Church of God, New World Ministries

Bible Q & A

Q. Some say that prophecy is conditional in certain instances.  Could you please elaborate?
A. Yes, certain parts of the prophetic writings are conditional, although some prophecies such as those predicting Christ’s second coming and the utopian millennial reign are unconditional.

God gives man a choice; if we repent He will have mercy on us.  Leviticus 26 illustrates this principle.  It enumerates the blessings and curses prophesied to come upon ancient Israel according to whether or not they kept the covenant God made with them.

The same concept is found in Deuteronomy 29 and 30:  “When all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you this day, with all your heart and with all your soul; then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes, and have compassion upon you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. . . .and he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. . . .And the Lord your God will put all these curses upon your foes and enemies who persecuted you . . . . for the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God . . .with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 30:1-10).

The entire book of Jonah is an account of how God sent one of His prophets to the ancient city of Nineveh to warn them of their impending doom if they did not mend their ways.  They repented and “proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them: (Jonah 3:5).  And “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it” (verse 10).

Another example of the outcome of prophecy being delayed by repentance is found in II Chronicles 32.  God had miraculously healed Hezekiah of a fatal disease, “But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud.  Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem” (verse 25).  God told him, “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house . . . shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left . . . “ (II Kings 20:17).  “But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah” (II Chron. 32:26).  Again, when a nation or individual repents, God has mercy on them.
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