The Crystal Ball

People love the idea of the crystal ball, everyone wants some way to view the future. That is why they read the pundits, and scope out the latest financial advice. Not all crystal balls are associated with psychics and occultism.

We seek to know the future in small ways and large ways, in legal .. and for some illegal ways. Some is the outcome of our desire for wisdom and some is our desire for control, and it isn’t always clear which we seek the most.

This time of year is when crystal ball gazing becomes the most evident, it seems intrinsic to the New Year. Compare and contrast that to the Jewish New Year, the Yom Kippur and Feast of Tabernacles.

I’ve been reading a number of stock forecasts, not for guidance but just to get a grip on how people are thinking. Stocks are an area where people get serious about interpreting the horizon in many areas, government, global, economic, and social. I used to think the whole esoteric symbolism of that part of the business section was boring. It seemed made for greedy one-sided fatcats… but now that I have some of the vocabulary down and can unlock the information a bit I find it is full of much more useful applications. I guess anywhere that people are putting their dollars is where the hive of very smart people will buzz.

Jesus had something interesting to say about prognostication.

He said,

“When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

I think about this verse quite often, partly because I garden, and partly because I live on very flat tree-spare land where the sunrise and sunset are quite evident. To discern signs of nature is a practical science, from the renewed interest in predicting earthquakes and tsunami’s from that data to the age-old practice of phenology, observations of minute change in the environment. People like to collate data and create models for future reference. Jesus did not criticize this, but rather pointedly challenged the blindness that we exhibit in not applying this knowledge and thinking process to the more important procedure: assessing the trend of the times.

We want to know if our stock will do well, or if we wil have to pay more in gasoline prices, but we don’t much care if our nation goes to hell in handbasket. Or where we are headed for our eternity. This relates to the parable of the rich farmer and his endless building of storehouses. Obviously prosperous and discerning of practical matters, the man had lost sight of his soul.

There is a great deal of pathos in that statement, ‘to lose sight of ones own soul’.

Back to comparing the religious example of the New Year and the secular. The secular is all about the pragmatism and internal control of the outward circumstance, or at least protecting ones interest in the turn of events. The Yom Kippur example has more to do with introspection, with assessment of how we treat one another and how responsive we have been to God and His requirements, with that reality of the spiritual. It involves adjustment of ones life and view as measured by standards, and taking time for repentance and gauging how ones actions affect ones world. This is no uncertain crystal ball gazing. This is the certain sure word of scripture, the things that God has plainly laid out for man to have success, peace, and abundance. Who doesn’t wish for that?

Micah 6:8

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Do these things and you won’t need a crystal ball to foretell your future… some things hold longterm reward no matter what the circumstance.