Do you want to know the future? Are you concerned about the way things are going?
You may have noticed Internet talk about a man named Nostradamus. His full name was Michele de Nostredame, and he lived in France from 1503 to 1566. In his lifetime, he published books that seemed to predict the future.
Our problem with those books, in modern times, is that his writing was poetic and cryptic, never easy to understand. Today, the writings of Nostradamus are very popular, and many people believe that he predicted the future; and they believe we are now living in those future times.
Nostradamus worked as an apothecary or pharmacist, before he became famous for predicting the future. His sideline business has been described as ‘occult fortune teller’ and that is probably why Christians don’t talk about him, very much.
His family was Jewish, but they converted to the Roman Catholic religion, apparently before he was born. That might be important because many Jewish people believe in the tradition of “Kabbalah” a type of Jewish mysticism. Those ideas are popular today with celebrities like Madonna.
“Nostradamus” is a variation of the family name “Notre Dame” which means ‘our lady’ and is obviously Catholic and maybe a bit showy. It’s also the name of a cathedral in Paris. Possibly the family really wanted to emphasize the point that they were Roman Catholic, at a time when dangerous religious persecution was common. He lived during the Protestant Reformation and a Muslim invasion of Europe, when people fought wars about religion.
After an outward conversion, it was common for old folk beliefs to continue quietly, in families, and that might have influenced Nostradamus.
Also, the Jewish Bible, our Old Testament, has many prophesies that predict the future. I think Nostradamus expressed ideas, to a Roman Catholic audience, that came from Jewish culture; from Bible prophecy, or from Kabbalah, or something similar. These ideas were different and interesting to his audience because of the contrast to occult fortune tellers who used Tarot cards, or read people’s palms, or studied the stars as astrologers.
Something made Nostradamus interesting and famous, in his lifetime.
- READ: Nostradamus
The ideas of Nostradamus have continued to be popular, and many people believe he predicted events in history that happened after he died. For example, he apparently predicted a powerful and dangerous person with a name like Hesler, in a country to the East. That might be Hitler in Germany.
Of course, poetic and cryptic writing can be read in different ways, but many people believe Nostradamus predicted the future, and his books have continued to be popular.
And then we had COVID.
The idea that Nostradamus was an important prophet expanded when we our own plague arrived. He married, as a young man, and then he lost his whole family, to the plague of his time. He lost his wife and two babies to a disease, as a newly married man.
Also, just before he was born, Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, and the world started changing; also, Protestants and Catholics fought in the Reformation; a Muslim army, under a Turkish Sultan, invaded Europe and besieged Vienna; and the plague killed millions, including Nostradamus’ wife and children.
There is an old proverb, probably from China “It is a curse to live in interesting times.” Nostradamus lived in complicated times, surrounded by disruption and danger.
We might be feeling some of the same stress, and that could make Nostradamus more interesting to us:
So, did Nostradamus know something important about us? Are we living in future times that he predicted?
Yes and no.
NO: The prophetic books of Nostradamus are poetic and cryptic, and they don’t mean anything, or they mean what we want them to. People today can use vague ideas from Nostradamus to give authority to their interpretation, really their own ideas. Nostradamus is a respectable cover to any idea, if his writings can be ‘interpreted’ to give out a message that we want to promote.
YES: Nostradamus lived in disruptive times, surrounded by danger. In general, he predicted a disrupted future that will be an echo of his own times, with famine, plague, and violence.
He had some wisdom that we should consider.
In the Bible, the future is the past. We might think that Bible books like Revelation predict strange things that we have never seen before, which we call Bible Prophecy. We might miss the point, if we want to understand our future, we should know our past “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1) That story includes our ancient rebellion, when we removed ourselves from our creator.
The last days in Bible Prophecy are just more of our human nature, acting out. That includes the Antichrist, and Armageddon and 666. The Bible predicts the end of our mistake, when God restores what we have ruined:
“But in keeping with God’s promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13)
History is the future, in the Bible, and that is part of the appeal of Nostradamus. The disruptions that he lived through are a common pattern that we will see again. That prediction is correct.
Other predictions by Nostradamus mean nothing or they mean whatever we want them to say. He did not make his specific ideas clear.
Specifically, we are told in the Bible that we are looking for a time when God breaks our pattern.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21: 3 to 5)
We can see God’s future today: