Saturday, January 16, 2010

Appreciating the "Prophetic Perfect"

Do you need a heart that longs for God—one that knows Him intimately and desires fellowship with Him all the time? Truth be told, most of us do! Unfortunately, in our human nature, we often let things distract us from that goal and we find ourselves, over and over again, beating ourselves up because we didn’t spend our time doing morning devotions or studying our Bibles.

But there’s good news! What we need to understand is the “prophetic perfect.”

Underwhelmed? The “prophetic perfect” is a use of speech in the Hebrew Bible that English readers cannot fully appreciate. When a verb is in the “perfect” tense in Hebrew, this signifies past and completed action. However, there are a number of places in the Hebrew Bible that seem to be using the “perfect” tense in a future sense—as if it were a prophecy. As one person has put it, the “prophetic perfect” is a “prediction, but the prophet sees it existing in the future in a completed state.” In other words: you can take this prediction “to the bank.” You know that it will come to pass. It would almost be like me saying, “I had five children,” when you know I only have one right now.

So what does this have to do with anything? I came across a beautiful promise in the book of Jeremiah that is laced with “prophetic perfect” verbs—and I believe it is particularly relevant to us. Though God is speaking to those who have been taken captive to Judah, His words are pregnant with meaning to us as well. “For I will set My eyes on them for good,” says the Lord, “I will build them and not pull them down, and I will plant them and not pluck them up.” So far, all of these verbs have been “prophetic perfects.” But there is more—and this is where it gets particularly exciting: “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:6, 7).

Did you catch that? God is going to give us a heart to know Him—and we shall return to Him with our whole hearts! This is a predication for the future which is as good as done. We can take it to the bank. This is God’s commitment to us. He beautifully declares that it is His job to give us a heart that longs to know Him. It’s not our job. How often do we get tricked into thinking that we need to pursue God so that we can know Him intimately—all the while God is the One pursuing us, trying to draw a response from our hearts.

So why not allow God to fulfill that “prophetic perfect” in your heart?

No comments: