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Prophecies Aren’t Predictions of the Future (You Can Look It Up)

hays-bookRight this moment’s publish is a component 2 of a 3 half sequence on why Jesus didn’t come again quickly as he mentioned he would—or in technical phrases, why the parousia is delayed.

The posts are co-written by Christopher M. Hays and C. A. Strine and based mostly on the latest e-book edited by Hays, When the Son of Man Didn’t Come: A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia.(You’ll be able to click on on yesterday’s publish for extra data on our authors.)

The gist of yesterday’s publish (Hays) was that, certainly, Jesus advised his disciples that he would come again quickly however then didn’t. Right this moment’s publish, written by Previous Testomony scholar Strine begins to inform us why.

Put up 2: Prophets aren’t Fortunetellers or Meteorologists (by C. A. Strine)

How does one clarify with any mental honesty a Second Coming that Jesus mentioned would come quickly however didn’t? As Christopher talked about within the first publish, we imagine it comes all the way down to how one understands “predictive prophecy.”

We expect that the statements about Jesus’ return within the Gospels are prophecies, which aren’t meant to be predictions of future occasions. Now that actually sounds bizarre.

Besides, it isn’t.

When most individuals learn one thing referred to as prophecy, particularly predictive prophecy, they assume that the statements in regards to the future intend to explain precisely what the prophet understands, by means of divine inspiration, will really occur sooner or later.

We have a tendency to think about prophets like divine meteorologists offering a long-term forecast. Predictions of doom and gloom or pictures of plentiful blessing are taken to be statements about what the longer term will be like. That’s what prophets do: they inform us now about what issues will be like then, a while sooner or later.

Solely that’s not what the Previous Testomony tells us.

The Ebook of Jeremiah comes closest to giving a mannequin for the way predictive prophecy works, and it’s somewhat totally different than the “predict the longer term” mannequin.

Certainly, Jeremiah makes it very clear that some predictive prophecy will not be meant to return go in any respect.

Let’s have a look at Jeremiah 18:5-10. This passage explains that God reserves the chance to alter course even after the prophet who speaks on God’s behalf predicts blessing or cursing.

Then the phrase of the LORD got here to me:  Can I not do with you, O home of Israel, simply as this potter has executed? says the LORD. Identical to the clay within the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O home of Israel.  At one second I could declare regarding a nation or a kingdom, that I’ll pluck up and break down and destroy it, but when that nation, regarding which I’ve spoken, turns from its evil, I’ll change my thoughts in regards to the catastrophe that I supposed to deliver on it. And at one other second I could declare regarding a nation or a kingdom that I’ll construct and plant it, but when it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I’ll change my thoughts in regards to the good that I had supposed to do to it.

In different phrases, God might not ship the anticipated punishment if the folks repent, or conversely withhold a predicted blessing if the folks do evil in God’s sight.

Statements in regards to the future are descriptions of how dangerous it may be, or how plentiful God’s blessing may be. All of it relies on what folks do.

Prophecies are conditional statements. Predictive prophecies clarify what’s on provide, not what has already been determined.

This dynamic is highlighted later in Jeremiah (ch. 26, to be actual). After having prophesied the destruction of the Temple—clearly not a well-liked place in Jerusalem—the clergymen, the prophets, and all of the folks condemn Jeremiah to loss of life (vv. 7-9) due to his prediction of doom.

However then the elders of the land recall that Micah had predicted the same destiny for Jerusalem. In addition they recall that, on that event, Hezekiah (the king reigning at the moment) didn’t attempt to eradicate Micah as a result of he was irked by his dire prophecy; somewhat, the specter of destruction provoked Hezekiah to plead with God to spare Jerusalem.

And God did. Disaster averted.

Micah’s prophecy didn’t come to go, however drove Hezekiah to alter his methods. And that made him a good prophet. An excellent one certainly.

Prophecy doesn’t merely search to foretell the longer term, however to alter the current.The potential of future catastrophe is supposed to alter present habits, to encourage folks to repent, to show again to God, and to reside in a method that can persuade God to carry again judgment.

Or, when blessing is promised, prophecy goals to encourage folks to persevere in following God’s instructions, to take action with all of the extra conviction, and to remind them that backsliding into rebel may persuade God to not bestow the nice issues supplied to them in any respect.

Prophets need to activate sure behaviors of their audiences, not prognosticate future occasions. They’re like dad and mom warning kids in opposition to silly habits and inspiring good habits, not climate forecasters making an attempt to let you know whether or not or not you’ll want an umbrella at noontime tomorrow.

That is the case across the historic world and the Previous Testomony (as we focus on within the e-book).

Assume, as an example, of the e-book of Jonah. This prophet is little doubt a comic book determine, in a comical e-book, however certainly one with a severe level.

C. A. (Casey) Strine

C. A. (Casey) Strine

Why does Jonah resist going to Nineveh? Exactly as a result of he knew that alerting the folks of this international nation to the potential of God’s punishment would trigger them to alter their methods (Jon 4:1-4). Jonah needed God to punish Nineveh; he knew his “prediction” of punishment may change their habits and keep away from that end result; so he ran away.

Within the e-book we present how this similar view of prophecy lies beneath passages in Isaiah, 2 Samuel, early Jewish texts, and, as Christopher will clarify within the subsequent publish, the New Testomony too.

Prophets are usually not fortunetellers or climate forecasters. They don’t seem to be claiming to foretell an inevitable, unchanging future, however to alter the way in which that folks reside within the current.

Once we learn predictive prophecy—within the Previous Testomony, the Gospels, or elsewhere—we have to ask what it needs to activate us to do, not what it would prognosticate in regards to the future.

As we’ll see in our subsequent publish, that is simply what New Testomony reveals us.

[Part 3 coming tomorrow . . . ]

See a few of Pete’s well-liked books: The Bible Tells Me So (HarperOne, 2014),  Inspiration and Incarnation (Baker 2005/2015), and  The Sin of Certainty (HarperOne, 2016).

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