The Unpredictable God

God is God. He does not change (Malachi 3:6). God is not a man that he should lie nor the son of man that he should repent (Numbers 23:19). This does not mean, however, that he always does what we lowly human beings expect of him. An unchanging God is not necessarily a predictable one.

hannah Samuel eliGod often speaks a word to his obedient servants. Other times, he uses another obedient servant or an angel as a mouthpiece. This is expected. So who would have thought that Eli, a disobedient servant, would speak a word of comfort to Hannah regarding her prayer for a son? Undiscerning, he accused her of drunkenness (1 Samuel 1:12-14). After Hannah explained her “sorrowful spirit,” Eli told her, “Go in peace and the God of Israel grant your petition which you asked of him” (1:15, 17).[1] Hannah believed, “went her way, and ate” (1:18). She did not know that Eli was a bad priest, but God still heard and answered her prayer. The Roman Catholic Church has often asked if a sinning priest should listen to confessions and give absolution. Although I do not believe in this practice, the Bible shows that disobedient servants can give people peace.

Even more unpredictable is the fact that Necho, Pharaoh of Egypt and an unbeliever, spoke the word of God to the devout King Josiah of Judah. Necho fought against Carchemish on the Euphrates, north of Israel, but “Josiah went out against him” (2 Chronicles 35:20). Then Necho said through messengers, “I have not come against you this day but against the house with which I have war, for God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest he destroy you” (35:21). Josiah did not listen and was killed in battle (35:22-24). The Bible says he “did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God” (35:22). If he did not expect God’s word to come from such a source, then Josiah did not know God’s unpredictability.

“With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.” – Psalm 18:26 (KJV)

saul-and-the-witch-of-endor-benjamin-westThe word of God from disobedient servants and unbelievers is one thing. Witchcraft and divination are another. Did the dead prophet Samuel appear to King Saul through the witch of Endor or was it a demon (1 Samuel 28:7-25)? He still spoke God’s word to Saul and his prophecy was true: “Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines” (28:19, 31:1-6). Centuries later, God used divination to tell King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to attack and destroy Jerusalem. As he “shakes the arrows,” “consults the images,” and “looks at the liver … in his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem” (Ezekiel 21:21-22). Although it will appear a “false divination … he will bring their iniquity to remembrance that they may be taken” (21:23). Witchcraft and divination are an abomination in God’s sight, but so is rebellion (Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 19:26, 31, Deuteronomy 18:10, 1 Samuel 15:23, Galatians 5:20). God is willing to declare his Word through these methods to rebellious people.

Believers and unbelievers alike can hear God’s word from unexpected sources. This does not change the binding truth of the word spoken. So regardless of source, will we listen and obey? Will we trust in an unchanging, unpredictable God?


[1] New King James Version (NKJV), unless otherwise noted


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