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Does God repent of his evil?

Updated on October 2, 2012

This article is written because of a debate in which some Christians argued that God does not repent. The writer happened to be entangled in such a bible discussion because of the bible verse 2nd Samuel 24: 16, “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people. It is enough: stay now thine hand…” the same story is found in 1st Chronicle 21:15, “And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying it, the Lord beheld, and repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand…”

They argued that the sentence, “…repented him of the evil…” means that the angel repented and not God because God cannot commit evil so no need for God to repent. That is they maintained that “him” in the verse referred to the angel. That is it was the angel that repented then God told him to stop but that seems unlikely because the angel was working under the instruction of God so how would he repent when he was only carrying out an order. Their point was understandable because admitting to the verse would mean that God actually repented of an evil and it was unimaginable for God to commit evil in the first place. However, that was not the only place it was mentioned that God repented.

The main problem was that they fail to understand as we saw from other bible translations that “repent” was also used to mean “regret” and it is written that God regretted creating man. That is why some people wonder why an all knowing God would do what he would regret or repent of. Christians attributed the word “evil” to Satan while God is “good” so that is why some Christians can’t accept that God can commit evil or can repent of evil. The argument on the above verse showed why there are various Christian Sects because they each get a conflicting understanding of the bible verses.

The beginning of those verses is even more interested than the debate because 2nd Samuel 24 started like this “And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say. Go, number Israel and Judah” while 1st Chronicle started, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” The two bible books told same story but it clear that it was started differently because while one claimed it was God, himself, that moved David to count the people, the other claimed it was Satan that moved David. It is because of things like this that people wondered and asked, who tempted Satan? Some people can easily say that the story used God and Satan interchangeable.

People have always argued that God being stronger than the devil or Satan should be able to keep him under control while some events seems to suggest God used the devil or Satan to achieve some of his plans or aims. There are a lot of things we don’t know and which we may never understand about God and the powers that controls events in the universe that is why it is difficult to understand why people should claim to know it all and be certain based on a specific religious view, doctrines, teachings among others while they ignore other facts held by others which should be considered.

The conclusion to the above views of God is because the bible contains both Judaism and Christian views of God and both views cannot go together despite that Christians claim to fulfill the prophecies in the Jewish religion. The Jews saw God as one that can punish them for their sins just like the verse in the Old Testament confirmed and as such it can be called evil depending on how one thinks of it. That is why some people claimed that in some Jewish practices they do Judge God in some situation when they think he treated them wrongly yet they praise and worship him after such Judgment. The Christian’s view in the New Testament see God as a God that can’t commit evil, merciful, and slow to anger. We can’t say that the God of the Jews is fast to anger and not merciful among others but unlike Christians, the Jews do not teach much on heaven, hell, and Judgment at the last day. May be that is why the God of the Old Testament was different from that of the New Testament who is said would Judge the world at the last day.

We all have reasons to think otherwise so the question still reminds, do you think an all knowing God does repent of evil?


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