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Daniel 2 — Determinate and Conditonal Prophecy

Determinate Prophecy and Conditional Prophecy

Basic Idea: Some prophecies are conditional; some are not. We are not left to guess. The student of prophecy may differentiate between them.

 

At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. Jer 18:7-10

 

 

 

 

 

And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. . . .What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. . . .And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Ge 41:25-32

 

Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. Da 2:45 

When God speaks of punishing or blessings a nation, that prophecy is made for the benefit of that nation. The nation may avert disaster or forfeit blessings by changing the conditions that led to the prophecy.

But not all prophecies are of this nature. The famine on Egypt, for example, was on “all nations.” The submission of the Egyptians to the prophet’s counsel did not avert the famine, though it did spare them from destruction.

God indicated the non-conditional nature of this prophecy by giving it twice under different symbols. In this respect, the prophecy strongly resembles those of Daniel and Revelation. Those prophecies are repeated as they are expanded. More than that, they are given in symbols.

They differ from the prophecy of Jonah, for example, in both respects. Prophesies intended to call men to repentance are couched in language those men can understand.

The prophecies of Daniel 2 that point out the destruction of the earth’s kingdoms are like those of Pharaoh under Joseph. In fact, both were given originally to a secular world ruler who was intimately connected to one of God’s faithful men. This remarkable parallel is bolstered by the parallel conclusions of God’s interpreters. Daniel wrote “The dream is certain.” There was no changing it. Daniel’s later prophecies parallel those of Joseph in terms of the time element.

And “changing it” was just the thing Nebuchadnezzar tried to do in the next chapter.

What principles do we have to help us tell determinate prophecies from those that are conditional? The latter are given as warnings or as encouragements. The former are given to show God’s wisdom. The latter are intended to be understood by the subjects of the prophecy. The former may be couched in symbolic language.

And the latter may be repeated under different symbols as evidence that they will certainly be fulfilled. In the case of Daniel, parts are even sealed until the future. The repetition also indicates imminence.

Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Mt 18:7 

 

The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. Mr 14:21 

 

There are some events, both of a blessed nature and others of a negative nature, that are essential elements in the plan of redemption. The death of Jesus was one of these. The prophecy of his death, through the sanctuary service for example, was a determinate prophecy. There was no getting around it.

But that prophecy did not involve Judas by name. It could have been fulfilled through another. Judas’ part was neither coerced nor excused by heaven.

Other prophecies of God’s blessings on his faithful people, on the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are “without repentance.” In other words, they can not be annulled. Yet the individuals singled out for blessing are by no means determinate.

This was the confusion of the Jews. They confused the determinate prophecy (that God would bless the children of the faithful, as per the Second Commandment) with the conditional element that included them, as individuals, among the children of the faithful.

 

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. . . And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Romans 11:1-5; 26-29.

 

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. De 5:10

 

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; De 7:9 

 

Paul reasons, in Romans 11, that God’s promises to the Jews have never been abrogated. Rather, those promises were only made to the faithful. Accordingly, most Jews have been cut off from the blessings. And many Gentiles have been included as members of True Israel because of their faithfulness. As such, “All Israel” will be saved.

The “chosen” ones among the nation inherit the promises. The rest are, on the whole, enemies of the gospel. Yet, they are to be beloved as family, being the literal descendants of faithful Abraham.  For more on spiritual descent as character likeness, see John 8 and Romans 8:14.

This issue, the conditional/determinate nature of the promises to “Israel” is the primary issue dividing Adventism from the rest of Evangelical Christianity in terms of prophetic interpretation.

For the Word Document, Click Here: Dan_2_-_Determinate_Prophecy_and_Conditional_Prophecy

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