There is a claim that is regurgitated in Calvinist circles that any change in God seen in the Bible is really a positional change in man. Nineveh was evil. God will destroy the evil. Nineveh repositions itself to righteousness. God then will not destroy Nineveh. Pretending that this makes any sense (which it fails on multiple levels), several repentings of God in the Bible cannot be claimed as positional changes.
Isaiah is crystal clear:
Isa 43:24 You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, Nor have you satisfied Me with the fat of your sacrifices; But you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities.
Isa 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.
Israel had not changed in this scenario. Israel continued with wickedness. But God, for His own sake, chose to forget Israel’s sins. The change is not with the people (the people continue doing what they always do), but God changes. God chooses to overlook wickedness. There is no room to claim a positional change in man.
This is not isolated. In Exodus 32, Moses changes God’s mind without any change in the people.
Exo 32:11 Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: “LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Exo 32:12 Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people.
Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ”
Exo 32:14 So the LORD relented [repented] from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
The text attributes the change to Moses, and confirms this every time the event is referenced in the Bible. There was no change in the people. The change was with God.
Elsewhere, God doesn’t change even when the people change. Saul is one such example.
1Sa 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent [repent]. For He is not a man, that He should relent [repent].”
This statement comes just after God took the kingdom from Saul. Saul attempted to repent a few verses previously:
1Sa 15:24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.
1Sa 15:25 Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.”
But Saul’s repentance was not headed. It is after this that God seeks someone after God’s own heart and finds David to replace Saul.
Often, God is so angry that He warns the people that they will repent, but He will not listen. Their repentance will be ignored because they missed their chance:
Jer 14:12 When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.”
Eze 8:18 Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”
Mic 3:4 Then they will cry to the LORD, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds.
God is personal. God changes sometimes without any change in man. In fact, the Bible records different actions for the exact same reasoning. God is not a static input-output device. God is living.