August 2, 2021 — Does God change His mind?

“Stan,” I asked one morning, “do you think God ever changes His mind?”

“I do not,” Stan replied.  “Why do you ask?”

“At my Bible study class the other night that question came up.  One of my friends in the class was quite adamant that he thinks God does change His mind.”

“Is that his personal opinion or did he cite some Scripture to back that up?” Stan asked.

“He cited some Bible verses,” I replied.

“Which ones?” Stan asked.  Was it First Samual where, in 15:29, it says ‘And the glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”?

“No,” I replied.

“Was it Malachi 3:6, where it says, ‘For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore, you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed’?”

“Not that one either,” I said.

“How about verse 17 of the first chapter of James, where it says ‘Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.’?”

“Nope,” I responded.

“Hebrews 13:8?” Stan asked.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”

“Sorry, that wasn’t it either,” I said.

“Okay,” Stan said, “to what did your friend refer?”

“Exodus 32, verses ten to fourteen,” I replied.

“Let’s have a look,” Stan said as he pulled out his phone and opened the Bible app.

After taking a look, Stan said, “Yeah, I remember this.  Moses was on the mountain with God while the rest of the Israelites were having a serious golden calf party down below.”

“That’s right,” I said. “God was pretty ticked off with what they were doing.”

“More than ticked off,” Stan replied.  “God was so angry that He said He was going to destroy them and raise up a whole new group of people for Moses to lead.”

“Yes,” I responded, “and my friend in class pointed to verse 14 where it says that God changed His mind about the harm He said He would do to the people.”

“Changed His mind,” Stan said.  “What happened to cause God to change His mind.  Did He really change His mind, or did the circumstance just change?”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.

“Moses interceded on behalf of the Israelites,” Stan said.  “When God was angry about their sin, God, in essence, had on His ‘judgment hat’.  After Moses’ intercession on behalf of the sinners, God, so to speak, had on His ‘mercy hat’ even though His attitude towards sin and disobedience had not changed.”

“What changed,” Stan continued, “was God’s view.  From judgment to mercy.”

“Let me check something,” Stan said as he again looked at his phone.  “Looking at some different translations different words are used.  Some say that God ‘relented’ rather than ‘changed His mind.  That seems to me to be a better phrase.”

“It is not unlike my situation,” Stan continued, “concerning the cross of Christ and His atonement.  God’s judgment against sin did not change regarding me and my separation from Him.  No, God’s judgment did not change, I just benefited from His mercy through Christ paying the price.  God did not all of a sudden change His mind and, in essence, say that sin no longer mattered.”

“The only thing that changed,” Stan continued, “is that I am now under grace rather than the law and judgment.  I think it was the same regarding what happened in the verses of Exodus your friend in class mentioned.”

“Could it be” I asked, “that the verse indicating that God changed His mind or relented was some sort of precursor to what Jesus was going to do on the cross?”

“Something to think about, my friend,” Stan replied.

_________________________________

Bible verses to consider (in addition to those listed in the devotional):

For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us — by me and Silvanus and Timothy — was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. 2 Corinthians 1:19.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, that you do not change. You so loved the world that you gave your only begotten Son for all who will believe. You did that a long time ago, but it still applies today to each person who will, by faith, accept your free and gracious gift of life eternally with you when it’s time. Thank you for those people you brought into my life to share with me the truth that forever changed me and my eternal destination.  Please help me in following every step of your lead so that the only thing that changes with me is I am drawn into an ever-deepening personal relationship with you on this side of eternity.  Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Think on this: Do you think God changes His mind? Why or why not?  In the devotional above, Stan talks about God wearing two different “hats,” the hat of judgment and the hat of mercy. What does that mean to you? Have you accepted by faith God’s free and gracious gift of life eternally with Him when your time here is completed? If no, why? What is it that is standing in the way of having the assurance of salvation and redemption? If you do have that assurance, how are you doing in living your life on this side of eternity relying on the truth that God does not change? We all change, but God does not. Would you like to live your life with less change? If so, how is that going to happen?

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