Category: Doctrine of God (Page 1 of 8)

Did Moses Change God’s Mind? (Ex 32:10-14)

When reading through Exodus 32 it is normal for someone to ask the question, “Did God change His mind when speaking to Moses?” Or, perhaps even more specifically, “Did Moses change God’s mind?” The question, though legitimate, if incorrectly answered, can have potentially blasphemous ramifications. We’ll see some of them shortly.

The context of the passage we’re considering is when the children of Israel began to worship a golden calf in the wilderness (Ex. 32:1-6). God told Moses to go down from the Mount because the people had corrupted themselves (32:7). But He didn’t stop there. In light of the wickedness that the people displayed, God told Moses:

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Did Something Never Enter into God’s Mind Before it Happened? (Jer 7:31; 19:5; 32:35)

And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart.
(Jer 7:31)

(they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind),
(Jer 19:5)

And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’
(Jer 32:35)

Above are three examples where God is recorded as saying either, “nor did it come into My heart” or “nor did it come into My mind”. The question that immediately arises is – what did God mean when He said these things? If you approach these texts with an open theist posture you might be inclined to say that God was saying that He hadn’t even conceived the possibility of these things happening. That could be your explanation of the phrase, “nor did it come into My mind”; a kind of equivalent of God saying, “The things that these people are doing… I hadn’t even imagined this sort of thing happening. It’s not only outlandish, it’s unexpected.”

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Did God Misjudge What Israel Would Do? (Jer 3:6-7)

The Lord said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. (Jer 3:6-7 NKJV)

The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. (Jer 3:6-7 ESV)

The reason why there are two verse citations from two different translations above is so you can see the issue open theists raise with this passage. If you open your King James Bible, or your New King James Bible, and read the passage you might wonder, “Where’s the controversy?” If, however, you were to read the ESV, NASB, or NIV, you would see it clearly in verse 7. The open theist sees a verse that quotes God as saying, “I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return…’” and they conclude that God made the best assessment He could make with the information He had but was wrong. Again, as at other times, we’re presented with two options. Leaving the translational difference aside for the moment, if we take the ESV translation at face-value (which is a legitimate translation of the text) either God made a mistake or He was speaking in anthropomorphic language to make a specific point. Think about the first option – it’s the equivalent of saying ‘God made an oops.’ He looked at the evidence, came to a conclusion, and was surprised to find out His infinite wisdom (Ps 147:5) had limits. Such an assessment would contradict Scripture, misinterpret the text, and misrepresent God.

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Did God Not Know Which Signs the Egyptians Would Believe? (Ex 4:6-9)

Furthermore the Lord said to him, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.” (Ex 4:6-9)

 

The controversy behind this passage is found in verses eight and nine. The argument is: God told Moses what to do if Pharaoh and the Egyptians did not believe the first two signs; thus, since God didn’t tell Moses what to do, but only how to respond to however the Egyptians reacted, it must mean that God did not know what their response would be.

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Did God Not Know that Abraham Feared Him? (Gen 22:12)

12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” (Gen 22:12)

 

The context for this verse is a familiar one. God had called Abraham to take his son Isaac to the land of Moriah and sacrifice him on one of the mountains there (Gen 22: 2). This was a test for Abraham (vs.1). Abraham had waited many years for his son, the son that was the child of promise (see Heb 11:17-18), and now God tested him by telling him to give up that son as a burnt offering. As the narrative unfolds, God would not have Abraham go through with the sacrifice. Though God would be so gracious as to offer up His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn 3:16), He would never have any human being offer their son or daughter as a sacrifice. Nonetheless, Abraham was willing to do what God had asked. According to the writer of Hebrews it appears that Abraham reckoned that God could, and would, raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill the promises that He had made (Gen 22:5; Heb 11:19).

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