Why is it that some prophecies in Scripture don’t come to pass as predicted?
Some prophecies in Scripture don’t come to pass as predicted because prophecies are conditional, with either explicit or implicit conditions. So, the response of the people towards these conditions determines the way in which the prophecy is fulfilled. Let’s take an example of explicit conditions. In Isaiah 1:18-20, the prophet says,
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword (Isaiah 1:18-20).
Here, we see very explicit conditions. “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” There will be blessings. But if you refuse, there will be punishment — “you shall be eaten by the sword.” This is an example of a prophecy with conditions based on obedience or disobedience that will bring judgment. We also find an example of implicit conditions in Jeremiah 7:5-7, where the prophet says,
For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever (Jeremiah 7:5-7).
The conditions listed here include not oppressing “the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow.” If these conditions are fulfilled, the promise is to let them dwell in that place, in the land that God gave to their fathers. The implicit condition here is that if they do oppress the sojourner, the fatherless and the widow, if they act on the contrary, the prophecy will not be fulfilled. He will not let them dwell in the land that he promised to their fathers. So, the way the people respond to the explicit and implicit conditions in the prophecies determines the way in which a prophecy will be fulfilled, according to its conditions.