- A prominent mega-pastor says: "Church leaders (of the first century) unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures. Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well."
- Other prominent Christian leaders dismiss voluminous prophecies in both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures that state Messiah will restore the Earth to an Eden-like, pre-fall setting, ruling and reigning from Jerusalem. Some say Jesus is not coming back at all and that we are already living in the Kingdom of God.
- Others teach that God has abandoned His everlasting covenant with Israel, supplanting that promise to the Christian church – a claim known as "replacement theology" or supersessionism.
Of course, these three suggestions all one thing in common. They beg the obvious question: Does God ever change His mind?
Does God go back on promises? Does He alter His plans? Does He make mistakes that need to be corrected? Does God ever say one thing and do another? Did God mislead the prophets in making their very specific predictions? Does God ever lie?
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Having recently completed a thorough study of all 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures in search of the Gospel message, finding it in every single one – an exercise that proves, I believe, a fully integrated and miraculous cohesiveness to the entire Bible – I set out to examine these questions and provide biblical answers.
Joseph Farah's latest book, "The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament," does not release in hardcover until September. But it is available now as an e-book at Amazon.com and the WND Superstore. Also, autographed Special VIP Advance Reader Copies are available from the WND Superstore for a donation of $100 or more to support what is expected to be a massive printing of the hardcover.
Let's begin by reviewing what the Scriptures say:
- 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?"
- Malachi 3:6: "For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."
- Psalm 102:25-27: "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end."
- Psalm 33:10-11: "The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."
- Psalm 110:4: "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
- Isaiah 14:24: "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:"
- Isaiah 46:9-11: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 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: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it."
- Proverbs 19:21: "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand."
- Job 23:13: "But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth."
- 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."
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The scriptural evidence is pretty staggering, it would seem. According to the Bible, God doesn't change His mind. He doesn't go back on promises. He doesn't alter His plans. He doesn't make mistakes that need to be corrected. He doesn't say one thing and do another. And He doesn't lie.
Additionally, Peter, James and Paul certainly never ditched the Hebrew Scriptures, as mega-church Pastor Andy Stanley claimed. They were, indeed, the only Scriptures that existed in their lifetimes, so the words we read today in the New Testament writings would make no sense in that context – and perhaps that is a source of confusion for Stanley. Instead, Peter, James and Paul all affirmed the law and the prophets as Jesus did, and the frequently referenced other books of the Tanach.
If we are to draw our conclusions about the nature of God's immutability from His Word and His deeds, the scriptural case should be conclusive based on the whole of the Bible.
Yet, skeptics have a handful of verses they draw upon to raise doubts. So, let's look at two seemingly problematic examples as well:
- In the book of Jonah, God calls on the prophet to rise up and go to Nineveh and "cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me." Jonah flees from God because he doesn't want Israel's enemies in Nineveh to repent and be spared the judgment of God. You know the rest of the story. Jonah is carried to Nineveh in the belly of a great fish and halfheartedly, it would seem, calls on the great city to repent, which it does. Jonah 3:10 says: "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." Some ask the logical question, "does God repent?" If so, doesn't "repent" mean to change one's mind, to turn in a new direction? Yes, it does, but the Hebrew word behind that word "repent," in the King James Version, is nacham, which, like many words in Hebrew, has more than one meaning, with the context determining the specific meaning. Among other possible definitions are the following: "to experience grief, sorrow or pain"; "to experience being comforted"; "to relent or repudiate a course of action." It seems clear that God sent Jonah to beckon Nineveh to repent. If Nineveh did not repent, God planned to destroy the city. When Nineveh repented, there was no need for God to repent. The city did what God foreknew it would do. There was no need for repentance on His part. I would suggest there never is. Similarly, read what God says in Jeremiah 18:8: "If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." God did Nineveh exactly what we should expect from Him, according to His Word.
- 1 Samuel 15:11: (God speaking to Samuel) "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night." Later, in 1 Samuel 15:28-29, Samuel tells Saul: "The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent." Some suggest there is a contradiction. (And, yes, once again, the slightly ambiguous Hebrew word nacham lies behind that English word "repent.") And there's little question that an omniscient God would have known Saul would be disobedient and unrepentant, and that David would fulfill His mission as king. Psalm 139:13 reminds us that God covered, or protected, David in his mother's womb.
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Lastly, it's important to remember that God makes the rules. He's God, after all. He treats the wicked and disobedient differently than the righteous, the repentant, the faithful and the obedient. Consider, also, that He often makes two kinds of promises – conditional and unconditional. Notably, His Covenants to Abraham, through the line of Isaac and Jacob were unconditional, based on Abraham's faithfulness. God ratified it without conditions, and it's referenced as such in both the Old Testament and New as the foundation for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles:
- Genesis 12:7: "And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land:"
- Genesis 13:14-17: "And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee."
- Genesis 15:18: "In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:"
- Genesis 17:7-8: "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
- Genesis 22:16-18: "And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
This is an important concept for Christians to understand, as it is written in Galatians 3:29: "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Joseph Farah's latest book, "The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament," does not release in hardcover until September. But it is available now as an e-book at Amazon.com and the WND Superstore. Also, autographed Special VIP Advance Reader Copies are available from the WND Superstore for a donation of $100 or more to support what is expected to be a massive printing of the hardcover edition.