Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Can God's Mind Be Changed?

Can we alter what God has planned? If God decides to go ahead and do something, can we make Him stop? If the answer is yes, then it would imply that that we, as humans, as mortal creatures, as small as a grain of sand relatively speaking, have the power to change the mind of the Almighty, All-Powerful God! Could this be possible? Isn't there a so called "destiny" that is laid out for us? Or do we have a part to play in how our journey through life unfolds?

First of all, is there any documentation that this idea, changing the mind of God, has ever happened throughout history? Well....let's stop with all the questions, and start looking for answers! Actually, there is documentation! Changing the mind of God has happened, and therefore can happen even now!

Let's look at the story of Jonah. God sent Jonah, the prophet, to warn the people of Nineveh that God planned to destroy their city because of their wickedness. Jonah relayed God's message to the people of the city, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” That was God's plan, and the city would have been wiped out, but something changed God's mind and altered the destiny of the people of Nineveh!  The reaction of the king and all the people caused God to rethink His plan.

"The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust." (Jonah 3:5-6)

The Bible describes that even the animals were made to fast - not permitted to eat or drink anything. Not only that, the animals were also dressed in sackcloth (a coarse, black cloth made from goat's hair that was worn together with the burnt ashes of wood as a sign of mourning for personal and national disaster; as a sign of repentance; and as a sincere request for deliverance)!

Here is the result of their obvious, sincere actions: "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened." (Jonah 3:10)

Amazing! They changed God's mind! And it was done by their actions, by their repentance. Because the nation turned from their evil ways, God showed mercy toward them and backed away from His original plan.

Another example of a man altering God's plans is documented in the book of Genesis. Here, in Genesis chapter 18, we find God ready to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin and corruption.

Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? (Genesis 18:24)

Notice how God responded.  The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” (Genesis 18:26)

What's amazing here is how Abraham negotiates with God! Abraham knew how corrupt the city was, but he also knew his nephew, Lot, lived there with his wife and two daughters. So, he tires to get God to change His mind about destroying everyone in Sodom, and spare the city instead, if only 50 righteous people are found. God agrees.

But even more amazing, Abraham continues to negotiate (knowing that there are probably not even 50 righteous people in the whole city). He convinces God to agree to spare the city if only 45 righteous people are found, then 40, then 30, then 20, then 10. Wow! Of course, as the story goes, not even 10 people could be found righteous, so God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah anyway, but not before Lot and his family were rescued.

God was definitely influenced by Abraham's requests, and that's more confirmation that God's mind can be changed, or at least influenced. Because of Abraham's persistent pleas, God showed Him grace and gave in.

So in the above two examples, both mercy and grace are displayed by God. And both are His response to man's interaction with Him. And that's the key. We can actually interact with God! Perhaps the best and most powerful way is through prayer.

Here's the point....God interacts with us in real time. You could say He is a "real-time" God. He is relational. He listens to us and intervenes when He chooses to. He has an open ear, and we have the privilege of making our requests to Him.

And what's really comforting is the fact that whatever our requests are, God will at least consider them. And if He considers our payers, that means He will do what's best for us in the long run as far as how He answers them, or if He answers them, or when He answers them.

So keep on asking, keep on praying, and know that God is listening. And you never know, through His mercy and grace, you may convince Him to take action!