Saturday, November 24, 2007

Prophecies Are Alterable

Prophecy Is Not Predestination: Prophetic Outcomes May Be Changed excerpt from "Thus Saith the Lord" by Duane Crowther

Several misunderstandings have been observed which should be commented upon in this setting. One such misunderstanding is the erroneous belief that prophecy is a type of predestination, which inalterably fixes the course of future events. Prophecy is not predestination. It does not govern what will come to pass. The scriptures teach that when conditions pertinent to the prophesied situation change, the outcome of prophecy may also change. Revealed prophecy pre-states the manner God will later manifest His will. If God chooses to alter His intentions, He may reveal new prophecy to His spokesmen indicating different outcomes to earth events. An understanding of this principle is basic to man's understanding of many of the manifestations of God. Many examples of this principle from the scriptures can be cited. One instance is the extension of life granted to Hezekiah, a righteous king of Judah. At one time during his reign, the king became ill. The word of the Lord concerning his fate was revealed through the prophet Isaiah: In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live. 33 But Hezekiah was a righteous man who knew how to prevail with God. He pleaded with the Lord for the privilege of a longer sojourn upon the earth: Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, And said, Remember now 0 Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore."34 God heard Hezekiah's prayer and had compassion upon him. He changed his decision that Hezekiah was to die at that time, but He didn't just extend he king's life without revealing His new decision through His prophet: Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city. And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this that he hath spoken; Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down."35 Another example of new, altered prophecy being revealed is the account of Ahab, a wicked king of Israel. Ahab caused Naboth to be slain in order to obtain a vineyard which Naboth owned. Because of the king's wickedness, the Lord sent Elijah to make this prophecy to Ahab: Thus saith the Lord, Has thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, 0 mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, .. .
... for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. 36
Yet the scripture records the repentance of Ahab, which altered the condition upon which the prophecy was based. Because of Ahab's penitence, the will of the Lord changed. A new prophecy was revealed through Elijah, in which God's retribution was postponed: And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? Because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house."37 Another example of new prophecy being revealed because of changing conditions is found early in the history of the nation of Judah, when Rehoboam and his people were under attack by Shishak, king of Egypt. A prophetic warning was spoken against the princes of Judah by the prophet Shemaiah, who warned, "Thus saith the Lord, Ye have forsaken me, and therefore have I also left you in the hand of Shishak. "38 But then the condition changed. "The princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The Lord is righteous."39 With their repentance, the Lord chose to lighten His judgment upon them. A new prophecy was revealed through His prophet: When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, 'saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries.40 In yet another situation which exemplifies this principle of altered prophecy, a conditional warning was spoken by a man of God to King Amaziah during his rule in Jerusalem. The king was told that he would die in a contemplated battle against the Edomites if he used the 100,000 mercenaries he had hired from Israel: There came a man of God to him, saying, 0 king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the Lord is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim. But if thou wilt go, do it, be strong for the battle: God shall make thee fall before the enemy: for God hath power to help, and to cast down."41 Amaziah took heed to the prophecy and sent the mercenaries away. Consequently, in the battle his life was spared and he was able to conquer the Edomites (the children of Seir).42 Another example of a prophetic outcome being altered is found in the account of the prophet Jonah, who cried a warning of impending destruction against the people of the Assyrian city of Nineveh: The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown."43 But the people of Nineveh repented in sackcloth and ashes,44 "and God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way;" and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."45Because of all the tribulation Jonah had suffered before delivering his warning message, "it displeased Jonah exceedingly" that God changed His will, yet the prophet had no choice but to accept the new revelation that came to him .46 Twice God revealed to the prophet Amos judgments He had determined to bring against Israel, yet the pleadings of that prophet were sufficient to alter the conditions and prevent the curse from coming upon his people. Instead of the judgment, God revealed His promise not to send it: Thus hath the Lord God she wed unto me; and, behold, he formed grasshoppers in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings. And it came to pass, that when they had made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, 0 Lord God, forgive, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The Lord repented for this: It shall not be, saith the Lord. Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me: and, behold, the Lord God called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep, and did eat up a part. Then said I, 0 Lord God, cease, I beseech thee: by whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small. The Lord repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord God."47 Similar examples are found in latter-day scripture. For instance, the Lord revealed His will that the saints should gather to Zion, the New Jerusalem, in numerous revelations through His prophets.48 Yet the saints were not willing to support the gathering process fully. Less than half the number specified by the Lord, for example, were willing to participate in Zion's Camp."49 Some members of the Church, within Zion's Camp and elsewhere, fell into transgression; others refused to contribute their funds for the upbuilding of Zion. The conditions changed. The Lord, altering His will because of the attitudes of the Church members, revealed a new policy through the prophet Joseph Smith: Verily I say unto you who have assembled yourselves together that you may learn my will concerning the redemption of mine afflicted people Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now. But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. I speak not concerning those who are appointed to lead my people, who are the first elders of my church, for they are not all under this condemnation; But I speak concerning my churches abroad-there are many who will say: Where is their God? Behold, he will deliver them in time of trouble, otherwise we will not go up unto Zion, and will keep our moneys. Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion-" And still the saints wait, for the Lord desires that the Church as a people "may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands."51 When the Lord reveals through His prophets that which will come to pass, it is not absolute, it is not unalterable, it does not govern the future. If conditions change, God, in His justice and mercy, will alter the events He brings to pass. Man, in his wickedness, may forfeit promised blessings, but it is man upon whom the responsibility must rest. As the Master revealed, Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled? I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing. Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above. S
His is the pledge that "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say: but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."53 Thus a pattern is established. A prophecy may be given which foretells future events. It may reach far into the future and deal with events completely foreign to the era in which it was spoken, yet it will describe or imply a condition and foresee the results of that condition. However, if when the time of fulfillment draws near, those involved alter the condition through wickedness, repentance, or other pertinent action, God may exercise His power and change the outcome. If the outcome is to be different from that foretold by His prophets, He will reveal new prophecy to his servants which will set forth the altered course of events. Two further comments should be made in connection with this principle. First, there may be some instances where God has revealed to his prophets a change in His previously-prophesied program, yet the change has not been recorded or a knowledge of it made available to mankind. Such a situation, obviously, can be a cause for confusion and doubt. In instances of this kind, the saints are left with incomplete evidence, and it becomes impossible to fully understand the situation at hand unless further revelation is made known to them. However, it is fortunate that there have been few times in either scriptural history or the history of the Church where such a problem has occurred. Second, it should also be noted that scriptural evidence of prophecies being altered is very limited. The evidence indicates that prophetic alteration has taken place occasionally, but the weight of evidence clearly shows that such happenings are comparatively rare. There are but few times when the future course previously outlined by prophecy has been changed. Such instances are not indications of indecision on the part of God. Instead, they usually are examples of God's mercy and love, in situations where wicked men have repented or righteous men have sought special favors from Him. Footnotes: 32. For those who might desire further examples, a detailed analysis of the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament beginning with the examples, a detailed analysis of the prophecies recorded in the Old Testaqment beginning with the ear of the divided kingdoms is found in the author's book, Prophets and Prophecies of the Old Testament (Bountiful, Utah: Horizon Publishers & Distributors). Chapter VI , "The Early Prophets and THeir Messages,"examines the messages of numerous prophets over a 200-year span. In it is repeatedly documented a series of insights concerning the nature of prophecy which is later summarized as follows:
A. God reveals the future to His prophets.
B. Prophecy is specific and accurate
C. Prophecy is literally fulfilled.
D. God warns His prophets of approaching challenges and dangers.
E. God directs people, through His prophets, as to how they should conduct
their lives.
F. God rules the destiny of nations.
G. God will not allow men to disturb His plans.
H. When situations change, the outcome of prophecy may change.
I. When God changes a prophetic outcome, He reveals the change to His prophet.
J. Man can avert or soften a prophecy of the Lord's punishment against him by truly repenting and
manifesting humility.
K. A prophet can forsee events hundreds of years into the future, and in differing national situations.
L. God often shows the truthfulness of a prophecy by giving a sign which receives immediate fulfillment.
M. A prophet can call upon the powers of God to smite and curse his enemies. N. A prophet can call
upon the powers of God to heal and remove curses. O. God demands that His prophets be treated with reverence and respect. P. God can use a man as a prophet even though the man is not free from sin. Q. God demands strict obedience from His prophets.
R. Man should test the prophets and their prophecies by the spirit of discernment.
S. Revelation serves for commendation as well as reproof.
T. Man's life is not predestined. Man himself determines his fate by establishing in the present a causeand-
effect relationship with the future. Prophecy merely pre-states what the ultimate effect of present actions will be. U. God often uses many prophets at the same time. V. A calling as a prophet did not necessarily require that the person with this calling stand at the head of the Church.
W.God gives His prophets control over nature to further His work.
X.God protects his prophets and supplies their needs.
Y.Prophets have the power to perform miracles.
Z.Some miracles are performed by the powers already vested in the prophet.
For other Miracles he must call upon God. AA. Miracles are often used to establish the divinity of Jehovah and the authority of His prophets. BB. On special occasions God gives His servants strength beyond the normal limits of endurance. CC. Many miracles are designed for the convenience of God's servants. DD. Some servants of God are transferred from this earth to another. They become translated beings. EE. Prophets have the power to discern the thoughts and deeds of others. FF. At times people perform specific actions to intentionally fulfill prophecies. GG. The Bible does not record the fulfillment of some prophecies. This does not, however, make them untrue. HH. At times prophets must suffer martyrdom for their testimony. II. Women can also speak the Lord's will, as prophetesses.
33. Is. 38:1. The full account is also given in II Ki. 20:1-11.
34. Is. 38:2-3.
35. Is. 38:4-8. Note that a sign was given with the prophecy. This is a common occurrence. While men
are expressly cautioned not to seek after signs (see, for example, D&C 46:9; 63:7-12; Mt. 12:38-39, etc.), signs are often given by the Lord in connection with prophecies. L, connection-with-Prophecies. (See Is. 38.7_8;--Jud. 6:17-21,-36-40., 1 Sam. 2:34;14:10; 1 Ki. 13:3-
5; Is. 37:30; 7:11-16; 19:19-20; 55:13; Jer. 44:29; Lk. 2:12, etc.)
36. I Ki. 21:9-22.
37. I Ki. 21:27-29. For the fulfillment of the prophecy on Ahab's wicked son,
Joram, see II Ki. 9:22-10:11. -
38. II Chron. 12:5_ ._
39. II Chron. 12:6.
40. II Chron. 12:7-8. Verses 9-12 tell the fulfillment of the latter prophecy.
41. II Chron. 25:7-8.
42. See II Chron. 25:9-12.
43. Jon. 3:1-4.
44. Jon. 3:5-9.
45. Jon. 3:10. In the Inspired Version, this verse reads, "And God saw their works that they-turned
from their evil way and repented; and.God turned away-the evil that he had said he would bring upon them."
46. See Jon 4-11.
47. Amos 7:1-6. See also Ex. 32:9-14; Gen. 18:20-33.
48. See, for example. D&C 45:64-66; 57:1-9; 66:11; etc.
49. The call was for 500 men; they eventually marched with 205. See D&C 103:30-36; HC 2:87-88;
also D&C 105:16-17.
50. D&C 105:1-9. 51. D&C 105:10.
52. D&CS8:3.143.
53. D&C 82:10. See also D&C 132:5; 130:20-21; 82:3.

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Blogger Aaron Kim said...

The comment feature that "Retroprophet" (anti-Mormon poster on a newsgroup)says does not work does work.

December 9, 2007 at 3:01 PM  

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