How can the Bible say that God had repented?
1 Thus the Lord Jehovah showed me: and, behold, he formed locusts in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings.
2 And it came to pass that, when they made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, O Lord Jehovah, forgive, I beseech thee: how shall Jacob stand? for he is small.
3 Jehovah repented concerning this: It shall not be, saith Jehovah.
This is a striking sentence from the Bible. In many texts, like this one (Amos 7:1-3), we read that “God had repented”. In the majority of times the Bible says that God would bring a punishment on the people, but after He “repented” doing this. This is not saying that God had repented like a human. God knows everything that is going to happen and He can’t be surprised by anything. The fact is that the Bible uses a human language to speak of God. Many texts explain what God have done with words that express the human attitude for that action. In this texts, God promises a punishment for the people if the keep on the sin; when, however, the people repent, God takes the punishment off. He doesn’t do what he would have done, based on the justice, but, because of the people repent, He takes his anger off and He forgives the sin. Therefore, the God’s “repent” means the He changed his attitude toward human’s procedure.
- Other passages in the Bible saying that God had repented: Genesis 6:5-6, Exodus 32:14, 1 Samuel 15:35, 2 Samuel 24:16, 1 Chronicles 21:15 and Jonah 3:10.
Copied from: Bíblia de Estudo Esperança.
Translated by: Thiago Quartarollo.