Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God Never Changes…But He Can Change His Mind

“I the Lord do not change.” Malachi. 3:6

The truth is God never changes. The fact that He can and does change His mind, for the longest time to me appeared paradoxical. Why would someone omniscient ever need to reverse a decision? Could the things I believe to be true today become passé tomorrow?
Over time I learned that while God ‘changed His mind’ regarding specific situations, His nature and character are set in stone, rock solid. He never violates who He is. His ‘changes of heart’ are pre-planned strategic maneuvers. Let me share a few.
In the beginning at creation, both men and animals were vegetarians Genesis 1:29-30. Hundreds of years and eight chapters later, things changed. Men and beast went from The Peaceable Kingdom to Mortal Combat. What happened? The flood.
Before the deluge men and animals had no fear of each other. The animals came willingly to the ark, content to remain in confined quarters for an extended period of time. They peacefully co-existed with each other and with men. Had both been carnivores, life on the ark would be dangerous. The ark could have become “Noah’s Deep Pit B-B-Q” (not safe for a boat made of wood). “Lions and Tigers and Bears,” oh no more! Whole species could have been wiped out. When the waters receded and all were on terra firma, God removed the prohibition against eating meat. The original command was a temporary measure based on an future event.
If God had not ‘changed His mind’, King David would never have been born. He wouldn’t defeat Goliath, write the psalms or father Solomon, the wisest man and richest king ever to exist. How so? David’s great-grand mother was Ruth, the Moabitess. The Moabites were the offspring of an incestuous union (which God never condones) between Lot and his daughter Genesis 19:31-36. God planned to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham interceded on their behalf. God agreed if ten righteous people were found, He would call off judgment. The requisite number didn’t exist, but God provided for Lot, his wife and their two daughters an escape. Had God not altered His plan of destroying the cities and their inhabitants, neither David nor his ancestral line would be born.
Because God ‘changed His mind’ Abraham didn’t sacrifice his son Isaac. God never intended for him to die. That being the case, why put father and son through the stress test of a lifetime? Abraham and God were covenantal partners. These agreements obligated the contractual parties to reciprocate each others actions. Abraham’s willingness to offer up his son opened the door for God to respond in like fashion. Because of their covenant, God could legally offer up Jesus for our salvation, based on Abraham’s offering of Isaac. An interesting side note; God intervened and stopped Abraham from killing his son. When Jesus’ life was on the line, no one called out for His life to be spared.
There are other instances in the Bible where God ‘changed His mind’ based on prayer or intercession. John Wesley once stated, “God does nothing unless someone prays.” Moses stood in the gap and the Israelites weren’t destroyed for building and worshipping the golden calf Exodus 32:7-14. Terminally ill, King Hezekiah prayed for healing. He was not only made well but also lived an additional fifteen years. Jonah was so sure that God would have a change of heart concerning the destruction of Nineveh, (Jonah 4:12) he ran from God’s call to preach repentance to the city’s inhabitants. A strong storm at sea and personal transportation in the belly of a whale changed the prophet’s mind and travel plans.
When God does ‘change His mind’ he is not reacting to new, unexpected information or circumstances. He is omniscient, He knows the future. We don’t. In some cases, if He shared upcoming events, we wouldn’t understand or comprehend them, let alone believe Him. How do you explain a flood to people who have never seen a boat, let alone rain? Be certain of this. First, God’s character and nature never changes; He will not violate His law or His Word. Second, prayer works. God hears and responds to prayer, even to the point of ‘changing His mind’. Third, keep listening. Abraham did and he heard God’s command to spare Isaac’s life. Armed with these facts we are confident that He hears our prayers. We’re assured, based on His knowledge of the future and all the ramification of His decisions, God is open to hearing and granting our requests for a ‘change of His mind’.

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