Powerful Prophecies, Pt. 4
Study Guide March 5, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
We have been examining some things that you would think would also be rare, and that is; prophecies found in the Bible. But the thing is, the prophecies in the Bible are not rare at all. In fact, over a third of the Bible is prophetic material. And God designed it that way so that something that we would think of as being rare, like a prophecy and especially then it’s fulfillment, would in fact be like ‘business as usual’ for God. And God’s purpose in giving so many prophecies and then fulfilling prophecies throughout the Bible was to demonstrate to the world that He is the only God and that only God can do such a thing! Something that would be extremely rare to man is simply commonplace to God, who alone can reveal the end from the beginning. So let’s return to our exploration of some these powerful prophecies we find sown throughout a third of the Scriptures.
One of the things that’s quite remarkable about Biblical prophecy is that there are many reasons that God gave us so many prophecies throughout the Bible. But one of the understated reasons is to help cure or at least curb human nature from it’s bent toward two things in particular: Impunity and Insolence. Now, ‘impunity’ has to do with ‘exemption from punishment or judgment’ and ‘insolence’ has to do with ‘rudeness and disrespect’. And in connection with human nature and God’s Word, many people have treated God’s Word as if it didn’t apply to them, as though none of what God has said about His commandments and His judgments to come applies to them. They live their lives as though they are exempt from any of these judgments that God has warned people on Earth about. And along with that presumption is this disrespectful attitude that goes with it; thinking and living as though God’s Words are irrelevant to them and to their life.
Imagine that, how rude and disrespectful is it to God for people the world over, who owe their very life and breath to Him, to live as though God’s revelation of His will and His plan for mankind is irrelevant to them. How can the Owners Manual for life be irrelevant?
Not only is that extremely rude to God, it is also extremely dangerous, because as God said about the choices we make: we are either choosing the blessing or we are choosing the curse. And it is our responsibility to find out which of these we are choosing day by day. And of course, God prefers that people be wise and choose the blessing, because no one is exempt from the consequences of choosing the curse. And for anyone to think that he or she is exempt from that is absolutely foolish.
But how prevalent is this spiritually insolent attitude today in our culture? We find it in universities to courtrooms to media to main-street, and so on. So many people completely disregard the relevance of God’s Word and especially the authority of God’s Word over every area of life for mankind upon earth. And it seems to be getting worse; this attitude of dismissing God’s Word as being relevant to people’s daily lives, along with this attitude that they are not going to be held accountable for their beliefs and deeds in their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth. But they continue living as though they are exempt from any coming judgment warned about in the Biblical Scriptures.
But that’s where the prophecies of the Scriptures shine a spotlight in order to give some clear examples to the world that clearly demonstrate to all people that no one is exempt from God’s commandments, counsel, and warnings, and that for anyone to disrespect or arrogantly ignore God’s Words is to just increase their wages of sin, which will be paid in judgment upon them.
And so, a case in point: And for this we return to Jericho. However this was now after the walls came down and the battle was done. And in the context of it we see Joshua and the people protecting Rahab and her family, as they had promised Rahab for helping protect the Israelites as the were scouting out Jericho. And how fascinating that Rahab, who is identified as a harlot in Jericho, then becomes a converted follower of the Lord and also the great great grandmother of King David, and is named in the amazing lineage of Jesus. This is another example of how God foremost loves people, and He wants to redeem any and all who will turn to Him in repentance and faith, and He will then include them in the great work of building His family and His Kingdom.
So here’s the passage and prophecy: Josh 6:23-27- “So the young men who were spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and her mother and her brothers and all she had; they also brought out all her relatives and placed them outside the camp of Israel. They burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only the silver and gold, and articles of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho. Then Joshua made them take an oath at that time, saying, “Cursed before the Lord is the man who rises up and builds this city Jericho; with the loss of his firstborn he shall lay its foundation, and with the loss of his youngest son he shall set up its gates.” So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.” NASU
Now that seems like an odd oath, which was actually a prophecy that Joshua makes here. Surely there was more to it than that. There’s always more to it than that. Remember those two things that lurk in the sin nature of man; these attitudes of impunity and insolence toward God? Well, Jericho represented both, in the people of Jericho’s choice of idolatry and in the people’s defiance of God. That’s why Jericho is a good symbol of this world. Also, remember that the Apostle Paul revealed that upon every person’s heart who has ever lived on earth, God has written His laws. So Imprinted on the human heart is this understanding and this sense that every person is accountable to their Creator and as such every person is to seek to find Him and to then live under His authority for their lives. Therefore, Paul says; ‘Everyone is without excuse’. And of course, God promises that all who do respond to His drawing them to Himself and all that do seek to find Him will find Him, as He is not far from anyone. God is not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
But many do refuse to seek Him. Many choose to live in defiance of God’s authority over their lives. Most of mankind’s history is simply one long argument against God. Do you remember Jesus’ words before He ascended to Heaven. He said, “All authority is given to me in Heaven and on Earth.” But man’s history, from governments to classrooms to living-rooms, is filled with people basically arguing with Jesus and essentially saying, “No it hasn’t. You’re not the authority here! I can do what I want in this place or in this instance. I can do what I want in this business or in this courtroom or in this church or place of worship or in my house or in my body. I can do what I want regardless of what God has said and am also exempt from any judgment of His Word.”
And with that kind of attitude so prevalent among so many people, that’s why this prophecy from Joshua was necessary as an example to show the world that ‘no one should disregard God’s Words and no one is exempt from God’s judgments’. And so that brings us to a man named Hiel. But to catch what kind of times it was let’s look into the passage: 1 Kings 16:29-34- “Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him. It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made the Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.” NASU
Five Hundred years after Joshua prophesied about what would happen did happen exactly as had been prophesied. And note the additional information we receive here about this prophetic curse: “…according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.”
This prophecy was not just something that Joshua came up with in the heat of the moment of this great victory over Jericho. No, again, this prophecy was given by God through Joshua as an example of the fact that God’s Words are absolute truths for all people and for all times, and this would be a clear example that no one is exempt from judgment as a result of the disobedience to and the disrespecting of God’s Words.
So here was a follower of the Lord, Joshua, speaking on behalf of the Lord what would become the prophetic Scriptures of the Lord. And yet, how many other insolent people through the years have also thought, “Who do you think you are to tell us what we can or cannot do?” Remember, that’s basically what many people in Korah’s rebellion said to Moses, as well as did others say that to God’s prophets and later to His apostles. And people are still saying “Who do you think you are?” to basically to any believer who dares to share the truths of God’s Scriptures with the skeptics of the world, particularly about a value issue; a moral issue. And yet, They don’t even realize that when someone says or thinks that in response to the communication of the words of the Lord through His Bible, it is God who hears their question as well, as though they were directly saying to God’s face: “Who do you think you are?”
This Bethelite named Hiel was about to find out ‘who God was’. He was about to find out that He is the only God and there is no other, who tells the end from the beginning. Hiel chose the curse and the prophecy came to pass, as God’s Word always does. And just like Hiel, spiritually insolent people, people who think God’s Words and God’s warnings are irrelevant to their lives, are about to find out ‘who God is’. And remember, just like ignorance is no excuse for breaking the laws of the land, ignorance is no excuse for breaking the laws of the Lord. But actually, as we pointed out, everyone is without excuse, for God has written His laws on people’s hearts and they know by creation and conscience that they are accountable to their Creator and God.
But you see how powerful this prophecy was in that it anticipated the times when the people would be ignoring God’s Words and God’s Will. King Ahab had fallen so far as to worship Baal again, like the Canaanites of Jericho had. And the Scriptures pointed out that Ahab did more evil than even King Omri had done. Ahab was moving the culture even further away from God. So you see, the rebuilding the walls of Jericho was not just so that people could live their again. People had been living there for many years. No, the problem was that in rebuilding these particular walls it was like re-establishing the culture of Baal worship again for the people. It was like building back up in defiance of God’s Words what God had torn down. The attitude of Ahab and Hiel and many in the culture was that of insolence and impunity toward God. They disregarded God’s authority in their lives and they lived like they were exempt from any of God’s warnings or judgments. But as they watched Hiel begin this defiant work they saw the prophecy of God through Joshua come to pass right before their very eyes.
There is a fascinating Proverb that says: “Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.” Prov 22:28 NASU You know, we live in a world of change. It’s always been that way. It was that way in Joshua’s time and in Ahab and Hiel’s time. It will be that way until the Lord returns to establish His Kingdom on Earth. But wisdom is knowing which things we are free to change and which things we are not free to change. And we are not free to change God’s ancient boundaries of His Word, which reveal His Will for our lives and His instructions for our lives for our beliefs and our morals and our behaviors. And for any who think they can change God’s unchangeable words – well, that’s why we have the example of Hiel the Bethelite, who chose the curse by defying God’s Words and thus suffered the consequences. He found out he was not exempt from God’s judgments, and neither is any other man or woman who has ever lived.
That’s why the only wise thing to do is to live under the authority of Jesus Christ and to live in union with Him as your Lord and Savior.