What do you think about warnings and prohibitions?
How do warnings and prohibitions, especially God's ones, influence your life?
Daniel 4:20-22 (NIV 23-25)
“Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
“This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes"
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In the message corresponding to Daniel 2:14-16 in this site, you can read about a 3 1/2 years period that we lived as ilegal immigrants. The Lord provided not only a roof over our heads, but also supplies of food, personal articles and services (as laundry, for example) by hand of some brethren of the church, especially Latin Americans (spanish speaking)
There was a time we were visiting a beautiful Chilean family which used to help us by that time. During the visit, we found that they had a promise-box, like us, and we began to browse it most in order to compare the verses. For someone who is not acquainted with these boxes, they are aproximately a Christian "phylactery", those little boxes that the Jews tie in their arms or their foreheads and contains verses of the Scripture (but the promise box has not leather straps; you just place it visible at home and usually read one verse, for instance when you pray before meals)
The first card we picked was a punishment warning, which I cam't remember now but it was like Deuteronomy 28:15 ("However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you". We did like Homer Simpson, "it's practice", and took another one. But it was also speaking about punishment. When we picked a third one in the same style, then we broke out laughing and asked them, "Excuse me, is this the promise box or just the lashes?"
Generally we use to take to us merrily those verses that speak about the love of God, and about the blessings coming upon our life because we have received Him. But not all of us receive gladly a reprimand, warning or rebuke. Nebuchadnezzar's dream was anything but funny, because it was about a seven years punisment, and even when he didn't know who or what was represented by the tree, it seems to be that he maybe feared that it had to do with himself.
Maybe you are wondering the difference between promises, warnings, commandments or prophecy. The promise boxes, even when they are so called, contain not only promises, but all four and even more - they reflect the Word of God, and in the Bible we find everything. The king received from Daniel the interpretation of a prophetic dream (the allegorical images of prophecy, after interpreted, are so real as literal prophecies, or glossolalia expresions being interpreted) And "prophecy" is a very wide term. In Revelation, the great prophetical book of the NT where John received so many visions and prophecies about the future, we read:
"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later"
Everyone understand the word "prophecy" as a declaration of something which is going to happen in the future. And it is not wrong, but it isn't describing yet everything that prophecies contain. There are prophecies about things of the past - "what you have seen" - where the events are considered from God's perspective, and about things of the present - "what is now" - where same thing applies. If you read the books of the Prophets, from Isaiah to Malachi, you'll find larger passages of prophecy not only about the future but about contemporary or even past events. Generally they come with God's warnings because of the consequences of sin, and a call to repentance.
Prophecies, then has to do with the future, but also with the present and the past. Another feature is that they can be absolute or conditioned. Well known absolute prophecies are those concerning the Messiah (how should Our Lord come, what would He do) and concerning Israel's people (how God should scatter them throughout the whole earth, because of their sins, and gather them together again to give them back the land he had promised to them, because of His covenant with his servant David and with father Abraham)
The absolute and predictive prophecy shows us God's immutable character. He is the same yesterday, and today, and on eternity. Human society changes, and we can talk about ages, eras, etc. But God abides in eternity. His thoughts, which are higher than ours, are the same ones from eternity to eternity. When Balak, king of Moab, send for Balaam a prophet with no flawless reputation, to declare curses upon Israel, God warned the prophet, and commanded him to speak only the words He would give to him. And in every statement, Balaam blessed Abraham's offspring. Balak was furious, because he was paying Balaam to do exactly the opposite thing. And the prophet's answer was, "God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" (Numbers 23:19)
God's unchangeability is the guarantee to us, that the event which have been prophesied are going to happen, because He is Holy and Perfect, and His decisions, which are also holy and perfect ones, don't change. But sometimes you'll find "conditioned prophecies". Many have raised the question about those occasions when God has "repented", and has pardoned the ones who were destined to punishment according to a prophecy. But it only means that not all prophecies are absolute, because everything that God speaks is prophecy in some way. Then can we understand that He inspires the absolute and the conditioned also. Which are these "conditiones" prophecies?
Observe these verses in Jeremiah 18:7-10:
"If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned"
"And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it"
Note that Jeremiah received the revelation from God himself. Certain prophecies of punishment and destruction were spoken because of that evil which prevailed on some peoples and kingdoms, but if they would repent, God should take back the punishment and destruction. This process can be seen in teh book of Jonah. God didn't let Jonah's prophecy to be fulfilled, because the Ninevites repented, every one of them. In other cases we can see how other prophecies of blessing and edification are annulled, because of sin. This is the reason of the fall of Israel's and Judah's kingdoms before Assyria and Babylonia. The absolute prophecy is not an "insurance policy" so that we can live in sin.
These conditioned prophecies are sometimes called different. Observe these examples:
“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name"
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you"
To declare guilty (sentence, curse) or to give a long life (blessing, promise) are the results of ignoring or following God's commandments (these two are from the well known "Ten Commandments, in Exodus 20) Conditioned prophecies are often associated with commandments. A prohibitory commandment usually has a WARNING of punishment, and a commandment which calls to some action has a PROMISE of blessing.
In the interpretation of Daniel to this prophetic dream of Nebuchadmezzar we can see warning, promise and comandment. These verses (NIV 23-25) has a character of warning, which can be noted in the words of the angel "...until you acknowledge..." The prophecy was conditioned to a change of the king's mind, a repentance.
How do warnings and prohibitions influence your life?
Maybe you have seen this sign when travelling or drivig. It is a warning that there is a railroad crossing your way, and there are no barriers to hinder you if a train comes. To ignore this sign could be dangerous for you, and expose you to a collision with a train.
Another well known sign to every one who has electric or electronic devices at home. Sometimes you can read, "high voltage" as well. It is warning you that you shouldn't open the device or touch something inside it - especially when it is connected - and that every repair is to be done by an expert. To ignore it could give an electric shock, perhaps a lethal one.
Read now Hebrews 11:7 :
"By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith"
Noah received God's warning, and built an ark. This process was many years long, and in the meantime he preached other ones about the coming peril. Sadly, no one repented but Noah and his near relatives. This is a remarkabla passage, especially because Our Lord Jesus Christ uses it as illustrative of the events which will happen when He comes back to this world. In Luke 17:26-27 we can read:
"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all"
The prophecy about the flood was a warning to Noah and family, but a prophecy of judgement and death to the rest of mankind. In the same way, the prophecy about Jesus' Second Coming is a blessed hope for us believers, because our Messiah will restore justice on earth and bring blessing upon his own. But the same prophecy is a death warning to the ungodly, because there will be a period of time before He comes when God's judgements will be poured on earth, a period which has been called "Great Tribulation". To remain on earth after the church's rapture - something we are going to talk about if the Lord allows - will be a terrible punishment, that the Lord compares with the flood.
If you haven't received yet Jesus as your Lord and Savior, let me tell you that this prophecy is about everyone on earth. In this world you see dictatorships and persecutions, but they are nothing if you compare with the coming ones. There is also war, famine and pandemics, but nothing to compare with the coming ones. The sinister images which we can read in the book of Revelation, from chapter 6 to 19, are not a collection of allegories; these visions represent real events which will come on this earth.
But there is a way out of this. the only thing you need to fo is to bow your knees, confess your sins to Jesus Christ and ask him for pardon, and that He comes to your life to be your Lord and Savior. Receive Jesus! He'll give you salvation and eternal life!
May the Lord bless you!
In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!