Biblical prophecy is nothing like the so-called prophecies of the world. It is accurate, reliable, and sure. The prophecies of the world, by contrast, tend to be vague, phony, or contrived. One of the most famous 'prophets' of all time must surely be Nostradamus, the French mystic who is increasingly popular these days, especially within New Age circles. It is unfortunate that so many persons fail to distinguish between the false prophecies of the world and the genuine prophecies of the Bible. (These we have discussed in many other articles at this website.)

To illustrate, I have dug up an article from a South African newspaper article from 1999. You will remember the many doomsday and Y2K computer prophecies made as the new century approached. The ridiculousness of the Nostradamus oracles stands in stark contrast to such biblical prophecies as Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Micah 5:2.

(Note: the following article is not guaranteed for accuracy. Rather, it demonstrates the way many non-believers may be influenced to disrespect biblical religion through the influence of bogus prophecy.)

Johannesburg, South Africa

Fearful Japanese will be heading for the hills on July 4, believing that a Nostradamus prophecy will see Mount Fuji erupting or the North Koreans nuking them ... John Matshikiza reports. Thank goodness we South Africans only believe in crime and witchcraft. While older countries have been going mad over the coming of the new millennium for several years, we have hardly even started bothering. Local councils around the country have already surrendered to the idea that their whole infrastructure will be swallowed up by the millennium bug. And while the great centres of the world -- New York, London, Paris, Toronto -- have constructed massive edifices that will stand for another thousand years to mark the passing of the second millennium, we are just about getting into gear to think about an all-night party on Table Mountain on December 31, or about banging in the dawn with a thousand native drums on Durban's East Beach on New Year's day. Millennium-schmennium, we say, and thumb our collective nose at the dire predictions of a holocaust, the second coming and the arrival of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. We're getting ready to party, and then we'll see what happens next. Meanwhile, in the Holy Land and in Arizona, doomsday cults are gathering, preparing their followers for the end--which will really only be a new beginning for those who are prepared to be saved. Millennium fever has seized the imagination of the northern hemisphere. For some of those sophisticated citizens, however, another six months is too long to wait for the end of the world. A new scare has been invented, bringing the whole disaster scenario forward to this very weekend.

It is all due to a geezer called Nostradamus. Nostradamus was born in France in 1503. For most of his life, he was not renowned for being a great fortune-teller. But one day he fell into a trance while sitting on a brass pole and staring into a bowl of water. It is not recorded whether this was standard practice among members of the educated elite at that time, but as a result of the trance on the brass pole, he had all sorts of visions which he wrote down in a notebook. It was probably all intended to be jokey stuff, especially as he chose to write in a random mixture of Latin and medieval French (which was even trickier than modern French) and would throw in the odd impenetrable anagram to keep himself amused. Nevertheless, he has gathered a small gang of followers who have proceeded to use his so-called prophecies to spread alarm and despondency around the world ever since. The authority of the so-called prophecies is based on the vague similarity they seem to bear to real events that have already happened. Most famous of these is the prophecy about World War II. He had referred to an event which he called "the rise of the Hister," sometime in the future. 'The Hister' was what the River Danube was called at that time, and anyone could have judged that Nostradamus was referring to a very normal event: the tidal rise of the famous European waterway, common to most major rivers. However, when a man named Adolf Schickelgruber changed his name to "Hitler" and proceeded to set off a chain of events that nearly led to the destruction of the world, the triumphant Nostradamists proclaimed that their hero's "Hister" was actually a reference to "Hitler". The latest scam is based on four lines of doggerel that were buried deep inside Nostradamus's notes. "In the year 1999 and seven months," he says, "from the sky will come a great King of Terror/He will resurrect the King of Angolmois some say this refers to the second coming of Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun/Before and afterwards Mars rules happily."

Thousands of people in Europe and Japan have persuaded themselves that this means that World War III will begin on Sunday July 4 (they worked this precise date out according to Nostradamus's astrological charts). The no-nonsense, technologically inclined Japanese have been particularly struck by the appalling prophecy. Up to 40% of them have started panicking, taking it to mean that Mount Fuji will explode on Sunday, or that there will be a sudden and unexplained nuclear attack from North Korea that will take out most of the population. Bunkers are being dug, and the hardier citizens are hiking into the hills to be above the line of the floods that will inevitably follow the catastrophe. Here in South Africa, far from the madding crowd, we are in a position to see it all in perspective and take a different interpretation. Could the "great King of Terror" who will come from the sky not simply be referring to the Lord of the Universe who has been stalking our cinema screens in the latest Star Wars adventure since the end of June? If this take is the right one, then Nostradamus will only have been out by about a week. And the Japanese can relax.

-The Mail & Guardian, July 2, 1999.

This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2004. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.