The Prophetic Scriptures

In the prophetic Scriptures God discloses to man what is His purpose.  In them He very often speaks of future things in the past tense, forasmuch as He knows that He will ultimately prevail. Or, consider Ezekiel's prophecy: 'I will overturn, overturn, When God says, 'I will,' the recipients of His promises may fully assured, for He is faithful that promised (Heb. 11. 11).   His enemies, however, should fear and tremble at His word for His threatenings are no idle words.  His 'I will' is always followed by further timely action.  'He goes straight forward' (Ezek. 1.12), and all that is in His path becomes as nothing.  He doeth what He will in the army of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth (Dan. 4.35)

Moreover, although men are sometimes His instruments in the accomplishment of His word, they are not thereby relieved of their responsibility.  Assyria was His rod (Isa. 10. 5) although in doing what he did the Assyrian king was unaware that God was using him.  Rationalistic arguments on this subject must not be allowed to cause us to have any misgivings as to the justice of God.

'Those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets . . . He hath so fulfilled' (Acts 3. 18). Observe carefully the word 'so.' The wicked deeds of man fulfilled the prophecies of God. It is not that God decreed man's deed: He rather decreed the plan which involved the over-ruling and utilization of such wicked deed.  

Orr has rightly written: 'Man's free actions are not regarded as being excluded from God's fore-ordination (Acts 2. 23), nor is the latter to be conceived of in any way over-riding or doing violence to human freedom. Man acts freely, as nature acts necessarily, but it is God who appoints the time, place and circumstances of the free act, permits its happening and over-rules it and is issues for the furthering of His own wise and holy ends.’

Why for instance, was it upon a tree that men hanged the Son of God? (Acts 5.30).  The answer is because it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that hangers upon a tree” (Deut. 21.23), so the by the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus ‘He became a curse’ (Gal 3.13), though in a substitutionary manner for those who were irrefutably eligible for it.  But this did not absolve man from guilt.  ‘Ye took Him and ye slew Him, hanging him on a tree is Peter’s charge to the guilty rulers (Acts 10.39; 5.30).  In fact, Christ died pursuant to God’s purposes and plan: He also died at the hand of guilty men, and for our sins.

Or, consider Ezekiel’s prophecy: ‘I will overturn, overturn, overturn, until he comes whose right it is. (Ezek.21.27).  This refers to div one sovereignty in human affairs.  The Scriptures record some of these overturnings: secular history records others: further overturnings are within the knowledge of the present generation.  God thus overrules history with view to the advent of the true Heir of the Kingdom.

What right, it may be asked, has God to interfere in human earth (Dan. 4. 35)• affairs if He is not sovereign ? Where His claims are despised His hand of judgment rightly falls.  Foreseeing this, the Lord Jesus wept over Jerusalem as He foreshadowed the invasion of the armies of Titus and the inevitable horrors of vengeance that were to overtake Jerusalem (Luke 19. 41). Yet the destruction of that city and the scattering of the Jewish people were pursuant to the wider plan that, not in that city nor yet in any other city will men worship the Father (John 4.21).  A period was about to be inaugurated when true worship would not be limited to time or place.

The fact of prophecy pre-supposes God's sovereignty, that the prophetic word is directed to man is because of his responsibility.  Hence in those writings are to be found interwoven foreshadowings, promises, warning, pleading, exhortations and the like.  All the Scriptures, and particularly the writings of the prophets are written on the basis that God has rights over and and that man has duties towards God.


© Douglas Carr 2021