Religion, Theology and Self-Improvement Sundays: What Is Prophecy? Part IX

I have seen the reaction of a Black person, from America, who reads Genesis 15:13-14 for the first time. Almost immediately, the person considers the relevance of that prophecy to himself or herself. They see it as right away connecting to the actual history of the Western hemisphere, over the last 400 years.

This has been my personal experience, with people that that I have shared the verses with; people, who are Christian, for the most part, yet who subsequently inform me that they had not paid much attention to the Old Testament and had not even been taught of those verses. Most of these people tell me that they find it peculiar that these verses are not taught, in any religion, as having a relationship with the slavery that Blacks have suffered in this country.

I can't remember the exact date that I first read these verses but I do remember that it affected me profoundly. In the first years of my study of the world's various religions, I was stunned by the fact that none of the major theologians in today's major religions discussed these verses in relation to what we have gone through in America. To me, it seemed that the Black slavery experience was too big to miss; was a deep spiritual experience; involved the wholesale conversion of Black Africans from their indigenous religions to that of Christianity; and was an event of great evil - a sin perpetuated against a group of people. Surely, I thought, such a momentous event like this would be handled and addressed by theologians in Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

And finally, I thought that Christian theologians would be able to indicate where what happened to Blacks in America was written of in prophecy. To me, it simply is not reasonable to believe that God has foreseen the end of the world and revealed it to His prophets and yet somehow missed the history of America. It just has never seemed reasonable that millions of Black people taken from one land and brought to another and made slaves were an event that would be absent from the pages of scripture. But in my study that is all that I found. I encountered people who emphasized the Black skin color of the great Biblical figures but not anyone who could show me the Black experience in America, from God's perspective, and in God's word. Even if the verses had an initial reference to a group of people 4,000 years ago, I figured that they undeniably had a second reference to us in this country. And that possibly, history had repeated itself.

Why is it that next to nothing is available in religious teaching and theology that connects Black slavery in America to the prophetic references contained in scripture? Why is the subject off-limits when it pertains to Blacks and the exclusive domain of Jewish people? Why can't theologians, who may believe that Jewish people fulfilled these verses 4,000 years ago, see the predictions contained in the Torah and Old Testament as pertaining to Blacks as well?

Next week we will begin to look at the case that Genesis 15:13-14 and other prophecies in the Bible were and are being fulfilled by Blacks in this country. We also will look at the ability that this argument has to shake the foundations of the theology that has developed in support of the world's 3 major religions.

Cedric Muhammad

Sunday, July 23, 2000