Prophecies are a wonderful gift from God if they are shared correctly and taken to heart with the right spirit. Sometimes we overlook the fact that some prophecies are unconditional while others are conditional. When a prophecy is unconditional, it means that it will eventually come to pass either because God wants it that way and no one has the power to resist it (like when Jesus prophesied the gates of hell would never prevail against his church) or because God knows the hearts of people and/or the spiritual forces working behind the scenes to see where things will end up (such as when he predicted the whole world will be drawn to the idea of having global governance).
Conditional prophecies, on the other hand, are ones that are dependent upon people using the prophecies as their goal and then working toward them with the decisions and actions they carry out. An example of this is when God prophesied about ancient Israel destroying it’s enemies in the Promised Land to be an unstoppable godly force in the Earth. But instead they chose not to take the necessary steps for that to happen.
We see another example of conditional prophecies in Timothy’s life that Paul mentioned to him in 1 Timothy that can be applied to the lives of all us believers. Paul said:
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned
18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck… 1 Timothy 1
Paul was such a selfless, loving, faith-filled man that he supported and backed Timothy by giving him some challenging tasks. He sent Timothy to Ephesus to make sure that the church held to the doctrines of Christ and that they dismissed any ungodly doctrines that questioned the Christian faith. Both the intent of Timothy’s mission and the goal of this mission was so everyone involved would be carrying out the Lord’s wishes with godly love (charity) from pure hearts, with a clear conscience toward God, and from genuine faith.
Then in verse 18 (several verses after Paul went on an explanatory tangent) Paul tells why he committed this mission to Timothy. Paul had been present when several godly prophecies were spoken over Timothy from people in church. Based on these prophecies, Paul believed in Timothy’s Holy Spirit-anointed capabilities and knew that Timothy would have to work toward the conditional prophecies spoken over him. He wanted Timothy to be reminded of those prophecies so Timothy could take the necessary steps with pure intentions to learn how to war a good spiritual warfare to strengthen the influence of God’s kingdom by his walking under the canopy of those prophecies. Paul knew that as Timothy took steps that were ordered by God in the Lord’s word, the Lord would cause him to be successful.
As it was for Timothy, so it is for us today. Some of us have a Paul in our lives who encourage us to take on godly tasks that stretch us. Others of us may not have someone like Paul to do that for us. But either way, when God gives us conditional prophecies that he desires for us to fulfill, it is then up to us to step out on them and work toward fulfilling them step-by-step. We must keep in mind also the words Paul gave to Archippus in Colossians 4:17, “And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” Have you started the process of fulfilling God’s prophecies for you?
Harry A. Gaylord