Two weeks ago, we started looking at this extremely important and, in my opinion, the most neglected Biblical doctrine we have – that of repentance. You may be saying, what about the doctrine of salvation. My dear friends, according to Jesus there is no salvation apart from repentance – (Luk.13:3) “ I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
God only knows how many times the unsaved have experience pressure produced by despair and run before Him crying out and experiencing a temporal emotional release. It is at this very moment the devil, if given the opportunity, confuses that soul into believing they have just experienced salvation. Apart from truly crying out to God with a broken heart because of their sinful condition and asking God to mercifully, forgive them, and then inviting Him into their hearts as their personal Savior, the personal consequences may be life-long. Except God intervenes by using His word, more than likely through His people, there is a 100% possibility that the rest of their lives will be spent living being submerged in spiritual deception. Thus, it becomes commonplace for believers, who have witnessed their actions, to interact with them as believers when in reality they are not.
We will continue to address the above issue in upcoming studies but for now let us focus on something deeply connected with this doctrine that is often thought about but rarely studied. Does God repent? It boggles some minds remotely consider this thought.
The late scholar, Dr. Herbert Lockyer, says, “The word “repent” in its various forms occurs 45 times in the Old Testament, and carries the underlying thought of contrition. Two words are translated repent.” The first word means to sigh or groan; the second word is that of lamenting or groaning. The first word appears about 40 times in the Old Testament and, in most cases, refers to God.
Once again, does God repent? The answer is both yes and no! In order to assist our understanding in the repentance of God, it is needful to see God as compared to humans. (Num. 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?”
I. First, we will look at “no” – God does not repent because some of His statements are unconditional.
A. The first is noticed in Genesis 3:3 - “But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
B. God had personally instructed Saul through Samuel, (1Sa. 15:3) “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” Do to Saul’s disobedience in this assignment, God immediately used Samuel to addresses him once again. (1Sa 15:18-29) “And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. 19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? 20 And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. 22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king. 24 And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. 26 And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. 27 And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. 28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, [that is] better than thou. 29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he [is] not a man, that he should repent.”
C. God’s prophecy to David about the Messiah
(Psa.110:1-4) “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people [shall be] willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning:
thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou [art] a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” NOTE; Heb.7:21
D. Because of Israel’s sins:
(Jer. 4:27-28) “For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end. 28 For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken [it], I have purposed [it], and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.”
E. God’s unchangeable covenant with Abraham
(Gen 12:1) “ Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: Gen 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: Gen 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
F. The unchangeableness of some of His actions and decrees
“God’s repentance is the unmovedness of Himself, while others move and change. The Divine finger ever points to the same spot;
but man has moved from it to the opposite pole. But as in all repentance there is sorrow, so, reverently be it said, in that of God. It is God’s sorrow of love, as, Himself unchanged and unchanging, He looks at the sinner who has turned from Him.” Mal.3:6 - “For I [am] the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
II. Next we’ll look at “yes” – when God repents because some of His statements are conditional.
A. When “no” and “yes” seem to meet - Adam and Eve knew about God’s mercy and grace early on. Although Adam and Eve’s children had been e instructed in the ways of God, each exceeding generation continued to move farther away from God. Thus, we read of God’s broken and his intentions. (Gen. 6:3-5) “Gen 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 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. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
B. When people repent of their evil, He repents, or turns from punishment and realizes for the penitent the blessings of His promises. – (Jer 18:5-10) “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay [is] in the potter’s hand, so [are] ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. 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. Thus God can repent and relationships, fellowships, and circumstances can change.
C. As illustrated in of Nineveh
God told Jonah, (Jon 3:2) “Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” Later in Nineveh we hear, (Jon 3:9) “Who can tell [if] God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” At the end of His mission in downtown Nineveh, (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.”
There would seem to be a contradiction in Scripture. The Bible says in some places that God never repents. In other Scriptures we discover that God does repent. The statements are not a contradiction. The Bible is never contradictory.
God’s repentance was and will continue to be dependent upon His conditional and unconditional covenants made with humankind.
From these few examples, you see that God repents only when the people encounter, and react with a positive response, to His statements that are conditional. He turns from judgment if people change. He also turnsto judgment if people do not obey His Word.
 Herbert Lockyer. All the Doctrines of the Bible pg.170
 BIBLE HISTORY OLD TESTAMENT VOL. 4 ISRAEL UNDER SAMUEL, SAUL, AND DAVID TO THE BIRTH OF SOLOMON by Alfred Edersheim, pg.69