When God Repents

“God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind (repent). Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

~Numbers 23:19

First, if you’ve never seen the movie, The Adjustment Bureau, I highly recommend it. When I first saw the film, I disliked the implied theme that humans could change God’s mind. But as I’ve studied the Word, I more and more believe I need to review that movie in light of what a friend noted she loved about it: that we can press our issues with God. We can go to Him, boldly, and with confidence, as the Word commands us to do. We can cast all of our cares upon Him; we can call unto Him and He will answer and show us great and mighty things; and, alas, sometimes, our prayers, what we say, can move God’s hand on our behalf, not just changing His mind, but fulfilling His purpose: grace.

A conversation began on Twitter as to whether we can “speak things into existence,” which brought up several questions, including whether we an “change God’s mind.” Each time we see God repenting of what He said He would do, it’s ultimately for our good. I don’t believe it’s that we’re necessarily changing God’s mind, but that our words, our prayers, can speak into existence what God would have be. The converse of that, then, is that we miss some of those amazing moments where we could witness the miraculous God who gives us the Holy Spirit’s power to speak His prophecy into existence (2 Peter 1:20-21).

While the Word clearly states above that God doesn’t change His mind, I thank Him that He’s a God of grace. I thank Him that He is sovereign, which by definition, gives God the option to change His mind, the option to extend grace, the option to use OUR words, powered by HIS Spirit, to speak things into existence. I thank Him that though He said He would destroy Nineveh, God repented (Jonah 3:9-10). I thank Him that when He sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem, God repented (1 Chronicles 21:15). I thank Him that although He sent word to Hezekiah to get his house in order because he was going to die and not recover from his illness, God uttered such a sweet reply: I’ve heard your prayers and seen your tears (2 Kings 20:1-6). Time after time, we see God’s repentance is all about our deliverance. When God repents, it’s for our reconciliation with Him (Jeremiah 42:10; Exodus 32:14; Amos 7:2-6; etc.) In fact, Joel 2:13 tells us He’s eager to relent and not punish. Are we as eager to ask, as eager to speak those things we do not see (but God wants to give) into existence?

When Jacob wrestled with God, he prevailed, and God changed his name to Israel, an overcomer (Genesis 32:28)! The Word tells us that we have not because we ask not; yet, even when we ask, we ask amiss and for the wrong motives (James 4:2-3). But bless God for the Holy Spirit, who intercedes on our behalf and changes our foolish prayers into sensible groanings we cannot utter. We ask God for increased faith, then proceed to make paltry, whack requests of Him to complete the same works the ungodly do: to just barely skate by, to just get a job, to just get a house, to just get a christian man, to just get our car fixed. He wants to save lives, heal, deliver, speak life where it’s not, and we’re busy asking Him for more things to make this life more bearable, asking Him for more things to keep us comfortable not delivering, not speaking life, not being in full repentance!

He wants to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all of that; He commissioned us to do greater works! He commands us to have the faith that moves mountains, to ask for that which we don’t already have, don’t already see, can’t even see as possible. That’s the very definition of faith, for if we can see it, it wouldn’t be faith ( who hopes for what they see? – Romans 8:24)! He wants us to speak to the mountains, whether literal or figurative, and tell them to be removed into the sea. He wants us to speak to HIM and tell the sun to stand still (Joshua 10: 12-14). God wants us to be as eager about repentance as He is.

When God Repents It’s Called Grace