As we live in a COVID19 world it has felt like everything is changing and sometimes on a daily basis. All of us are experiencing change at a range of levels. Perhaps this is in terms of our work, our children, our way of relating to others or our leisure / freedom to go about our lives. One way or other we are moving towards what will be a new normal – things will probably never be the same again!
There is very little, that we could describe as being unchanging or constant. Even the seemingly immovable things in our world like mountains, seas, stars and planets are actually changing slowly over time! The Bible claims that there is one thing that hasn’t, doesn’t and will not change: God Himself. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that “God is a spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.” The classic verse on this are Hebrews 13:8 which says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Other verses on this theme are James 1:17 and Psalm 55:19:
“God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.”
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”Psalm 55:19 & James 1:17
David in Psalm 55 affirms that God is enthroned from of old and does not change. He had been declaring his trust in the God who had saved him time and time again from his enemies. These enemies opposed him but God, who David says is unchanging, will humble them. Then in James 1:17, I love the contrast between the Father of the heavenly lights and these so called shifting shadows. I love watching sunset and seeing how shadows move as the sun goes down – they are always moving! James wants us to be clear that God is not like that: He does not change. Even more encouraging is that He sends good and perfect gifts to us. In this blog I want to explore three implications of God’s unchanging nature:
1. God is true to His character
We began with the quote from the Westminster Catechism we started with affirmed God’s wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness as unchangeable. We’ve seen this throughout this series on the character of God. All of God’s attributes are inherent to His character. He does not become more or less loving, just, wise, powerful, sovereign & holy as time goes by. To do would be to go against His character: He is the very source and definition of these things.
The same cannot be said for our perspective of these things. The COVID19 crisis may well generate questions for us along these lines: how we feel about God can change considerably. This might cause us to begin to question whether God really is these things. We must however be so careful that we don’t begin to shape our ideas about God in our own image. Our lack of perspective (and specifically our lack of God’s perspective) means we need to be so careful not to jump to conclusions. God is who He is, regardless of how we feel about Him. We might not understand Him but He does not change. He is still the same God that has revealed Himself to countless generations through the ages.
2. God is trustworthy
If we understand that God is always true to His character, then we begin to see that He is also trustworthy. Two verses make the clear distinction between God’s trustworthiness and our un-trustworthiness:
“He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?”1 Samuel 15:29 & Numbers 23:19
The fact that God is God (and by implication that we are not), should be of huge comfort to us and it allows us to trust Him even when we don’t understand. In the Old Testament Joshua was able to testify that God had fulfilled every one of his promises to Israel (Joshua 21:45, 23:14). Hebrew 11 is also a glorious testimony to God’s fulfilment of His promises. Some didn’t live to see the fulfilment of all of His promises but God still proved Himself trustworthy to those who by faith believed.
In these days of lost jobs, furloughed staff and our economies seemingly headed for recession I am encouraged again by Hebrews 13 which says:
5 Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” 6 So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”Hebrews 13:5-6 (Amplified Bible)
We don’t know how God is going to keep His promises to us all but He says clearly that He will not leave us or forsake us. He will not desert us or let us down. Even if hard times come (and God never promises that they will not), we can be sure that God will be right there with us (Isaiah 43:2). Perhaps you are pretty worried about your job and/or money right now but these verses offer us words of great encouragement.
3. God is Eternal
This blog has gone on long enough but I wanted to briefly end with a quote from John 17:3 which records Jesus’ High Priestly prayer. In it Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God.
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”John 17:3
Eternity will be characterised by a relationship with the one true God. We have eternity to explore His unchanging character. Here and now we can trust that God is unchanging, that He is trustworthy and that He will act in line with His revelation of Himself. Be encouraged, God is still God, He is still on His throne and that is very, very good news for us all!
Other Posts in this series