March 21, 2012 by gregkey
Recently a friend of mine posted this question: “Does God change His mind?” An age old question that has lots of barring on our development of Christ followers. So I thought I would share my response to his question– just in case someone else might be interested.
I have had several conversations through the years with people who really wrestle with this question. Sometimes, on the surface, it appears in Scripture that God changes His mind. For examaple, in Genesis, God tells Abaraham to sacrifice his only son Issaac. Then God says, “Just kidding. Here’s a ram instead.” (paraphrase mine) Or in Jonah when God tells Jonah He will send forth His judgement on the wicked people of Ninevah. They repent and God does not send His judgement. Even Jonah wrestled with this one (Jonah 4).
So, on the surface one might think that the Lord does change His mind. But I would like to share a different perspective. When we think of this question, we have to come to our conclusion throught the lens of Scripture. The Bible tells us that God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and sovereign. So does He change His mind?
Let’s ask this queston: In these situations did God change His mind or did He merely have different responses? When we read through Scripture we see that God lays before us 2 options: 1: Repent from sin and He will extend His mercy & grace (1 John 1:9 and 2 Chronicles 7:14) or 2: Continue to rebel in sin and we will experience God’s just judgement (Romans 6:23a and Psalm 78:17-22). So, where God seems to change His mind, He doesn’t.
Let me illustrated it by a closet. Recently I was in Birmingham helping out in my neice’s room. She has a closet in her room with 2 doors. You can go through either door and yet it’s the same thing on the otherside. Same closet, 2 different doors to enter. According to Joshua 24:14-15, God lays 2 paths out before us. 1) follow Him or 2) don’t follow Him. So it’s the same God on the other side, just different displays of His attributes. We walk thorugh door number 1 with our repentance and humility and we experience God’s mercy, forgiveness, and grace. Or we walk through door number 2 with our rebellion and life of sin and we experience God’s just judgement. Same God. Different responses.
For example, the people of Ninevah in Jonah. The same God lays before them 2 doors. Door number 1: continue in your sin and rebellion and my judgement will come upon you. (And God is just in doing so–Romans 6:23a) Or the people of Ninevah could choose door number 2: repent from their sin and turn to the Lord. They chose door number 2 (Jonah 3). Same God. Different extensions of His attributes.
So, when we think about the age-old question “Does God change His mind?”, the Bible lays out for us an answer of no. Same God. Same mind. Different attributes. Consider these verses: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8 and “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17
For some this reality may cause discouragment and frustartion. But for me this reality causes great faith and assurance that I don’t follow a God who’s as fickle as a pregnant woman in a shoe store!