Does God change His mind?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

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Shea S. Michael Houdmann Supporter Got Questions Ministries
Malachi 3:6 declares, "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." Similarly, James 1:17 tells us, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the...

July 01 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Final avatar Lilybrian Obogro Student
Numbers 23:19New King James Version (NKJV)

19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

"And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind."

1 Samuel 15:29 NASB

"So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people."

Exodus 32:14 NASB

The book of 1 Samuel says God does not change his mind, whereas the passage in Exodus reads like he does. Looks bad for the Bible - what's the deal?

The assertion by 1 Samuel and other passages, first of all, is that God's character absolutely does not change. If this is characteristic of God like most passages do indeed assert, then character change appears technically impossible. This is worth a brief explanation:

1) If God indeed exists in eternity, then there does not exist a "before" and "after" for him to distinctly move from-to.

2) Character change implies improvement or detriment. But if God is perfect, then he can't change for the better or the worse.

3) If God is omniscient, then no knowledge can be said to suddenly come to light for him to justify a different attitude.

So if all this firmly deduces God to be absolutely unchangeable in character, what's happening in Exodus?

People of Israel had begun worshipping an idol in violation of what God had instructed. What is the penalty for sin? It's death as proscribed by God's characteristic of being just and promising sin will be punished. But after God said they would be destroyed, Moses interceded and pleaded on behalf of his people. So what is the fruit of penitence and humility? It's mercy as proscribed by God's characteristic of showing mercy to the penitent. Thus like swerving a car back onto the road that had been headed for a cliff, Moses changed the direction in which the Israelites had been headed.

One minute the Grand Canyon threatens our life, the next it's blessing us with a spectacular view. But it isn't the canyon that keeps moving from one side of the car to the other; it's our screwy control of the wheel that only gives that impression. So it is with God.

If I'm an unbeliever, God promises to cast me away. Upon my repentance, God promises to save me. It's not that God is one minute just, and the next minute merciful. He is always both. It's only my relationship to him that determines the "change". God's judgment of my action in this case is conditional upon my action. The change is in me.

As far as the wording of the NASB is concerned, the phrase "God changed his mind" is somewhat phenomenological in nature, like the term "sunrise". We know the sun isn't moving around our planet, it just looks that way. Similarly God's mind doesn't change concerning how he judges certain actions we take, but it is sometimes described that way.

Additionally, are we positive the author didn't mean to portray God as actually intending to go through with the destruction of Israel in the above quotation?

Yes, because similar to the Abraham and Isaac situation, God had specific plans for the continuation of the very people that had once been headed for destruction - most prominently the prophesied lineage of Christ. It was not his plan to destroy them. It was his plan that Moses would intercede. And that is established by the fact that the author who foretold of the coming Messiah's lineage is the very same author who penned "the Lord changed his mind".

August 25 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Philip medium Philip Davies
I think this is a difficult question and not as straightforward as some would like to present. From a theological and even philosophical point of view we would like to say that God does not change his mind. That runs counter to what we understand God to be - someone who knows all things and plans out the world from the creation and who is never taken by surprise. 

From a human point of view we would like to say that God does change his mind. He listens to his children and their prayers and he takes account of our supplications.

The truth is both. From God's point of view he never changes his mind. From a human point of view he does. That is not a reflection on God's character, its a reflection on our limited viewpoint. God sees time from the beginning to the end. We see it from moment to moment. There in lies our problem. We cannot see things as God does because of our limitation, not his.

January 06 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Photo Anthony Clinton Teacher in China
Almighty God does change His mind and it is clearly evident that God changed His mind concerning the election of Eli and his family to the priesthood. You find God changing His mind in these scriptures. 

1Sa 2:27..And there came a man of God to Eli, and said to him, So says Jehovah: Did I plainly appear to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? 
1Sa 2:28..And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before Me? And did I give to the house of your father all the offerings made by fire from the sons of Israel? 
1Sa 2:29..Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering, which I have commanded in My house? Do you honor your sons above Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people? 
1Sa 2:30..And Jehovah, the God of Israel says, I said indeed, Your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever. But now Jehovah says, Be it far from Me! For those who honor Me I will honor, and those that think little of Me shall be lightly regarded. 
1Sa 2:31..Behold, the days come when I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father's house, so that no old man shall be in your house. 
1Sa 2:32..And you shall see an adversary in My house, in all the good which he does with Israel. And there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 
1Sa 2:33..And that man of yours whom I shall not cut off from My altar, shall be left in order to make your eyes fail, and to grieve your heart. And all the increase of your house shall die young men. 
1Sa 2:34..And this shall be a sign to you, which shall come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day both of them shall die. 
1Sa 2:35..And I will raise up a faithful priest to Myself, one who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever. 
1Sa 2:36..And it shall be that everyone who is left in your house shall come and bow down to him for a piece of silver and a piece of bread. And they shall say, Please put me into one of the priests' offices so that I may eat a piece of bread. 

God's attributes never change and certain unconditional decrees shall never change such as the Second Coming of Christ, and the Judgment of the wicked to be cast into the eternal fire. But there are certain conditional promises that can change if the person like Eli allows sin to steal their place in the call of God. Judas was promised a throne with the other 11 by Christ to sit on in the New Jerusalem. Matthew 19:27, 28. Jesus noted that all the twelve including Judas had forsaken all to follow Him and the promise Jesus made was also to Him. But Judas lost what he had as seen in Acts 1:20-25 So in Summery Some things that are promised He never changes His mind but some He does because sin can cause one to fall from their election and indeed this is exactly what happened to Judas, the promise of eternal life and Glory in the New Jerusalem had been taken from Judas Iscariot. He also would change His mind and blot certain that would not overcome according to the warning of God in Revelation 3:5.

May 01 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image41 Ezekiel Kimosop
Does God change His mind? 

Yes He does, and not once but on several occasions is it revealed in the Bible that God did so.

God changed His mind when He determined to destroy the Israelites in the wilderness after they persistently rebelled against Him. He had a sideplan, to raise a nation out of Moses. 

Deuteronomy 9:13-14 says " And the LORD said to me, "I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people indeed! 14 Let me alone, so that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make you into a nation stronger and more numerous than they."

Moses pleaded with God and He graciously changed His mind.

King Hezekiah had been told by God that he would surely die but when he wept and supplicated before God, he was added 15 more years. Was God prepared to take his life? Absolutely yes! This was the plain message from the prophet.

What made God change His mind?
The tears of this righteous king touch the heart of God and He commanded the prophet to return back and proclaim God's grace to Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:1-4). 

In Jonah's day, the people of Nineveh were spared by God when they sincerely repented for the sin and wickedness. This was a heathen nation which did the unusual thing. Their king proclaimed a fast and God was touched by their genuine repentance (Jonah 3:5-8), 

Notice again that God saw their sincere repentance. Jonah 3:10 says "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not." Was God intent on destroying the Ninevites? Certainly yes. What turned away his wrath? Was it not the people's remorse and turn around? 

Prophet Jonah knew that God was merciful. On his own admission, Jonah declares in Jonah 4:2 "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Does this mean God does not send pestilences for rebellion and sin? Of course He does. He drove Israel into exile and destroyed Jerusalem in His holy fury.

In Hosea 11:8-9 God laments "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. 9 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city."

On one hand God was justified if he chose to destroy the city because of the sins of his people but his mercies overcame His wrath and He changed His mind. Did the people deserve to be destroyed? Absolutely yes! 

To declare that God does not change His mind is to misrepresent his nature as a loving and merciful God who even in His anger is full of compassion.

February 19 2015 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini Billy P Eldred
Yes, God is the same all the time. That does not mean that when God issues a decree, that the outcome of that decree is not subject to change. In 2 Kings, God decreed that King Hezekiah was about to die but due to his (King Hezekiah 's) prayer, God decided to add 15 years to his life. God decreed that He was about to Destroy Nineveh, but because they repented, God delayed the punishment. 

Does this mean that God had a change of heart and therefore changed his mind? No, His desire in both instances was for the outcome that happened, not the outcome that He warned of. The important lesson here is why you asked the question. Are you concerned about something specifically or about the nature of God. If about God's nature then you have nothing to be concerned about. GOD is God and he is Just. But beyond that, He Loves us, and He has made provision for us to escape any wrath that we might deserve. These provisions are conditional, however, on our accepting His Authority and His Grace and on our repentance, not His. He does not repent for there is never any reason for which He could or should repent. (Again He is God) This should give you confidence in knowing His Nature is Just. 

If, on the other hand, you ask this question about something specific, then you can and should ask for change. You won't change God's nature but you could possibly affect the outcome of whatever it is you are seeking. God's decision, whether already made or not may hinge upon your petition, even if that decision has already been made. I know this is hard for us humans to understand, but God sees whether we do what He wants us to even before He asks.

January 12 2015 1 response Vote Up Share Report

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