Conditional Prophecies

Why does God sometimes put conditions on his prophecies?

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It seems sometimes that God puts conditions on prophecies explicitly, and it seems sometimes that he makes a statement that something's going to happen in judgment, and then it doesn't because the parties repent. And then it looks as though God himself repents. In fact, the same word is used about God that is used of sinners, and we go, "I thought God never changed his mind." Well, eternally he doesn't change his mind, he decrees whatsoever comes to pass from all eternity. However, in space and time God works with us and it's not as though he doesn't know ahead of time, nor is it that he doesn't ordain things ahead of time, but he's still interacting. We're theists, we believe that God is in personal relationship with his creation, and he's gracious. So, he does put conditions, either explicitly or implicitly, on prophecies because he desires that none should perish. I mean, there's a compassion about God that is beyond our imagination, and he delights to see one sinner repent, so his judgments are actually acts of grace toward us, or, his warning are acts of grace toward us. And I think God really does delight to change the way that he says something to us because he's also empowered us to repent.

Answer by Dr. Sanders L. Willson

Rev. Sanders L. Willson served as Senior Minister at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, TN, until retiring in 2017. He has also served on the boards of The Gospel Coalition, Union University and Reformed Theological Seminary.