Problem

Can God be Turned?

Isaiah 63:10 - But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.
James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

In Isaiah the Lord is turned against his people, but James tells us that God has no "variableness, neither shadow of turning."


Solution

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The context of these passages will clear up any confusion. In Isaiah God is turned against his people to fight against them because of their rebellion, while James is referring to the Lord changing his mind about a gift that he has given. Notice:

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

James is telling us that the good and perfect gifts that God gives to us are permanent, and that he will not change his mind about them and take them back later. Notice how perfectly this fits with Romans 11:29:

"For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance."

A couple examples of these good and perfect gifts are Salvation (Rom. 5:15-18) and the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). Its great to know that God will not change his mind about these gifts and take them away from us some day.

It should also be noted that God had warned his people that he would turn against them if they chose to rebel back in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. This turning is not in reference to any gift that he has given to his people, but rather a condition based upon their obedience.

Also, James can’t be a reference to God physically turning. When Jesus was walking on earth he physically turned towards Peter in Luke 22:61 and towards his disciples in Luke 10:23. It is clear that James is not saying that God cannot turn physically, or that God cannot turn against a person or a nation to become their enemy. It is simply saying that when it comes to the gifts that God has given, there is no "variableness, neither shadow of turning."

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