Prophecy is designed to warn and to give the opportunity to change the future by changing the present.
Proverbs 29:1 A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
With each rebuke, the person sets his face against changing; he dives a little deeper into whatever that in which he is caught up. If it’s drugs, then he spirals down into a hole that eventually kills him. If it’s gambling, debt overtakes him–the kind where they break arms–and he can’t make enough to clear his debts, so he gambles again. Eventually, he loses his family and friends, his health, and even his life.
But, who is it that brings destruction? Is it God? Or is it the consequences of the person? Is not each little consequence and each rebuke not a type of prophecy telling him that if he keeps on the road he is on, that sure destruction is coming?
Jonah preached to Nineveh that they had 40 more days until Nineveh would be overthrown (Jonah 3:4). Look what happened:
Jonah 3:5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth [a sign of repentance].
Did judgment come? No.
Jonah 3:10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
God, Who is in control of all things, allows us to determine our own fate–to a point. I believe that there was something to the mourning process (a break in a chain of events) that circumvented the destruction of Nineveh at that time. We read in history that destruction DID come, but more than 50 years later (two+ generations).
In our own lives, we would do well to consider godly rebuke as a type of prophecy. Intended for our good, we are shown where our current behavior is headed and we are given the opportunity to “change our evil ways.” As children of King Jesus, we repent often (course corrections) as instructed by the Spirit. He will speak to us through prayer (our conscious contact with Him), through the Bible, through people (friends, sermons, lessons, and even enemies), and through circumstances. We must be wise and heed good advice from wherever it comes.
Proverbs 25:12 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuke to a listening ear.
Let’s start today heeding wise rebuke from His Spirit in the Word of God. We can head off a lot of “destruction” this way…