Verse 1 (Seeing God)
|“||No one can see God (or can they?)
1 John 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
1 Timothy 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
But Adam and Eve saw God. So did Abraham and Moses:
Genesis 18:1 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
Exodus 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.
No one has seen God the Father at any time. That it is evident a distinction is being drawn between God the Father and Jesus, the Son of God, is evident from John 1:18, as they are both mentioned separately. However, Jesus as the Old Testament Angel of the Lord has been seen, and seen consistently throughout the Old Testament. Jacob even later states that it was an Angel whom he was wrestling, and whom he called God. See Genesis 48:16, "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." For more on Jesus as the Old Testament Angel of the Lord, see Christophanies.
|“||God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things
Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
Psalms 139:7-10 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Job 34:21-22 For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings. There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.
God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all things
Genesis 11:5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
Genesis 18:20-21 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
Genesis 3:8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
None of the second set of verses contradicts the first group. Genesis 11:5, 18:20-21, and 3:8 all fail to prove the premise that God does not see everything which is occurring. Some of the passages may refer to Christophanies where Jesus, the Son of God the Father, took on physical form or appearance on Earth. If so, it would have been Jesus going down in person to look more closely at the actions of mankind, while God the Father could see what was happening without having to do so.
But regardless, all of the passages show that God found out what was going on, and had the ability to do so, nowhere contradicting the other passages which say God looks at all the actions of mankind. Indeed, commonsense dictates that "looking" requires a conscious choice and action, if God chose to accomplish that by, at times, descending for a more 'up close and personal' type of scrutiny, that is by no means a contradiction.
Verses 23-33: Does God Change His Mind?
Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized): Don Morgan's list at Infidels also claims this is a contradiction (passages are included with those mentioned by FFRF). Jim Meritt of Infidels includes on his "List of Biblical Contradictions" the question, "[Does] God change?" The EvilBible also makes this claim.
|“||Does God Change His Mind?
Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Ezekiel 24:14 I the LORD have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord GOD.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
1 Samuel 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
Exodus 32:14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Genesis 6:6-7 ¶ And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Jonah 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Numbers 14:20 ¶ And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
1 Samuel 15:35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
2 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. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
See Genesis 18:23-33, where Abraham gets God to change his mind about the minimum number of righteous people in Sodom required to avoid destruction, bargaining down from fifty to ten. (An omniscient God must have known that he was playing with Abraham's hopes for mercy--he destroyed the city anyway.)
Clearly God by saying "I change not" is referring to His covenants with Abraham, Jacob, and David to preserve a lineage as His chosen people. God does not change His covenants and promises, and this is repeated throughout the Bible. Nonetheless, God can be seen numerous times to change His mind or regret His decisions. (e.g. Ge. 6:6; 1 Sam. 15:11,35; Jon. 3:10) While God does not regret doing wrong (since God does not sin or do wrong), He can be seen to regret justifiable punishments enacted on evil human beings.
Some of the confusion may be caused the archaic usage by the KJV of the word "repent" which is used to mean God simply being sorrowful, even for executing just punishments, and usage of the word "evil" which is used simply to mean a harsh punishment. See for example its usage in Jeremiah 18:8-13 where God says He will "repent of the evil" He does in punishing evil nations as long as they turn from their evil, and that if they do evil then He will "repent of the good."
Perhaps the best answer is that provided by CARM, "When God says that He does not change, He is speaking about His nature and character. But this does not mean that He cannot change how He works with people throughout history." For a similar passage to Malachi 3:6, see Psalms 89:34 - "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." Here it is explained why the "sons of Jacob are not consumed" and what change is being discussed.
|“||Psalms 89:29 His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.
30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;
31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;
32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.
35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.
36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.
Clearly God by saying "I change not" as seen in the above passage is referring to His covenants with Abraham, Jacob, and David to preserve a lineage as His chosen people. It is for this reason that God numerous times when disgusted with Israel did not wipe them off the face of the planet (which judging by his frustration levels expressed numerous times, He would certainly have liked to do). Instead as God promised David, He used punishments (v. 32) but He refused to break His covenant that David's seed would endure for ever. (v. 36)
This can also be seen from the following passage with Moses where God ends up "repenting" for punishing Israel's idolatry of the golden calf:
|“||Exodus 32:11 And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.
14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
God does not change His covenants and promises, and this is repeated throughout the Bible:
|“||Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
While God does not regret doing wrong (since God does not sin or do wrong), He can be seen to regret justifiable punishments enacted on evil human beings. (e.g. Ex. 32:14; Deut. 32:36; Jg. 2:18; 2 Sam. 24:16; 1 Chr. 24:15; Ps. 90:13; 106:45; 135:14; Jer. 26:19; Am. 7:3-6; Jon. 3:10)
Some of the confusion may be caused the archaic usage by the KJV of the word "repent" which is used to mean God simply being sorrowful, even for executing just punishments, and usage of the word "evil" which is used simply to mean a harsh punishment. See for example its usage in Jeremiah 18:8-13 where God says He will "repent of the evil" He does in punishing evil nations as long as they turn from their evil, and that if they do evil then He will "repent of the good". In KJV-speak, verse 12 even continues with "Thus saith the Lord; Behold I frame evil against you... return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good."
|“||Jeremiah 18:8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;
10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
11 ¶ Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
12 And they said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart.
Unfortunately, the KJV's continued popularity results in confusion over archaic wording that is centuries out of date. Perhaps people forget that words in the English language meant different things when the KJV was translated in 1611 than they do now, over 400 years later.
|“||God is just and impartial
ABC:Psalms 92:15 To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
ABC:Genesis 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
ABC:Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
ABC:Romans 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
ABC:Ezekiel 18:25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
God is unjust and partial
ABC:Genesis 9:25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
ABC:Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
ABC:Romans 9:11-13 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
ABC:Matthew 13:12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
The critic makes some serious mistakes in trying to attribute injustice and partiality to God. First of all, Genesis 9:25 contains something Noah said, not God, and that was because his son had immorally looked at his father's nudity. As a result Noah cursed his younger son. However, even IF that had been something God had said, not Noah, it would not have necessarily shown injustice or partiality since it was a condemnation of an immoral action. Using that as the primary example of God's injustice displays seriously flawed reasoning, as well as carelessness, on the part of the critic.
The critic seems to be arguing that Exodus 20:5 displays partiality because children experience the consequences of their ancestor's decisions to the third and fourth generations. This may well be a reference to disease. God punishes individuals who hate Him with diseases and physical maladies that carry over into their later generations. However, despite this God forgives those who repent, healing their lives and bodies. The critic noticeably does not mention the next verse, Exodus 20:6, which specifically states that God shows mercy to those who love Him and righteously keep His commandments.
In the Mosaic Law, God elsewhere specifically states that children are not to be put to death for the actions of their parents, or parents for what their children have done, but punishment should be based upon their individual actions. Therefore, while God may execute forms of punishment on later generations through disease, execution was to occur only when an individual had done that which was clearly evil.
|“||ABC:Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
ABC:2 Kings 14:6 But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the Lord commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Ultimately final judgment at the end of the time will be based solely on a person's actions irrespective of what their ancestors have done.
|“||ABC:2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
ABC:Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Concerning the critic's third allegation of injustice/partiality by God and Romans 9:11-13, God did determine before Jacob and Esau were born which should rule over the other. However, this is because God is able to know our personalities and what we are like inside before we're even born. Evil people begin thinking and doing evil from the womb, just as the good are known from this time as well.
|“||ABC:Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
ABC:Psalms 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
However, God still pleads with those who are evil to change and do what is right, and makes clear that He takes no pleasure in the deaths of those who are wicked.
|“||ABC:Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
12 Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth.
13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity;
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
16 None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.
17 Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal.
So, in conclusion, just because God knew enough of what Jacob and Esau were like while they were still in the womb to foreordain aspects of their lives, does not mean that God is unjust or impartial. It simply evinces the depths of God's knowledge and understanding to realize what kind of people we are from the moment we are created, even before we leave our mother's wombs. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that Esau, like his brother Jacob, was blessed permanently with land that God has permanently left to his descendants. (ABC:Deuteronomy 2:4-5)
Finally, the critic accuses God of injustice and partiality because in Matthew 13:12 Jesus says that those who have will be given more, and those with little will have that little taken away from them. However, the fuller context shows that this was spoken concerning knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The ones Jesus was speaking to had closed their own eyes (Matthew 13:14) because they did not want to realize the truth.
|“||ABC:Matthew 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.
13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Truth is something given to those who seek it earnestly, who wish to know righteousness. Therefore it is not unjust of God to take away the understanding of those who close their eyes and ears because they don't want to know or accept the truth. God is fair and gives wisdom generously to those who seek in a right spirit by trusting God (James 1:5-6).
|“||ABC:Proverbs 2:3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.
ABC:Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
- Seidensticker, P. (2018, October 20). "Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions." Patheos.
- Thiefe, Chris. Biblical Contradictions. EvilBible.com.
- Barker, D. (2019). "Bible Contradictions." FFRF.
- Morgan, Donald. Bible Inconsistencies: Bible Contradictions? Internet Infidels.
- Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Internet Infidels.
- Does the Lord Change or Not? Christian Apologetics Research Ministry.