A Shepherd’s Musings: Week 27 – God is Unchanging
Have you ever noticed that the people in your life, as well as yourself, are always changing? This can lead to frustration with self and others! In fact, one of the major complaints in marriage is that one’s spouse is not the person he or she though that spouse was. Similarly, you will find out as you get to know God better that He is not the Person you thought He was. However, unlike man, this is not because God is changing! It is because we are changing in our knowledge of Him through the Scripture which God has given to reveal Himself. Scripture makes it absolutely clear that God does not change in nature or attribute. God is not growing or becoming something new or better. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Perfect gifts can only come from a perfect being. This perfect being called the “Father of lights”, for He created light, does not vary in His thoughts or actions due to any change in His own nature or being.
The theologians call this the immutability or unchangeableness of God’s nature. The word “shadow” in the verse is very illustrative. While driving home the other evening I took notice of the shadows being cast across the highway. It was amazing to see how big a shadow a small object could make because of the changing position of the sun as it lowered into the horizon. Shadows are constantly changing! We can take great comfort in the fact that “there is no shadow” in God “due to change”. His position on every issue is always consistent, unchanging, and completely dependable. God’s clear will for our lives, which is revealed in Scripture, is not going to change. It is not going to be on-again—off-again. It is not one thing today and another thing tomorrow! When you go to bed tonight you can rest assured that God’s revealed will for your life will be the same in the morning when you wake up. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Now, at times to us God seems to be changing. But in reality, we are the ones who are changing. God, being consistent with his nature, will only change the way He deals with us. For example, when we as children of God sin against our Heavenly Father, He will lovingly discipline and correct us. God’s disposition toward us did not change, however His dealing with us was different because we changed. In some translations you will find verses that indicate that God “repented” from having done something. The word repentance in English does carry the idea of a change of mind. For example, Genesis 6:6 says, “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (KJV). Beside the fact that this word for “repentance” can also be translated “sorrowed”, clearly God was grieved that He would have to change his dealings with man by bringing them to justice and destruction because of their rebellion. God’s nature and will did not change, but the way He had to order His dealings or purposes for mankind did because of the change in man—not God! Similarly, in the situation with King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:35, God’s purpose changed for Saul because Saul had changed—not God!
Because God is unchanging, we can have complete confidence in Him even though we are prone to change. We can marvel at whom our God really is as the Psalmist did in Psalm 102:25-27, “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.”
The next time you see the shadows lengthening, remember that in God “there is no variation or shadow due to change” and join in adoration and praise of the Eternal Self-existent One—The God who Is!
With Prayer, Mark © July, 2011 Scripture quoted: ESV – Emphasis added
Verses for your meditation: God Is Unchanging or Immutable
Numbers 23:18-19, And Balaam took up his discourse and said, “Rise, Balak, and hear; give ear to me, O son of Zippor: God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Psalm 102:25-27, Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.
Psalm 110:4, The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Malachi 3:1-6, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
Titus 1:1-3, Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.
Hebrews 7:20-25, And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.'” This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
James 1:17, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Jas 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.