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Biblical prophecy

Joseph Nkwatle

“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of men, but holy men of God spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21

What is biblical prophecy? The term has two general usages that are often described as foretelling and forthtelling. In the sense of foretelling, which is how Christians usually use the word prophecy, the prophet of God foretold future events. In this predictive sense prophecy is an announcement of future events in a manner that could not be the result of human wisdom or guesswork. Somewhat, pointing to a supernatural source.

With respect to forthtelling, the prophet of God was simply God’s spokesman. As such, he could speak to a contemporary situation as God’s chosen messenger he spoke the words of God to people or power of the day. He was also a preacher of righteousness, calling the nation to repentance.

As Paul Little indicates, predictive prophecy, as in foretelling; prophecy must be more that good guess such as that of fortune-tellers who speak in broad generalities. One can predict some things if he makes the prediction broad and ambiguous. True prophecy, on the other hand demands precision.

Furthermore, prophecy in the sense of predicting future events or saying something that is to take place in subsequent moment, to meet the criterion of clearly being beyond human wisdom and guesswork; prophecy must deal with contingencies.

That is, the events predicted must not be of casual nature or order. Human events are subject to chance; they are dependent on circumstances that may or may not arise. The complex interplay of human experience makes predictions about human behavior very difficult.

Human behavior is dependent on a complex web of forces and emotions. In contrast, there is in science a more easily observed cause-and-effect relationship. One does not gasp with wonder when heated water begins to boil. Everyone knows from experience that this is likely to happen; so one is not prophesying when he announces that the water will soon be boiling. Scientific predictions, then, are not of the same order as biblical prophecy.

The appeal to prophecy and its subsequent fulfillment was an important way that true messengers of God were authenticated in the Old Testament. Fulfilled prophecy was a kind of credential for the prophet. The fulfillment of a messenger’s prophecy demonstrated his link with God and demanded that the people listen to his message.

The same is true for today’s prophet – the mark of a true prophet is that whatever he says must come to pass. Prophets of old and should be of today, they never suggested but spoke with power, authority and certainty – so also is biblical prophecy, it is not a suggestion!

What then are the characteristics of biblical prophecy? Bernard L Ramm and Paul E Little help us by dealing with a few of the several of these characteristics:

Biblical Prophecy is Unique: Prophecy has a peculiar importance in the biblical record. This should not be interpreted to mean that other religions do not have prophetic elements, but for them prophecy is merely occasional phenomenon. However, the prophetic ministry which carried with it a predictive element is integral to the Bible. It was a means of establishing Old Testament religion, and it is the part of the very fiber of biblical Christianity.

Prophecy Occurs Throughout the Bible: It pervades all of scripture and is not limited to one part. Prophecy is scattered through the historical books, the wisdom literature, the poetry books, the books of the prophets, the Gospels, and the Epistles.

Biblical Prophecy Predicts Specific Details: In many instances it refers to such specific details that only divine interventions could provide adequate fulfillment. Time after time, biblical prophecy fulfills the demand of dealing with contingent events.

With a degree of precision that rules out the possibility of guesswork. In prophetic biblical utterances, people were named before they were born (Isaiah 44:28-45:1; Ezra 1:1-8); kingdoms were characterized before they came into existence; and destinies of specific individuals and nations were declared even prior to their birth.

The Fulfillment of Prophecy is Clear: There is no ambiguity in the way predicted events are described as actually occurring. Prediction without well-documented and precise fulfillment is not a guarantee of supernatural revelation. It is the nature of the fulfillment that supplies the verification.

The Fulfillment of Prophecy is Supernatural: one occurrence of the fulfillment of prophecy would establish its supernatural character and would provide a legitimate reason for recognizing God as the God of the miraculous. But we do not need to rely on only one example because the Bible abounds with fulfilled prophecies.

Predictions are Often Contrary to Expectations: Biblical prophecy often predicts outcomes which are the opposite of what unguided human intelligence would predict. This is true especially of the prophecies of doom regarding flourishing cities and societies. Consider, for instance, the predictions of the fall of Jerusalem and Babylon.

Approximately three hundred prophecies in the Bible relate directly to the coming Messiah, Jesus the Christ. According to Robert D. Culver, an evangelical Bible scholar, the mathematical probability of all of these details being fulfilled in one lifetime by one person is 1chance in 84-followed-by-131-zeros. Considering this, if Jesus were an impostor, what likelihood is there that He could have arranged for all of these prophesied events to find their fulfillment in Him?

I have asserted in the past when dealing with catastrophic war that is coming between Israel and Iran, that in Bible prophecy, Israel is God’s prophetic time clock; you can look at events happening in and around Israel and tell almost with certainty where the hands of that clock are. According to a well-known story, Frederick the Great of Prussia, a self-professed doubter, asked his court chaplain, “Give me in one word a proof of the truth of the Bible.” The chaplain’s response was, simply, “The Jews.”


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Is COVID-19 Flogging an Already Dead Economic Horse?

9th September 2020

The Central Bank has by way of its Monetary Policy Statement informed us that the Botswana economy is likely to contract by 8.9 percent over the course of the year 2020.

The IMF paints an even gloomier picture – a shrinkage of the order of 9.6 percent.  That translates to just under $2 billion hived off from the overall economic yield given our average GDP of roughly $18 billion a year. In Pula terms, this is about P23 billion less goods and services produced in the country and you and I have a good guess as to what such a sum can do in terms of job creation and sustainability, boosting tax revenue, succouring both recurrent and development expenditure, and on the whole keeping our teeny-weeny economy in relatively good nick.

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Union of Blue Bloods

9th September 2020

Joseph’s and Judah’s family lines conjoin to produce lineal seed

Just to recap, General Atiku, the Israelites were not headed for uncharted territory. The Promised Land teemed with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These nations were not simply going to cut and run when they saw columns of battle-ready Israelites approach: they were going to fight to the death.

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Security Sector Private Bills: What are they about?

9th September 2020

Parliament has begun debates on three related Private Members Bills on the conditions of service of members of the Security Sector.

The Bills are Prisons (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Police (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Botswana Defence Force (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The Bills seek to amend the three statutes so that officers are placed on full salaries when on interdictions or suspensions whilst facing disciplinary boards or courts of law.

In terms of the Public Service Act, 2008 which took effect in 2010, civil servants who are indicted are paid full salary and not a portion of their emolument. Section 35(3) of the Act specifically provides that “An employee’s salary shall not be withheld during the period of his or her suspension”.

However, when parliament reformed the public service law to allow civil servants to unionize, among other things, and extended the said protection of their salaries, the process was not completed. When the House conferred the benefit on civil servants, members of the disciplined forces were left out by not accordingly amending the laws regulating their employment.

The Bills stated above seeks to ask Parliament to also include members of the forces on the said benefit. It is unfair not to include soldiers or military officers, police officers and prison waders in the benefit. Paying an officer who is facing either external or internal charges full pay is in line with the notion of ei incumbit probation qui dicit, non qui negat or the presumption of innocence; that the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.

The officers facing charges, either internal disciplinary or criminal charges before the courts, must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. Paying them a portion of their salary is penalty and therefore arbitrary. Punishment by way of loss of income or anything should come as a result of a finding on the guilt by a competent court of law, tribunal or disciplinary board.

What was the rationale behind this reform in 2008 when the Public Service Act was adopted? First it was the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.

The presumption of innocence is the legal principle that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty”. In terms of the constitution and other laws of Botswana, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and it is an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.

Withholding a civil servant’s salary because they are accused of an internal disciplinary offense or a criminal offense in the courts of law, was seen as punishment before a decision by a tribunal, disciplinary board or a court of law actually finds someone culpable. Parliament in its wisdom decided that no one deserves this premature punishment.

Secondly, it was considered that people’s lives got destroyed by withholding of financial benefits during internal or judicial trials. Protection of wages is very important for any worker. Workers commit their salaries, they pay mortgages, car loans, insurances, schools fees for children and other things. When public servants were experiencing salary cuts because of interdictions, they lost their homes, cars and their children’s future.

They plummeted into instant destitution. People lost their livelihoods. Families crumbled. What was disheartening was that in many cases, these workers are ultimately exonerated by the courts or disciplinary tribunals. When they are cleared, the harm suffered is usually irreparable. Even if one is reimbursed all their dues, it is difficult to almost impossible to get one’s life back to normal.

There is a reasoning that members of the security sector should be held to very high standards of discipline and moral compass. This is true. However, other more senior public servants such as judges, permanent secretary to the President and ministers have faced suspensions, interdictions and or criminal charges in the courts but were placed on full salaries.

The yardstick against which security sector officers are held cannot be higher than the aforementioned public officials. It just wouldn’t make sense. They are in charge of the security and operate in a very sensitive area, but cannot in anyway be held to higher standards that prosecutors, magistrates, judges, ministers and even senior officials such as permanent secretaries.

Moreover, jail guards, police officers and soldiers, have unique harsh punishments which deter many of them from committing misdemeanors and serious crimes. So, the argument that if the suspension or interdiction with full pay is introduced it would open floodgates of lawlessness is illogical.

Security Sector members work in very difficult conditions. Sometimes this drives them into depression and other emotional conditions. The truth is that many seldom receive proper and adequate counseling or such related therapies. They see horrifying scenes whilst on duty. Jail guards double as hangmen/women.

Detectives attend to autopsies on cases they are dealing with. Traffic police officers are usually the first at accident scenes. Soldiers fight and kill poachers. In all these cases, their minds are troubled. They are human. These conditions also play a part in their behaviors. They are actually more deserving to be paid full salaries when they’re facing allegations of misconduct.

To withhold up to 50 percent of the police, prison workers and the military officers’ salaries during their interdiction or suspensions from work is punitive, insensitive and prejudicial as we do not do the same for other employees employed by the government.

The rest enjoy their full salaries when they are at home and it is for a good reason as no one should be made to suffer before being found blameworthy. The ruling party seems to have taken a position to negate the Bills and the collective opposition argue in the affirmative. The debate have just began and will continue next week Thursday, a day designated for Private Bills.

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