Few individuals in history enjoy the staying power of Michel de Nostredame, better known as “Nostradamus” – the 16th century French astrologer and supposed seer.
Come December reporters file stories regarding his purported predictions for the coming year. That’s exactly what the New York Post’s Alexandra Klausner did earlier this week in a piece with a headline warning, “Brace yourself for more war and famine.”
The source for most of the prognostications is the astrologer’s 1555 book, Centuries: The Prophetic Quatrains of Nostradamus. Those who expect an easy read will be disappointed. It was written in what’s referred to as “quatrains” or four lines of rhyming verse, 942 of them in all.
While leading with the claim that this next year will be full of gloom and doom, it takes Klausner until the end of the article to acknowledge the Frenchman supposedly suggested 2023 would be marked by the revelation of the antichrist and a world war.
To be fair, there are still a few weeks left before the ball drops in New York City’s Times Square, but fans of Nostradamus have never let facts stand in the way of juicy, cataclysmic and maybe even outlandish predictions.
The main problem with the 16th -century legend is that his writings are so vague and sometimes covering such basic ground that many of the things he was allegedly alluding to are bound to happen in a fallen and sinful world. Since time began there have been floods, fires, famine, and all types of disaster. Sadly, people kill people. Dictators rise and fall.
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun,” we read in Ecclesiastes (1:9).
History may not repeat – but human nature certainly does.
Christians would be wise to ignore the silliness of trying to decipher the murky ramblings that more closely resemble your daily horoscope than anything substantive or specific.
Instead, focus on the rock-ribbed prophetic truths found in the Bible. In fact, it’s the only book of prophecy that you can count on and trust. In the Old Testament alone there are over 300 very specific prophecies that refer to Jesus – and all of them are fulfilled in the New Testament.
Not only that – but they aren’t so vague as to mean anything and everything.
For example, we read in Isaiah, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (7:14). In Micah, we even find out where He’ll be born: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (5:2).
Every now and again we read of someone who claims to have “cracked the code” regarding the timing of Jesus’ return. Don’t fall for it. “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself,” said Jesus. “Only the Father knows” (Mark 13:32).
It’s natural to be curious about what’s coming or when certain eventualities will fall. The looming new year may invite the questions – but for answers, turn to the Bible and its endless and ageless wisdom, not the ambiguous pontifications of a 16th century figure. The late pastor Dr. Adrian Rogers may have said it best: “The will of God is found in the Word of God.”