What is the significance of Ezekiel 33:13–15?
“[W]hen I say to the righteous he will surely live, and he so trusts in his righteousness that he commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered…he will die. But when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and he turns from his sin and practices justice and righteousness, if a wicked man restores a pledge, pays back what he has taken by robbery, walks by the statues which ensure life without committing iniquity, he will surely live; he shall not die.”
How are we to understand the Lord telling a righteous person “you shall surely live” or telling a wicked person “you shall surely die” if we also believe that at that very moment the Lord was perfectly certain that the righteous person he’s speaking to would not live (for he eternally foreknew they’d fall) and that the wicked person he’s speaking to would not die (for he eternally foreknew they’d repent)? Declarations are truthful only if they reflect sincere beliefs. But if God’s knowledge about a person’s fate is eternally settled, then any declaration he gives which goes against this knowledge is insincere.
If we grant that when the Bible depicts God as changing his mind it depicts him as he truly is and not simply as he appears to us, these problems disappear. In good faith, the Lord tells the righteous they shall live and the wicked they shall die, for this is what the Lord truly believes about them at the time of the declaration. If they change, however, his belief about them truly changes, and so his sincere declaration about them changes.