“The LORD repented for this: ‘It shall not be,’ said the LORD.” Amos 7:2
If God is God, why would He ever need to repent? After all, Numbers 23:19 states, “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: has He said, and shall He not do it? or has He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” So, isn’t Scripture contradicting itself here? And what about Your own words, Lord, through Malachi, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed”? How does this all come together, truthfully?
What if our misunderstanding lies in a two-fold problem? What if part of that problem is not looking at God the right way, through the right mindset? And what if the other problem is not understanding the full Hebrew meaning of the word “repent” or “nacham”? Maybe it’s a good idea sometimes to just sit and meditate and search out the truth. Maybe it’s a good idea to realize I don’t know all that I think I know, especially about a God who is great and greatly to be praised, “and His greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)
Amos’ situation was not the only time we hear of You, repenting, Lord. Moses interceded on the part of the children of Israel when they worshipped the golden calf. His intercession is documented as causing You to repent. What did that look like? It looked like You changing Your actions regarding executing their judgment in that particular moment. So, does that mean You were going to make a mistake? Did that mean that Your thinking as God changed? Does that point to a fickleness in God? Absolutely not! Just the opposite.
It’s a fault against You IF I view You as a static God, as a God of rules and demands and ordinances only written in stone. But IF I view You the way You are, as a Dynamic Divine Being who is all about relationship that breeds a loving, intimate obedience, I can begin to see and understand. That’s why Jesus, Your chosen one who brings it all together for us and in us can tell us, “A state of bliss belongs to those who mourn because they will be comforted through a relationship with Me.” It’s why You don’t leave us comfortless but promised and sent us the Comforter. And it’s all because of “nacham” which is also about comfort.
We can be not comforted, like in Isaiah 54:11. “O afflicted one, storm-tossed one, and not comforted, behold: I will…” There are even times when God is not comforted like in Isaiah 22:4, “Therefore said I, ‘Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.’” Obviously, this word for repentance is more than just a change of mind. It’s rooted in relationship. The word itself, it’s root, means to sigh, breathe strongly. But I’m pretty sure it’s more than being sorry, that it’s that feeling of sorrow that comes with a broken relationship that doesn’t have to be broken. It’s that pity felt because You know what could be instead of what is. It’s the comfort that is available in You, that may never be realized. It’s Your dynamic nature that is always caring and ready to show mercy and that also knows when the moment for showing mercy has passed.
How can a God who is alive and dynamic and personally related with His creation not care about their moment by moment decisions? How could You not respond according to the Youness of You as we make choices and respond according to our relationship or lack of relationship with You? Are You a God who only set things in motion and then stepped back and became detached from Your creation? Then You would not be the same God who created the universe and Adam and Eve with it and even stepped in to intervene on Cain’s behalf.
There is a right time, a right moment, and an opportune time for everything and You get to determine that. The truth is that because You are God You are not bound by the limitations of creation because Your relationship is living and dynamic with it. You are not subject to the limitations of the creation, or it’s “life cycle.” Jesus showed that by experiencing birth, life, death, and taking it a step beyond the order we are bound to, by rising from death and demonstrating His living, dynamic, sovereign relationship and power. In Hebrew thinking, “the view of God is that of a Living Person, a Speaking Word, and a Fiery Breath that broods over the events of a physical world.” (Skip Moen) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34) Isn’t that something how God sits over, covers and cherishes His people?
But I must never forget that Your eyes are not only for Jerusalem. You called them out to be a light to all people. So I can deduce that You brood over all “Your chickens,” that You, in that living and dynamic nature of Yourself, don’t stop thinking about them, and as Webster says, “have the mind uninterruptedly dwell a long time on a subject,” and that subject is the people of Your creation returning in relationship to You.
The truth is that judgment is conditional. God takes us into account. You have a “heart” and emotions and feelings for each person You created. You created reality. It’s not a static thing. It’s all about responding to situations and doing and ultimately responding to You, the Living God, in the dynamicness of who You are. Reality is all about doing Your will, the will of God. Reality isn’t just about being. You aren’t just a God who Is. When You say, “I AM,” it’s about more than being because You never stop doing. You are not just some ethereal essence. You are a God who interacts and guides and directs and corrects and controls and comforts and bids us come. You imagine and create and place the stars in the heavens and know them each by name. How is that for intimacy! You imagine and create and place us on the earth to bear Your image and You know every hair on each of our heads. Reality is more than being or existing. Reality is fulfilling Your character on the earth and in each of our lives.
So, what if You God, have given us a dynamic relationship with You and because of that, no Word of Yours is final? What if You have the freedom to have mercy according to our reaction to You? What if I stopped thinking of You as static and realized that You are more dynamic than anything else? What if the Truth is that Your character never changes, yet because You are God and because of Your mercy and love and judgment and how it all works together in You, You can sigh and respond and be comforted and comfort us according to our response and relationship with You? Would that change Your character? No! But it would change mine.
You really want us to get this, Lord. Joshua reiterated it before the people, those people You could have wiped out, and rightfully so. David reminds us all again. And even Paul reminds us by saying, “‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7) God responds because He has a relationship with us. Sometimes You even respond on the basis of one person, like Abraham, for the welfare of a tiny handful like Lot’s family. Maybe I should ask myself how many opportunities I miss by not calling out to You and calling upon Your compassion?
I wonder, if You don’t share Your feelings with us, like You did with Moses, to test our own hearts, to make sure they line up with Yours? Like in Exodus 32, when You tell Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” What if You were testing Moses’ feelings? What if that was the last thing You wanted to do, though You might have had to do it? What if there’s more to what You say than meets the eyes if we don’t stop to meditate on it with Your help? I mean, what if Moses would have said, “Whatever it takes to make me great, do it. These people are really on my nerves too.”? But Moses understood Your nature or he wouldn’t have implored You. Here was urgency and earnestness. Here was love and caring and a desire to comfort both God and the people on Moses’ part.
Moses, that mere mortal, had a right picture of You as a living and dynamic God who wanted to comfort Your people and be comforted by them. We see that in Jesus, whom You sent for us, who says, “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:21,22) Your breath is living and dynamic. It’s not carved into stone to “oooh” and “ahhh” over. Neither were the ten “commandments.” Seeing ought to mean living it out. Hearing ought to mean doing and following through with the reality of the thought lived out. It’s time we stopped walking around like empty vessels and started living the dynamic breath of God filled lives that You intended, Lord. It’s time our lives actually resembled the dynamic character of You.
Lord, thank You beyond measure that You are a God who repents. You are a God who feels for His creation. You not only feel for Your creation but You intimately interact with us. Your ultimate interaction on our behalf is Jesus. But You are continually interacting with us every second of every day and if only we would stop to look and feel, we would know. But there is a necessary response on our part. I must respond according to Your will moment by moment as I encounter each opportunity for decision in my life. Because maybe, just maybe, every decision has to do with morality. Maybe morality is more than choosing right and wrong. Maybe morality is choosing to acknowledge You in everything and maybe if I can find my way there, I will find my way back into You and into the comfort of Your brooding wings over me.