Thursday, October 20, 2011

Protective Judgments (8) - Prophetic Role

One role of the Old Testament prophets was to speak to evil nations and warn them of the approaching protective judgments. Their declarations and intercession gives God authority to deal with political evil. God’s purposes are clearer, if a prophet warns in advance. When the prophets speak clearly, the people of the world see that God is fulfilling the rainbow covenant that he made through Noah.

When announcing protective judgments to the nations, the prophets did not refer to the covenant with Moses, because these nations were not covered by it. The nations had never agreed to the covenant of blessings and curses and blessings made with Moses, so it was not relevant to their situation.

The protective judgments announced by the prophets were not redemptive, so they never gave a call to repentance and conditions for restoration. The situation was so evil that repentance was no longer possible. Protective judgment only occurs when a people or nation has gone so far into evil that it is beyond hope and in danger of becoming a destructive force on earth. The prophets reminded these nations that they had become so evil that God has no option but to bring them down. They had become a threat to God’s promise that evil will never dominate the world again.

Nineveh was an exception. Jonah was sent to announce a destructive judgment on a city that had gone too far into evil. Nineveh was so evil that God had to destroy it to prevent evil spreading, so Jonah believed there was not hope for it. This is why he did not give a call for repentance. However, a surprising thing happened. The King of Nineveh did repent and commanded the people to do the same. This caused God to defer the destruction of the city (Jon 3:4-10). Unfortunately, the repentance did not last long and the people returned to evil path that they had been pursuing. God eventually had to destroy Nineveh to prevent evil spreading (Nahum 1:1-6).

Speaking to nations to warn of protective judgment was a minor part of the OT prophet’s role. Most of their prophecies were spoken to Israel as guardians of the covenant. Modern prophets should have a similar balance. Announcing protective judgments against the surrounding nations was relatively rare.

The Outcome
Another two thousand years passed between the flood and the birth of Jesus. During that time God fulfilled his rainbow covenant by constraining evil on earth. Some seriously evil nations emerged, but God brought them down, before evil was rampant in the way that it was before the flood. When Jesus was born on earth, evil nations and empires were still at work, but they had not been able to destroy the earth. The prophets and protective judgments had limited the harm done by evil men.

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