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What Ancient Prophetic Oracles Speak Today?

The Dalai Lama remains the foremost spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. Devotees consider him to be a line of incarnation of Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso, who lives as a refugee in India. He has become one of the most recognized religious leaders in the world today. He charismatically champions nonviolence and universal values, winning the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.  

As spiritual leader the Dalai Lama consults oracles, especially on the Tibetan New Year. An “oracle” refers to when a spirit enters a man or woman. The oracle can then give prophetic predictions, most notably predictions of the future. We would all like to have this ability as we look to the year ahead. The Dalai Lama consults the Nechung Oracle during the Tibetan New Year of Losar. The Dalai Lama also consults the Tenma Oracle, where a young Tibetan woman becomes the medium for twelve mountain goddesses.

Tenzin Gyatso, the Current Dalai Lama
Cmichel67, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Knowing the Future: The Key Power of the Divine

To know the future is beyond the ability of people. We recognize that predicting the future remains the hallmark of spirits, because humans do not have this foresight. This explains why even the Dalai Lama himself consults the Nechung Oracle. This oracle claims only to see into the future when his spirit possesses him, and only for the upcoming year. 

We can use this prophetic ability to separate messages that are merely human from messages that come from spirits. Of all those claiming the ability to foresee the future, the ancient Hebrew prophets stand unique by the sheer length of time that they see forward. They foresee not just the next year, but look forward thousands of years into the future. These prophets even look past our day to the end of history. They claimed to receive their prophecies from the Creator God. This is why they could foresee from deep history right to the end of time. See how the Creator God claims to speak through the prophet:

“I am the Lord; that is my name!
    I will not yield my glory to another
    or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place,
    and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
    I announce them to you.”

Isaiah 42:8-9

“This is what the Lord says—
    Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
    apart from me there is no God.
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it.
    Let him declare and lay out before me
what has happened since I established my ancient people,
    and what is yet to come—
    yes, let them foretell what will come.
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
    Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
    No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” 

Isaiah 44:6-8

We can test claims like this and verify or refute their prophecies. But to do this we need to first know some basic facts about the Bible.

The Bible – Really a Library

The Gutenberg Bible
Joshua Keller, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bible is a collection of books, written by many prophets and authors. It took more than 1500 years for these books to all be written from beginning to end. This makes the Bible more like a library and sets it apart from other Great Books. If just one prophet, or a group that knew each other, wrote the books of the Bible we may not be surprised at its unity. But hundreds and even thousands of years of history separated the different writers of the Bible. These writers came from different countries, languages, and social positions. But their messages and predictions were consistent with each other, forming a unified theme. They are also consistent with the facts of history recorded outside the Bible. 

Old Testament and New Testament

The books of the Bible divide into two main parts. The Old Testament, written originally in Hebrew, contains 39 books covering from the beginning of history to about 400 BCE. The oldest copies of the Old Testament existing today date from 200 BCE. They are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls (here for details). The New Testament contains the 27 books written between 40-90 CE that center on the person of Jesus. Scholars date existing copies of the New Testament starting from 125 CE. This article explains the history of the Bible’s manuscripts in more detail, but this Timeline provides a visual overview:

The Old Testament writings make many specific predictions looking into the future. This makes it unusual literature, like the lock of a door. A lock has a certain shape so that only a specific ‘key’ that matches the lock can unlock it. In the same way the Old Testament functions like a lock. Based on its predictions, only certain specific events of the future could unlock it. We saw this in Adam’s beginning, Abraham’s sacrifice, and Moses’ Passover

The Prophecy of the one coming from the Virgin

Matthias Stom’s “The Adoration of the Shepherds”
Matthias Stom, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

After Moses (1500 BCE) the prophecies become more specific, making it impossible for a false key to fit the ‘lock’. Consider one such prophecy from Isaiah (750 BCE):

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right

Isaiah 7:14-15

Here we see a very specific prophecy that very clearly looks forward into the future. It predicts what seems to be the impossible: a virgin woman will have a son. This was written down around 750 BCE. 

The only ‘Key’ fitting this ‘Lock

Sassoferrato’s “The Virgin in Prayer”
Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Out of all the people throughout history, even including world-wide mythologies, only one person has claimed birth from a virgin. This person is Jesus of Nazareth. The New Testament Gospels state that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was a virgin when she gave birth to him. This forms the center of the Christmas story.

Isaiah’s prophecy makes explicit what the riddle at the beginning of human history only hinted at. At that time the Creator God said that ‘The Woman’ would have an offspring without specifying a man’s involvement. This provides an example of how two different prophecies, each written down hundreds of years apart, by different authors and diverse settings, complement each other and predict the same event. The Virgo zodiac sign, going back as far as we can trace in human history, also remembers this same promise.

Immanuel eating Curds and Honey

Isaiah’s prophecy added further details to the one stated at the beginning. It declared that the son of the virgin would be called ‘Immanuel’. This name means ‘God with us’. This son would thus be the incarnation of the Creator God

Isaiah also prophesied that from the time this son ‘eats curds and honey’ (when just beginning to eat solid food), he will ‘reject the wrong and choose the right’. So this son, starting from this young age, throughout his entire life and without exception, would ‘reject the wrong and choose the right’. This means that he would never sin and incur bad karma. 

The power of a Karma-free person

Consider the power of the Dalai Lama. Through intense concentration over many years, he can gain much merit to pay down his karma. Thus he develops great powers, leading a nation like Tibet and also becoming a role model to the world. What then can the powers be for someone who is the incarnation of the Creator God? And also who never incurs any bad karma? Imagine what powers he would have. 

What would he do with these powers? 

The Hebrew prophets foresaw what he would do with his power and how he would bless you and me. They predicted that this son of the virgin would usher in a new kingdom. This kingdom would not be affected by impermanence and samsara. Then He would invite us to become citizens of this kingdom. We examine His Kingdom through the lens of the largest Kingdom ever established in history. The conquests of Genghis Khan across Asia, starting from Mongolia, provides an ideal context to introduce this prophesied Kingdom. We do so next.     

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