Troublesome Topic: Prophecy and Covenants

The parts of the Bible that we usually call prophecy fit inside the topic of covenants, as do all other topics. I am convinced that, in reality, it would be better for us to refer to those parts of the Bible as “books about perseverance.”

Regardless of what they are called, how do these parts of Scripture fit within God’s covenant relationship with us?

1. If God wants us to give Him glory through suffering, then so be it; we should face suffering with the kind of attitude that gives Him glory because He is our covenant Lord. God receives great glory when His followers are willing to suffer persecution and martyrdom for His name. It also results in others wanting to follow God as well.

2. A proper understanding of what a covenant relationship looks like will help us prepare for hardship and persecution. A covenant relationship is serious and also intimately close. Because we are in a covenant relationship with God, we cannot decide what our relationship with Him looks like; He decides those details and our options are to obey or rebel. It is only because of God’s mercy and grace that minimally committed Christians are accepted by God on any level. He is patient with us, yet He does not lower His high standard of holiness. Being a half-hearted Christian is a very dangerous proposition and will likely result in many people spending eternity in that other place, the one they thought they were avoiding by doing the bare minimum as they defined bare minimum. Therein lies the problem, they were giving themselves the liberty to make such definitions according to their own desires – the Bible calls this “the flesh.” So, once again I say that a proper understanding of what a covenant relationship looks like will help us prepare for hardship and persecution.

3. Some people may ask something like this, “Doesn’t our covenant Lord have a responsibility to protect us?” The answer is, “Yes, but protect us from what?” God has never promised to make our lives comfortable, easy, or pain-free. His desire is to glorify His name through us; God does not work at making us comfortable because that is not His purpose. While God does not promise to protect us from hardship, He will protect us from temptations that are too much for us to handle (I Cor 10:13). But He will never violate His nature or His own principles, therefore He will never infringe on the free will that He has given us. The point is that God will fulfill His part of the covenant, but that does not include protecting us from “bad things” or from persecution.

4. It is not our job to tell people what will happen in the future; that is the role of the covenant Lord, if he chooses to exercise that privilege. The only time when humans can be involved in this type of thing is when God has given someone a special revelation about something specific and asked them to share it with others. However, what we see going on with the parts of the Bible that are deemed to be prophetic is that everyone is trying to figure out what will happen in the future so they can tell everyone else. Many would say that what we read in Revelation, Matthew 24, Daniel 9 and Daniel 12, justify these types of predictions. My point is that a covenantal relationship does not allow us to take upon ourselves something that belongs only to the covenant Lord. Jesus said to this effect: “You should not try to figure these things out, but rather, when it starts to happen, you will know it.” Instead of following Jesus, we have authorized ourselves to try to figure out the future. I will add that we don’t have a very good track record at making predictions.

This is the final lesson in the topic of Prophecy. Thank you for reading.