Do bible code predictions have any credibility?
While this is an old issue in most Christian circles, some people are just now learning about “the bible code.”
History Channel creations such as Bible Code: Predicting Armageddon (2003) and Bible Code II: Apocalypse and Beyond (2004) as well as references to the bible codes in numerous other television series help foster the impression that existence of a “bible code” is established fact.
It’s been more than two decades since the so-called “bible codes” were first introduced in the public forum, and the sensational claims of some of its proponents can at best be described as statistically insignificant.
Yet, The History Channel continues to run its “documentaries” on the bible code, which in turn, prompts people to personally investigate the codes only to find dead ends, disappointment, or hours of wasted time.
So why should we care?
Well, if some people are promoting the bible code and bible code predictions as proof of God’s divine authorship of the Bible, then non-believers who investigate the claim could potentially be turned away from Christianity when they discover the facts about the bible code.
In case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s some background on the bible code phenomenon…
The Bible Code
In 1994, Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg published the paper, "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis", in the scientific journal Statistical Science.
In their paper, the authors set out to prove that the names of famous rabbis could be found with the Book of Genesis in close proximity to the dates of their births and deaths in such a way that chance alone could not explain.
The process relied upon “Equidistant Letter Sequencing (ELS),” whereby researchers take a single letter, skip ahead a certain number of spaces to a second letter, and then repeat the process using the same numeric interval.
For instance, let’s say you have the following line of text:
A Q J W D E B L S J N U I O S T R
By itself, this line of letters looks like gibberish, but if you bold every third letter, you get this:
A Q J W D E B L S J N U I O S T R
Looking at every third letter spells out “Jesus.”
Now, while a line of text from the Book of Genesis is not gibberish, code researchers place lines of its text into randomly chosen “matrices” creating an almost inconceivable number of possible random lines of text to choose from.
Two years after the publication of “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis,” journalist Michael Drosnin injected “the bible code” into pop culture with the publication of his book The Bible Code (1997).
In his book, Drosnin claimed not only the existence of hundreds of messages encoded in the Torah, but also the existence of what he believed were bible code predictions.
For example, Drosnin claimed to have found a bible code prediction of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination prior to the event’s actual occurrence. He even claims to have warned Israeli leaders of what “the bible code” foreshadowed in the imminent future.
But is any of this true?
Does the Book of Genesis, or any book in the Bible, really contain coded messages or predictions from God?
Bible Code Hoax?
While it’s probably not accurate to label the bible code as a complete hoax, it is accurate to say the claims of its significance have been highly exaggerated.
We have no reason to believe the result of Witztum, Rips, and Rosenberg’s paper was premeditated and intentionally misleading. But it is likely that they wanted to believe in the code’s existence in order to prove the Bible’s divine authorship to an unbelieving world.
As a result, a more thorough and rigorous examination of the code’s statistical significance did not take place until later.
This is certainly understandable.
When the bible code and bible code predictions first came to light, many Christians and Jews jumped on the bandwagon, viewing the existence of “secret codes” as irrefutable evidence of a higher intelligence who intricately crafted every letter of the Bible.
I’ll admit that when I first heard of the bible codes, I was excited. Like everyone else, I wanted further “evidence” and “proof” which would illustrate to an unbelieving world that the Bible was the undisputed Word of God.
Unfortunately, a thorough examination of the bible code and bible code predictions just does not hold up to scrutiny.
Well, in the years since the initial publication of the bible code phenomenon, the public at large has had ample opportunity to test the bible code, recreate the initial experiments, and test alternative texts.
In 1999, this led to the publication of a peer-reviewed criticism in the same journal Statistical Science. Among some of the notable conclusions of the authors:
A similar experiment conducted with the text of Tolstoy’s War and Peace achieved similarly statistically significant results.
Alternative selection of rabbinical names and dates conducted by an independent expert failed to achieve the original statistically significant results.
The text of Genesis used by the authors in the original experiment is substantially different from the original.
These are just a few of the criticisms leveled at the bible code and its
For instance, while some amazing and relevant ELS word patterns appear throughout the Torah (such as the repetition of the name “Yeshua”), other words and phrases crop up as well – including outright lies such as “Jehovah is a liar,” “There is no God,” and “Satan is Jehovah.”
If we attribute great significance to ELS codes in the Bible which assert Jesus is the Messiah, then how can we then ignore similar codes which blatantly depict false statements which contradict the Bible?
More importantly, if God is truly behind “the bible code,” we should be able to pull up unfulfilled bible code prophecies and await their fulfillment.
As the Lord says:
“Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.” Isaiah 41:21-23 (KJV)
Is the bible code really from God, or is it a modern day idol?
If it is from God, the Lord says to prove it by telling us “what will occur in the days ahead.”
The Predictive Power of the Bible Code
If ELS codes are the handiwork of God, where are the bible code predictions?
In The Bible Code (1997), Michael Drosnin cites several “messages” extracted from ELS codes in the Torah which he states portend future events.
Here’s one example:
On page 179 of his book, Drosnin states the bible code “also seems to state that the Apocalypse starts now, that within a decade, we may face the real Armageddon, a nuclear World War.” He later associates the words “atomic holocaust” with the years 2000 and 2006.
In another part of his book, Drosnin associates the Jewish year 5757 (which ended in October 1997) with a “holocaust.”
In his follow up book The Bible Code II (2002), Drosnin ends the introduction with this:
“This book begins a search for the key that may unlock the code completely, reveal our forgotten past, and our entire future. And now the search has become urgent. Because the bible code warns that we may have only three years to survive.”
Notice that he writes “may have only three years to survive.”
Proponents of the bible code tend to ignore its false predictions by stating such things are “possible futures,” rather than failed prophecies that never came to pass.
If this is the case, then it essentially confirms what we already know to be true – that “the bible codes” are a series of random man-created messages, some true and some untrue.
If a proponent makes 100 bible code predictions and, by chance, one comes true – then they’ll hold up that one example as “proof” of the bible code’s legitimacy, like Drosnin did with his Yitzhak Rabin assassination prediction. In the meantime, they’ll conveniently ignore the 99 additional failed predictions.
Even one false prediction out of one hundred is evidence that God isn’t behind the predictions to begin with.
As the Lord states:
“And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:21-22 (KJV)
The Bottom Line
In the end, we need to ask the question…
Why do we need bible code predictions?
Is it to prove divine authorship of the bible?
Jesus Christ, fulfilled bible prophecy, the holy spirit, and mountains of additional evidence already attest to the divine authority of the bible.
We don’t need the bible code to verify the Bible as God’s Word.
Do we need bible code predictions in order to know what’s going to happen in the future?
The bible already tells us in plain language what’s going to happen in the future.
In fact, if you just read the plain text of the Bible, you don’t need elaborate software programs or computer scientists to “decode” bible prophecy. It’s right there in plain daylight for anyone who wants to read it.
This is the truly remarkable design of God’s Word – not hidden codes.
God Himself insists His Word is not beyond our understanding:
“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (KJV)
Bible Code Predictions That Have Come True
That said, here are just a few examples of “bible code predictions” that have come true, and not one of them requires special software or a masters degree in mathematics in order to decipher.
In fact, they aren’t “bible codes” at all. They’re just the plain text of scripture:
Bible Prophecy: The Messiah will be born of a virgin.
Old Testament Prophecy: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)
New Testament Fulfillment: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21 (KJV)
Bible Prophecy: The Messiah will bring light to Galilee.
Old Testament Prophecy: “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:1-2 (KJV)
New Testament Fulfillment: “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Matthew 4:12-16 (KJV)
Bible Prophecy: The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.
Old Testament Prophecy: “And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.” Zechariah 11:12 (KJV)
New Testament Fulfillment: “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” Matthew 26:14-15 (KJV)
Bible Prophecy: The 30 pieces of silver will be thrown in the potter’s field.
Old Testament Prophecy: “And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.” Zechariah 11:13 (KJV)
New Testament Fulfillment: “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.” Matthew 27:3-8 (KJV)
All of these prophecies were known by the Jewish scholars of His day, yet most failed to recognize Christ’s coming.
This is why Jesus accused them of failing to recognize the “signs of the times”:
“The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” Matthew 16:1-3 (KJV)
Just like the Pharisees and Sadducees, our generation ignores the obvious signs of the times while demanding a miraculous sign in order to believe God’s Word.
In the eyes of the world, an imbedded code unable to be deciphered until the age of computers and then only understood by mathematicians and cryptographers who can “verify” and “authenticate” said code is a “miraculous sign” – something the world can finally believe in.
But would the world really believe, even in the presence of a miraculous sign?
The Bible itself, as it’s written in plain language anyone can read and understand, already constitutes a miraculous sign!
We don’t need hidden codes to verify the authenticity of God’s Word.
Instead of wasting precious hours, days, or years of life scouring through “bible codes,” why not spend that time actually reading the Bible itself?
In it, you’ll find that God reveals a number of things, such as…
"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." 1 Corinthians 3:19-20 (KJV)
Witnessing to Others
One of the reasons some people are quick to buy into the bible code is because of its perceived power as a tool for witnessing to others.
But we don’t need the bible code to witness to others. Given the past scrutiny and the immense evidence of the bible code’s illegitimacy, it’s doubtful it would have any impact anyway.
Just because the perceived wise men of this world take a position which aligns with ours (such as “the Bible is divinely authored”), it doesn’t mean we should endorse the same methods they use to draw a conclusion. For those who are labeled “wise” by this world are often foolish in the eyes of God:
“That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish.” Isaiah 44:25 (KJV)
Using the bible code to witness to non-believers is potentially disastrous. If they associate true believers in Christ with believers in the bible code, and then find out the bible code is false, then they might summarily assume that a belief in Jesus Christ is also false.
This is the ultimate danger in following any teaching which strays from the plain truth of the Bible.
Because of this, the bible code harbors some potentially negative consequences, especially when touted as “real” on networks like The History Channel, which most people perceive as a trusted arbiter of “fact.”
So what about those who already believe?
If a real bible code does exist, can it help them?
Probably not. After all, believers already believe.
Our faith is strengthened by the Holy Spirit and mountains of additional evidence. So why do believers need a “bible code”?
In light of this evidence, it’s difficult to see what good the bible code and bible code predictions can do in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ or strengthening the faith of current believers.
One of the best tools for witnessing to others and strengthening the faith of believers is bible prophecy itself.
Take the following example:
"Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel." Ezekiel 11:16-17 (KJV)
God’s promise to gather His people back into the nation of Israel – a clearly fulfilled prophecy in our day and age – dwarfs any perceived claims of so-called bible code predictions.
We should look to the bible for guidance, not mankind’s rearrangement of it into “codes.”
As Paul says:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)
Rely on the Bible as it is, and you won’t be disappointed.
The idea that secret codes exist in the bible is questionable in my opinion.
BUT, having said that, if some undeniable supernatural pattern of messages or words are found embedded in the scriptures, it would certainly go to further prove the veracity of God as the author of the scriptures, and not replace or alter the simple gospel message as it is and always has been understood by the simplest of men.
The plain un-coded message of the bible is, "if we admit we are a sinner, believe Jesus is God and that He died to pay the price for our sins and has risen from the dead and forgiven our sins, then we will spend eternity in heaven with Him".
No secrets there!!
My two cents worth ... Keygar.