Have you ever had a strong feeling that something was going to happen in the future? Maybe you sensed that something good or bad was on the horizon, even though there was no logical reason for this premonition. If so, you’re not alone. Many people have experienced premonitions or intuitions about future events. But what does the Bible say about these supernatural foreshadowings? As Christians, we want to evaluate all spiritual experiences in light of God’s Word. In this post, we’ll explore the biblical evidence around premonitions and consider how they fit into a Christian worldview.
A premonition is a strong feeling or intuition that something is going to happen in the future, often with no rational explanation for this foreknowledge. Premonitions can forecast either positive or negative events. Some examples include:
- Sensing that a loved one is in danger before receiving distressing news
- Having a strong certainty that you will get a new job, receive healing, or experience some other blessing
- Feeling an ominous dread that something catastrophic is about to occur
Christians have differing perspectives on premonitions. Some believe they are a spiritual gift of prophecy, visions, or discernment. Others are more skeptical, believing premonitions have natural explanations or could be demonic deception. As we explore what Scripture teaches, remember that God’s Word is our ultimate authority on spiritual matters.
- The Bible shows God does supernaturally reveal future events, but also warns of false prophecies.
- Both natural intuition and the spiritual gift of prophecy could explain some premonitions.
- We must test all premonitions against Scripture and godly discernment.
- Premonitions are no substitute for God’s Word, nor an infallible guide for decision-making.
- God is sovereign over the future, so we should trust His guidance even when it differs from our intuitions.
With this foundation, let’s dig into biblical evidence on this fascinating and mysterious spiritual experience. We’ll look at supportive passages but also raise questions for careful discernment. May the Holy Spirit guide us into His truth and wisdom as we study!
Biblical Examples of Premonition
The Bible contains several examples of God supernaturally revealing events in advance. These prophetic revelations occurred through dreams, visions, angelic messengers, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, and other means. Here are some biblical premonitions:
Joseph’s Dreams in Genesis
Years before Joseph was sold into slavery and imprisoned, God gave him dreams forecasting these trials and his eventual exaltation (Genesis 37:5-11). Joseph didn’t always understand the meaning, but he trusted the revelations were from God and would come to pass.
Samuel Anointing David in 1 Samuel 16
The prophet Samuel foresaw that David would be the next king of Israel when the Spirit led Samuel to anoint young David, even though King Saul still reigned (1 Samuel 16:1-13). God revealed David’s destiny to both Samuel and David well in advance.
Jesus Predicting Peter’s Denial in Matthew 26
During the Last Supper, Jesus shocked His disciples by telling Peter he would deny knowing Jesus three times. Peter refused to believe he was capable of abandoning Christ, but the premonition came true (Matthew 26:30-35). Jesus operated in the spiritual gift of prophecy.
Paul’s Shipwreck Prophecy in Acts 27
While voyaging to Rome as a prisoner, the Apostle Paul gave an accurate prophecy that he and his shipmates would be shipwrecked. Though the crew ignored his warning at first, they later witnessed the Spirit’s revelation proven true (Acts 27).
John’s Apocalyptic Visions in Revelation
The book of Revelation records John’s otherworldly visions foretelling events leading up to Christ’s return. Jesus gave John glimpses into the spiritual realm and future tribulation so the church could have hope and warning (Revelation 1:1).
These examples show God does give revelatory knowledge about the future. However, we must also have discernment to distinguish false predictions and not elevate premonitions over biblical truth, as we’ll discuss later.
Natural Explanations for Premonitions
While some premonitions appear supernatural, many may have natural causes we don’t fully understand. Here are possible scientific explanations:
Intuition and Subconscious Insight
Our subconscious minds absorb and process information without our awareness. This input can surface as intuition, hunches, or premonitions that seem to come out of nowhere. But they may simply be subconscious insights based on reasoning we’re not consciously privy to.
Coincidence and Selective Memory
With billions of people having myriad experiences each day, coincidental events are inevitable. We tend to dismiss the many false premonitions but elevate the few “hits.” Our memories can also be selective, causing us to misremember the timing and specifics of events later.
###Explanation After the Fact
It’s easy to read meaning into vague premonitions after events happen. The human mind seeks patterns and explanations. But just because we assigned meaning after the fact doesn’t mean a premonition was originally psychic or prophetic.
Stress, Anxiety, and Wishful Thinking
In times of emotional stress or crisis, our mental state can generate fearful premonitions or ones aligned with our desires. Brain chemistry likely plays a role here. But the source is our own psyche rather than supernatural foresight.
Collective Consciousness Theories
Some believe a “collective consciousness” or psychic connection allows us to tap into others’ thoughts and intuit future events. While intriguing, this remains scientifically unproven and biblically suspect.
We cannot dismiss all premonitions as natural mental fabrications. God may supernaturally reveal specifics about future events to believers through the Holy Spirit, angels, dreams, and visions. Yet we also know our minds and emotions can easily deceive or mislead us. Biblical discernment is crucial.
Premonitions as Potential Spiritual Gifts
Christians who believe some premonitions are divinely inspired often cite biblical spiritual gifts as the mechanism. Let’s evaluate two possibilities:
Gift of Prophecy
The gift of prophecy involves receiving revelations from God through visions, dreams, impressions, and the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Those who possess this gift at times receive divine insights about future happenings (1 Corinthians 12:10). However, only some with the gift operate in revelatory prophecy. Most exercise the gift by speaking encouragement and edification. With any prophetic word, we must weigh it carefully against Scripture and godly counsel.
Gift of Discerning Spirits
This gift involves sensing spiritual influences and motives beyond the physical realm (1 Corinthians 12:10). Someone with strong discernment might pick up on demonic spiritual activity and have a premonition it means trouble ahead. Or they may discern God’s protective angels surrounding a situation and sense things will be alright. As with prophecy, mature discernment and accountability are key.
If our spiritual gifts do at times surface as extra-sensory premonitions, this is still no excuse for relying on them instead of God’s sure written Word. We cannot make major decisions based solely on intuitions. Premonitions should direct us to prayer, not replace biblical wisdom.
Questions and Cautions About Premonitions
While some premonitions may come from God’s Spirit, many questions and concerns remain. As we close, here are important cautions for biblical discernment:
Are premonitions infallible prophecies?
No premonition outside Scripture itself can carry the same certainty and authority as God’s inspired Word. Even biblical prophets could err and needed accountability. Premonitions should be thoroughly evaluated against the Bible.
Can premonitions ever contradict biblical truth?
A supposed premonition that leads us into clear biblical error or direct disobedience cannot be from God. Scripture must remain supreme.
Are all premonitions from the Holy Spirit?
While God can reveal coming events, premonitions can also have natural causes or demonic origins. The enemy can gain influence by deceiving people into trusting “psychic” insights. We must test the spirits (1 John 4:1).
Should we make decisions based on premonitions?
God gave us His Word and spiritual gifts for righteous living and decision making???not premonitions subject to fleshly whims, ego and deception. Premonitions may provide prayer guidance, but never supersede Scripture.
Do premonitions mean we can predict God’s will?
We cannot presume to fully know or dictate God’s plans. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). We live by faith in biblical wisdom, not premonitions about the future.
Could longing for premonitions lead to obsession or deception?
If we continually long for supernatural insights, we may open our minds to spiritual influences claiming to satisfy this desire. Our obsession could lead to confusion and poor decisions. We are blessed simply by receiving whatever gifts the Spirit apportions us.
By approaching premonitions with care, humility and biblical discernment, we can receive true revelations from the Holy Spirit while rejecting false guidance. Though intriguing, premonitions are no shortcut to knowing God’s will and no substitute for the sure testimony of Scripture. Rather than chasing exciting spiritual experiences, pursue close relationship with Christ. His Word and Spirit promise to faithfully guide you into all His truth and wisdom for your life!