Conditional Blessings and Cursings
Since the "Reformed" folks believe we are puppets tugged along helplessly by our divine strings, a brief article such as this becomes necessary. It shows the simple and Scriptural fact that man has a true will which can impact God's program.
This is not an exhaustive listing, but sufficient to demonstrate the fact that sometimes God's declarations are conditioned upon the response of the people. Many times the conditional nature of the declarations are not directly stated in the declarations themselves, but are a given, just as prayer can move the hand of God (James 5:16), so too God looks upon the heart and deals with man accordingly.
Elijah and King Ahab
And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD. Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat. But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house. - 1Kings 21:17-29
In this passage, God declared coming judgment upon King Ahab. But when Ahab humbled himself in repentance, God withdrew the judgment He had declared, or at least, the judgment was stayed until the succeeding generation. God was not telling a lie when He declared judgment would fall upon Ahab himself, nor was He "caught by surprize" at Ahab's repentance. The passage merely illustrates that God works with us. He could've judged Ahab anyway, but He does as He pleases, and sometimes that includes allowing a person repentence.
Isaiah and King Hezekiah
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. - 2Kings 20:1-6
In this passage, Isaiah is told to give Hezekiah the news that his death was about to occur. The declaration is explicit: "You shall die and not live." But Hezekiah prayed to God and pleaded with him, so God healed him and added fifteen years to his life. Again, God was not telling a falsehood when he proclaimed Hezekiah would die. It was true. But it was conditional. And God, looking upon the heart, delayed the death of Hezekiah for an additional fifteen years.
Jonah at Nineveh
The story of Jonah is an important example in this issue because Christ himself appeals to this story to demonstrate the conditional coming of the kingdom, and judgment to fall on Israel for rejecting the kingdom. First, the ministry of Jonah follows:
And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. - Jonah 3
We see here that the actions of Nineveh, even the king and all the people of the city by his decree, had a geniune impact on God's dealings with them. This is the issue we find in the New Testament, in which John Baptist was preaching repentance that the kingdom of God should come. We will get into more detail of John's ministry in those articles pertaining to it.
Now, as mentioned above, Jesus himself uses this story to illustrate the situation facing Israel. In Matthew 11, Jesus is performing miracles and the people took this as indication He may be the Messiah they had been looking for. Jesus confirmed this by quoting the prophecy of Isaiah 35:1-8 as referring to these miracles, and also as referring to John preparing the way of Messiah. Then in Matthew 12, Pharisees said his miracles were actually performed through the power of Beelzebul (Satan), and not of God. Notice what Jesus says:
But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. - Matthew 12:28
Kim Riddlebarger uses this verse to teach that this is one among several times the Kingdom was established, but that silly idea isn't what the text means. It means that the miracles as prophesied through Isaiah are proof Jesus is the Messiah bringing the kingdom to Israel.
The Pharisees go on to ask Jesus for a sign:
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. - Matthew 12:38-41
Jesus prophesies of his resurrection as the undeniable sign, and in fact this is the force behind the offer of the Kingdom in the book of Acts (see Acts 3:17-21). But you can see above that Jesus is prophesying that even though he will be raised from the dead, the Jews will reject Him, and He says the men of Nineveh will stand in judgment against them at the last day because they had repented when confronted with a choice, whereas the nation Israel would not. This subject will be expanded upon in our upcoming article pertaining to the purpose, content and termination of the book of Acts.
|Home | Statement of Faith | Feedback | Discussion Forums | Site Map|