God is unchangeable
James 1:17/ Mal 3:6/ Ezek 24:14/ Num 23:19
God is changeable
Gen 6:6/ Jonah 3:10/ 1 Sam 2:30,31/ 2 Kings 20:1,4,5,6/
1) What is the supposed contradiction and why is it believable?
GOD IS UNCHANGEABLE
James 1:17 says, “17Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].”
Malachi 3:6 says, “6For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”
Ezekiel 24:14 says, “14I the Lord have spoken it; it shall come to pass and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I relent; according to your ways and according to your doings shall they judge and punish you, says the Lord God.”
Numbers 23:19 says, “19God is not a man, that He should tell or act a lie, neither the son of man, that He should feel repentance or compunction [for what He has promised]. Has He said and shall He not do it? Or has He spoken and shall He not make it good?”
GOD IS CHANGEABLE
Genesis 6:6 says, “6And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved at heart.”
Jonah 3:10 says, “10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God revoked His [sentence of] evil that He had said that He would do to them and He did not do it [for He was comforted and eased concerning them].”
1 Samuel 2:30, 31 says, “30Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, I did promise that your house and that of your father [forefather Aaron] should go in and out before Me forever. But now the Lord says, Be it far from Me. For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. 31Behold, the time is coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your own father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in your house.”
2 Kings 20:1, 4, 5, 6 says, “ 1IN THOSE days Hezekiah became deadly ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.4Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him:5Turn back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of My people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your [forefather]: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord.6I will add to your life fifteen years and deliver you and this city [Jerusalem] out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.”
Exodus 33:1,3,14, 17 says, “1THE LORD said to Moses, Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought from the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, To your descendants I will give it. 3Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, lest I destroy you on the way. 14And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. 17And the Lord said to Moses, I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favor, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name.”
I can see the conflict here. At first glance, we can see instances of God changing His mind. I believe the important thing to think about, however is WHY. It also concerns me that especially the quotes from exodus and kings have gaps in it. It’s like we are only seeing part of the story in this manner. Let’s look deeper and see the real story and the reasons for these changes.
2) What is the truth in these verses and why do they NOT actually contradict each other?
The quote from James is an interesting start. It actually pics up where our last reference from James left off (https://www.facebook.com/groups/103066236432206/doc/175505799188249/). Here, James just got done explaining that God does not tempt us, nor does he implant in us any evil desires we have. Now he is explaining why, “16Do not be misled, my beloved brethren.17Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].18And it was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth, so that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself].” James explanation here is that god is a steadfast beacon of Light, a persistent goodness, not evil. A spiritual being who is always on the side of good, therefore we cannot claim Him as the origin of any evil.
The Book of Malachi is an address to the Jews after returning from exile. A period of spiritual revival has come and gone and now the Jews were falling back into their ritualistic ways. There was an outcry as to why God had forsaken them and this was a call to worship God the way He had instructed them to. If we look around this verse, we see the point God is making, “5Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against the false swearers, and against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, and who turn aside the temporary resident from his right and fear not Me, says the Lord of hosts.6For I am the Lord, I do not change; that is why you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.7Even from the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, How shall we return?8Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings.9You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation.” You see, God is restating that He is faithful as long as Israel is faithful. He says that Israel will not be destroyed if they are obedient. He then goes on to extrapolate and explain with the example of tithing.
Ezekiel is a book that comes before Malachi. While Malachi was written after the exile, Ezekiel was a prophet during the exile. His ministry was to the Jews in Babylon. His purpose was to explain God’s reasoning for their exile and an explanation of the future of Israel. This verse is the end of a parable of a boiling pot spoken through Ezekiel. It is towards the end of the section of the book explain God’s judgment on Israel for their sinfulness. You see, there are consequences for our actions. The exile of the nation was the consequence. We see this in the verse just before, “13In your filthiness is abomination; [and therefore] because I would have cleansed you and you were not cleansed, you shall not be cleansed from your filthiness any more until I have satisfied My wrath against and upon you.” After this chapter, God continues to tell Israel that even though they were sinful. Even though they turned their backs on God, He will still restore them. He tells them how it will happen.
The book of Numbers is an account of the 40 years of wandering of the nation of Israel between Egypt and the Promised Land. The purpose of the book is to explain the importance of faith. Throughout the 40 years, God tried to instill the fact to the Jews that He is always faithful and true to His Word. Picking up in chapter 23, we are in the middle of the story of Balak and Balaam. Balak was the king of Moab and was afraid of Israel, as they had by this point, proved an undefeatable force, blessed by God. He called on Balaam, a prophet to curse Israel so they Moab would not be overtaken. This verse is excerpted from the second blessing Balaam gives Israel. As he speaks with God, he learns that Israel is blessed and protected by God. Balak refuses to believe this and 3 times set up altars, etc. for Balaam to curse the nation. Balaam, however, is trying to explain to Balak that he has no choice in the matter. What God has spoken is the final word, and that is that Israel is a blessed nation and His protection is over them. We see this in the next verse, “20You see, I have received His command to bless Israel. He has blessed, and I cannot reverse or qualify it.”
I don’t quite see the connection with Genesis 6:6 and God changing. He was saddened by His creation. So, His emotion changed? The fact that His emotions change has nothing to do with being or not being a steadfast God. As we saw in the previous references, God’s “unchangingness” is in relation to His covenants and His omnipotence. Also note the claim is: “God is changeable,” meaning that God can be changed. This is not possible. There is no evidence in the bible that says God has been changed by man. However, we see in the above examples that God remains the solid rock while man consistently goes back on his word, even those who follow God. THIS is the ugly truth that is revealed in all of the following verses. Man did not hold up his end of the bargain, so therefore God held up his end, He stuck to His punishment/ judgment/ consequence of not being obedient.
In the reference of Jonah, we see only the end of the story. If we read the whole 3rd chapter, we see that Jonah was sent by God to warn Ninevah that because of their evil ways, He will destroy them, “1AND THE word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach and cry out to it the preaching that I tell you.3So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city of three days’ journey [sixty miles in circumference].4And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown!5So the people of Nineveh believed in God and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth [in penitent mourning], from the greatest of them even to the least of them.6For word came to the king of Nineveh [of all that had happened to Jonah, and his terrifying message from God], and he arose from his throne and he laid his robe aside, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.7And he made proclamation and published through Nineveh, By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed nor drink water.8But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and let them cry mightily to God. Yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.9Who can tell, God may turn and revoke His sentence against us [when we have met His terms], and turn away from His fierce anger so that we perish not.10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God revoked His [sentence of] evil that He had said that He would do to them and He did not do it [for He was comforted and eased concerning them].” You see, it was in the repentance that God’s judgment was rescinded and the city was spared. It was the whole point of the story in the first place. This is echoed and clarified in the message of Christ, that in order to receive God’s blessings, we are to repent (turn around) from our sinful ways and worship Him, or else we will have to live with the punishment of our actions. In chapter 4, Jonah expresses his displeasure and anger with God for sparing the city and God’s response was, “11And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons not [yet old enough to] know their right hand from their left, and also many cattle [not accountable for sin]?” You see, I believe this whole example is representative of God’s steadfastness: He loves all and wants all to be saved. However, they must be obedient. He set up the rules and He is sticking to them. It’s like setting up the rules of the house, along with the punishments associated with violating the rules. When one of your children violate a rule, you must instill discipline by carrying out the punishment, as much as you don’t want to do it, you realize it is necessary to teach that discipline. God is doing the same thing here.
The 2 books of Samuel are written in part by him and the rest about him and his time. The books of Samuel contain information about the end of the era of judges. Samuel was, in fact, the last known judge of that era. He was calling Israel to a revival of the true worship of God (Yaweh). It was a very dark period of them and he was trying to change the morale of the people. Part of this he did by appointing a king (Saul). In this reference, we see again reflected God’s frustration with the people who do not obey His commands. If we start just a couple verses before, we can see the completeness of God’s point, “27A man of God came to Eli and said to him, Thus has the Lord said: I plainly revealed Myself to the house of your father [forefather Aaron] when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh’s house. 28Moreover, I selected him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer on My altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before Me. And I gave [from then on] to the house of your father [forefather] all the offerings of the Israelites made by fire. 29Why then do you kick [trample upon, treat with contempt] My sacrifice and My offering which I commanded, and honor your sons above Me by fattening yourselves upon the choicest part of every offering of My people Israel? 30Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, I did promise that your house and that of your father [forefather Aaron] should go in and out before Me forever. But now the Lord says, Be it far from Me. For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. 31Behold, the time is coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your own father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in your house. 32And you shall behold the distress of My house, even in all the prosperity which God will give Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33Yet I will not cut off from My altar every man of yours; some shall survive to weep and mourn [over the family’s ruin], but all the increase of your house shall die in their best years. 34And what befalls your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be a sign to you–in one day they both shall die. [Fulfilled in I Sam. 4:17, 18.] 35And I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest (Priest), who shall do according to what is in My heart and mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed (Anointed) forever. 36Everyone who is left in your house shall come crouching to him for a piece of silver and a bit of bread and say, Put me, I pray you, into a priest’s office so I may have a piece of bread.” God’s desire is for obedience, because in obedience, we love God. It is how we express our love for God. Think forward to when Jesus was baptized, even though, in the conventional way of thinking, He did not need to be baptized since He had no sins to repent from. What was God’s response? In Mathew chapter 3 we read, “15But Jesus replied to him, Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him.16And when Jesus was baptized, He went up at once out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him.17And behold, a voice from heaven said, This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight!” We also see in Acts 19 when the apostle Paul is explaining the importance of being baptized in Christ’s name, that we do it willingly in obedience, “3And he asked, Into what [baptism] then were you baptized? They said, Into John’s baptism.4And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, continually telling the people that they should believe in the One Who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus [having a conviction full of joyful trust that He is Christ, the Messiah, and being obedient to Him].5On hearing this they were baptized [again, this time] in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
2 Kings is the second book recording the events during the time when Israel was ruled by kings. This book is the story of the end of this era and the capture of Israel and Judah. The referenced section here misses the key point: Hezekiah’s pleading with God. Let’s first look at the whole story, “1IN THOSE days Hezekiah became deadly ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.2Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying,3I beseech You, O Lord, [earnestly] remember now how I have walked before You in faithfulness and truth and with a whole heart [entirely devoted to You] and have done what is good in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly.4Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him:5Turn back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of My people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your [forefather]: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord.6I will add to your life fifteen years and deliver you and this city [Jerusalem] out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.” Hezekiah wanted to live longer and explained that he has been a good servant and at least in his eyes, felt he was worthy of redemption. God granted Hezekiah’s wish to help him live longer. Hezekiah’s illness and pending death was not a judgment or consequence; it was just the natural run of life. God had mercy on His servant who was obedient. It doesn’t even say here that God was causing Hezekiah’s for a specific reason, so we can’t even use this reference to say “God changed His mind.”
Again, as the reference in 2 Kings, the gap between the verses actually captures WHY there seems to be a contradiction. You see, in the beginning, God expresses His discontent with Israel for being stubborn (a usual occurrence in the Old Testament). The whole exchange is as follows, “1THE LORD said to Moses, Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought from the land of Egypt, to the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, To your descendants I will give it.2I will send an Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite, Amorite, Hittite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite. 3Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, lest I destroy you on the way. 4When the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned and no man put on his ornaments. 5For the Lord had said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, You are a stiff-necked people! If I should come among you for one moment, I would consume and destroy you. Now therefore [penitently] leave off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you. 6And the Israelites left off all their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.” The problem God had here with Israel is that they were not being obedient. The chapter before this was when Israel constructed and worshipped the golden calf. His disgust in the people of Israel is explained here. They turned their backs on God and therefore were unworthy of His presence. This is why He said He will not continue with them, for they were unworthy and therefore in danger of death if He were to dwell among them. However, it is evident He still loved them, as He still sent an angel to guide them. Later, Moses is seen intervening for the people of Israel. This is where the reference to God saying He will not forsake Israel. This is similar to many other interventions by prophets and holy leaders in the bible. Because of their love for God and God’s children, they intervene for the sinners. This is ultimately displayed in Christ’s intervention for our sins, once and for all.
3) How can we use this to educate ourselves and others to further the Kingdom?
Again we are seeing examples of obedience, discipline, judgment, and sacrifice. God has always been constant in His stance with mankind. If we are obedient to His ways, we will reap the benefits (blessings). If we are disobedient, we must pay the consequences of our actions. We must remember that if we want to love God, we must be obedient. This is how we display our love to Him. Remember the first and greatest commandment in Mark 12, “29Jesus answered, The first and principal one of all commands is: Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord; 30And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment.”
God doesn’t change man changes. As man changes and we are faced with the reality that we must endure the consequences of our actions, we want to blame God for our circumstances. We need to get a hold of this because it will drastically change our outlook on our relationship with God and our life’s circumstances. If we are obedient, we are blessed. If we are disobedient, we are not blessed. I know I’ve talked about this before, but it is easy to just blame God for our misfortune and hate Him for it. It is purely selfish to blame others for our own iniquities, yet we do it because we think we are perfect. Once we realize we are not, then we can turn to God for help.
He knows we are imperfect, He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He wants us to WANT to worship and honor Him. He can help us change our ways, if we let Him. As we continue to try to do things our own way, we will continuously fail and eventually curse God for our miserable lives…just what the devil wants us to do.