Crafting a Heart for Jesus - God wants to change His mind about you.

 Another week, another post from Ryan.  I hope you'll enjoy this feature, a fresh perspective from someone who isn't me. :) Feel free to leave comments with questions, Ryan is great to answer them.


Okay so that probably got your attention.  "God doesn't change!!!"  Yeah, I know.  But the way that we parse that out can get a little complicated.  And the way we express that idea can potentially be hurtful to those around us.  So let's look at what we can find in Scripture about the topic.  For instance,

Hebrews 13:8 says "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever."

 Case closed, right?  Well, maybe not...

Here's a passage worth considering:

“I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.”

And Samuel said to Saul...also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”   (1 Samuel 15:11, 26, 29)

Feel free to read the whole context, but I just want to key in on one specific thing.  Notice what I've emphasized in the passage.  In verse 11, the LORD says that he regrets making Saul king.  In verse 29, Samuel says that the LORD isn't a man that he would have regrets.  This is the same word, used in the same chapter, by the same author.  And it seems to be contradictory.  Just in case you're curious, the author emphasizes his point by repeating himself.

...And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.  1 Samuel 15:35

So what's going on?

There are two words in Hebrew that get translated "change mind, repent, regret, etc."  Nacham and Shuv.  Nacham originally meant "to take a deep breath."  This eventually took on the connotation of "comfort or console."

 Eventually that developed into "change your mind or repent."  Shuv means "to turn around."  You can probably see pretty easily that these words are related, but clearly not identical.  While they can both mean "repent," Shuv implies a course correction as opposed to Nacham which only implies a course change.  This is not a small difference, though it may look like one at first.

God does not Shuv.  There is not shadow of turning in him (James 1:17).  He does not need to correct his course.  But God repeatedly Nachams.  And we need him to.  We were by nature children of wrath, sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2).  Eugene Peterson puts it this way in the Message, "You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience."  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, does not give us what we deserve.  He looks at children of wrath, and he changes course. 

This is the cornerstone of Christian theology.  God is just, so he must punish sin.  God is loving, so he doesn't want to punish us.  So what does he do?  To demonstrate his justice towards sin and his love towards us, he takes the punishment himself.

Ryan blogs over at Home Cooked Jesus {the Jesus you need for the day to day and not just Sundays}.  He is also what I consider a Bible scholar, though he would disagree on technicality.  He studies Hebrew and teaches at a local bible college while pursuing a masters degree in the biblical field. 

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