Thursday, March 24, 2011

Types of Prophetic Event (4) - Protective Judgments

God sometimes assesses a nation and decides that it has become so evil that it is beyond saving. In this situation, he then has no choice but to allow its destruction to minimise evil. I refer to these as protective judgments, rather than destructive judgments, because their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. God does not engage in mindless destruction. He always destroys empires when that it is the best way to constrain evil.

The cross totally changed the situation on earth. Most Christians have no idea of the extent to which God’s ability to work on earth was constrained prior to the cross.
  1. Until Jesus died and rose from the dead, God could not pour out his Spirit on all people. The Holy Spirit could only work in the hearts of a few special people: prophets and godly kings. He did not have the power to change hearts or convict people of sin. He could not cause people to be born again.

  2. Raising up prophets was extremely difficult, because most were corrupted before they were old enough for God to use them. Samson is an example. God wanted to use him as prophet and his parents kept him holy, but he was overtaken by a spirit of violence and foolishness that severely limited his ministry. Hannah’s prayer and dedication of Samuel was a huge turning point, because she provided God with a man who was holy enough to be an effective prophet (1 Sam 1:11). Moses’ sister and mother faithfulness were critical to his emergence as prophetic leader. These were rare exceptions.

  3. There was no ability to cast out demons. If demons gain control of a society, there were no tools for dealing with the situation. As there control increased, greater depravity would emerge. Stirring up another nation to destroy an evil culture was often the only way to prevent the depravity from spreading. The demons would not be destroyed, but they lost the cohesion they gained by working together in one place.

  4. God chose a special nation to help him change the world, but they lost their way and continued to be part of the problem.

In the Old Testament environment, prompting one nation to destroy another was often the only way to restrain evil. This did not destroy the evil spirits, but the disruption of war breaks down their uneasy unity and causes them to fight against each. Concentrating in one place allows them to leverage their evil. When evil spirits are dispersed and isolated, they do much less harm.

Sodom is an example. It was taking depravity to new level, so God needed to stamp out the evil before the rest of the land was contaminated. In this case, he was able to use volcanic activity, because Abraham’s authority in the city gave him permission to take action.
The longer a ruler is in power, the greater their ability to do evil, so allowing a new one to emerge was often the best way to deal with evil rulers. For example, Cyrus of Persia emerged to take control of Babylon when it was getting out of hand. King Herod’s died when he became a threat to the merging church (Acts12:21-23). Protective Judgments limit evil by eliminating evil rulers.

Jeremiah reminded the nations that God was entitled to destroy them, if they caused too much tumult and trouble.
The tumult will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the LORD will bring charges against the nations;
he will bring judgment on all mankind (Jer 25:31).
God has created and blessed everyone on earth, so all nations and political leaders are accountable to him, even if they have not directly made a covenant with him. The standard is higher for those who have made a covenant with God, but every nation is accountable.

Destructive Judgments have the following characteristics.
  • Although these judgments can be very destructive, their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. If the powerful nation were not destroyed, it would inflict terrible evil on the world.

  • God sometimes sends a prophet to warn a nation that is on the brink of being destroyed. This ensures that everyone understand that God is at work. Daniel warned the King of Babylon that the ‘writing was on the wall” for his regime (Dan 5). Everyone knew that God was behind its destructions.

  • The Old Testament prophets announced several protective judgments. These prophecies give God the authority that he needs to bring judgment against the nations that have gone wrong.

  • In some situations, evil is so entrenched that there is no hope of change. In these situations, no warning may be given.

  • An evil nation that is about to be destroyed will sometimes repent and get a second chance. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn that it would be destroyed (Jonah 1:1). When he finally obeyed God and sounded a warning, the people of Nineveh believed God and forced their king to change (Jonah 3:5-10).

  • God is just. He always judges nations justly (Gen 18:25)

  • My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm (Is 51:5).
    This prophecy was confirmed by Jesus. He made a public commitment to justice for nations and cities (Matt 11:20-24). He will treat every individual with justice, but full justice may only be received at the last judgment).

  • God takes no pleasure in destroying an evil nation that has become a threat to life. He was pleased when the people of Nineveh opened their hearts to him.S

    hould I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals” (Dan 4:11)?

  • God prefers less drastic methods for dealing with evil nations. When the people at Shinar concentrated evil to oppose God, he confused their language two disperse the influence of evil (Gen 11:8).

  • God will often rescue righteous people from a city or nation that is about to be destroyed. Lot and his family were rescued from Sodom, before it was destroyed (Gen 19:12-17).

Often Partial
Isaiah (13-21) Jeremiah (46-52) and Ezekiel (28-32) prophesied the destruction of various nations that would go over to evil at various stages during Old Testament history. However, when I analysed these prophecies further, I found that prophecies of the destruction of an entire nation are rarer than is usually assumed. In many of the prophecies, the destruction is partial.
  1. The prophet sometimes warns that the king or his armies will destroyed, but the rest of the people survive. For example, Ezekiel warns of the destruction of Tyre (Ez 27:21), but Isaiah promise that the people will return to their trading activities (Is 23:17,18).

  2. Other prophecies warn that the key cities will be destroyed, but the rest of the nation will survive. Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of the cities of Hazor and Kedar in Arabia (Jer 49:28-33). Isaiah promised a few survivors (Is 21:16) and life in Arabia continued.

  3. A prophet would often warn of destruction at one point in history, but promises restoration at another time. This is the normal rising and falling of nations. Jeremiah warned that Elam would be destroyed (Jer 49:36-31), but promised that it would be restored much later in history.

    Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam
    in days to come,” declares the LORD (Jer 49:39).
    Elam is in modern Iran, so this promise has been partially fulfilled already.

  4. Some nations will be destroyed, but will turn back to God in the future. Isaiah warned of the destruction of Cush (Is 18:6), which is now Ethiopia. He also promised that in the future, the people will come to faith in God (Is 18:1).

  5. Some prophecies of destruction have not yet been fulfilled. Isaiah prophesied the destruction of Damascus but this city still exists, so the prophecy is waiting to be fulfilled (Is 17:1). If this happens at the end of the Times of the Gentiles, it may not be a total destruction. Any nations that get through this season can be transformed by the Holy Spirit, so it would not need to be destroyed.

Sometimes several prophets must be read to get a full picture. One prophet will warn of destruction, but a different prophet gives a promise that the nation will be restored. They are not in conflict. It is just that some prophets did not get the full picture. The following are examples.
  • Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Egypt (Jer 49:15,16), but Isaiah reveals that Egypt would eventually come to faith in God (Is 19:25).

  • Ezekiel warned that Ammon would be destroyed (Ez 25:7), but Jeremiah promises that it will be restored in a later time (Jer 49:6).

  • Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Moab (Is 15:1; 16:13; Jer 48:42), but Jeremiah promised that Moab will be restored in the future.

  • Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in days to come,” declares the LORD. Here ends the judgment on Moab (Jer 48:47). Jeremiah seems to be saying this is the final word on Moab.
  • Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Philistine, but Ezekiel promises that they will eventually know the Lord (Ez 25:17)

Total destruction seems to be prophesied for only two nations.
  • Most of the Old Testament prophets warned of destruction of Babylon (Is 13:19, Jer 50:39). Jeremiah suggests that it had gone too far to be saved.

    We would have healed Babylon,
    but she cannot be healed;
    let us leave her and each go to our own land,
    for her judgment reaches to the skies,
    it rises as high as the heavens (Jer 51:9).
    Even this destruction was partial. The city of Babylon was totally destroyed, but life has gone in the surrounding area (Iraq).

  • Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Edom (Jer 49:15,18; Ez 25:13). Edom and Moab were the descendants of Lot and are often linked together in prophesies. I am not certain why Jeremiah prophesied the restoration of Moab (Jer 48:47) but not Edom. Jeremiah suggests that justice required the total destruction of Edom (Jer 49:12).


Ron McK said...

I have listed the four types of judgment that I can identify from the scriptures. If you think that something is missing or does not fit, made a comment.

curious said...

ummm.... so God has been showing me stuff that lines up with your interpretation of scriptures but i have tend to just think i was crazy b/c i've never heard a single christian leader explain any of the scriptures this way (since i'm pretty young i always just assumed my leaders knew more and kinda just chalked it up to them just being things i could never understand). i really would love to get in contact with you and learn more.

Ron McK said...

Follow the link to Kingdom Watcher and you will find an address.