’s the best thing to do then?

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