I am in Jeremiah 26 – halfway through the biggest book in the Bible.
Focus for a minute on verse 13:
Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced on you.
A preacher from England, years ago, once noted as he pondered the fact of God “repenting”:
The suggestion is that of a people listening for God, and so amending ways and doings, turning back to God; and God–do not be afraid of this, it is human speech, but that is the only way in which we can express truth concerning Him,–God sighing with relief, and releasing His sorrow in order to console and deal with a people that turn back to Him. “Jehovah will repent Him.” It is not merely that He will change His mind; it is not that He will change His mind at all. It is that He will change His activity, because He cannot change His mind. His mind is the mind of compassion, of love, of tenderness. The supreme desire of the heart of God is never to smite, but always to heal; never to afflict, but always to bless. If men have turned from Him, they have made their own whips and sufferings. When they turn back, He will repent Him. That is an unveiling by reverent suggestion, of the sorrow of the heart of God, of the breathing sigh of relief when the penitent man or nation turns back to Him; and of the activity out of sorrow which is for the healing, and the consolation of the people that turn. There is no greater word in all the Bible, Old nor New, than this. Amend your ways and your doings; listen to the voice of God, and God will repent Him of the calamity that He appointed; and out of that sorrow in activity, will turn back the forces that are marching against you, and deliver and heal and take you to Himself!
Does God enjoy punishing? The preacher goes on to write:
But that act of God in punishment, is ever the “strange act” of God. Now that is not a phrase of my own. I would not dare to use it. Isaiah used it. When the drunkards were mocking at him, and saying Who is this that talks to us, who speaks to us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; the prophet answered them, and finally told them God must visit them in judgment, and he called it “His strange act.” It is the act that is foreign to the nature of God, that which is not within His deepest purpose for man or nation. “He doth not willingly afflict . . . the children of men.” That is Jeremiah’s word; we find it in the Lamentations; but hear it even more literally translated: “He doth not afflict from the heart the children of men.” His heart is against it. When men turn back to Him, He sighs and repents. How are we to escape the calamity which God appoints? Directly there is true and thorough return to Him, He repents. Apart from such return on our part, there can be no Divine repentance.