First of all, let’s read some verses that teach that “God doesn’t change His mind.” Keep in mind while reading them that the word “repent” means “a change of mind.”

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent” (Numbers 23:19).

“For I, the LORD, do NOT CHANGE; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6).

Now let’s look at verses that teach that “God does change His mind.”

“So the LORD CHANGED HIS MIND about the harm which He said He do to His people” (Exodus 32:14).

“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and GOD REPENTED of the evil which He said He would do unto them; and He did it not” (Jonah 3:10…American Standard Version).

These verses SEEM to contradict one another, but God’s Word NEVER contradicts itself. So, how do we explain this SEEMING contradiction? The answer is quite simple; God never changes His mind when He makes “unconditional promises,” but He can and does change His mind when the “responsibility of man” is concerned. A good example of the former is hinted at in what we saw in Malachi 3:6, for God had made an unconditional promise to Israel that they would never be consumed and thus He could say “I, the Lord, do NOT CHANGE; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” In this promise He guaranteed them that the nation of Israel would always remain (even though some individual Israelites may be destroyed). Where do we find the promise that God would never destroy them? We see it in Deuteronomy 4:31, “For the LORD you God is a merciful God, He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.” God’s promise to never destroy them was based solely on His grace and NOT on their responsibility. In other words, He never said, “I’ll never destroy you IF YOU OBEY MY COMMANDMENTS.” There were no conditions connected with His promise and this is what we mean by an “unconditional promise.” Because of this the apostle Paul wrote this concerning God’s promises to Israel, “For the gifts and the calling of God are not repented of.”

But God can and does change His mind when men are required to meet certain conditions. We saw from Jonah 3:10 that God changed His mind about destroying the city of Nineveh. Why did He do this? Ah, because they met the conditions that He set forth. Let’s read Jonah 3:3-5, “So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD…And Jonah….cried out and cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ So the people of Nineveh BELIEVED GOD, PROCLAIMED A FAST, AND PUT ON SACKCLOTH, from the greatest to the least of them.” The inhabitants of Nineveh heard the word of the Lord proclaiming impending judgment and THEY REPENTED (as demonstrated by the FAST and the putting on of SACKCLOTH).” If we read on we see that even the king of Nineveh “laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and ashes” (verse 6) and then he made the fast an official decree for all his royal subjects, hoping this might avert God’s judgment (verses 7-9). Then we read those wondrous words, “Then God SAW THEIR WORKS, that they turned from their evil way; and GOD REPENTED OF THE EVIL which He would do unto them.” He changed His mind because they changed their mind and met His condition (by repenting of their evil way). (325.5) (DO)