Does God Change?
By Warren Mueller –
I have heard some say that the Christian concept of an unchanging God is not compatible with Biblical teachings. God says clearly in Malachi 3:6 that He does not change. However, God determines to destroy the Israelites for worshipping the golden calf, but relents and seems to change his mind after Moses pleads for them (Exodus 32:7-14). Also, Isaiah tells King Hezekiah that his death is imminent but then he shortly thereafter tells the King that God has heard his prayers and has decided to heal him and give him fifteen additional years (2 Kings 20:1-5). Furthermore, doesn’t the birth of Jesus bring about a change in God because prior to this event, God was not human?
If God does change then He can’t be perfect in knowledge and power. This implies that God is somehow limited because He is learning and changing through new experiences. We are left with a God who is not in perfect control of our world and does not know every event that will occur in the future. This is very different from what the Bible says about God knowing all things and having the power to bring about every detail of His plans according to his will (Is 46:10; John 21:17; Hebrews 4:13; Rev 19:6).
So how can these apparent conflicting verses and concepts be reconciled? I believe that those verses where God appears to change his mind in response to something that man does—such as the pleading of Moses or the prayers of Hezekiah—do not represent a true change in God’s plans. If God knows all things, then He knows ultimately what will happen in every situation. In the case of Moses, He knows that He will not destroy the Israelites but tells Moses He intends to in order to reveal His holiness and intolerance to sin. He desires to have a relationship with Moses and so interacts with him to show His love and merciful characteristics.
Humans exist in a linear dimension of time so our understanding of events is sequential. However, God is eternal and His existence is not bound by time. God may exist in a time dimension that is a plane instead of a straight line. If this is true, then He sees the timeline of this world without being bound to it.
Finally, the Bible gives insights into why the birth of Jesus does not equate to a change in the experience and knowledge of God. First, Jesus appeared to various people in the Old Testament as a flesh and bones or pre-incarnate human (Gen 18:1-7; Judges 6:11-22). Also, man is created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). Therefore, man resembles God in that some of the attributes of God are embodied in mankind. Thus, the birth of Jesus does not represent a change in the attributes or experience of God.
God obviously has many more and perfect attributes than does man. What is amazing is that those who are reconciled to God through Jesus will be given even more of God’s attributes and become even more like him.
“The Lord Jesus Christ who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Phil 3:20-21).