Sunday, January 28, 2007

Does God change His mind?

Have a Question? If so you can either e-mail it to me, at or put your question in our Q & A box at youth group. I will do my best to answer the question in a timely fashion, and many will be addressed on our webpage. Our first question will come from Exodus 32. "In Exodus 32, did Moses change God's mind"?

Malachi 3:6 states, "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob are no consumed." (ESV). Numbers 23:19 "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he shouild change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?"

It is apparent from these verses that God does not change his mind. These are not only obscure passages; Psalm 102:25-27, Psalm 33:11, as well as many in the New Testament such as Hebrews 6:17-18 which speak of God's unchangeable purposes, or the numerous verses which speak of things which have been planned from the "foundation of the world". All of these put together help us to understand that God has revealed Himself as both unchanging in His character as well as unchanging in His purposes."

But what do we make of Exodus 32 (or even Isaiah 38:1-6 or Jonah 3:4, 10)? While God was giving Moses the 10 Commandments the people of Israel began getting a little restless, so they did what we all do--make our own gods. So we see in v.10 that God is so angry with the Israelites that He is ready to consume every one of them and make a great nation out of Moses. (Note: God's intention given the present situation as it exists at that moment). Then Moses prays, he focuses on the honor of God's name, he appeals to God's faithfulness, and pleads with God that He might continue to make Israel His people. Now in verse 14, "And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people", we have our question.

The problem lies in our understanding literally the word "relented" (KJV "repented" NASB "changed his mind" NLT "withdrew his threat"). The word is what we refer to as an anthropopathism (a big word which means "giving God human emotions"). From our perspective and the way that it appears to us God "relents, changes His mind, withdraws His threat", but from God's perspective He is appropriately dealing with changes in human behavior.

If men turn away, if men repent then God will forgive. I see no difference between God's "changing" in Exodus 32 and God's "changing" when a sinner turns and repents. We certainly do not have a problem with God "changing" so as to save one whom moments before He his wrath was upon. We certainly are quick to understand that a person apart from Jesus Christ is "God's enemy" and "has the wrath of God upon him" but as soon as the sinner "repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ" they are saved and the wrath of God is removed and they are no longer considered as an enemy but as a friend. So it is in this situation, "Moses repents (as the representative head of the people), God responds to Moses' repentance and forgives or "relents".

So does God change His mind? No, absolutely not. God is forever unchanging in His character and in His purposes. Yet as Wayne Grudem comments, "God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations". That does not make God unchanging it merely makes Him living.

The real question is this, "Did Moses change God's mind (so as to catch God by surprise) or was Moses' intercessory prayer all a part of God's will and purpose to show His grace?" We will not deal with this question in depth, but for now it is sufficient to ask, "Do you trust God in His Word or not?" God says "I do not change". To hold to a doctrine which says, "Moses changed God's mind" is contrary to what God says in Scripture. He is unswerving in His character and purposes. Moses did not change the course of history, nor catch God off-guard by praying for the Israelites, just as the death of Christ was ordained from the foundation of world, so Moses' prayer was forever in God's plan.

Therefore, this unchanging God is mighty to save! If we had a changing God then our hope would be lost. If He can change in His affections for me (meaning: constantly in response to me--so as to say "I changed God's mind") then He can do so positively or negatively. What confidence do we have then in our salvation as well as in the God of our salvation? Take heart, as God said in Malachi 3:6, his unchanging character and purpose is so that we are not consumed. If he could change then we would be consumed. Take heart that God's purpose is set and He is able to save us to the uttermost. The blood of Christ is still sufficient and ALWAYS will be.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like God doesn't change His mind, He always has it in His divine plans. He wanted to show the people His loving grace.



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