Any literalist Christians among my readers?

I would really love to hear a literalist (someone who believes every word in the Bible is literally true) explain the following two verses:
Numbers 23:19
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Exodus 32:14
Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Check it out in different versions, if you like. BibleGateway.com is awesome for this stuff. Seriously. Even in context, these two verses are in direct conflict.

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3 Responses to Any literalist Christians among my readers?

  1. Milton says:

    Psalm 40:5 Many, O Lord my God are thy wonderful works which thouhast done, and thy thoghts which are to us-ward: they cannot be revckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. Psalm 139: 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
    You pose a question from two different situations. Balaam was dealing with someone who wanted the prophet to curse Israel whom God had already promised certain things. I believe that we must consider that love and grace are part of God’s character as well as truth. We should read a complete story and not one line from it. If a parent says, no, not now, not ever, would they be considered a lier if there was an exception made to the rule out of love or compassion. If we, as humans can make judgments here and there, can not God, in His infinite wisdom, make a decision or a statement that is appropriate and truthful but beyond our immediate understanding. Israel is God’s love. If I were talking with someone who intended harm to the love of my life, I might not be so inclined to explain the meaning of every thing I said to them but would want to make it clear that she was my love and I would let no harm come to her. We can not judge God by our understanding. Where would be found a place for faith if we knew all He knows?

  2. Ealasaid says:

    Milton, thanks for your response.
    However, I did read the complete stories (in fact, I have read the Bible in its entirety, and many parts of it I have studied thoroughly).
    It seems very clear to me: in one story, God says quite clearly that He does not change his mind, ever. He does not say “I’m not going to curse Israel because they are my beloved,” he says “I’m not going to do it because I do not change my mind like you humans.” But then in the other story, he changes his mind. That seems pretty clear-cut.

  3. keith says:

    Old testimant is rough is to take literally, I personally don’t put much stock in it. Mostly cuase Jesus said “Guess what? God’s got a new deal, don’t worry about the old stuff too much” and I saved a bunch of money by switching to gieco… lol. pardon i couldn’t resist, but any whom, that’s the basic gist of it.
    There are a number of theories why the old testemant is the way it is. Too me the old testemant does not describe an all powerful god, it describes one that is very like that of the roman and greek gods. petty jealous, and angry. The new testament God seems more powerful to me becuase he does not come down to our level. He doesn’t need sacrifice, or tithing, he says “Ok well if you want to give money, then give money but its not putting you in any better standards with me”
    Worship someone else? Ok I will still love you and take care of you. Denouce me? Well that’s fine I’m still here and as long as you live a righteous life it really doesn’t matter to me.
    There are a number of messages like that, much of it is interpitive, I don’t think Jesus spoke in definites very much except for “Love thy neighboor as you love thy self” gave out a few a prayers. And told the discples what to do, which they usually screwed up.
    You have to take everything with a grain of salt, at least thats the way i look at it. Jesus was human and could be angry, and jealous, and scared, I don’t think he ever said he was perfect, just the son of God. To me it was his humanity that made him great, that he did all these things as a human and felt human things.