08/01/2011 09:35 am ET Updated Oct 01, 2011

Prophecy and the Modern Media

There it was on the cover of Time Magazine, dated July 25, 2011, in big, bold red letters: "The End of the World!" Perhaps Harold Camping was partially correct in his prediction. He said May 21, 2011 would mark the end of the world. He missed it by two months, but he also misread the quote. In his interpretation of his vision, he mistakenly thought that "the world" referred to our universe instead of the tabloid newspaper in London.

All people dream. We all have visions, but we are not prophets. Prophets are especially tuned in to their powers of observation and association. Most people think that the prophets in the Bible saw visions that predicted the future. Not so. A prophet is a statesman; he merely relays what he sees or hears in his dreams.

Go back to Genesis. The last three dreams are those of Pharaoh, his chief butler and his chief baker. The trouble is that neither they nor the royal astrologers could correctly interpret them. Joseph, the Hebrew slave, had to be brought forth from the dungeon to explain the hidden meaning. "Do not all interpretations belong to God?" (Genesis 40:8).

A few persons may be psychically gifted. Jeanne Dixon "witnessed" the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. She did not "see" when, how or why. Nostradamus reportedly warned of Hitler in his quatrains (or was it the Hister River?). A thousand years after Moses, Ezekiel proclaimed the vision of the Valley of Dry Bones: "Hear the voice of the Lord ... the knee bone connected to the ankle bone..."

During my year's study in Israel, I was positive that I knew what the prophet had seen. "From the four corners of the earth, breathe upon these dry bones that they may live." From all four corners of the earth, Jews were returning to their homeland: from Ethiopia to the South, from the USA and Canada to the West, from India and Russia to the North, from Thailand to the East. A nation was being reborn; a new spirit was infused into the people, the long night of exile was ended. That sentiment was merely my observation and association based on my understanding of the 37th chapter of Ezekiel.

This was no different from my "prophecy" in the presence of 750 congregants several weeks before the 1992 presidential elections. Being left-handed myself, I stated unequivocally in that Sabbath morning sermon that the next president of the USA would be left-handed. "How did you know?" some congregants inquired. Simple, I responded. Before it was published and was widely known, I had observed from watching them write on television that William Jefferson Clinton, George H. W. Bush and H. Ross Perot are all left-handed.

Similarly, I also wrote in my column that the world would end in the year 5845 (We are currently in the Jewish year 5771). Did I make an eschatological study a la Harold Camping? No; I took the total number of verses in The Five Books of Moses. That number corresponds to the Hebrew word hachamah, which means "the sun." The Talmud offers the opinion that this universe is one of many worlds that God has created. The duration of our life on earth is equivalent to the length of our sun supplying us with the perfect amount of light and warmth for approximately 6,000 counted years.

The primary problem with prophecy today is that we do not receive the news accurately; it is always slanted left or right. The leftist media adheres to the mantra "We distort, We decide," according to conservative columnist Cal Thomas. Right-leaning news outlets, trumpeted as "fair and balanced," appear "fair" only in the sense that they are not good or bad, but only fair. Sometimes, a few of their more radical commentators can come across not as balanced, but as mentally unbalanced, like the Norwegian Christian fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik who massacred scores of innocent youth. His vision was as skewed in his manifesto as the vision of those extremist pro-lifers who kill abortion clinic doctors and nurses in the name of saving lives of the unborn.

When Moses was alerted by his disciple Joshua that Eldad and Medad were prophesying in the camp, he calmly responded, "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, that the Lord would put His spirit upon them!" (Numbers 11:25). Every human being has the capability of dreaming about the future. Each of us can make those visions come true. It all depends on the proper interpretation.