It should be noted that whatever God says to the Ecclesia, or to an individual, or to a nation, will often come with conditions. God seeks obedience, and once the Lord is obeyed in His instruction, then what speaks shall be. Yet we can delay what God says or go off course because of disobedience.
Personally, I have seen over the years on numerous occasions how the recipient of a word did not obey the Lord. Some of the conditions may be subtle and may seem insignificant, but this does not mean they are not important. Whatever God speaks we must obey and we submit to His Word. If the Lord says pray more, then you pray more, but we tend to only listen to the blessings and the encouragement. Remember the Lord will first tear down before He builds, and so many times the condition is the condition of what is needed to be torn down in order to rebuild and plant. And so the condition could many times deal with the process of tearing down and rebuilding, maybe in the form of correcting a path, forging a closer relationship with the Lord, or setting aside distractions.
Whatever the Lord speaks must be understood in totality and must be heeded and obeyed. As mentioned, I have seen many people over the years who have not been obedient to the “conditions”, and thus have been rebellious. Then they wonder why the word spoken is not coming to pass. Yet they forgot about the condition that came with the Word. The Lord cannot build unless he tears down what stands in the way of God’s true construction.
Take for example what Moses said In Deuteronomy 4, upon reflecting back on Israel’s sojourn through the wilderness, Moses warned the people of idolatry. 15 “Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth. 19 And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the Lord your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage. 23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Moses then issued the following warning: 25 “When you beget children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, and act corruptly and make a carved image in the form of anything, and do evil in the sight of the Lord your God to provoke Him to anger, 26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess; you will not prolong your days in it, but will be utterly destroyed. 27 And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. 28 And there you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
God always had good intentions at heart for Israel, but they had to obey Him and remain faithful and loyal, and true. They had to be faithful to the conditions, which were the 613 Laws of Moses. The condition was not to turn to the left or the right, but to stay the course just as Apostle Paul years later had to stay the course. Amazingly, as we fast forward to the days of Joshua, the judges, and the kings who ruled and governed Israel, we find how the people of Israel time after time had resorted to idolatry. Of the 39 kings that ruled in the land, only 5 were deemed rulers who were good, and the only standard God used to determine this was if “they did right in the eyes of God”. And so Moses’ prophecy came true. The people forgot the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
After Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam was set to become the next king. Jeroboam returned from Egypt and led a group of people to confront Rehoboam with a demand for a lighter tax burden. When Rehoboam refused the demand, ten of the tribes rejected Rehoboam and David’s dynasty (1 Kings 12:16). Only Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to King Rehoboam. Jeroboam then consolidated his power by restoring idolatry, instituting a form of calf worship unique to his kingdom, and declaring that pilgrimages to Jerusalem were unnecessary. Thus, the people of the northern tribes would have no contact with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
And so the northern kingdom became known as “Israel” (or sometimes “Ephraim”) in Scripture, and the southern kingdom is called “Judah.” From the divine viewpoint, the division was a judgment on not keeping God’s commands, specifically the commands prohibiting idolatry. From a human viewpoint, the division was the result of tribal discord and political unrest.
The 10 tribes were eventually scattered when they were taken captive by Assyria while Judah was eventually taken captive by Babylon. So great was Israel’s fall into idolatry that for thousands of years the Jewish people were scattered throughout the world, with Jews only returning to Israel when it was declared statehood in 1948 (following the Holocaust). Even now, the state of Israel does not control all of the land. Jerusalem is a divided city. Time after time the prophets warned about idolatry, from Isaiah to Jeremiah to Ezekiel, including many of the so-called smaller prophets.
Israel’s (both northern and southern kingdoms) fall was great because of idolatry, outright rebellion, and defiance against God. They had not stayed true to the conditions, thus obedience to God’s Word. Israel after all started to flirt with idolatry in the days of wilderness when they worshipped the Golden Calf, thus the warning issued by Moses. We see such an accumulation of idolatry in Ezekiel 8, which caused the Glory of the Lord to depart the temple in Ezekiel 10. Time after time the prophets spoke out, speaking judgment, correction, and rebuke. Yet it fell on deaf ears.
Take also for example Deuteronomy 30: “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you because you obey the voice of the Lord your God … 15 “But it shall come to pass if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you … These words were spoken by the prophet Moses before the people entered the Promised Land. Yet the people failed to listen. The condition was simple …, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments. Years later they still failed to listen to the warnings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. They failed to listen to the warnings of Haggai, and all the other prophets who spoke against the spiritually backslidden ways of the people who were engaged in idolatry. The people ignored the judgments of captivity, even though the prophets also spoke of restoration, such as in Isaiah 43 and 47.
The condition of “if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God” seems like a rather simple condition, yet it was not obeyed. And this condition would remain standing right throughout the history of the kings. Yet 34 kings did not heed the condition, and thus endured curses instead of blessings. You see, a condition does not pass away. It does not evaporate. It says in Isaiah 55: So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. So the Word spoken by the Lord through a prophet shall accomplish what it has been called to do. Thus, if there is a condition, then it needs to be adhered to so like the Word spoken can accomplish what the Lord pleases. Such a condition does not pass away. It has been spoken and it needs to be adhered to. This is evident in the history of the kings, who did not remain faithful to the prophetic word that spoke of the condition of the blessing.
There is still the belief in churches today that we can do as we please even though we have been justified by the Blood of the Lamb. This is a dangerous mindset because part of our spiritual walk is continually dwelling in the Lord, therefore sanctification by the Word. But this calls for the condition of obeying the Lord, seeking His Kingdom, His Will, His Truth, and His Glory. We do not serve a God of disorder, but a God of law and order. Thus we are called as children of God to also diligently obey the voice of the Lord ‘our’ God.
Thus, the prophet can speak a word with conditions, or without conditions, for example in 1 Kings 13: And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. 2 Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you, he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ ” 3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out.” The prophecy of the altar came true, and the story of Josiah came to be found in 2 Kings 22. Josiah implemented a great reformation and tore down all the false altars and destroyed all things in the land that stood against God.
When a true prophet speaks, it is the Lord speaking, and one should take note of what is being said and never question or resist. In the same chapter, continuing with the prophecy we read: 4 So it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who cried out against the altar in Bethel, that he stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Arrest him!” Then his hand, which he stretched out toward him, withered so that he could not pull it back to himself. 5 The altar also was split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord. 6 Then the king answered and said to the man of God, “Please entreat the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as before.
The restoration of the hand reminds us of the display of power in the days of Moses, whose hand was turned to leprosy and then healed as a sign to the people that He was sent by God. In the story of 1 Kings 13, there was no condition spoken; it was merely God’s grace and mercy that was restored.
Take note of the condition of the prophetic word on display in 1 Samuel 13, when the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel. Saul had decided to initiate a burnt offering, even though he was not a priest. We read: 11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled and offered a burnt offering.” 13 And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.
The condition was for Saul to wait the appointed time for Samuel to arrive, which he failed to do. And so he suffered greatly for the disobedience.
This was a similar case in 1 Samuel 15 when the prophet told Saul the following: 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel, and donkey.’ …
There was a condition to the victory. Saul had to destroy everything, men, women, children, and animals. Did Saul obey? No, for he spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good. We read: 12 So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal.” 13 Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” 14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” 15 And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.” 26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
Just before his retirement, Samuel gathered the people to an assembly at Gilgal (1 Samuel 12). Samuel promised that God would subject the people to foreign invaders should they disobey. Thus, obedience was the condition to prosper, thrive and to be a success. Did the people obey the condition? Sadly not. We read in 1 Samuel 12: 16 “Now, therefore, stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes: 17 Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the Lord, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking a king for yourselves.” 18 So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. 19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”
20 Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. 22 For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
So the condition as spoken by Samuel the prophet was that the people must not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all their heart. This was the same condition as spoken by Moses who spoke about not turning to the left or the right. They were also told if they still do wickedly, then they shall be swept away, both you and your king.
Nothing in our day has changed, because God has not changed. There are still conditions and if we as children of God wish to prosper spiritually, then we need to meet the conditions. The conditions of the New Covenant are summed up by the greatest commandment of loving the Lord above anything else, but also according to Matthew 6 to first His Kingdom and His Righteousness. We think under the New Covenant we have no part to play, which is not true. We need to remain pure of heart, seek holiness, be obedient, and seek His will.
So when it comes to the prophetic, God will often speak conditions not just over the Church, or a believer, but even over a nation or a ruler.
This is because He needs to destroy and tear down before He can plant and rebuild. A condition may call us to obedience, to repentance or to keep the course, whatever it may be, we need to listen, take heed, and be faithful.