IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: I AM THE LORD, I CHANGE NOT
COMPILED EDITED BY:-
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM.
I am the Lord; I change not.
Times change. People Change. Churches Change, but God never changes! We can take great comfort in that.
The attribute of God which describes Him as changeless is called His immutability. He does not change in His essential being. He does not change in His attributes. He does not change in the principles by which He operates.
The psalmist contrasted the changing destiny of the heavens and earth with God’s changelessness: They shall be changed, but thou art the same (Psa. 102:26, 27). James describes the Lord as the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (Jas. 1:17).
There are other Scriptures that remind us that God does not repent. God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent (Num. 23:19). The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent (1 Sam. 15:29).
The stability which the anchor gives the ship when it has at last obtained a hold-fast, is like that which the Christian’s hope affords him when it fixes itself upon this glorious truth. With God “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” What ever His attributes were of old, they are now; His power, His wisdom, His justice, His truth, are alike unchanged. He has ever been the refuge of His people, their stronghold in the day of trouble, and He is their sure Helper still. He is unchanged in His love. He has loved His people with “an everlasting love”; He loves them now as much as ever He did, and when all earthly things shall have melted in the last conflagration, His love will still wear the dew of its youth.
But God is perpetually the same. He is not composed of any substance or material, but is spirit—pure, essential, and etherial spirit—and therefore he is immutable. He remains everlastingly the same.
The objects of God’s everlasting love never change. Those whom God hath called, he will justify; whom he has justified, he will sanctify; and whom he sanctifies, he will glorify.
I am thankful though that in our world of constant change there are some things that never change. Malachi 3:6. “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore, ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” God was referring to His own qualities of patience, long-suffering, and mercy when He said, “I am the Lord, I change not…”
The word LORD in our text is the Hebrew word Jehovah, which Jehovah means that He is the eternal, self-existent, self-sufficient God who created and sustains it all. He never had a beginning and will never have an ending. God has always been, always is and will always be. If you understand all that then you can explain it to me sometime! God is more awesome than I will ever understand and infinitely more complex than I can ever hope to explore. He transcends all time, all space, all knowledge, and every other dimension you can come up with.
Change is one of the most threatening things many of us face in life, and yet we encounter it every day. The universe itself is changing. Scientists tell us that all observed systems are continually changing from order to disorder, and that every transformation of energy is accompanied by a loss in the availability of energy for future use. In other words, our universe is running down.
Besides that, the world we live in is changing. Highly sophisticated technical developments have radically altered our lifestyle, and now they threaten our very existence. Ideological developments have changed the balance of world power and threaten our freedom as a nation. Governments are toppled and new ones established overnight, and sometimes it seems as though revolutions are as common as eating and sleeping. Every day the news reports focus on some new changes occurring in our world.
People change. One day we may be in a good mood, the next day in an ugly mood. And it is disconcerting if we never know what to expect from our wives, our husbands, our parents, or our bosses. Nice people sometimes get irritable and touchy. Fortunately, grouchy people sometimes get nicer. But we all change. That is the nature of creaturehood, and that is the nature of life. We find it unpleasant and intimidating at times. We would rather keep things the way they always were because the old and the familiar are more secure and comfortable, like an old shoe. But shoes wear out and need to be replaced, as does most everything else in life. So we struggle to adjust to change.
We grow and we strive to better ourselves, and that is change. Sometimes our sense of well-being collapses around us; we lose our health, our loved ones, our money, or our material possessions, and that is change. Our bodies begin to wear out; we can no longer do the things we used to do, and that is change. It is all unsettling and unnerving, but it is inevitable. What can we do about it? Is there anything unchanging that we can hold on to in a world where everything is so tenuous and transitory?
The Revelation of God’s Immutability
An unnamed psalmist asked that question in a moment of great trial. The inspired title of Psalm 102 says, “A Prayer of the Afflicted, when he is faint, and pours out his complaint before the LORD.” This man is in trouble. He is facing some devastating changes in his life. Listen to his lament.
Do not hide Thy face from me in the day of my distress; Incline Thine ear to me; In the day when I call answer me quickly. For my days have been consumed in smoke, And my bones have been scorched like a hearth. My heart has been smitten like grass and withered away, Indeed, I forget to eat my bread. Because of the loudness of my groaning My bones cling to my flesh (verses 2-5).
My enemies have reproached me all day long; Those who deride me have used my name as a curse (verse 8).
My days are like a lengthened shadow; And I wither away like grass (verse 11).
Is there some kind of life preserver a person can hang on to when, like this psalmist, he feels as though he is about to go under? Is there something solid, stable, and unchanging? There is, and he is going to tell us about it.
But Thou, O LORD, dost abide forever; And Thy name to all generations (verse 12).
There is a God who will never cease to exist. But He is more than eternal. He is absolutely unchanging.
Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end (verses 25-27).
This is one of the first great Biblical statements of God’s immutability. Simply stated, that means God is unchangeable. He is neither capable of nor susceptible to change. And that makes sense. Any change would probably be for the better or for the worse. God cannot change for the better because He is already perfect. And He cannot change for the worse, for then He would be imperfect and would therefore no longer be God. Created things change; they run down or wear out. It is part of their constitutional nature. But God has no beginning or end. Therefore He cannot change.
People sometimes think He changes, especially when they experience trying circumstances. The people of Israel felt that way. Their prophets warned them that God would chasten them for their rebelliousness and sin, and they assumed that such discipline would indicate that He was changing, that He was getting more harsh and less fair. For example, Malachi predicted that Messiah would come suddenly like a refiner’s fire and a purifier of silver and judge the sinners among them (Malachi 3:15). The people were probably wondering when God began to develop such a concern about their sin. Malachi reminded them that He always has been concerned. That is His nature. He is unchangeably holy and righteous and just. God Himself declared, “For I, the LORD, do not change” (verse 6).
God’s immutability not only brought Israel discipline. It also guaranteed her continued national existence. After establishing His immutability God goes on to say, “Therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (verse 6). He is unchangeably holy and righteous but He is also unchangeably merciful and faithful. He promised Abraham that his seed would endure forever (Genesis 13:15), and He cannot go back on His Word because He is immutable. The existence of the nation Israel to this day is a testimony to God’s immutability.
We may begin to think God has changed when trials invade our lives. We say to ourselves, “God used to be good to me, but this surely doesn’t seem very good.” The Apostle James had some penetrating observations for a group of persecuted people who were beginning to think like that. Listen to James encourage them: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow” (James 1:16-17).
The “Father of lights” is the God who created the heavenly bodies. They move and turn and cast shadows on the earth and on each other. They are created things, so they change. But the God who made them does not change. There is absolutely no variation with Him, no eclipse of His loving kindness and care. His gifts always turn out to be good, even when, for the present, we cannot figure out how. He will give nothing but what is best. We can count on that. It is the promise of an unchanging God.
If Jesus Christ is God in flesh, then we would expect Him likewise to be unchanging. That truth was revealed to another group of people who were suffering for their faith. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Hebrews 12:7-8). He wanted them to know that the unchanging Saviour who was at work in the lives of the men who taught them the Word of God could do a supernatural work in their lives as well. He is the same Saviour that He always was, and what He has done for others He can do for you.
Some will protest, “But He seems to do more for my Christian friends than He does for me. They seem to be so spiritually stable, and I’m so up and down, so hot and cold. You say God is consistent. I say He’s different in the way He deals with me.” Things may never be any better for us until we believe that He truly is unchangeable, and acknowledge that the problem lies with us rather than with Him. That is why the writer to the Hebrews exhorted us to imitate the faith of our spiritual leaders. As we learn to believe that God is what He claims to be, we shall begin to enjoy the stability and steadiness which His immutability can minister to our lives. Most of us find it easier to be calm and steady in turbulent circumstances when we believe that those around us, particularly those in charge, are calm and steady. Well, God is in charge; He has complete control of every situation, and His hand never gets shaky. Trust Him, and enjoy a consistency and a constancy you may not have known before.
I imagine it is impossible to conceive of a changing God; it is so to me. Others may be capable of such an idea, but I could not entertain it. I could no more think of a changing God, than I could of a round square, or any other absurdity.
May we affirm the Immutability of God as we cling to these words: “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore, ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”—Malachi. 3:6.
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