UNCHANGING

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

Fall bcocOctober is my favorite month of the year, and here’s why.

First, October is one of the best months for sports. It contains the ALCS, NLCS, and World Series. It contains the heart of the college football season with conference competitions and unexpected upsets happening nearly every weekend. It is also a month that hosts NFL games and ushers in the NBA season. So, October is wonderful because it neatly packages all of these sports into one extraordinary month.

But that’s not the only reason I love October. October is also my favorite month because it is packed with festivities. October is the month of pumpkin patches, corn mazes, state fairs, and fall festivals. As a result, October is the month that entices you with unhealthy delicacies, corny games, and unique outdoor activities. There are activities and foods and events that only take place in October, making for one uniquely enjoyable month.

Yet, sports and festivals are not the main reason I love October. October is my favorite month primarily because it is typically the month that ushers in the changing of the seasons with cooler temperatures and color changing leaves. I thoroughly enjoy watching the landscape escape the monotonous display of green and erupt into an artistic canvas of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns. And when leaves change colors I am reminded of one of the most important yet easily overlooked characteristics of God.

You see, when leaves change colors, we are forced to acknowledge that summer has come to an end. When leaves change colors, we are faced with the reality that change is inevitable. When leaves change colors, we are reminded that nothing in this world ever seems to stay the same. And when leaves change colors we should be reminded that God is different because God is immutable.

Immutable means “unchangeable.”[1] So, to say that God is immutable is to say that He does not and will not change. Such an assertion can be made about God because God made such an assertion about Himself. In Malachi 3:6 God Himself said, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (emphasis added). One of the psalmists seconded God’s self-declaration and said that the earth and heavens “will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27; emphasis added). So, although nothing created will ever stay the same, we can be sure that there is One who will stay the same. But what about God does not change?

In 1 Samuel 15:29, the NASB and the NIV quotes Samuel as saying, “the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind.” But Scripture alludes to some occasions when God apparently did change His mind. For example, God seemingly changed His mind about destroying the Israelites and creating a new nation through Moses after the whole golden calf incident at Mount Sinai (Exodus 32:9-14). God seemingly changed His mind about destroying the people of Nineveh after seeing them respond repentantly to his warning of conquest through the prophet Jonah (Jonah 3:1-10). Since there are scriptural events that, at least from the human perspective, seem to indicate that God “changed His mind,” it might be best to consider what 1 Samuel 15:29 is really saying. This statement is set in the context of God’s rejection of Saul as King of Israel. At this point in the story, Saul is hoping that God will change His mind regarding his rejected royal status. It is as though Saul thinks God made a mistake or a rash decision. But Samuel asserts that God made no mistake when He decided to reject Saul. Consider how the ESV translates Samuel’s words in 1Samuel 15:29. It says, “the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret.” Regret speaks not of one reversing a decision but of one acknowledging that he made an incorrect decision. Therefore, it seems that what Samuel was saying is that God’s rejection of Saul is not a decision that He made incorrectly or that He will regret. So to say that God does not change is not necessarily a reference to the fact that He never changes his mind (i.e. reverses a decision), but that God never does anything incorrectly.

If God’s immutability is not a reference to the fact that He never changes His mind, then to what is it a reference? The unchanging nature of God can be found first in His person. Those characteristics that make Him God will never change. He will always be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. He will not stop possessing such qualities as holiness, faithfulness, goodness, love, and mercy. Scripture says that these divine attributes are “everlasting,” which means that they will always persist (Psalm 100:5; 103:17; 111:3; 119:89-90; Isaiah 40:28; Jeremiah 31:3). That’s why James could say, “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” (James 1:17-18; emphasis added). This statement follows James’ contention that 1) “the testing of your faith” is something to celebrate (James 1:2-4) and that 2) “God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). His point is that, although God may test us in order to bring about spiritual maturation, He will never tempt us because that would be contrary to His inherent goodness. James’ argument is based on God’s attributes which lack “variation” or “change.” As a result, we should not hesitate to place our trust in Him who always stays the same.

The unchanging nature of God can also be found in His promises. Scripture repeatedly asserts that God does not, cannot, and will not lie (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:2). In fact, the author of Hebrews said that “It is impossible for God to lie” and referred to this as an “unchangeable” truth (Hebrews 6:18). That means that God will not break a promise that He made to His people such as His promise to provide a way out of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13) or His promise to never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) or His promise to forgive the sins of those who confess their sins (1 John 1:9) or His promise to never stop loving us (Romans 8:38-39). Since Scripture asserts that God’s promises will not change, we should face the future with confidence, knowing that our future is anchored in His promises.

In a world where nothing seems to stay the same, we can find great comfort in the fact that the One who gave us life, the One who provides for our salvation, the One in whom our faith is based is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). To put it simply, change is inevitable but God is eternal. That means that God will never stop being God, and that fact should give us hope.



[1] "immutable". Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 17 Oct. 2017. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/immutable>.

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