Nature of Reality, Will the Real YHWH Please Step Forward, 8) YHWH Changes!
The Greeks were wrong
God does change, well, at least YHWH changes, and this is clear by a simple reading of the text he gives us. (Of course, I argue in a different article that the greatest possible change is if a necessary being made something and then added it to his nature, i.e., the incarnation itself is absolutely the largest kind of change that is possible.)
The first time Moses asked for God’s name the reply is hayah ‘asher hayah (Exodus 3:14). The KJV translates this as "I Am that I Am" and uses it as a proper name for God. However, and this is important, hayah, "to be" or “will be,” means both present and future. Look it up in Strong’s, to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, occur, take place, come about, come to pass to become, it is an imperfect tense. In Hebrew, the imperfect tense indicates something that can change, as in Exodus 3:12, (KJV) "Certainly I will be with thee." See the future tense?
In Athens the speculative philosophers had determined that the ultimate being would not, nay, could not change. This was irreverently rolled in the Christianity through Catholicism, specifically, Augustine’s Neoplatonic views.
YHWH often used tensed verbs about himself, he was, he was, he will be, he will do, or perfect tense, he is.
Though KJV translates this “I am that I am” a better rendering is "I will be what I will be" or similar imperfect or future tense phrases. KJV makes tense a perfect tense which is unjustified and alters the very meaning of the words used.
But what of other evidences?
YHWH Changes His Mind
Yes, many times in the Bible YHWH repented, turned around, changed his mind, went a different direction, stopped, and otherwise did not do what he was going to do, what he planned to do but didn’t.
Since we started above with the negative emotions, let’s use this as a transition segment. It is not an emotion per se, but emotions drive it, just like in humans. Something happens to change YHWH’s mind.
Starting with the ultimate negative we find is in Genesis 6:6-14 and it doesn’t turn out well:
The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, "I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created--and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground--for I regret that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.
You know the rest of the story, and, if you believe the Bible, all did not end well for all the inhabitants of the earth and all the animals thereon, because if you were not on the Ark, you were dead.
Let me ask you something: Was the bomb dropped on Nagasaki violent? About 80,000 people died. The Bible does not tell us how many people there were on the earth, but I would bet more than died at Nagasaki. This was the most violent event in history, and it was because YHWH repented, regretted he had made humans.
That is the claim.
God Changed His Mind at the Flood
[Gen 7:20-23 NIV]
The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. Every living thing that moved on land perished--birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
We get two things from this: The universal symbol of peace, a dove with an olive branch in its mouth, and the rainbow.
Rainbows are becoming quite popular now days. Are people trying to remind YHWH of his promise? You have to wonder.
God said, “I won’t do this again.” (Gen. 8:21) Then he made a promise, a covenant between himself and every living thing not to do that again.
[Gen 9:12-16 NIV]
And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."
Here, I don’t want you to guess, I want you to extract something from the text itself, after all, isn't this just such an exercise?
Who would the rainbow remind about the covenant? Here is a clue: He was speaking, so it was first person singular when he said
“Whenever I bring the clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember…”
It’s an open book test, go ahead and look. . .
YHWH was angry enough with the humans to wipe them off the face of the earth, nearly to the man. Eight were left, according to the text.
I have been mad before, but never that mad.
This God changes his mind
God Changed His Mind with Jonah
His repentance, or changing his mind, is not always bad. In Jonah 3:9-10
God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them
and so here, YHWH did not do the destructive act he had promised, but again, it was conditional, that is, his action was conditioned on how man, using his morally significant free will responded in time. Again, YHWH’s response was conditioned on what people did.
In Amos we find YHWH repenting several times. This isn’t the whole story, and this didn’t end well either but the text stated:
[Amo 7:1-6 NIV]
This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king's share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up. When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, "Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!" So the LORD relented. "This will not happen," the LORD said. This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: The Sovereign LORD was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. Then I cried out, "Sovereign LORD, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!" So the LORD relented. "This will not happen either," the Sovereign LORD said.
In Jeremiah 26:13 we get the very teleology of prophets, that is, the very purpose of the prophets was to condition man so YHWH would change his mind and not have to judge them. There was a real possibility that something very bad would happen if the humans did not repent, or change their mind, do an about face, but if they did, then YHWH would change his plans for their harm and not do it. Man conditions YHWH.
God Reminds us that He Can Change His Mind
Jeremiah 26:12-13 states this very clearly:
Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you.
All of the prophets gave the message to man, you screwed up, YHWH is going to judge you soon, but if you change, then YHWH will change his mind and not judge you. That was their very purpose, to give a conditional message of judgment. God waited to see what man would do.
This is a test. Don’t warp the text. God is either giving a true or false statement. If it is true, then God is giving a conditional threat, Change, or else. If you do this, then I will do that.
This type of conditional statement, both positive and negative is found throughout the Bible and can only be true if YHWH can be conditioned by man’s choices. If he cannot, then he is lying. Many theologies make liars out of God. God cannot lie, so let’s get that option off the table.
“If” is a condition. The phrase directly or indirectly used, or implied can be stated “if you will do this, then I will do that” requires the offeree to be conditioned by your choice. That is the core meaning of the phrase.
There are some forty places in the Bible where YHWH is said to change his mind, turn around, repent, or in other words, not execute the plans he had already advised was coming.
More Negative Emotions. . .
Well, his fame has preceded him, we have more negative emotions we need to discuss about the personality we call YHWH. Yes, he is a person, because he has personality.
1Ch 21:7-14 “This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel. Then David said to God, "I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing." The LORD said to Gad, David's seer, "Go and tell David, 'This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.'“ So Gad went to David and said to him, "This is what the LORD says: 'Take your choice: three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD-days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.' Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me." David said to Gad, "I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands." So the LORD sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead.”
Do you believe the Bible or not? Make up your mind (you can change it later).
Here YHWH is directly conditioned by man. He gives David three alternatives, and his response is offering to be directly conditioned by David’s choice, and it is a moral choice since it is a punishment God will inflict conditioned by David’s choice.
Very clearly, in plain language we see a YHWH is interactive with that which he created. Man has free morally significant will, and YHWH not only responded in anger, but allowed David to determine the response of YHWH.
There are other examples of YHWH being conditioned by man’s behavior. In Ezekiel 35:11 we find:
“therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will treat you in accordance with the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them and I will make myself known among them when I judge you.”
YHWH very specifically tells them the condition of his response.
YHWH clearly has emotions and is affected by those emotions just as we are. In Amos 6:8 we find “The Sovereign LORD has sworn by himself--the LORD God Almighty declares: ‘I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it.’”
His emotions run deep, and, at times his responses are not good.
He can be stubborn, he refuses to repent or change his mind in Ezekiel 24:13-14 “ ‘Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided. ‘I the LORD have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.
Did someone say “time?” The time has come for me to act. Yes, you do need time to act. This is YHWH speaking about himself.
He shows indignation in both the Old and New Testament.
[Jer 10:10 NIV] 10 But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.
[Jer 50:25 NIV] 25 The LORD has opened his arsenal and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Sovereign LORD Almighty has work to do in the land of the Babylonians.
[Eze 22:13 NIV] 13 " 'I will surely strike my hands together at the unjust gain you have made and at the blood you have shed in your midst.
[Rev 14:10 NIV] 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
Another emotion is abhorrence, that is to hold with horror or loathing, to detest something, or violent antipathy.
[Lev 26:44 NIV] 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God.
[Amo 6:8 NIV] 8 The Sovereign LORD has sworn by himself--the LORD God Almighty declares: "I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it."
Another version uses the term “loathe.”
That’s emotional, isn’t it?
YHWH Learns Things
Are you shocked? Have you never read the Bible? Or perhaps you read it with Greek colored glasses (it is kind of like Google Glass, puts information in front of you before you read).
[Gen 6:5 NIV]
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
The direct and inescapable rational inference of the word “saw” (ra’ah, to perceive) is that YHWH learned something. Man had become evil. YHWH didn’t like it one bit. He hadn’t planned for this outcome.
He does have plans, they can be thwarted unless he forces them on us (I don’t think Saul of Tarsis wanted to be blinded and knocked off his donkey), and sometimes he creates tests to understand people.
[Gen 22:9-12 NIV]
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
YHWH learned something by this test (but that is only for people who actually believe what the Bible tells them).
[Deu 13:3 NIV]
you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.
This directly tells us again, YHWH tests people for the purpose of understanding what the morally significant free will human will do.
[Jer 26:3 NIV]
Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from their evil ways. Then I will relent and not inflict on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done.
[Eze 12:3 NIV]
Therefore, son of man, pack your belongings for exile and in the daytime, as they watch, set out and go from where you are to another place. Perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious people.
Perhaps, maybe, possibly, perchance, conceivably, feasibly, all have to do with future uncertain possibilities. Zeus (see the next chapter) didn’t need to test, because there are no future possibilities, he already knew everything and so, the future is now real to him, it is already actualized, and so, the future is set, certain, known, not a possibility, there are no “perhaps” and we are loving an illusion as if this were true, and we cannot be responsible for a set future actuality, it was set before we existed and we had no decision to make about it.
Hopefully you have noticed that the future does not exist. One property of time is that it is always in the present.
This is a mysticism (something is hidden from us) much like Hinduism where what we see around us is not real but a dream. Here, Platonism, and it’s view of the gods thinks the future is already actualized in the mind of the Ultimate Being who already knows exactly what will happen even thousands of years before it does.
This is not the case with YHWH and he explains this clearly.
[Jer 32:35 NIV]
They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded--nor did it enter my mind--that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.
YHWH didn’t even guess they would do such a thing. After all, who in their right mind would sacrifice their own children to a bronze idol they made themselves? The idol had a large fire inside with brass arms and the mother would approach and place her baby onto the red hot bronze arms. YHWY said, nor did it enter my mind--that they should do such a detestable thing. . .
This is completely vile and twisted. Even YHWH was surprised, that is, if you believe the text. If you don’t believe the text, if you don’t trust what it says, then stop telling other people to believe it.
Let’s turn around the emotions again and make a positive change. . .
[Hsa 11:8 NIV]
How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
Clearly, YHWH is emotional, has personality, ergo (therefore), is a person (not a human person, rather, something that has true personality). His compassion is aroused, his heart (emotional center) changed. The text is pretty clear.
[Jon 3:10 NIV]
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
God learned that the people of Nineveh could be reached (albeit under the pain of death), but they did change, YHWH learned this, and he changed his judgment against them.
So, when he learns something new, it can take him in any direction. He is clearly presented throughout the Bible as a plastic (flexible) personality who, like all the people around us, created in his image, can change based on new information.
This is YHWH, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but apparently not the god of the evangelicals, Calvinists, even Arminians and Catholics. If you can trace your doctrinal lines back to Augustine, this is not your god.
Here I am contrasting the various groups that claim to believe the Bible, but deny what it clearly states. They will make up any number of justifications as to why they don’t believe what it says. These excuses may be “it is an anthropomorphism because god cannot explain the truth to humans, they are incapable of understanding it,” while at the same time claiming they can explain what the truth is to you. So apparently they believe they are better at explaining truth than YHWH is.
Where then is the deficiency? In YHWH? You will not likely claim so.
If it is in man, then how is it you can explain it to man but YHWH could not?
There are other excuses just as poor, and none of them have any real value except to explain why they do not believe what they call the Word of God. They strip the words of their meaning and give it a different meaning that is not found in the text.