Getting God to Change His Mind

This isn’t a very good Calvinist post. Good thing I’m not a Calvinist.  I’m probably not an Arminian, either.

I love Exodus because it messes with Calvinist and Armininian viewpoints. It brings the tension of the action of God and the action of humanity into sharp relief.

In Exodus 32 Moses has been up on the mountain receiving the covenant from Yahweh. Israel gets impatient. They’ve been slaves for 430 years and they can’t wait 40 days.

They slip right back into Egyptian mode and demand something to worship. Aaron, fine leader that he is, has the Israelites collect all the gold goodies they brought from Egypt, cranks up the fire, and builds them a couple of golden calves.

“These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Ex. 32:4, CEB)

Shockingly, God is angry. This is why the God of the New Testament is SOOO much better. (Just ask Ananias and Sapphira.)

God is ready to wipe them out. Moses intercedes. God changes his mind. 

There are those who love to talk about the power of intercession and how we can move the hand of God. There are those who are completely uncomfortable with the idea of God changing his mind, so they skip this passage or work out some scholarly explanation.

I see God changing his mind twice.

He has brought Israel out of Egypt because he wants to draw them to himself. Now, he changes his mind? 

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Hurry up and go down! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, are ruining everything!They’ve already abandoned the path that I commanded. They have made a metal bull calf for themselves. They’ve bowed down to it and offered sacrifices to it and declared, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I’ve been watching these people, and I’ve seen how stubborn they are. 10 Now leave me alone! Let my fury burn and devour them. Then I’ll make a great nation out of you.” (Ex. 32:7-10, CEB)

He is ready to destroy them and start over.

Moses isn’t the only one to “change the mind of God.” Israel did it first. Their unruly behavior and utter disdain for the holiness of God sent God into thoughts of starting over.

Then, Moses intercedes and God changes his mind again. 

I have no great profound thoughts. All you Calvinists will get me straightened out on this passage.

What I find in this passage is not only the powerful intercession of Moses, but the incredible impatience of the people of God. They just couldn’t wait.

There are clear lessons for us. We want God to answer us in our way and in our time and when he takes his sweet time we want to take our bat and ball and go home. We are so impatient when it comes to waiting on God. Maybe our impatience changes the mind of God more than our “fervent prayers.” (Or our lack of fervent prayers, anyway.)

My impatience with God lately is a huge temptation. I get impatient with what to do in the way of income and I panic. Anxiety sets in. I try to solve problems on my own.

My foolish actions to try and solve my problems when God is trying to get me to wait on him may make God change his mind. He may step back and say, “Well, Dan, have at it. You want to get this thing solved on your own? Give it a shot.”

Maybe my quick action is changing the mind of God.

Maybe I need the heart of Moses on these types of decisions. I think I’m more like Moses than the children of Israel. I don’t build golden calves. But I AM impatient. And perhaps my impatience is changing God’s mind more than my perceived “powerful” intercession.

Call it what you want… God changing his mind or something else… it often our actions that are like the children of Israel that create a response rather than our action in prayer.

We need to be people of PRAYER rather than people of impatience. God… help us. Well… help ME.

6 thoughts on “Getting God to Change His Mind

  1. Interesting line about being neither a Calvinist or Arminian… curiosity has the better of me and I would like to know what you call yourself? 🙂

    Moses stands his ground on the promise of God which was given to Abraham….in many ways God was testing Moses in saying he would make his name great, a test which Moses passed this time round anyway…he wanted Gods name to remain great.

  2. I just see too many passages that “justify” one position or the other I really don’t think I’m smart enough to pick a side. I don’t think there are “sides.” I think there are tensions and we have a difficult time living in those tensions.

    I love the intercession of Moses. His intercession is what saves Israel time and time again. THOSE are the lessons I need in my life! Yet… Israel’s flagrant impatience really gets God’s anger up. He calls Israel “YOUR people” to Moses.

    It’s like when one of our boys would act up when they small and my wife would say, “YOUR son…”

    I find it humorous, quite honestly.

  3. Hi Dan. I wasn’t wanting to narrow you down with a label, I was more curious as to the alternative…and was wondering if you might have been going down the pathway of a more Lutheran stance….which I think has some great influences and would make an interesting combination (in a good way) within a Pentecostal framework.

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