A Divine Flip-Flop

Life Notes—October 6, 2011

“And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.”   Exodus 32:14 

It seems the political election cycle is a cycle no more.  Rather, before one campaign has ended, the next has begun.  The divisive charges and counter-charges fly back and forth year round.  Both sides continually try to make the other look less than competent, instead of focusing on solutions to issues.  One of the charges commonly waged by and against politicians is that of “flip-flopping.”  Someone said to have held one position in the past now seems to hold a different position.  It implies either a person cannot make up their mind or that they change their position depending on who they happen to be speaking to.  Neither is a desirable trait for someone wanting to portray themselves as a stable, dependable thinker whose decisions grow from a solid philosophical foundation. 

But in the passage above, God flip-flops.  A few verses earlier the writer of Exodus describes behavior on the part of God’s people that angers God to the point of saying, “Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them…(Exodus 32:10)”  Moses pleads with God for mercy on the people and God changes positions.  A divine flip-flop.  And this is not the only of God’s flip-flops recorded in the Bible.  Is it because God is not a stable thinker, or dependable, or because God does not operate from a solid philosophical foundation?  I hope not! 

Actually, I find the idea that God is open to changes of heart encouraging.  It flies in the face of those who describe our existence as preplanned and whatever will be, will be.  It describes an interactive God open to influence and willing to listen.  It opens the door for answered prayer, because if God is not open to influence, why would we ever plead or hope for God’s mercy or intervention? 

Politics aside, maybe flip-flopping is not the negative characteristic it is made out to be.   Maybe it indicates an open mind and a willingness to change.  Maybe it indicates recognition there can be more than one way to accomplish a purpose.  In Old Testament times, God gave the people the Law to help them achieve righteousness—and it failed.  So God ‘flip-flopped’ and sent Jesus to fulfill the law and be righteous for us.  Through Him, we attain the righteousness our predecessors could never attain through the Law. 

Mitch will be preaching downtown this Sunday.  His sermon is titled, “Stiff-Necked People,” and is based on Exodus 32:1-14. Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00.  It is Reconciling Sunday at the west campus, where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.  Colleen Riley will be preaching from Acts 8:26-39.  Her sermon title is “Sacred Worth.” 

Come home to church this Sunday.  Maybe a flip-flop in your view of church is in order!

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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