Take great care with Biblical prophecy and the law.

Isa 17-18

In chapter 17 Isaiah utters a prophecy against the city of Damascus. Now history tells us that the Israelites conquered Damascus but did not destroy it. They agreed to trading rights but left the city alone. The Assyrians also conquered Damascus, as did Alexander the Great and the Romans who redesigned it extensively. So the city has had its ups and downs. Currently it is the largest city in Syria but who knows, with the current conflict it could still end up a heap of ruins. Some of the difficulties in understanding prophecy are firstly that it may have several layers of meaning and secondly that in looking backward it is hard to tell whether an event has already happened or is yet to come as some Biblical scholars would say about Damascus.

Similarly for Cush (Egypt); it has had a history of revolving kingdoms established through invasion by foreigners including Alexander, the Romans and the Arabs. The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon attested to in 1 Kings 10 may be a reference to an Egyptian Queen but there is little in either of these prophecies to say definitely what they mean or whether they have already happened or are yet to come.

A spiritual view of the prophecies is that they refer to a time when surrounding nations (the enemies of God) will be subjugate to those of the Kingdom of God, that is the people of the new Israel – the saints. After all, the physical nation of Israel was completely obliterated from the political world from 500 BC until it was re-established in 1948.

1 Tim 1:1-11

By contrast, Paul tells us that those who devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies promote controversial speculation rather than advancing God’s work. Rather than getting worked up about the mystical prediction of future events, Paul says that God’s work is advanced by faith and its goal is love. The law is not for the righteous (they are saved by faith, remember, not by obeying the law), but for the unrighteous in order to point out (a whole list of) things that indicate that a person is not living by faith and love. These people need to turn to God in faith and love.

This is the challenge of this century to today’s church! How do we present faith and love to the community without judging people by the yardstick of the law as if to say “well if you don’t do any of the things on this list then you are OK”? The answer to this question is going to require a mighty lot of prayer.

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One thought on “Take great care with Biblical prophecy and the law.

  1. Thank you Jim. The church as a whole needs to get the revelation that we do not change people. God does. We are to love people, to pray for them. Its the work of the Holy Spirit to do the internal change that happens. When we love others as we are called to love- our focus will be on the person created in Gods image not on their ungodly lifestyle. If someone is born again then they receive the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is to create a desire for holiness. To live a life that will honour Jesus. This is not normal because naturally we want to live for ourselves. To no longer give into the lusts of the flesh but to put aside these lifestyle choices and starts to live a life of transformation. This only is something that the Holy Spirit can do. All God is looking for is a heart that is willing. And sometimes we have to ask God to make us willing to be willing. And sometimes we will fail and others will fail. But this is where the church comes in to come alongside those who struggle and help them to get back on track to finish this race. This wonderful quote from the Ragamuffin Gospel by Brendon Manning is a bit of an eye opener.

    “Because salvation is by grace through faith I believe that among the countless number of people sending in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands, I shall see the prostitute from the Kit_Kat Ranch in Carsen City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with gruelling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street ,who, as he falls asleep each night after his last “trick”, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday School”.

    I wept after hearing that quote read out to me , hopefully all our hearts will be softened.

    “The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners”, Brendon Manning

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