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markedward
Mar 18th 2012, 08:20 AM
Some passages of Scripture say that God 'does not repent' (e.g. Numbers 23.19; 1 Samuel 15.29).

Yet others depict him as 'repenting' (e.g. Genesis 6.6; Exodus 32.14; 1 Samuel 15.35).

If you have thoughts to offer on this apparent contradiction, please give reasoning behind your thoughts.

Indueseason
Mar 18th 2012, 09:26 AM
Well I think in 1Sam 15:29, Samuel is just making it clear that God's decision to give the throne to another was final. The Lord's mercy has caused Him to change His mind a number of times in scripture. So I would say in general He does not change His mind, but His mercy and love can affect that.

blessings to you :hug:

Jemand
Mar 18th 2012, 07:42 PM
Some passages of Scripture say that God 'does not repent' (e.g. Numbers 3.19; 1 Samuel 15.29).

Yet others depict him as 'repenting' (e.g. Genesis 6.6; Exodus 32.14; 1 Samuel 15.35).

If you have thoughts to offer on this apparent contradiction, please give reasoning behind your thoughts.
(“Numbers 3.19” should read “Numbers 23.19”)

Has God ever “repented” or changed His mind? I believe that He has.

Jonah 3:10. 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. (KJV)

Jonah 3:10. When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. (NASB, 1995)

However, the Hebrew word translated as “repented” in Jonah 3:10 in the KJV usually does not mean to “relent;” it means to be sorry for ones thoughts or actions, to be moved with pity and to have compassion upon others, to suffer grief over another’s loss, to repent of one’s thoughts or actions because of ones compassion, or to change ones mind because of ones compassion. To “relent” comes close, but it misses the mark because it carries with it the connotations of giving in, letting up, slackening—connotations that the Hebrew word does not usually have.

Taking into consideration the context in which the word is used, a more accurate translation is that found in the New Revised Standard Version,

Jonah 3:10. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.

God did not give in, let up, or slacken in his punishment; God felt compassion for the people of the city (Nineveh) that He was about to overthrow, and He changed His mind. He did not overthrow Nineveh.

Please note also the following verses from the NRSV where the same Hebrew word is being translated,

Genesis 6:6. And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Exodus 32:12. “Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people.
13. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”
14. And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Exodus 32:14. And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

1 Samuel 15:11. “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.” Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the Lord all night.
35. Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Jeremiah 18:7. At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it,
8. but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will change my mind about the disaster that I intended to bring on it.
9. And at another moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it,
10. but if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will change my mind about the good that I had intended to do to it.

Jeremiah 26:3. It may be that they will listen, all of them, and will turn from their evil way, that I may change my mind about the disaster that I intend to bring on them because of their evil doings.
13. Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you.
19. Did King Hezekiah of Judah and all Judah actually put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and did not the Lord change his mind about the disaster that he had pronounced against them? But we are about to bring great disaster on ourselves!"

Jeremiah 42:10. If you will only remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I am sorry for the disaster that I have brought upon you.


Compare the following verse from the NRSV where the same Hebrew word is being translated,

Exodus 13:17. When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.”

However,

2 Samuel 24:16. But when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented concerning the evil, and said to the angel who was bringing destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

But,

2 Samuel 24:16 But when the angel stretched his hand towards Jerusalem to destroy it, Yahweh felt sorry about the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "Enough now! Hold your hand!" The angel of Yahweh was standing by the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. (New Jerusalem Bible)

2 Samuel 24:16 But when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD regretted the calamity and said to the angel causing the destruction among the people, "Enough now! Stay your hand." The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. (New American Bible)

However,

Jonah 4:2. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.”

Jonah 4:2 He prayed to Yahweh and said, “Please, Yahweh, isn’t this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country? That was why I first tried to flee to Tarshish, since I knew you were a tender, compassionate God, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, who relents about inflicting disaster.” (New Jerusalem Bible)

But,

Jonah 4:2 “I beseech you, LORD,” he prayed, “is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled at first to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.” (New American Bible)

How about 1 Samuel 15:29?

29. Moreover the Glory of Israel will not recant or change his mind; for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind.” (NRSV)

Let us take a look at this verse in context,

22. And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed than the fat of rams.
23. For rebellion is no less a sin than divination,
and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”
24. Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.
25. Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”
26. Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
27. As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore.
28. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you.
29. Moreover the Glory of Israel will not recant or change his mind; for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind.”
30. Then Saul said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.”
31. So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord. (NRSV)

Samuel is telling Saul that because Saul has “rejected the word of the Lord,” God has rejected Saul from being king. God is adamant about this, and He will not change His mind about it. There is no suggestion, however, that God will not change His mind when circumstance make it appropriate for Him to do so.

Now, let us take a look at three more ‘problematic passages.’

Numbers 23:18. Then Balaam uttered his oracle, saying:
“Rise, Balak, and hear;
listen to me, O son of Zippor:
19. God is not a human being, that he should lie,
or a mortal, that he should change his mind.
Has he promised, and will he not do it?
Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Balaam is simply saying that God will keep His promise; when God gives someone a promise, He keeps His promise—He does not change His mind. There is no suggestion, however, that God will not change His mind when the circumstances make it appropriate for Him to do so.

Jeremiah 4:28. Because of this the earth shall mourn,
and the heavens above grow black;
for I have spoken, I have purposed;
I have not relented nor will I turn back.

This passage speaks of a specific circumstance, but no others.

Ezekiel 24:14. I the Lord have spoken; the time is coming, I will act. I will not refrain, I will not spare, I will not relent. According to your ways and your doings I will judge you, says the Lord God.

This passage speaks of a specific time in the future, but no others.

(All quotations from Scripture are from the NRSV unless otherwise noted)