Prophecy, prophecy, prophecy and some more prophecy. Predictions…
Alongside getting blessed and helped, ever get troubled by what is / has been prophesied?
Maybe you are blessed when someone puts their hands up and apologises for getting it wrong? Well a big honour to anyone who walks in integrity and humility when that takes place… And yet, and yet there is something much deeper than accuracy that is often involved.
To compound issues there are inaccurate predictions recorded in Scripture. [There is in some charismatic circles a teaching that the prophets of the Old Testament spoke the ‘very words of God’, those in the New did not speak in such a way (Agabus is quoted). This approach was essentially formulated to back up a view of the inerrancy of Scripture, the New Testament being ‘apostolic’ and so the ‘very words of God’. Seems that whenever we start with a ‘this must be the case’ and then impose it on Scripture that we come to find out it does not stack up!]
So to the inaccuracies. There are a number of examples, and I am not thinking of ones such as Jonah and the ‘reversal’ of the word due to repentance. Here is one example:
Jeremiah prophesied that (king) Jehoiakim would die a death without any honour. No one would mourn for him, his corpse would be dragged around and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem; unburied his body would decompose in the sun (Jer. 22:18-19, cf. 36:30). Jeremiah also prophesied that no descendent of his would sit on the throne (Jer. 36:30-31). As it turned out, however, Jehoiakim received a proper burial and his son succeeded him as king (2 Kings 24:6).
The predictions and the (non-)fulfilments are both recorded in Scripture.
Accuracy is important… but there is always something deeper that is more important.
There is an interesting passage in Luke 9 when Jesus and the disciples were on the way to Jerusalem. They were not welcome in some of the Samaritan villages and so the disciples asked if they should call down fire on them! Jesus turned and rebuked them (Luke 9:54-56).
In some Manuscripts (and rightly rejected) there are a couple of additions, the disciples say, ‘should we do what Elijah did’ (1 Kings 1 we read that Elijah twice called down fire on a group of 50 people), and we also read that in Jesus’ rebuke he added that they ‘did not know what spirit they were of’. Both additions are almost certainly not original, but seem to be from a scribe / scribes who are trying to make sense of what was written. I like the sense they make of the rebuke.
The problem is not their appeal to Scripture, perhaps even the problem is not their discernment / revelation, the problem was their spirit.
If the (additional to the text) explanation is deemed a good one it is very telling. We can be right but wrong. We can be right at a level but wrong at a fundamental level. Certainly this is where the weight of Scripture lies. It is not a simple judgement of ‘right / wrong’ but of the effect, and the effect runs along the ‘life / death’ paradigm.
Prophesying from our expectation causes all kinds of problems. Peter (and most of his compatriots) had an expectation about the coming Messiah. He received revelation that Jesus was the Messiah… had Jesus not rebuked him and he would have posted on some famous prophetic word internet site he would have prophesied ‘be ready, Jesus is about to come and kick those Romans out, restore all us nice people to tell them what do’. The revelation was affirmed by Jesus, and the expectation came from the ‘dark side’.
In the final days within Jerusalem before the fall of the city hope was kept alive by prophetic utterances that knew of the deliverance of God, after all remember our roots, God is the God of the Exodus. Imagine how the hopes rose in 68AD when the Roman general had to return to Rome in the year of the ‘four emperors’… And within 2 years all collapsed, at great cost.
Vested interest. Interest tied in the case of Peter and Jerusalem to national interests and a strong ‘dominion’ theology that the people of faith will rise to the top, vindicated visibly from on high.
Yes I am disturbed when predictive prophecy does not come to pass… but am more disturbed by some deeper issues.