If God is unchanging and omnipotent then why/how can He change his mind? Hosea 11:8 sparked this question but there are lots of other examples that have made me wonder this before. Sometimes it seems like He is angry and impulsively (can a being outside of time even be impulsive?) calling destruction down on people and then He just … decides differently? Like hot metal being stuck in water, his anger just fizzles? I don’t think this fits my idea of God, can you help me out? Thanks!
First let’s look at Hosea 11:8, the NIV translates a phrase as “my heart is changed within me”, but that isn’t really what the phrase means. It is not talking about switching ideas but about being moved and twisted up. The same idea is translated in Isaiah 63:15 as “the stirrings of Your heart”. But that doesn’t really answer your question, so we should dig a little deeper.
At the core of the question is the concern: if God can just up and change His mind about things, will He just change mind about me?
Trying to infer things about God’s thought process is a dangerous affair. Romans 11:33 says
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!”
That is not to cop out and say don’t ask questions, but when we ask “why” and “how” questions of God, we are often asking for answers we can’t understand. So you can look at things like Abraham bargaining for Sodom or God giving pharaoh chances to change his mind and try to extrapolate things from that, but it might only lead to more confusion.
Luckily, in this case, we have concrete declarative statements that the scripture makes about this aspect of God’s character. Hebrews 13:8 plainly says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever.” So we don’t have to worry about Him changing His ways or His mind. Psalm 100:5 says “the Lord is good and his love endures forever.” God is not going to ever decide He doesn’t love you. With regards to having a temper, God as “slow to anger and abounding in love” a half-dozen times in the Bible.
In a case like this, where we have things scripture clearly states on one hand, and our own guesses at what is going on in God’s mind the other, we are always better to take the simple truths and cling to them.
-Matt from The Bridge