Does God Change?
This is an interesting question.
Today, many can use the arguments that as culture changes, God will go along with the flow and bend according to the particular dictates of man at any given time. They don’t phrase it that way of course, but that is how they view it.
In an article in April 2015 in the New York Times, a columnist wrote: “And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere. That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken. But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing. It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras. It ignores the extent to which interpretation is subjective, debatable.”
Can you see how subtle and deceptive this all is? The article goes on to show how “advances” in understanding have been made in respect of slavery, contraception, gender roles and same sex marriages. This author and the people he quotes who share many of his views obviously think that they know better than God.
So let us quickly take, for example, homosexuality which is one of the areas of their “new understanding”. It is very clear to those who have eyes to see that the Bible in both the Old Testament and the New Testament denounces this abominable practice and yet it is seen as something good and acceptable by so many societies around the world. This is one of many cases where the application of Isaiah 5:20 is clearly shown: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…” It is interesting that Romans 1:32 states “…that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” We see that approval is also condemned! We know that, so often, the law of man in the case of homosexuality takes precedence over the Word of God but God does not change when it comes to such matters! (Please see our Q&A dated 11th March 2005 entitled “The Biblical Teaching on Homosexuality.”) God has not changed His instruction on this subject just because there are those who come up with arguments to prove that “we have to change with the times.” Perhaps, nearly 2,000 years ago, there were the “modernists” who might have felt that the condemnation of this practice in the Old Testament ought to be brought up to date to suit their wrong understanding of morality as laid out by the God who created us all. There were the “naysayers” then [a naysayer is one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is sceptical or cynical about something (Merriam-Webster)] and we have them today, so what changes?
We know from Malachi 3:6 that God does not change: “For I am the LORD, I do not change”. Another verse that is used to show the unchanging nature of God is found in Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” In James 1:17 we read: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
There are a number of examples where God DID change His mind and so how do we explain that? Let us look at some of these examples.
In Genesis 6:5-6 we read that “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
Genesis 18:26-32 relates Abraham’s negotiation with God over how many righteous in Sodom would be needed in order to save the city from destruction. First of all it was 50, then God agreed to 45, then 40, then 30, then 20 and finally 10. Quite a few changes of mind there because of Abraham’s pleading.
Numbers 14 tells the story of Israel refusing to enter Canaan and instead of entering the land immediately, God changed this by deferring their entry for 40 years.
In 2 Kings 20 we read that King Hezekiah was “sick and near death” (verse 1) and the King prayed about this matter (verse 2-3) and God changed His mind and added another 15 years to his life (verses 5-6).
Jonah was sent out on a mission to Nineveh but Jonah tried to opt out of this task. Eventually he did deliver the message that in “forty days… Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). However, all the Ninevites repented and “God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it (verse 10).” Again a change of mind by God.
We can see from these examples that God did change but none of these changes involved alterations to His unalterable spiritual law. God does not alter, nor does He compromise, with His plan for mankind which is set out in His Holy Day calendar (Please see our free booklets “The Meaning of God’s Spring Holy Days” and “The Meaning of God’s Fall Holy Days”) where His plan of salvation for ALL people is revealed, even those who, at this present time are disobedient to the truths and Way of Life that God has shown His called out ones. He doesn’t change on the need to keep His law – the Ten Commandments.
It is interesting that the Roman Catholic Church has defied God and “replaced” His seventh day Sabbath with Sunday. They also keep the paganised holidays such as Christmas and Easter (and other days) whilst ignoring and rejecting the Holy Days that God says are His. Leviticus 23:1-2 clearly states: “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.” God then gives details about the Sabbath and all the annual Holy Days.
The Church of God has long understood that if one part or passage in the Bible is contradictory then God’s Word could not be trusted. If God went back and forth about His spiritual Law for mankind, then how could we trust Him?
God is perfect in all His ways and we know that the Father and Jesus are one (see John 10:30 and 17:11) – unified and with a singleness of purpose.
We are truly blessed that God is constant, His integrity intact and that we can fully trust the great Creator God of the universe. This is confirmed in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding.”
God does NOT change when it comes to the eternal truths that He has made clear in His Word. God has, and is, perfect character which cannot change and we have to have the spiritual insight and understanding to comprehend this, rather than lumping everything together. (Please see our Q&A, “Does the Bible say anything about man’s character development?” – 24th July 2009 No. 404).
We read in Deuteronomy 32:4: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” God’s called-out ones can understand that but the author quoted at the beginning of this Q&A would believe that these glorious words are “beliefs ossified over centuries (that) aren’t easily shaken.” Those who currently rail against the Word of God will, one day, have the opportunity to understand when they have their calling, and it is to be hoped that they will have a complete change of mind at that time.
Moral absolutes are just that – absolute. They cannot be changed and God does not change in this area. However, God can and has changed His mind over certain events as outlined earlier in this Q&A.
Knowing the difference makes all the difference!
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)