ABC:James 1

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Verse 13 (American Atheists)[edit]

American Atheists claims the Bible is wrong about the passage (and makes the following comments (italicized).[1]

Temptation

James 1:13 ¶ Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

Genesis 22:1 ¶ And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

God tests Christians to see what is in their hearts, not to tempt them to do evil, but to make them stronger for His kingdom and ensure they are loyal to Him. For a description of the difference between testing and tempting in the Bible, see the Scofield Study Bible III's note for James 1:14, which reads as follows: "1:14 Test/Tempt, Summary: The concept of testing or temptation is expressed in both the OT and NT not only by the words translated 'test' or 'tempt,' but also by the words rendered 'provoke,' 'snare,' 'trials,' etc. (e.g. Gen. 22:1; Ps. 7:9; 11:5; Luke 22:28; James 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:5; compare Job 31:27; Prov. 22:25; Is. 3:8.) The primary meaning is usually that of proving by testing, or testing under trial. Less frequently the sense is that of enticement or solicitation to evil (e.g. 1:13-14; Gen. 3:1-6; 2 Cor. 11:3-4)."[2]

Verse 13 (Infidels)[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels.org claims a contradiction exists and asks "[God] tempts?"[3]

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham.

James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.

The explanation here is pretty straightforward, the KJV just chose a bad word for Genesis 22:1 in 'tempt,' the Hebrew word nacah is usually translated elsewhere as 'prove' meaning to test, try, or prove without the negative connotation of "tempt." The Hebrew Interlinear of the original text is as follows:

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after <'achar> these things, <dabar> that God <'elohiym> did tempt <nacah> Abraham, <'Abraham> and said <'amar> unto him, Abraham: <'Abraham> and he said, <'amar> Behold, here I am.

Nacah as seen from how it's used elsewhere in the Old Testament would be better translated as 'prove,' 'test,' or 'try.' The same word is most often translated by the KJV as 'prove' and had it been translated that way here would have removed the confusion. Definitions of the word according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and Thayer's are as follows:

"05254. hon nacah, naw-saw'

a primitive root; to test; by implication, to attempt:--adventure, assay, prove, tempt, try." -Strong's Exhaustive Concordance[4]

"Strong's Number: 05254 Transliterated Word: Nacah Definition: 1) to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test a) (Piel) 1) to test, try 2) to attempt, assay, try 3) to test, try, prove, tempt King James Word Usage - Total: 36 prove 20, tempt 12, assay 2, adventure 1, try 1" -The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon[5]

The following is a list of the Interlinear for all 36 times in the Old Testament where nacah is used showing that its meaning is test, try, or prove; not tempt:

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after <'achar> these things <dabar>, that God <'elohiym> did tempt <nacah> Abraham <'Abraham>, and said <'amar> unto him, Abraham <'Abraham>: and he said <'amar>, Behold, here I am.

Exodus 15:25 And he cried <tsa`aq> unto the LORD <Y@hovah>; and the LORD <Y@hovah> shewed <yarah> him a tree <`ets>, which when he had cast <shalak> into the waters <mayim>, the waters <mayim> were made sweet <mathaq>: there he made <suwm> for them a statute <choq> and an ordinance <mishpat>, and there he proved <nacah> them,

Exodus 16:4 Then said <'amar> the LORD <Y@hovah> unto Moses <Mosheh>, Behold, I will rain <matar> bread <lechem> from heaven <shamayim> for you; and the people <`am> shall go out <yatsa'> and gather <laqat> a certain rate <dabar> every day <yowm> <yowm>, that I may prove <nacah> them, whether they will walk <yalak> in my law <towrah>, or no.

Exodus 17:2 Wherefore the people <`am> did chide <riyb> with Moses <Mosheh>, and said <'amar>, Give <nathan> us water <mayim> that we may drink <shathah>. And Moses <Mosheh> said <'amar> unto them, Why chide <riyb> ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt <nacah> the LORD <Y@hovah>?

Exodus 17:7 And he called <qara'> the name <shem> of the place <maqowm> Massah <Maccah>, and Meribah <M@riybah>, because of the chiding <riyb> of the children <ben> of Israel <Yisra'el>, and because they tempted <nacah> the LORD <Y@hovah>, saying <'amar>, Is <yesh> the LORD <Y@hovah> among <qereb> us, or not?

Exodus 20:20 And Moses <Mosheh> said <'amar> unto the people <`am>, Fear <yare'> not: for God <'elohiym> is come <bow'> to <`abuwr> prove <nacah> you, and that his fear <yir'ah> may be before your faces <paniym>, that ye sin <chata'> not.

Numbers 14:22 Because all those men <'enowsh> which have seen <ra'ah> my glory <kabowd>, and my miracles <'owth>, which I did <`asah> in Egypt <Mitsrayim> and in the wilderness <midbar>, and have tempted <nacah> <'eth> me now these ten <`eser> times <pa`am>, and have not hearkened <shama`> to my voice <qowl>;

Deuteronomy 4:34 Or hath God <'elohiym> assayed <nacah> to go <bow'> and take <laqach> him a nation <gowy> from the midst <qereb> of another nation <gowy>, by temptations <maccah>, by signs <'owth>, and by wonders <mowpheth>, and by war <milchamah>, and by a mighty <chazaq> hand <yad>, and by a stretched out <natah> arm <z@rowa`>, and by great <gadowl> terrors <mowra'>, according to all that the LORD <Y@hovah> your God <'elohiym> did <`asah> for you in Egypt <Mitsrayim> before your eyes <`ayin>?

Deuteronomy 6:16 Ye shall not tempt <nacah> the LORD <Y@hovah> your God <'elohiym>, as ye tempted <nacah> him in Massah <Maccah>.

Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember <zakar> all the way <derek> which the LORD <Y@hovah> thy God <'elohiym> led <yalak> thee these forty <'arba`iym> years <shaneh (in pl. only),> in the wilderness <midbar>, to humble <`anah> thee, and to prove <nacah> thee, to know <yada`> what was in thine heart <lebab>, whether thou wouldest keep <shamar> his commandments <mitsvah>, or no.

Deuteronomy 8:16 Who fed <'akal> thee in the wilderness <midbar> with manna <man>, which thy fathers <'ab> knew <yada`> not, that he might humble <`anah> thee, and that he might prove <nacah> thee, to do thee good <yatab> at thy latter end <'achariyth>;

Deuteronomy 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken <shama`> unto the words <dabar> of that prophet <nabiy'>, or that dreamer <chalam> of dreams <chalowm>: for the LORD <Y@hovah> your God <'elohiym> proveth <nacah> you, to know <yada`> whether ye <yesh> love <'ahab> the LORD <Y@hovah> your God <'elohiym> with all your heart <lebab> and with all your soul <nephesh>.

Deuteronomy 28:56 The tender <rak> and delicate <`anog> woman among you, which would not adventure <nacah> to set <yatsag> the sole <kaph> of her foot <regel> upon the ground <'erets> for delicateness <`anag> and tenderness <rok>, her eye <`ayin> shall be evil <yara`> toward the husband <'iysh> of her bosom <cheyq>, and toward her son <ben>, and toward her daughter <bath>,

Deuteronomy 33:8 And of Levi <Leviy> he said <'amar>, Let thy Thummim <Tummiym> and thy Urim <'Uwriym> be with thy holy <chaciyd> one <'iysh>, whom thou didst prove <nacah> at Massah <Maccah>, and with whom thou didst strive <riyb> at the waters <mayim> of Meribah <M@riybah>;

Judges 2:22 That through them I may prove <nacah> Israel <Yisra'el>, whether they will keep <shamar> the way <derek> of the LORD <Y@hovah> to walk <yalak> therein, as their fathers <'ab> did keep <shamar> it, or not.

Judges 3:1 Now these are the nations <gowy> which the LORD <Y@hovah> left <yanach>, to prove <nacah> Israel <Yisra'el> by them, even as many of Israel as had not known <yada`> all the wars <milchamah> of Canaan <K@na`an>;

Judges 3:4 And they were to prove <nacah> Israel <Yisra'el> by them, to know <yada`> whether they would hearken <shama`> unto the commandments <mitsvah> of the LORD <Y@hovah>, which he commanded <tsavah> their fathers <'ab> by the hand <yad> of Moses <Mosheh>.

Judges 6:39 And Gideon <Gid`own> said <'amar> unto God <'elohiym>, Let not thine anger <'aph> be hot <charah> against me, and I will speak <dabar> but this once <pa`am>: let me prove <nacah>, I pray thee, but this once <pa`am> with the fleece <gazzah>; let it now be dry <choreb> only upon the fleece <gazzah>, and upon all the ground <'erets> let there be dew <tal>.

1 Samuel 17:39 And David <David> girded <chagar> his sword <chereb> upon his armour <mad>, and he assayed <ya'al> to go <yalak>; for he had not proved <nacah> it. And David <David> said <'amar> unto Saul <Sha'uwl>, I cannot <yakol> go <yalak> with these; for I have not proved <nacah> them. And David <David> put <cuwr> them off him.

1 Kings 10:1 And when the queen <malkah> of Sheba <Sh@ba'> heard <shama`> of the fame <shema`> of Solomon <Sh@lomoh> concerning the name <shem> of the LORD <Y@hovah>, she came <bow'> to prove <nacah> him with hard questions <chiydah>.

2 Chronicles 9:1 And when the queen <malkah> of Sheba <Sh@ba'> heard <shama`> of the fame <shema`> of Solomon <Sh@lomoh>, she came <bow'> to prove <nacah> Solomon <Sh@lomoh> with hard questions <chiydah> at Jerusalem <Y@ruwshalaim>, with a very <m@`od> great <kabed> company <chayil>, and camels <gamal> that bare <nasa'> spices <besem>, and gold <zahab> in abundance <rob>, and precious <yaqar> stones <'eben>: and when she was come <bow'> to Solomon <Sh@lomoh>, she communed <dabar> with him of all that was in her heart <lebab>.

2 Chronicles 32:31 Howbeit <ken> in the business of the ambassadors <luwts> of the princes <sar> of Babylon <Babel>, who sent <shalach> unto him to enquire <darash> of the wonder <mowpheth> that was done in the land <'erets>, God <'elohiym> left <`azab> him, to try <nacah> him, that he might know <yada`> all that was in his heart <lebab>.

Job 4:2 If we assay <nacah> to commune <dabar> with thee, wilt thou be grieved <la'ah>? but who can <yakol> withhold <`atsar> himself from speaking <millah>?

Psalms 26:2 Examine <bachan> me, O LORD <Y@hovah>, and prove <nacah> me; try <tsaraph> my reins <kilyah> and my heart <leb>.

Psalms 78:18 And they tempted <nacah> God <'el> in their heart <lebab> by asking <sha'al> meat <'okel> for their lust <nephesh>.

Psalms 78:41 Yea, they turned back <shuwb> and tempted <nacah> God <'el>, and limited <tavah> the Holy One <qadowsh> of Israel <Yisra'el>.

Psalms 78:56 Yet they tempted <nacah> and provoked <marah> the most high <'elyown> God <'elohiym>, and kept <shamar> not his testimonies <`edah>:

Psalms 95:9 When your fathers <'ab> tempted <nacah> me, proved <bachan> me, and saw <ra'ah> my work <po`al>.

Psalms 106:14 But lusted <'avah> exceedingly <ta'avah> in the wilderness <midbar>, and tempted <nacah> God <'el> in the desert <y@shiymown>.

Ecclesiastes 2:1 I said <'amar> in mine heart <leb>, Go to now <yalak>, I will prove <nacah> thee with mirth <simchah>, therefore enjoy <ra'ah> pleasure <towb>: and, behold, this also is vanity <hebel>.

Ecclesiastes 7:23 All this <zoh> have I proved <nacah> by wisdom <chokmah>: I said <'amar>, I will be wise <chakam>; but it was far <rachowq> from me.

Isaiah 7:12 But Ahaz <'Achaz> said <'amar>, I will not ask <sha'al>, neither will I tempt <nacah> <'eth> the LORD <Y@hovah>.

Daniel 1:12 Prove <nacah> thy servants <`ebed>, I beseech thee, ten <`eser> days <yowm>; and let them give <nathan> us pulse <zeroa`> to eat <'akal>, and water <mayim> to drink <shathah>.

Daniel 1:14 So he consented <shama`> to them in this matter <dabar>, and proved <nacah> them ten <`eser> days <yowm>.

Many of the verses clearly show the word's correct translation is test/try, not tempt. See e.g. Exodus 16:4, 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2,16, 13:3, 28:56; Judges 2:22, 3:4, 6:39; 1 Samuel 17:39; 2 Chronicles 32:31; Psalms 26:2; Ecclesiastes 2:1, 7:23; Daniel 1:12,14. The Scofield Reference Bible makes a similar point, see e.g. the notes for Genesis 22:1 and James 1:14.

At any rate, God was just testing Abraham to see what was in Abraham's heart, and whether Abraham would trust Him unconditionally. This is evident from v. 12:

Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

God is said to do this same kind of testing repeatedly all through the Bible, see Exodus 16:4; Deuteronomy 8:2; Judges 2:22, 3:4; 2 Chronicles 32:31; Psalms 26:2.

Verse 13 (Again)[edit]

The EvilBible claims a contradiction exists here, and makes the following comments (italicized).[6]

God is the author of evil

ABC:Lamentations 3:38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?

ABC:Jeremiah 18:11 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.

ABC:Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

ABC:Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?

ABC:Ezekiel 20:25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;

God is not the author of evil

ABC:1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

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:James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

As pointed out by the Scofield Study Bible III in its note for Isaiah 45:7, the Hebrew word ra translated as "evil" in places like Isaiah 45:7, Jeremiah 18:11, and Amos 8:6 would be better translated as calamity, and carries the idea of suffering or punishment. Indeed, Isaiah 45:7 when examined reveals this, for light is indeed the opposite of darkness, but the opposite of peace is not evil, but chaos or calamity.

45:7 create disaster. God is not the author of sin (Hab. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:13; Tit. 1:2; Jas. 1:13; 1 Jn. 1:5). One of the meanings of the Hebrew word ra carries the idea of adversity or calamity, and it is evidently so employed here. God has made sorrow and wretchedness to be the sure fruits of sin.

-The Scofield Study Bible III, Oxford University Press[7]

Jeremiah 18:11 when read in context with the surrounding verses becomes even more apparent that God is not doing evil in the sense of unrighteousness but in the sense of calamity, or in other words producing just punishment for the wicked. Thus God says that if nations turn from their evil He will repent of the evil He'd planned to do to them (v. 8). Likewise God says that if a nation God had planned good for does evil, then because they have done evil, God will repent of the good He'd planned to do for their benefit (vv. 9-10).

Jeremiah 18:7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;
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.

As for Lamentations 3:38 it is a rhetorical question, and when read in context makes clear that the "evil" being referred to is simply just punishment for a person's evil deeds.

ABC:Lamentations 3:37 Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?
38 Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?
39 Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?

The context of Ezekiel 20:25 also makes plain that God is not doing evil in the sense of unrighteousness but rendering a just judgment upon evildoers. Israel at the time was performing heinous idolatry which included the abominable sin of sacrificing their own children alive to idols like Baal and Molech, which was why God punished them with ra, which while translated as "evil" by the KJV would better be translated as "calamity" or "affliction."

ABC:Ezekiel 20:21 Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.
22 Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.
23 I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;
24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols.
25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;
26 And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord.
27 Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.
28 For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings.
29 Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name whereof is called Bamah unto this day.
30 Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations?
31 For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be enquired of by you.

Verse 17: Does God Change His Mind? (FFRF)[edit]

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[8]

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.
vs.
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 Jon 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.
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."

Verse 17[edit]

Jim Meritt of Infidels includes on his "List of Biblical Contradictions" the question, "[Does] God change?"[3] The EvilBible also makes this claim.[6] Don Morgan's list also claims this is a contradiction.[9]

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.

Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

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.

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?
20 Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.

Genesis 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

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.

1 Samuel 2:30-31 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.

2 Kings 20:1-6 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

Exodus 33:1-14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way. And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments. For the Lord had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb. And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door. 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. And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

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.

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."[10] 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.

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. (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.

Sources[edit]

  1. N.a. (2019). "Biblical Contradictions? American Atheists.
  2. Scofield, C.I. (2002). "Scofield Study Bible III." Oxford University Press.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Meritt, Jim (1992). A list of Biblical contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html.
  4. Strong, James (2009). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance to the Bible. Retrieved from http://biblesuite.com/strongs/hebrew/5254.htm.
  5. Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. Hebrew Lexicon entry for Nacah. The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved from http://biblesuite.com/strongs/hebrew/5254.htm and http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H5254.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Thiefe, Chris. Biblical Contradictions. EvilBible.com.
  7. Scofield, C.I. (2006). The Scofield Study Bible III. p. 934. Oxford University Press.
  8. Barker, D. (2019). "Bible Contradictions." FFRF.
  9. Morgan, Donald. Bible Inconsistencies: Bible Contradictions? Internet Infidels.
  10. Does the Lord Change or Not? Christian Apologetics Research Ministry.