Numbers 23:19 is very clear that God cannot change his mind and when He says He will do something He will do it. And yet in Judges 10:13 we see God saying :

But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you.

and then He saves them.

I do not want answers from a Open Theist perspective.

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    Why do you believe Numbers 23:19 is very clear that god cannot change his mind? When I read it, all it appears to say is that God can be trusted. I'm always nervous limiting what God can or cannot do.
    – JBH
    Aug 23, 2017 at 23:19

3 Answers 3


There seems to be a difference between a change of mind, and being interactive, and a change of mood. Earlier God gave them the choice:

Deuterenomy 30:15-18 (NIV)

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

The situation in Judges refers to the fact that the nation did not continue to follow him, so they had to face the consequences as stated before. They were about to be destroyed, and God did not intend to help them, if they would not worship him and worship other gods (as in the agreement in Deuteronomy). And God informed them about it In Judges 10:13, as you quoted.

In response to his warning for the coming destruction, they responded (Judges 10:15):

15 But the Israelites said to the Lord, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer.

So because they repented and changed their behaviour, God reacted according to their reaction and saved them.

Since the messages and actions of God in these examples are all according the earlier stated principles, it would be harsh to say that God was self contradictory or changed his mind. He just reacted according to their behaviour, and how they used their free will.

To me the example closest to change of mind in the bible is in Genesis 6:5-8 (NIV)

5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

It seems that Gods state is adaptive to human behaviour and free will. Assuming divine inspiration, it is interesting that Gods promises to stand by his principles, but also wants to express the "feelings" (that it is difficult to do so), when people are abandoning his standards all the time.


The misunderstanding seems to be based.on your presupposition that God can not change His mind. What evidence is this claim based on, if something else than Numbers 23:19? GotQuestions does a surprisingly good job of explaining this alleged contradiction here:


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    This answer would be improved by providing a summary of the content of the link. Links can go stale.
    – bradimus
    Aug 23, 2017 at 19:25

The point of Numbers 23:19 and the second oracle had as a whole is that God is not at all like the Mesopotamian gods, who are in many ways much more human and intimate with humans than God is. Nor is he like humans, who lie to each other and themselves. Their religions held that ritual was the most important and that morality came second, while God's covenant with Israel was the other way around. The Decalogue was given to install virtue into the Israelites, and that's why everyone uses them as a compass today.

God isn't a man, because men transgress covenants. God isn't a prophet, because prophets are, after all, free-willed humans who can choose not to give a message (to God's dismay). He is trustworthy, Faithful and True (Heb. 10:23, Rev. 19:11). He isn't the one who breaks the covenants, humans are. It's been that way since the beginning. Balaam contrasts God from men and the gods they make, because God's mind is set: he will unconditionally strive toward bringing his anointed children together.

God has unconditional and conditional promises, which must be taken into account when studying prophecies and oracles of this nature. It should be noted that when God says things like 'I will have no mercy' and 'I will no longer deliver them,' he doesn't have mercy, and he doesn't deliver his people anymore. He does this so they can learn their lesson. In Hosea, God gives Hosea's children prophetic names, like Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi (No Mercy and Not My People respectively) as a symbolic way of telling us that Israel has once again transgressed the covenant, and God will not protect them from the world until they've learned their lesson.

If I may quote the Gospel of Thomas here: "But as for now they are drunk. But when they have shaken off their wine, then they will repent."

But God comes back, doesn't he? They learned their lesson, and were ready for the Messiah, whether they felt like they were or not.

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