Does God Change His Mind?

Of course he does- he changed it for Moses more than once, right?
When the people sinned with the Golden Calf and God said he would destroy them, didn’t he tell Moses that he wouldn’t do that, after all, since Moses pleaded with him for the sake of the people? (Exodus 32:10-14; Deuteronomy 9:13-14)

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Even before that, when God sent angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, didn’t Abraham negotiate a deal with God, making him change his mind and promise not to destroy it if there were as few as 10 righteous men there?

(Of course, God kind of cheated on that one, since he already knew there were no righteous men there, to begin with. But I think he did it so that Abraham could feel helpful.)

And what about Nineveh? God decided he would destroy them, but he sent Jonah as a last-ditch effort to save them. Lucky for Nineveh, they listened, although in the long run it only delayed the inevitable.

So it certainly seems that God will change his mind. But that brings up a problem: if God will change his mind about things, does that mean he might change his mind about salvation?

Yeah, yeah, I know…we are told that salvation cannot be taken away by anyone (John 6:37-40, for one), but God isn’t just anyone- he is God.

Job tells us that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. In other words, that which God gives, he also can take away- it is up to him. After all, who can hold God accountable? Who can tell God “You can’t do that!”?

We are told that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Ecclesiastes 3:14; Malachi 3:6), but then we are also told about how he gives and takes away, how he changes his mind, so if he is the same, then how can he change his mind?

And, as I said earlier, if he can change his mind, then how can we trust in the promise of salvation? Or, for that matter, any of the promises he’s made?

I’ll tell you what I believe is the answer- God doesn’t change his mind, and his promises are so trustworthy, that whatever God says will be, has already been.

But, but, but…what about Abraham? What about Moses? What about the other times (you can find more examples in the Bible if you look for them) God said he wouldn’t do what he said he wanted to do.

Aha! As Shakespeare would say- “There’s the rub!”

The operative word in what I just said is that God said he wanted to do- not that he would do.

When God told Moses to go down from the mountain because the people had sinned (with the Golden Calf), he didn’t tell Moses he decided to destroy them. He asked Moses to leave him alone so that he could destroy them: in other words, he was asking Moses to allow him to destroy them and make a nation from Moses, but he didn’t tell Moses that he will destroy them.

A subtle difference but a significant one.

The same with Abraham. God’s angels said they were sent to destroy the cities, and all Abraham accomplished was to negotiate a cease fire, so to speak, based on something that (as I already pointed out) God knew wasn’t the case.

We need to remember something that I learned long ago when I was in Sales:

People don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do.

God, on the other hand, means what he says and does what he says he will do. He is 1,000% trustworthy and reliable to do what he says, which includes the promise of salvation. We may be confused by the wording in the Bible, which makes it appear that he will change his mind once he decided what to do.

But that is our misunderstanding, and not a case of God changing his mind.

The JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh, recognized as one of the best interpretations of the Tanakh, tells us that God asks Moses to “let me be” so that his anger may blaze against the people and that he may destroy them. Later in that passage, it says God “renounced the punishment he had planned to bring upon the people.”

Planned to bring is not decided to do.

After all, plans are flexible, and when we decide to go another way because the original plan won’t do what we need, is that changing our mind?

Well, OK, yes- we can say we changed our mind, or we can say we changed the plan, never having really made up our mind, absolutely.

So, the final decision, which is a decision which I will not change my mind about, is that there is a difference between planning to do something and deciding to do it, and the only thing that determines the final decision is what is done.

God had decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and he did; God planned to destroy the people and make a nation from Moses, but that plan changed and the people were not destroyed.

God also planned to destroy them after they refused to enter the land (Numbers 14), but Moses explained why that would be a bad idea and God changed his plan. Instead of destroying all the people, he only destroyed the generation that came out of Egypt. He didn’t change his mind, he simply changed the plan.

So, you can see that where I may have introduced a reason to doubt God’s word, in the end it is our understanding (both linguistically and culturally) of what he said that might lead us to think he has changed his mind.

What God has said and what he has done over the millennia proves, beyond a doubt, that we can depend on him, always.

God may change his plans for you, based on what you do, but you can absolutely trust that every promise God has made, or ever will make, is a guaranteed done deal.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, buy my books, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word’ (please read and agree to the rules).

And remember- I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Comments welcomed (just be nice)