Israel and Prophecy - What about Conditionalism?
(Is Prophecy Conditional? - Page 1 of 4)
The nation of Israel and prophecy seem to go together, but does that mean that every prophecy given about Israel will come to pass? What about conditionalism - the idea that prophecy, even Bible prophecy has conditions attached to it? Let's examine this question starting with an illustration.
Good parents love their children and always try to do the best for them. Sometimes, this needs to include discipline. Corrective measures are taken for good reason and only when needed. Such actions are conditional. If the child acts in a certain way then there are consequences.
In addition to punishments where appropriate, promises may be offered to encourage good behaviour. These are meant as inducements to obedience and are also conditional. If you do ... then I will give you ... .
Much (actually the vast majority) of prophecy about Isreal or otherwise is the same - it is conditional.
Examples of Conditional prophecy
The majority of God's promises made to individuals contain conditions. Let's look at some examples.
When God sent the prophet Ahijah to inform Jeroboam that He would give him the northern kingdom and establish his house, the Lord made clear it was conditional by saying:
"And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that which is right in mine eyes, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and will build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee." (1 Kings 11:38)
Some versions use the "if ... then" but even in those that don't, it is clearly implied:
"And if you give attention to the orders I give you, walking in my ways and doing what is right in my eyes and keeping my laws and my orders as David my servant did; then I will be with you, building up for you a safe house, as I did for David, and I will give Israel to you. (1 Kings 11:38, BBE)
When the Lord appeared to Solomon at the beginning of his reign, God made a conditional promise:
"And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days." (1 Kings 3:14)
After the dedication of the temple, the Lord appeared to Solomon and told him that if he would keep God's statutes, He would establish Solomon's throne over Israel forever. (1 Kings 9:4-5).
"And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel." (1 Kings 9:4-5)
Here is verse 5 in another version:
"Then I will make the seat of your rule over Israel certain for ever, as I gave my word to David your father, saying, You will never be without a man to be king in Israel. " (1 Kings 9:5, BBE)
The conditional nature of the prophecy was not limited just to his own children or only to the near future. It is commonly understood that "ye or your children" could apply to any future generation.
So, what about the nation of Israel and prophecy - does the principle of conditionalism also apply to prophecies about the whole nation? On the next page (2 of 4 of this study) we will look at
nations in Bible prophecy