Others have asked similar questions pertaining to passages such as Amos 7:3, 6, Numbers 22, 1 Samuel 15, and 1 Kings 19 regarding this topic. My goal in asking this is not ask the same old question from a systematic theology perspective (although my belief in consistency, inerrancy, and tota scriptura, see 2 Timothy 3:16, lead me to conclude that God does NOT in fact change His mind). Instead, I want to approach the passage in question from a hermeneutics perspective.

The passage in question is Ezekiel 4:9-17 (NASB). Particularly verses 12 and 15.

“But as for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt, put them in one vessel and make them into bread for yourself; you shall eat it according to the number of the days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days.Your food which you eat shall be twenty shekels a day by weight; you shall eat it from time to time.The water you drink shall be the sixth part of a hin by measure; you shall drink it from time to time. You shall eat it as a barley cake, having baked it in their sight over human dung.” Then the Lord said, “Thus will the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean among the nations where I will banish them.”

But I said, “ Ah, Lord God! Behold, I have never been defiled; for from my youth until now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has any unclean meat ever entered my mouth.”

Then He said to me, “See, I will give you cow’s dung in place of human dung over which you will prepare your bread.” Moreover, He said to me, “Son of man, behold, I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they will eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and drink water by measure and in horror,because bread and water will be scarce; and they will be appalled with one another and waste away in their iniquity. - Ezekiel 4:9-17

After the prophet Ezekiel appeals to God about eating unclean food, God ammends His command to cook the bread over human excrement to allow him to do so over that from a cow. This does seem like an act of God changing His mind opposite to what is read in Numbers 23.

“ 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?“Behold, I have received a command to bless; When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it. - Numbers 23:19-20

How should this supposed contradiction be dealt with?

  • 2
    I appreciate the way in which the question is asked and I believe the enquiry reveals something about God's character and nature. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 12, 2019 at 19:43
  • Where is the changing His mind part? The passage is about what will take place prophetically. Those things happened. Feb 13, 2019 at 0:38
  • Vs 12 says the prophet will bake bread over human excrement. Vs 14 has the prophet entreating God saying "I've never eaten anything unclean". Vs 15 has God allowing the prophet to replace human excrement with cow dung.
    – WnGatRC456
    Feb 13, 2019 at 1:13
  • 1
    I think the OP's point is that God allowed the prophet to change the conditions. They were not irrevocable.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 13, 2019 at 1:13

1 Answer 1


I don't see the situation as God 'changing his mind' at all, myself. But I do believe the incident gives considerable insight into the character and nature of the Lord.

The prophet's conscience is respected and is not despised or overruled - even by Almighty God himself. Which is quite a remarkable thing, I think.

This reminds me of the incident when Peter was granted the vision on his housetop as Gentiles were on the way to hear the gospel from his lips. Peter had a conscience about talking to Gentiles and that had to be respected and that had to be dealt with - not with a commandment, for he was already obeying a commandment - in a personal way.

The unfolding and progressive revelation of Deity over the whole course of scriptural history has necessitated men learning many lessons about what is 'right'. These lessons may result in apparent contradictions of conscience, as here with the prophet and his food preparation.

But these matters of conscience are not despised, they are respected and they are suffered.

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