This is the second in the “Does God Change His Mind?” series.
There’s a difference between a contradiction and a mystery.
Nothing about God is contradictory, and much about God can be known. But there are also things about God that remain a mystery to us.(1)
For example: “Does God change His mind?”
Numbers 23:19 says God doesn’t change his mind.
But in Isaiah 38, God tells the good king Hezekiah to put things in order because he’s going to die. Then Hezekiah prays and God “changes his mind,” giving Hezekiah 15 more years.
God lives outside time. He knew he’d answer Hezekiah’s prayer before Hezekiah prayed it. He only “changed His mind” in our limited framework of time.
A contradiction? No.
A mystery? Yes.
Some believe God was highlighting the importance of prayer.
I am more inclined to believe God was showing us His perfect will is better than His permissive will.(2)
Hezekiah could have died with a good record, but he didn’t.
There are no contradictions in God’s character and actions, but there are many layers of truth and mystery in them.
(2) God responds to selfish requests several other places in Scripture. He gives meat (quail) to the complaining Israelites (Numbers 11). Read more: Quail. He answered Israel’s request for a king when it wasn’t His perfect timing (1 Samuel 8). Read more: A King.
(3) This does not mean we shouldn’t pray for healing. Hezekiah’s situation was unique. God specifically told him that it was his time to die, but Hezekiah prayed for more years of life. Read more: Hezekiah.
Does God Change His Mind: Nineveh
God knows what will happen before it happens. He sees the big picture. He has no reason to change His mind.
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind.” Numbers 23:19
However, the story of Jonah seems to be a contradiction to this truth. God said He’d destroy Nineveh, but He “relented” and didn’t destroy them (Jonah 3:10).(1)
However, if we take a closer look we realize He didn’t really change His mind because this type of warning has conditions explained in Jeremiah 18:7-8:
“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”
God would have carried out His plan to destroy an unrepentant Nineveh.
But the Ninevites repented and the warning no longer applied to them. They became recipients of God’s unchanging promise to forgive and show mercy to those who turn to Him.
But when we repent and turn to Christ, that warning no longer applies (John 3:16).
God doesn’t change His mind. His wrath against the wicked stands firm (John 3:36). But His mercy toward the believer also stands firm.
Depend on it!
Categories: Studiu biblic