4 Jan 2004

Is God fickle?

Submitted by theshovel
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ok, i think i followed your God doesn't know everything re: gen 18:20, but i'm still left debating with myself with various instances in the OT where God "relented", seemingly changed his mind at the intercession of an individual (ex 32:14, deu 9:19, ps 106:45). i think i can get my hands around the jerimiah references because they refer to people repenting of their sinful way and turning to the right (amos 7) while God's soverignty allows him to do whatever he darn well pleases, i'm not sure of the idea of a sinful human being able to convince an all-knowing, all-wise God he is about to make a mistake and God agreeing, "yeh, ok i guess i won't do what i planned". so if you have time can I get your thoughts. thanks, a seeker.

Hello seeker, thanks for writing!

Now first of all, make sure you realize that you will never get your hands around all the verses and passages that come up begging for debate ... because there will always be one more ... always. That doesn't mean that I mind digging into this with you because I love re-examining all things according to the reality of the one who would be the fulfillment of everything promised to Abraham and his descendants. Okeedokee then, let's take a look at those passages:

Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. Exodus 32:10-14

Stop right here a moment and reread that passage ... but this time look for that one reality upon which everything of God toward us hinges. Do you see it? Go look again, because that same reality is always nestled right next to the parts that intimidate us. This reality is always woven in so that without it the rest would simply fall apart into meaninglessness. Did you find it?

Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.

Somehow we're always assuming that God just might forget His promises. He does not. Who was the one who needed to be reminded of the basis upon which God's anger is turned away, as well as the reason His promises must remain? Was it God, or was it Moses? No, God had no lapse of memory, but instead had forced Moses to argue his case so that he would HAVE TO stand between the impending judgment of law and the promise of God to Abraham and his descendants.

The promise Moses dared to confront God with was none other than Christ himself. Moses' own words would embed themselves into the very consciousness of all those who followed him so that they would remain a testimony to the one and only reason God's wrath would not extinguish His people but would bring deliverance to them. And through the intercession of the one who stood there with nothing but God's own promise God did not destroy Israel. The wrath of the law was turned away from them because Moses begged God not to destroy those to whom the promise would come.

Now, the destruction God told Moses He would bring against Israel was turned away, but did God change his mind or did He set Moses up to plead against the deserved judgment of the Law by appealing to the promise? It's always about the one who would come and change everything. :)

Deuteronomy ("second law") was the retelling of the Law by Moses to his people. The verse in question fits hand-in-glove with the one above as it is the testimony of Moses' intercession for Israel. Had Moses not passed the reality of what occurred between himself and God it would have been all for nothing. In other words, even though they wouldn't really understand it until the coming of Christ, this passage brings the demand of God's promise to the forefront of the consciousness of Israel. I'm quoting beyond the one verse you mentioned (9:19) because the rest of it tells the full story.

For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also.Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you ... Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said he would destroy you. I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin: Lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness. Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm. Deuteronomy 9:19, 25-29

So there it is, everything hangs upon God himself ... and his promise. The night and day contrast between wrath and promise was testified before all of Israel and handed down from generation to generation. Moses was the law-giver who testified of Christ who was the coming grace-giver.

And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies. Psalm 106:45

Once again, we're looking at the exact same thing, for this describes the difference between what the people get from a God of wrath under law and a God of grace in Christ. Through law comes wrath ... and the only reason God did not always pour it out against them was because of the promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jim

Old Testament: 
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there is no advice in this world – even if it comes from a Bible verse or a preacher’s sermon – that can produce God’s work within you. Oh, it might make you appear more spiritually productive, but the working of God doesn’t come from the practical side of the grave … but from the living side that has risen past it. When I tell you that Christ is your life, I’m telling you about the one and only present-tense reality that causes you to live as one who is truly alive in this world. source