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Relevant Bible Verses: Isaiah 41, 42:1-7, 44:26-45:6, 49:1-12

Leading Question: The “servant” of the Lord is sometimes presented as a corporate entity, sometimes as an individual – how does one tell the difference?

A recurring theme in Isaiah 40-48 is the worthlessness of idols and false religion. In these chapters, at least eight passages reflect something close to mockery toward idols and those who worship them: 40:18-20; 41:6-7, 21-24; 44:9-20; 45:16; 46:5-7; 47:10-15; 48:5. A vivid excerpt from a long diatribe (44:18-20) illustrates the prophet’s disdain for idols and those who worship them:

Isaiah 44:18 They do not know, nor do they comprehend; for their eyes are shut, so that they cannot see, and their minds as well, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals, I roasted meat and have eaten. Now shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded mind has led him astray, and he cannot save himself or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a fraud?”

Question: How does this mockery relate to that other, less-well-known thread in the Old Testament that testifies to a belief in national deities and the existence of the heavenly court in which real, live supernatural beings play a key role in human thinking?

Comment: The ideas of the national deity and the heavenly court are discussed more fully in the chapter from Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God? attached at the end of Lesson #6, “Whatever Happened to Satan in the Old Testament?” Perhaps the best illustration the idea of the national deity is the story of Naaman (2 Kings 5). One of the best illustrations of the “heavenly court” at work is found in the Prologue to the book of Job (1:6-12; 2:1-6). The vivid mockery of the idols is very memorable, and probably makes it more difficult for modern readers to recognize a cosmology which includes another whole realm of supernatural beings who are not silly pieces of wood as mocked by the prophet.

Question: How much can believers today share in vision of Isaiah’s “servant”?

Comment: The references to the “servant” in Isaiah 41:8-9 point to both comfort and outreach. Note how God extends comfort and promises strength to an Israel which is described as “a worm” and an “insect”:

Isaiah 41: 8 But you, Israel, my servant,
    Jacob, whom I have chosen,
    the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
    and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
    I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
10 do not fear, for I am with you,
    do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
11 Yes, all who are incensed against you
    shall be ashamed and disgraced;
those who strive against you
    shall be as nothing and shall perish.
12 You shall seek those who contend with you,
    but you shall not find them;
those who war against you
    shall be as nothing at all.
13 For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Do not fear,
    I will help you.”
14 Do not fear, you worm Jacob,
    you insect Israel!
I will help you, says the Lord;
    your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
15 Now, I will make of you a threshing sledge,
    sharp, new, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
    and you shall make the hills like chaff.
16 You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away,
    and the tempest shall scatter them.
Then you shall rejoice in the Lord;
    in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.
17 When the poor and needy seek water,
    and there is none,
    and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them,
    I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
    and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
    the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive;
I will set in the desert the cypress,
    the plane and the pine together,
20 so that all may see and know,
    all may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
    the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Question: What is the task given to the “servant” of Isaiah 42:1-4? Note the application of this passage to Jesus in Matthew 12:15-21, recorded by Matthew after Jesus’ healing miracle of the man with a withered hand and the plan of the Jewish leaders to take his life. Here is the quote from Isaiah followed by the one from Matthew:

Isaiah 42:1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be crushed
    until he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Matthew 12:15 When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, 16 and he ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
    my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not wrangle or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
20 He will not break a bruised reed
    or quench a smoldering wick
until he brings justice to victory.
21  And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

The Persian “Messiah”

Question: Isaiah 44-46 is rich with allusions and applications. Cyrus, for example, is referred to as the Persian “Messiah,” with the word “Messiah” placed in quotes. Why?

Comment: The Hebrew word mashiach is usually translated into English as “anointed one.” But when transliterated it suggests a more specific application to Jesus Christ.

In this connection, several points need to be considered: First, the word can refer to anyone who has been anointed, including priests and kings. Second, in the course of time, it would come to be applied exclusively to Jesus. Indeed, “Christ” is simply the transliterated version of the Greek translation for anointed one, christos. “Messiah” is simply the English transliteration of the Greek word for Messiah, messias. One way to discover how jarring this “reality” can be is simply to insert the English word “christ” in the narrative where David refused to take David’s life:

1Sam. 24:10: “This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave; and some urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s christ (= anointed).’

The king was the “anointed” one, the very human “Lord’s anointed.” But after Jesus’ resurrection, the word was capitalized, so to speak and there was only one Jesus Christ. That the Messiah was God was a very foreign idea to the people of Jesus’ day and to think that the Messiah must die and be resurrected was also a very difficult idea to grasp. But that is the way the Lord decided to do it. And in the setting of Isaiah, Cyrus was God’s “anointed.”

The Predictions Concerning Cyrus: Isa. 44:2 and 45:1

The two references in Cyrus present a tantalizing challenge. These ideas are worth noting.

  1. In Isaiah’s day, Cyrus name would have meant nothing. He hadn’t even been born yet.
  2. Modern Christians have pointed to these references as proof that God can foretell the future. That is understandable since modern secularists pour scorn on the idea of a personal God who foretells the future.
  3. Isaiah’s polemic against idols stresses the point that the true God knows the future, idols don’t. Note these vivid lines from Isaiah 46:8-11:
Isaiah 46:8-11: Remember this and consider,
    recall it to mind, you transgressors,
9 remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is no one like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, “My purpose shall stand,
    and I will fulfill my intention,”
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
    the man for my purpose from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
    I have planned, and I will do it.
  1. The idea of human freedom and possibility that humans can make a difference in human history, or put more bluntly, that humans can torpedo God’s plans, must also be taken into account. In particular the story of Jonah tells how the response of the people nullified the prediction of Ninevah’s destruction. In other words, the prophecy was successful, but the prediction failed.
  2. The awareness that the book of Isaiah covered some 300 years of Israel’s history meant that more than one person had to be involved. Many scholars have referred to the mention of Isaiah’s disciples in 8:16 as part of a possible solution: “Bind up the testimony, seal the teaching among my disciples.” Clearly the book was written by those who were deeply loyal to the ministry of the man whose name has become attached to the book.

In addition to those issues directly related to Isaiah, some other intriguing examples from Scripture show the fragility of “predictions” made in the name of Yahweh. Below are four examples, including an astonishing one from Isaiah. In addition, at the end of this lesson an article addressing the issue of conditionality is included: “Who Can Change the Mind of God?” Signs of the Times, February 1992, 25-27.

  1. The Prediction of the Conversion of the Assyrians and the Egyptians. Right in the middle of strident judgments against the nations, including judgments against Assyria (14:24-27) and Egypt (19:1-17), the book of Isaiah drops a glorious bombshell, announcing that Israel would join her two ancient enemies, the Assyrians and the Egyptians, as united comrades under Yahweh’s banner:

Isaiah 19:23-25 On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

24 On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.”

This appears to be a straightforward prediction that remains unfulfilled to this day.

  1. Prediction of Saul’s attack on David. When David was fleeing from Saul, he ended up in the town of Keilah. Saul heard that he was there and went after him. The events that follow are recorded in 1 Sam. 23:9-13:

1 Sam. 23:9 When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11 And now, will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant.” The Lord said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” The Lord said, “They will surrender you.” 13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.

In short, when the circumstances changed, the prediction needed modification. Could we suggest that a prediction is like a battery-powered flashlight? When the batteries are fresh, the light works best.

  1. Predictions of Jehoiakim’s death. Even when a prophet’s prediction comes true in broad outline, the biblical accounts vary considerably in recording the outcome. Through Jeremiah, for example, the Lord predicted concerning King Jehoiakim: “He shall have no one to sit upon the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat by day and the frost by night” (Jer. 36:30). Neither Kings nor Chronicles confirm that prediction precisely. The author of Kings says that Jehoiakim slept with his fathers (2 Kings 24:6); the Chronicler says that Nebuchadnezzar “bound him with fetters to take him to Babylon” (2 Chron. 36:6). And both sources say that his son Jehoiachin reigned in his stead (2 Kings 24:6; 2 Chron. 36:6). Did Jehoiakim suffer his predicted fate? Perhaps in the general sense of a doomed reign. But the biblical accounts do not confirm the precise details of the prediction.
  2. Babylon’s Desolation of Tyre. Ezekiel 26 describes Babylon’s desecration of Tyre. Here are some key lines:
Ezekiel 26:14-15, 21: “I will make you a bare rock;
     you shall be a place for spreading nets.
You shall never again be rebuilt,
     for I the Lord have spoken,hq
     says the Lord God.
21 I will bring you to a dreadful end, and you shall be no more;
though sought for, you will never be found again, says the Lord God.

But in Ezekiel 29:17-20, the same prophet reports that because Babylon hadn’t gotten anything from Tyre, Yahweh was giving Egypt to Babylon instead as a kind of consolation prize:

Ezek. 29:17-20: In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 18 Mortal, King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon made his army labor hard against Tyre; every head was made bald and every shoulder was rubbed bare; yet neither he nor his army got anything from Tyre to pay for the labor that he had expended against it. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: I will give the land of Egypt to King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army. 20 I have given him the land of Egypt as his payment for which he labored, because they worked for me, says the Lord God.

Another cluster of passages could be inserted here. The general heading could be “The God who repents.” Moses (gratefully, Exod. 32:11-14) and Jonah (angrily, Jonah 3:10 – 4:1) could tell us about the God who repents – the NRSV usually translates these passages as the God who “changes his mind.” But these three passages are more specific to individuals, and would further illustrate the suggestion of a battery-powered flashlight as noted above.

  1. Ahab. This first example is an amazing one for it reflects God’s grace to Ahab, one of the most wicked kings of Israel, according to Scripture: “Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel” (1 Kings 21:25).

Ahab had arranged for the murder of innocent Naboth at Jezebel’s instigation. Elijah delivered this stinging judgment:

1 Kings 21:21-24: I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. 23 Also concerning Jezebel the Lord said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.’ 24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat.”

Totally out of character, Ahab took the message to heart and repented with sackcloth. Yahweh noticed and spoke to Elijah:

1 Kings 21:28-29: Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster on his house.”

If his son had repented in the same spirit, could the judgment have been postponed further? Scripture doesn’t say.

  1. Hezekiah. On contrast with the other two examples, the extra time given to Hezekiah was not linked to good behavior. The divine decree was communicated through Isaiah:

Isaiah 38:1 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.”

Scripture says that Hezekiah “wept bitterly” and the Lord responded:

Isaiah 38:5-6: “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and defend this city.”

In short, God had spoken and then changed his mind in response to a human plea.

  1. Josiah. Towards the end of the Kingdom of Judah, the good king Josiah initiated some significant reforms. When Josiah came to the throne, Hezekiah’s reforms and great passover (see 2 Chron. 30-31) were in the past. Indeed, the king’s father (Amon) and Grandfather (Manasseh) were among the worst of the kings of Judah. But 2 Chron. 32:1-20 tells the gradual process by which Josiah awoke spiritually: At age 8 he began to seek the God of David; at age 12, he began to destroy the pagan altars and other symbols of paganism in Judah and Jerusalem; at age 18 he began to clean out the temple and that’s when they discovered the law in the midst of the rubble, probably a copy of Deuteronomy with its lists of blessings and curses. Josiah was horrified to hear the destiny of the country. So he sought counsel of Huldah the prophetess, who lived in the city. She affirmed that the city was doomed, but she also said about Josiah:

2 Chron. 34:26-28. 26 “But as to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, thus shall you say to him: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, 27 because your heart was penitent and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me, and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord. 28 I will gather you to your ancestors and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring on this place and its inhabitants.”

If Josiah’s descendants had been as serious about their faith as Josiah himself had been, could a further postponement been possible? Scripture doesn’t say. But on the basis of these passages, we can clearly conclude that God’s predictions are not locked in place. Humans can make a difference.

From an Adventist perspective, the lasting impact of the 1844 Disappointment, led Ellen White to make this striking statement about conditionalism:

“The angels of God in their messages to men represent time as very short. Thus it has always been presented to me. It is true that time has continued longer than we expected in the early days of this message. Our Saviour did not appear as soon as we hoped. But has the word of the Lord failed? Never! It should be remembered that the promises and threatenings of God are alike conditional” Selected Messages, Book 1, 67 (Ms 4 1883).

Question: Is the servant of Isaiah 49:1-12 a reference to a person or the nation or both? How does this chapter relate to the work of the Messiah and the work of the church?

“Who Can Change the Mind of God?”
By Alden Thompson
Signs of the Times, Feb. 1992, 25-27

God is in the business of changing people’s minds, especially the minds of sinners. That’s not surprising. But it is worth a raised eyebrow or two to hear God ask sinners to help Him change His own mind.

You heard right. God asks sinners to help Him change His mind. Jeremiah 26 tells the story, shedding important light on the purpose of God’s prophetic messages in the Old Testament.

In the chapter, the spotlight is on Jeremiah himself, a prophet in misery, prophesying in a miserable time. The Lord has sent him a bad news/good news message to pass on to the people of Judah. The bad news is God’s threat to destroy the temple and the city of Jerusalem. The good news shines through in the word IF: IF the message is blunt enough, suggests God, maybe “they will listen, all of them, and will turn from their evil way, that I may change my mind about the disaster that I intend to bring on them because of their evil ways” (Jer. 26:13 NRSV). It’s an earlier version of Peter’s “patient” God who wants everyone to repent and no one to burn (2 Pet. 3:9).

In this instance, Jeremiah lays down a definite IF, an approach well-attested in Scripture. Moses’ last speech to Israel is perhaps the most notable example: Blessings IF you obey (Deut. 28:1-14), curses IF you don’t (Deut. 28:15-68).

Jeremiah 26 tells us more about God’s use of the IF clause. But before we take a closer look, we should note that God does not limit himself to this one approach. In many instances He seems to drop all conditions, speaking of both doom and salvation as if they were iron-clad and sealed, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Prophecies of doom in this mode are easy to spot in the prophets. Micah, for example, on Jerusalem: “It’s all over. Zion will be a plowed field, Jerusalem a heap of ruins” (Mic. 3:12). Or Jonah to Ninevah: “In forty days Ninevah will be destroyed” (Jonah 3:4).

On the positive side, unconditional promises of salvation are also ready to hand. God takes the initiative. Jeremiah’s new covenant promise is a good example: “I will write my law on your heart. Your life depends on my certain promises, not your broken ones” (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The same is true of Ezekiel’s promise of a new heart: “I will give you a new heart. And my Spirit will make you keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Since promises and threats appear in both modes in Scripture, that is, with the IF and without, it is interesting to note how Christians bring the two patterns together – or keep them apart.

Mostly they have kept them apart. Those who stress Divine sovereignty (e.g. the Presbyterian and Reformed [Calvinist] tradition) focus on the unconditional promises and threats, minimizing the human response. But those who stress the importance of the human will (e.g. the Methodist [Arminian] tradition) have less to say about Divine sovereignty, focusing instead on the IF clauses.

Pushed to their logical extremes, the two approaches seem contradictory, at least at the theoretical level. One world is determined by God’s decision, the other by human effort. If, however, we look at both approaches for their practical, motivational value, they complement each other, covering the full range of human needs, for as perceptive parents, teachers, and pastors know all too well, what turns one person on, turns another off, and vice versa.

Some crave freedom, others security. Some love a challenge, responding best when they have a hand on the reins. Others are most productive when assured that their destiny lies secure in God’s hands.

In our modern world, it is the difference between those who thrive on the uncertain excitement of working on commission and those who need a steady salary: the hard-driving salesman in the showroom, and the faithful accountant in the back room. In a religious setting, it is the difference between the fast-paced world of the evangelist and the more settled parish environment of the pastor.

Remarkably, because of sin, either approach can result in discouragement or carelessness. Those who love a challenge too easily slip into neutral in a secure world. Those needing security become just as ineffective in the face of a challenge.

So God does what every wise parent, teacher, and pastor has to do: He mixes, matches and blends His methods, becoming all things to all people in order to save some.

But now let’s return to Jeremiah 26 and look more closely at God’s attempt to motivate His people. When Jeremiah first pled with them to change God’s mind by changing their behavior, they treated Jeremiah as a traitor. Jeremiah 7 records his attack on their secure world. You can’t just say: “The Temple! The Temple! The Temple!” as though it were some magic charm, he warned. You can’t kill, steal, and commit adultery while claiming the temple as security. Reform, says God, or I will destroy this temple as I did the one at Shiloh (Jer. 7:1-15).

Jeremiah 26 records the people’s reaction. “Treason,” they cried. “You shall die!” (Jer. 26:8-9). They liked their safe, secure world, one unthreatened by wicked behavior. Amazingly, they viewed Jeremiah’s conditional threat as a treasonous certainty, even though he plainly said God was begging them to change His mind (Jer. 26:3). “If you repent,” Jeremiah promised again, “God will change His mind” (Jer. 26:13).

Suddenly, someone remembered a piece of history, just enough to rescue Jeremiah from the mob. “Wait!” came the cry. “In the days of King Hezekiah [some 100 years earlier] didn’t the prophet Micah prophesy that Jerusalem would become a heap of ruins? Yet King Hezekiah didn’t put Micah to death. Instead, he turned to the Lord and the Lord changed His mind” (Jer. 26:17-19). Jeremiah 26:18 includes the actual quote from Micah 3:12, a threat of destruction, unconditional and unequivocal. Yet Micah’s audience heard the unspoken IF and repented. And the Lord changed his mind.

The same thing happened when Jonah preached against Ninevah. Although he announced unconditional destruction, the people heard God’s IF, repented, and saved their city. The NRSV simply says: “God changed his mind” (Jonah 3:10). Jonah, however, was angry. He wanted smoke, even though, as he himself admitted, he knew all along that God would relent if the people did (Jonah 4:1-2).

In the end, a remarkable two-fold conclusion emerges from the prophets: 1. When people are sensitive to the Spirit of God, they hear His IF, even when it is not stated. 2. When they resist, they don’t hear the IF even though it is shouted in their ears. Isn’t it curious, that those hearing Micah and Jonah responded positively to the unconditional threat, while Jeremiah’s listeners resisted the IF? Only when they remembered Micah’s unconditional threat did they finally hear the IF and respond.

It seems safe to conclude, then, that as far as God’s threats are concerned, all are conditional, even when no IF is included. But what about promises of salvation and restoration? That’s a more volatile question, for while all evangelical Christians agree that restoration is certain, the when and how is much debated.

A sizeable number of modern Christians have adopted so-called “dispensationalism,” a perspective emphasizing God’s sovereignty to the virtual exclusion of conditionality: God’s prophecies will be fulfilled, period. Consistent with that position, every unfulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament is expected to be fulfilled in detail at the end of time or during the millennium to follow. Even human death and animal sacrifices are said to continue after the second coming of Christ.

If we take the position, however, that the purpose of prophecy is to reform not simply to inform, then we can see every prophetic “restoration” picture as establishing the principle of restoration. The details will differ according the differing needs of each audience. The great restoration pictures of Scripture, Ezekiel 40-48, Isaiah 65-66, Zechariah 14, Revelation 21-22, all confirm the hope of restoration, yet the details differ, sometimes dramatically. Recognizing the principle of conditionality explains why some were not fulfilled in the Old Testament. Yet we don’t have to toss them out as contradictory or struggle to integrate every detail into one grand master plan. They simply are God’s way of being all things to all people that He might save some. Saving is always God’s consistent purpose. That never changes, even when threats of doom seem to overwhelm the promise of restoration.

Finally, I must admit, that Jeremiah 26 has helped me see the glimmer of hope even in the most emphatic pronouncement of doom, for when Jeremiah says that “the Lord will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you” (Jer. 26:13 NRSV), he picks loose a thread of hope that apparently was bound fast when King Josiah, just a few years before, discovered the law book in the temple and learned to his horror that the nation was doomed. As told in 2 Kings 22, the prophetess Huldah informed Josiah that Judah’s sin was too great. Disaster was certain. But the Lord would postpone destruction until after Josiah’s reign because the king had humbled himself before the Lord (2 Kings 22:15-20).

Could the evil day have been postponed permanently by continued repentance? I think so, for Jeremiah promised the people: “The Lord will change His mind.” If rattling the saber will wake the people up, the Lord will do it. “Change my mind,” He says. “I want to save, not destroy.”

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