Amos 7:1-6, "The Lord changed His mind about this."

by Matt Slick

"Thus the Lord God showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king’s mowing. 2And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said, “Lord God, please pardon! How can Jacob stand, for he is small?” 3The Lord changed His mind about this. “It shall not be,” said the Lord. 4Thus the Lord God showed me, and behold, the Lord God was calling to contend with them by fire, and it consumed the great deep and began to consume the farm land. Then I said, 5“Lord God, please stop! How can Jacob stand, for he is small?” 6The Lord changed His mind about this. “This too shall not be,” said the Lord God," (Amos 7:1-6).

In Amos 7:3, the KJV, ASV, and RSV say, "The Lord repented."  The NKJV, NIV, and ESV say, "The Lord relented."  The NASB says "The Lord changed His mind."

In Amos 7:6, "KJV, ASV, RSV, "The Lord repented."  NIV, NKJV, ESV "Relented,"  NASB, "The Lord changed His mind."

We see where the Lord "changes His mind," after someone intercedes, after someone prays and asks for mercy. The issue, of course, is whether or not God actually goes through a process of changing His mind due to learning something as the open theists would maintain or whether God is simply speaking to us relative to our reference of time where events happen in sequence.  Is God actually reacting to new information or is He working on our level, in our reference, for our benefit as He speaks to us in a sequence of events designed to bring us to repentance and to listen to the intercession of others?

These verses, where God seems to repent, to relent, and to change His mind, can also be legitimately interpreted to mean that God is working within our timeframe, reacting to our prayers, our intercession, and our repentance. From all eternity God knew who would repent when and for what reasons. From all eternity God has incorporated the choices of His people into the fabric of His divine and sovereign plan. This includes the individual prayers and acts of repentance which then seem to influence God and appear to change His course of action. But this is exactly what you would expect if God was working with people who are limited to an existence inside of time. You would naturally expect that God would speak to us about repentance, that we would repent, and then God would apparently appear to change in response to repentance--even though He knew it would happen from all eternity.  This is the wondrous majesty of God's ability to know all things as well as work with his creation.

The open theists may attempt to claim that such verses mean that God is actually learning and reacting to people as if God really is changing His mind and adapting.  But this would mean that God is ignorant of many things, that He makes mistakes, that He learns, that He takes risks, and that people can thwart His plans. I see no comfort in trusting a God who can make mistakes and who is not in control.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.