Welcome to Bible Answers
PERSON OF CHRIST QUESTION 13
Does the Bible teach that God repents?
There are many verses that says that God repents. A good reason in many cases is found in, Jeremiah 18:7-10. "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; 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. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them."
Here it is a matter of God changing His attributes toward a nation that repents or does not repent. He will change from wrath to mercy or from mercy to wrath. This simply means He changes His attribute to man, depending on their actions. His attributes themselves does not and cannot change, but He changes one attribute from another. God attribute toward us as sinners is wrath, John 3:36. When we repent then it changes to mercy. When we examine the two verses quoted above, that God is not a man that He should repent, we can see, especially in Numbers 23:19, which continues to say, "......hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" then we are in the purposes and promises of God to Israel. Balaam wanted to curse the people of Israel. God purposes and promises of Genesis 12:1-3 were unconditional. From these, "He is not a man that He should repent of them."In other words, God has made an unconditional covenants with promises to both Abraham and David. He will never change His mind (repent) toward those promises and purposes. He needs not help and cannot be hindered in performing His purpose to them. When it comes to His conditional promises, then He does repent. Jesus says, "repent or perish." His reaction to this is dependent to man.! Repent, mercy, otherwise perish.
We must make a distinction between God's purposes which is eternally decreed and His conditional promises to the sons of men. 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."
All comments and questions to: Harold Smith
Updated February 14th, 2014 by Sandra Felix