Source: Based on part of Is God Free?
The Bible teaches that God cannot change. This is taught in the following verses.
- Malachi 3:6 – “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed”.
- Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
- Isaiah 31:2- “Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.”
- Psalm 33:11 – “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations”.
- Isaiah 46:10 – “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”
- Hebrews 6:17 – “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:”
- James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
- Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Jesus is God (Rev. 1:8, 17; Isaiah 9:6; John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14; Col, 1:5; 2:9; 2 Peter 1:1; John 1:1). (2)
The Bible also teaches that God doesn’t change his mind:
- Numbers 23:19 – “God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
- Isaiah 31:2 – “Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.” (3)
There are Scripture verses where it seems that God changes His mind. But if we read carefully, we see that God actually did not change His mind. For example:
- Genesis 6:6 – it seems that God changes His mind: “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Genesis 18:13 – “And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” (2) Ibid.
In this passage it appears that God is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the homosexuality. Genesis 18:20 says, “And the LORD said, “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous…” Now Abraham responded to God and said in Genesis 18:26-33, if I find in Sodom 50 righteous, then you God will not destroy the city. And God said “yes”. Then Abraham changed the number to 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, and finally 10 hoping that God would not destroy the city. And God told Abraham in Genesis 18:32 that if he found 10 “just” people, He would not destroy the city.
So it appears that God changed His mind. But in Genesis 19:24 we learn that God destroyed the city. God knows everything (1 John 3:20), and knew there were even 10 righteous people in Sodom, but He allowed Abraham to ask, showing Abraham His patience with Abraham (2 Peter 2:9) and mercy with Sodom (Deuteronomy 4:31; Ephesians 2:4, 5).
We see God did not change His mind. For example, even in the New Testament – homosexuality is still wrong, as is seen in 1 Corinthians 6:9.
- Jonah 3:10 – it seems that God changes His mind: “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.” In Jonah 1:2 we see that God is going to destroy the city of Nineveh and says, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” So Jonah took a ship that went to Nineveh but he decided he wanted to go in a different direction because he was afraid of the Ninevites and what he had heard about them (Jonah 1:12-17). But when he was thrown over ship and spent 3 days in the stomach of the great fish, he changed his mind and finally went to Nineveh to prophesy against them.
In hearing this message from God, the Ninevites repented (Jonah 3:5) and God did not destroy them. But it is interesting to note that later on in 612 B.C. the city was destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians as described in Nahum 1:14; 2:6-11; 3:19; y Zephaniah 2:13-15. So in this instance it appears that God changed His mind, but He really didn’t. He was only going to destroy the city if they didn’t repent. But they did.
- Genesis 2:2-3 – it seems that God changes His mind: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made”.
The seventh day is considered a day of rest. It was a Saturday. The word in Greek σάϐϐατον means “rest, peace, tranquility refreshment.” The word can be seen in Psalm 95:10-11 and Hebrews 4:9-11 of “enter into rest”. We see in Exodus 20:8-12 that it was part of the commandments to keep the Seventh day holy as a day of rest.
Now when Jesus arose from the dead and appeared to many it was on the first day of the week Sunday (John 20:1). And in the Council of Laodicea (364 A.C.) it was decided that Saturday would be changed to Sunday. Bible verses that talk about Sunday are John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Colossians 2:16-17; and Romans 14:5. So again it could appear that God changed his mind. But not.
The Sabbath day: a change there?
Now concerning the Sabbath day of rest and the meaning of the word in Greek meant that – “rest”. All the Commandments that are in Exodus 20 (minus Exodus 20:8-10 regarding the seventh day) appear in the New Testament. There is Matthew 14:33 regarding worship and Matthew 15:4 which reproduces Exodus 20:12, which says: “honor your father and mother”. And there is the command against committing adultery (Exodus 20:14) that is found in Matthew 5:32. Plus 1 John 3:15 states that murderers do not have eternal life, which is the command in Exodus 20:13 – not to murder.
In Matthew 12:1-8, Jesus deals with the Pharisees who are accusing his disciples of picking wheat stalks on the Sabbath. But according to Deuteronomy 23:25 it was legal to pick grains and eat them to satisfy hunger on the Sabbath. At the end of this passage Jesus says, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” (Matthew 12:8).
So we see that God did not change His mind about the day of rest. The first day of the week is still a day of rest, as Jesus arose from the grave and was resurrected on that day.
- Exodus 32:14 – “So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”(4) In Exodus 32:1-10 we see that Moses was late in coming down from the Mount Mariah for 40 days while the Israelites were waiting for him. So they decided to go to Aaron and asked him the make them two calves of gold and they would worship them claiming that they had brought them out of Egypt. With this news, God told Moses to descend immediately. God in the meantime had seen what Israel had done and in his anger and hurt said in verse 10 that He would consume them and make a great nation from Moses line. But Moses repented for the people of Israel (vs.11-13) and Exodus 32:14 was stated. So we see here again that God did not change His mind. Repentance was made (Acts 17:30; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Acts 3:19) and grace followed (Hebrews 4:16; 12:15; Ephesians 4:7; Romans 4:16; 5:20-21).