“and God relented” (Jonah 3:10)

Some key verses:

  • Malachi 3:6a, “For I am the LORD, I do not change;”
  • Jonah 3:10, “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.”
  • Isaiah 46:10, “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’”

JP: John Piper has an excellent article that is a response to to the error of “open theism”. In this article he speaks to Jonah 3:10 and “God relented”.

Answering Greg Boyd’s Openness of God Texts

Excerpt:

Jonah and the Repentant Ninevites

Jonah 3:4, “Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.'”

Jonah 3:10, “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”

Observations:

  1. Both Boyd and historic Christian exegesis assume that there is an implicit condition that if the Ninevites meet, they will be spared.
  2. Boyd believes that, if God knew with certainty that Nineveh would repent, the prophecy of impending destruction was insincere.
  3. But the accusation of insincerity is warranted only if the threat or the condition of repentance was not true. That is, if God would NOT have overthrown Nineveh had they not repented, or if he WOULD have overthrown Nineveh even if they repented, then his threat would have been insincere. He would have been lying. But the threat and the condition were true. God would have indeed destroyed them had they not repented, and he did not destroy them when they did repent.

    Greg seems to rule out the possibility that a God who knows all that will come to pass can sincerely warn against consequences that he knows will not come about (e.g., “Nineveh will be overthrown if you don’t repent”). But, in fact, in God’s mind, the warning may be the very means he is using to see to it that his foreknown future will come about; namely, that Nineveh will repent. God is not insincere in giving this warning. Had they not repented they would have perished.

A fairly good article on Open Theism is here. I reject Open Theism and consider it heresy!

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