Since God can change prophetic words of blessing or judgment based on the free will of human response, we come to realize a strange paradox in the prophet’s job: “a successful prophet is precisely the one who does not see his prophetic word of judgment come to pass.” (Hays, Christopher M. When the Son of Man Didn’t Come. p. 43.)
Yes, as strange as it sounds, to some extent, a successful prophet looks like a false prophet; for when he prophesies God’s words of judgment, he then does all he can to persuade people from letting that prophetic word come true. In a backwards kind of a way, his actual job is to make himself look like a failure; for if people react positively and repent, the prophesied judgement may be lessened or removed, like with Nineveh.
The idea that God might change His mind or change a prophetic word might sound strange, but it actually feels quite normal when you experience it in real life. For example, there was a Christian music festival I attended every year for quite awhile where every big name Christian band in existence played.
One year I remember looking up at the sky and wondering if we were going to be able to enjoy the bands that night as it looked like storms could hit at any moment. The answer came when a video of a local weatherman appeared on the main stage screen and pointed to the section of Kentucky we were all camping out in. “Watch as this storm—this blob of rain—comes in and makes a donut around Wilmore,” he said. “I’m not going to say much, because I’m a man of science and precision, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from that. They got their whole program in tonight as the rain dodged them.” (Ichthus Rain Day Miracle. LEX Channel 18, 1 Jan. 2007)
The crowd erupted into praise as we stood smack dab in the middle of a miracle. The night was infused with energy. All we had to do was look up to attest to God’s provision.
But then at one of the following festivals a year or two later, a speaker took the stage and said something odd. He had a dream that he felt he was supposed to share with the festival crowd and he knew some people were going to be uncomfortable with it. I wish I could recount the details more securely, but the internet seems void of this moment, so I only have my memory to work with. From what I can remember, he told us that it would begin to rain at this festival until we all decided to get our lives together. If I recall correctly, it had already been raining and began to rain again that night. And if memory serves, the following year was so muddy that it could hardly be enjoyed.
This moment, while fuzzy, is cemented in my mind, because I rarely attended any of the speakers at this event and I was taught that the prophetic didn’t exist anymore. Yet here it was in front of me! A man had a dream from God and prophesied that it would rain on us because of our actions, and it actually happened.
And I was even more confused because a year or so before, God had done a miracle by holding back the rain from falling on us—so to some extent, I wanted to rebuke the speaker. “How dare you prophesy against God’s chosen people! Do you not know that He has withheld rain from us in the past?”
Now that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
That festival isn’t around anymore. As much as I wish I could give a full account of the details as to how it all went down, I stopped going and cannot. But I can’t help but feel that there was at turning point in that festival that night—one that was so largely ignored that I can’t find any information on it.
But despite all of this, I heard the man’s message loud and clear. We all played a part in determining if this festival would be enjoyable or not. If we pursued God it would go one way and if we didn’t it would go another. But I don’t know that this man’s prophetic word was ever addressed again, so the space for repentance as a body based on that word was never accounted for.