Prophecy: Conditional and Unconditional?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by humblethinker, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. humblethinker

    humblethinker
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    The idea that some prophecy was/is conditional and other unconditional is compelling. A book I plan on reading soon is Conditional Futurism: New Perspective of End-Time Prophecy

    For some reason I have always considered prophecy statements to be unconditional. However, it seems that there is a case to be made for the idea that some (many?) prophetic statements in the Old T were conditional, even when the conditionality was not stated or implied. If such is the case then why would it be impossible for any New T prophetic statements to be conditional?

    If we consider prophetic statements to be "unconditional unless obviously stated otherwise", then it seems that our 'rules' will force our interpretation of current and future events since the prophecy declared is unconditionally certain to obtain. This kind of thinking seems to force me into a dispy or preterist eschatology, or at least the kind in which I was not confident.

    Even since a child I have always wondered at the logic of disclosing future events to your enemy. I was told that Satan must be blinded to the understanding of prophecy but I thought it funny that we would be able to understand it so certainly though. Recently I have read that it may be the case that Revelation and at least some other New T prophecy is a representation of what were at that time and under the current conditions the best plans of both God and Satan.

    The genuineness of God is one of the most important ideas for me personally so imo all scripture must be interpreted accordingly, including prophecy. So, the question I ask myself is, "What model maintains the integrity of God's genuineness while coherently and consistently is faithful to scripture?" I am no longer compelled to hold to the idea that all prophecy will certainly obtain regardless of what conditions actually obtain. So, the idea I'd like for us to grapple with in this thread is:

    For those that believe that "all prophecy is unconditional unless stated otherwise", how do you explain prophecy given in unconditional terms only to be revealed later that the prophecy was actually conditional? For example:
    Jeremiah 26:19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them?​

    Also, how do you explain scriptures like this where God seems to directly instruct us to interpret prophecy in a conditional manner:
    Ezekiel 33:14 And if I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but they then turn away from their sin and do what is just and right— 15 if they give back what they took in pledge for a loan, return what they have stolen, follow the decrees that give life, and do no evil—that person will surely live; they will not die. ​
     
  2. thomas15

    thomas15
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    0
    I guess that once you are done with this study you will be able to argue that like in the days of the OT Prophets, the canon of Scripture is not complete.
     
  3. humblethinker

    humblethinker
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    How so? If your comment is similar to 'Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog' shtick then I don't get it... maybe you could elaborate since I usually enjoy a good laugh even at my own expense. :smilewinkgrin: While I don't think the idea of the canon now being complete is contested by anyone on the board (myself included) I do think that replies on this thread would demonstrate that ideas regarding this subject are far from being unanimous, which would be counter to what I think you meant in your reply... not sure though, please elaborate. Mine was a serious attempt at discussion.
    thx,
    HT
     
  4. Bronconagurski

    Bronconagurski
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2011
    Messages:
    790
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't think Ezekiel 33:14 has anything to do with prophecy, but about personal responsibility. Look at Ezekiel chapter 18, as it contains the same instruction. To me, this was more of an agreement or covenant between Israel and God. I have not had time to look at Jeremiah yet. I will comment on it at a later time.
     
  5. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2012
    Messages:
    17,001
    Likes Received:
    46
    cannot see prophecy as beith eithor/or though, for the lord has already decreed all future events that will come to pass, and He has taken into account those things He determined to happen, and already knows all things that man decides to do!
     
  6. AresMan

    AresMan
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2005
    Messages:
    1,636
    Likes Received:
    0
    From a human standpoint even I would agree that there would be things that one could take as "conditional 'prophecy.'" However, I would probably be wary of calling such things "prophecy." Fot instance, the Old Covenant commands are full of conditional statements to Israel of blessings or cursings. Abraham was promised that his seed would inherit land forever, yet God said that living in this land was conditional. Of course, in hindsight, we see that Christ is "the lamb slain from the foundation of the world," and that the New Covenant is "in My blood." Therefore, we see that the language of the "perpetuity" of the Old Covenant is explained in that it was "types and shadows" of Christ.

    We have to use discernment with statements of "prophecy" as being "conditional." For instance, when God told Hezekiah that he would die and then "changed His mind," we need to see all the facts before we jump to conclusions. God said that there would not lack a descendant of David to sit on the throne. We also see that Manaseh was 12 years old when he began to reign. Remember that God gave Hezekiah 15 years more to live. This would mean that Manaseh was born during this grace period. If Hezekiah had other sons, why would not the firstborn inherit the throne?

    We can look at other such instances to see if God had a purpose behind His words and that He actually knew whatthe agent would do.
     
  7. humblethinker

    humblethinker
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,285
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting and thoughtful post, thanks. I agree, jumping to conclusions, in a sense, is sometimes inevitable and it's best to think them through and be open palmed while holding them.

    As you seem to point out, some events are conditional and some are unconditional. "God said that there would not lack a descendant of David to sit on the throne." - We can now tell that this was an obvious conditional 'prophecy', if you will. Unless I'm reading you incorrectly, in a sense it seems you are sawing off the limb on which you're standing. So what of it if Hezekiah dies without an heir? Besides, Zedekiah being the last king, was there not only 100 years after Hezekiah's death for which David's throne was occupied and ever since then it has been unoccupied.

    "We can look at other such instances to see if God had a purpose behind His words and that He actually knew whatthe agent would do." - I'd agree that God always has a purpose for his words. Insomuch that God knew all possibilities for what the Hezekiah 'might' do, I would agree with your statement, since that which obtains always comes from a set of possibilities that are known to God. So yes in this sense I say it is the case that God knows what the agent would do.

    This thread being about the conditionality or unconditionality of prophecy though, so far none of us has demonstrated that "all prophecy is unconditional unless stated otherwise". If this is the case then can we say that "all prophecy is conditional unless stated otherwise"? I don't think I'm comfortable with that.
    What about, "some prophecy is conditional"? Yes, but that that doesn't get us any further than where we already are.
    What about, "under specific conditions, all prophecy is certain"? or "The certainty of a prophecy obtaining is always dependent upon specific conditions."

    If such is the case then why would it be impossible for any New T prophetic statements to be conditional? Regarding the book of Revelation: Why do we attempt to understand it as a prophetic book of which all of the depicted events will certainly obtain under any conditions?
     
  8. convicted1

    convicted1
    Expand Collapse
    Retired Staff

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2007
    Messages:
    9,011
    Likes Received:
    3
    If a Prophet prophesied something that didn't come to pass, would it still be considered a prophecy? Would he still be considered a Prophet?

    Even Caiaphas prophesied that One should die for a nation, and not the whole nation die.
     
    #8 convicted1, Aug 30, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2012

Share This Page

Loading...