How could Moses change God’s mind? (Psalm 106:23) 19 At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. 20 They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass. 21 They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, 22 miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea. 23 So he said he would destroy them— had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.
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This is a really important question because it gets at the heart of who God is, as revealed to us in the bible. If God never changed his mind he would not have created human beings with free will and he would not have desired to have personal relationships with every one of them. In the bible God is constantly changing his mind based on the behaviour of people. When his people act in a God pleasing manner, God responds in a certain way. When his people rebel against his will, he changes his mind about blessing them and disciplines them instead. Human beings are forever changing their minds. We make a decision, walk down a path, and incur certain consequences. If we don’t like the consequences, we change our minds and make a different decision to walk down a new path. The most dramatic time that God changes his mind is when a person calls out to God to be saved. Because humans are born sinful we are all subject to God’s wrath. God has in mind our destruction because of our rebellion and sin. When a person confesses their sin, repents and accepts Jesus as their saviour, God changes his mind about destruction and decides to save us instead, because Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin. Just because God is all-knowing about the present and all of future time, doesn’t mean he can’t change his mind. It simply means the he knows all the times he will change his mind in response to human behaviour. Changing his mind doesn’t mean God’s character changes, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. I am so glad that God changes his mind and shows me mercy and grace instead of punishment, whenever I confess my sins, repent and draw closer to him.
Read Exodus 8-14 Moses simply reminded God that the nations would doubt His ability to do what he had promised. Did God know this already? Yes, but Moses spoke as a man. He knew God and walked with God and was able to speak on the same level as a man. I believe that when we pray and talk to our Father humbly we can approach him like this with the confidence that he will listen. Hebrews 4:16
The Bible says God never changes. It doesn’t say he never changes his mind. This is a good example that God looks at our failures, frailties, our compassions and enters into what we’re going through. His character never changes. We change every day and God has guided us throughout time all of us who don’t make great decisions! But how could every situation have the same solution by God’s standards?
Exodus 32 tells us this story. It seems to me that God is testing Moses. God wants Moses to understand the consequences. Apparently, Moses does. If we understand that God does not change then we understand His mercy. So, for the same reasons that He did not destroy Adam & Eve; the same reasons that He died on the cross, Moses states as he comprehends. Not, of course, fully & completely; but Moses states what he understands. Frequently, it is said that prayer does not change God's mind, but it changes us. The story reveals God's mercy. Just as God chose the foolish, sinful sons of Jacob, He chose you and me. He is merciful. He does not change. Are you not filled with joy? Do you desire to honor Him?
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