WHEN GOD “CHANGES” HIS MIND

” … so the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people …” – Exodus 32:14

Moses’ intercessory prayer was itself part of God’s will and purpose to show His grace. But the effectiveness of Moses’ intercession can only be described by characterizing the Lord in human terms: He relents (or “repents”) and withholds the total judgment He had threatened.

This is a reference to a change of attitudes and actions. There is no contradiction between this verse and passages teaching the changelessness (immutability) of God (Mal. 3:6; James 1:17) and that God does not change His mind (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Ps. 33:11; Is. 46:10).

This description is anthropopathic (God is depicted in terms of the human experience of knowledge and emotion), we must also recognize that the immutable and sovereign God deals appropriately with changes in human behavior. When they sin or repent of sin, He “changes His mind” with regard to the blessing or punishment appropriate to the situation (Ex. 32:12, 14; 1 Sam. 15:11; 2 Sam. 24:16; Jer. 18:11; Amos 7:3, 6)—all in accordance with His sovereign and eternal purposes. Because God is changeless in His being, and eternally loyal to His covenant promises, we can have firm confidence in Him who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8 and note).

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