A few weeks ago I got into a debate online about whether or not YHWH could change his mind. I presented the few verses that directly indicate that he has changed his mind…
Exodus 32:14 – “So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”
This was when YHWH told Moses that he was going to destroy all the people he just saved from the Egyptians because they were turning to false gods. Moses told YHWH to remember the promise he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel about multiplying and blessing their descendents. And while Moses was interceding on the behalf of the Jews they were building a Golden Calf to worship.
Jeremiah 26:19 – “Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and the Lord changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them? But we are committing a great evil against ourselves.”
This verse is about how YHWH changed his mind about killing King Hezekiah when the king repented of his wrong doings. Now this verse is easily dismissed because people say that it is just YHWH responding to our repentance and it has the appearance of changing his mind. Unfortunately, the Exodus verse above cannot be so easily dismissed. There was no repentance from the Jews who were still in the act of
But I have been thinking about this topic since that online debate, trying to wrap my head around the truth, when this past Easter I attended a church gathering. Obviously the sermon’s topic was about Jesus’ death and resurrection. This verse made me think about this topic again.
Matthew 26:39 – “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.'”
This is when Jesus was praying right before Judas gave him up to the chief priests. When I thought about it this began to rattle in my brain, “Is Jesus asking YHWH to change his mind?”
Of course, if you do a Google search for “can god change his mind” you’ll get a number of posts at the top of the results that without a doubt say that YHWH cannot change his mind. He is immutable and perfect and therefore is forever unchanging. And if you believe that he can change, you have to reconcile Malachi 3:6 “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” If you believe he cannot change, you have to reconcile the verses above that say he has changed his mind, the requests from Jesus to change his plan, as well as the numerous calls for us to pray to him to “ask” and “receive” things. And then you have to reconcile all of this with the idea that traditionally it is believed that YHWH knows everything that will ever happen, in fact, he might have ordained it all to happen.
Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what I believe about all this. I do not think it is as cut and dry as we typically believe. If it were, it would probably be the first thing about YHWH that was!
So, I think it is much more complex than saying that the perfect can never change. What if perfection cannot be perfect unless it also has the ability to change? What if there are events in our present, past and future that immovable and unchanging, but there are other events that are flexible? All I am saying is that I am not convinced that a god who changes his mind necessarily makes him a lesser god. What are your thoughts?