Does God Change His Mind?

Does God Change His Mind?

The Bible’s answer

 Yes, he does, in the sense that he changes his attitude when people change their behavior. For example, when God sent a judgment message to the people of ancient Israel, he said: “Perhaps they will listen and each one will turn back from his evil way, and I will change my mind concerning the calamity that I intend to bring on them because of their evil deeds.”​—Jeremiah 26:3.

 Many Bible translations render this verse as saying that God would “repent” over the intended calamity, which could be understood to mean that he had made a mistake. However, the original Hebrew word can mean “change of mind or intention.” One scholar wrote: “A change in man’s conduct brings about a change in God’s judgment.”

 Of course, just because God can change his mind does not mean that he must change it. Consider some situations where the Bible says that God has not changed his mind:

  •   God did not allow Balak to make Him change His mind and curse the nation of Israel.​—Numbers 23:18-​20.

  •   Once King Saul of Israel became firmly set in badness, God did not change his mind about rejecting him as king.​—1 Samuel 15:28, 29.

  •   God will fulfill his promise to make his Son a priest forever. God will not change His mind.​—Psalm 110:4.

Doesn’t the Bible say that God never changes?

 Yes, the Bible records God as saying: “I am Jehovah; I do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) Similarly, the Bible says that God “does not vary or change like the shifting shadows.” (James 1:​17) This, however, does not contradict what the Bible says about God changing his mind. God is unchangeable in that his personality and standards of love and justice never alter. (Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 John 4:8) Still, he can give different instructions to people at different times. For instance, God gave opposite instructions to King David for fighting two consecutive battles, yet both methods succeeded.​—2 Samuel 5:​18-​25.

Is God sorry that he created humans?

 No, although he does regret that most people ignore or reject him. Describing conditions before the global Flood of Noah’s day, the Bible says: “Jehovah regretted that he had made men on the earth, and his heart was saddened.” (Genesis 6:6) In this verse, the word “regretted” comes from the Hebrew word that can mean “change of mind.” God changed his mind about most of the people who lived before the Flood because they had become wicked. (Genesis 6:​5, 11) Even though he was saddened that they chose to follow a bad course, he did not change his attitude toward the entire human race. In fact, he preserved mankind through the Flood by means of Noah and his family.​—Genesis 8:​21; 2 Peter 2:​5, 9.