If you have had many dealings with atheists then you know that they love to say that the Bible is not a trustworthy book because of the many, many contradictions that It contains. When asked for proof of just one contradiction, the usual line of argument is, “there are just so many, I cannot remember one at the moment.” Or one of my favorites is, “Joseph, Mary’s husband, had 2 different fathers according to the Gospel writers”. I have answered that fallacy in this article. I have noticed that the atheist crowd uses the same arguments to disprove the Bible. They all seem to make the same mistake of taking verses out of context and not studying the subject for themselves. They just take what others say on the subject as Gospel truth (yes, the pun was intended) and do not bother to do any research in the Bible Itself (and they call themselves open minded free thinkers, yet that all come from the same mold falling into the same fallacy, not to open minded or free thinking if you ask me). Here is the next supposed contradiction.
19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent ; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good ? (Numbers 23)
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. (Jonah 3)
Upon a superficial reading of the text, one might suppose that there is a contradiction here, but please do not be superficial because it shows ignorance. I would hope that an open minded, free thinker would be interested in digging into the details and observing all of the evidence before making a superficial judgment. (I have noticed that atheists are very superficial and very judgmental, especially of things that they do not understand)
I. Numbers 19 is the story of Balak and Balaam. Balak is a worthless prophet who is ready to sell out the people of God for money. Balaam is a pagan king who wants to destroy the people of Israel. Balaam wants Balak to curse Israel as if coming from God. Balak is ready to do it (because he has been promised great riches). Every time Balak opens his mouth to curse Israel, God turns his curses into blessings. Balaam asks Balak, “why are you doing this?” Balak shares verse 19 with us, that God cannot repent on what He has said, He promised that He would bless Israel and the world through them and He cannot be manipulated by mere men into contradicting Himself. That is what verse 19 has in mind when viewed in the context (which our atheists friends know nothing about because they do not take the time to study for themselves, they just copy and paste other people’s flawed arguments, not very free thinking if you ask me).
II. In Jonah’s case, God does not have to repent because His plan from the very beginning was to forgive Nineveh. Again, we will see the atheists fault of not paying attention to details and not studying the text for themselves, just simply taking someone’s superficial view on the subject.
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1)
God knew what was happening in Nineveh, that the people were wicked and that there needed to be a change. He sent Jonah to take the message to them so that they could change and not experience God’s wrath. Our superficial reader probably stopped here in chapter 3 where he thinks he found a contradiction. If he would have kept on reading he would have found that chapter 4 gives some vital insight on God’s plan from the beginning.
1 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country ? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jonah 4)
Jonah knew that God wanted to forgive the people of Nineveh and since he (Jonah) hated the people of Nineveh, he did not want to take the message to them so that they would not repent and experience God’s mercy. He wanted them to be destroyed. He knew that God’s plan all along was to forgive the people of Nineveh. God is not forced to change His mind based on the actions of mere men. His plan is carried out despite of the actions of mere men (like Jonah). You see, there is not contradiction here. God’s plans come to pass just as He wanted. Those who take a superficial look at the Bible think that they have discovered a contradiction but they have not. They show their inferiority to a God whom they claim does not exist.
My prayer for the atheist crowd is that they will repent of their arrogance and receive God’s mercy like the people of Nineveh. Please do not be deceived by superficial arguments claiming that the Bible is full of contradictions.