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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Word of the Month- Attributes of God: Unchanging

 

Attribute n. - a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.

[See the rest of this series.]

Table Mountain, South Africa

Malachi 3:6  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

We live in a world that is constantly changing.  People change.  Life changes.  Nations change.  Churches change.  Many of the changes we see are discouraging, sad, or frustrating.  It can become overwhelming at times.  It seems like this would be a good month to think about how God does not change!

There is a human philosophy that “change is good” and therefore we should always embrace it.  This, however, is not consistent with scripture.

Change Can Be Bad

Proverbs 24:21-22  My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:  For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?

Being given to change and constantly craving change is a form of discontent.  People who are always needing change to feel satisfied with their lives have a hard time being still and knowing God.  If they don’t get the change they crave, they will make it happen themselves, even to the point of making trouble for themselves and others. 

In the context of this verse, though, it appears to me that God is talking about those who are looking for change in their government.  Those who are given to change in their leadership (like voting in a new leader every 4 years?) tend to get themselves in trouble over the long haul.  Those who are constantly looking for some new candidate to “save the country” (America) are doomed to disappointment in this day and age.  We should not be constantly focused on rescuing our nation through some new leader and change.  That is what the present administration promised the U.S. when it came into office, and this change has not been a blessing.  That is what Adolf Hitler offered Germany when he came into power and it didn’t work out well either!  God has good reason to tell us not to meddle with them that are given to change in the area of governments!

Daniel 7:25  And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

This passage is likely speaking of the Anti-christ, the man of sin who will rise up to lead the world in the last days.  It clearly says that he will think he can change times and laws.  “The times, they are a changing”, as the saying goes.  The laws are changing as well.  This could be a trend that will only increase if we are close to the return of Jesus Christ.  It is inevitable, but it is not pleasant for those who follow the unchanging God.  Sometimes laws may change for the better, but the indication of this passage is that the changes are away from God and truth.  We see this in many places today.

Romans 1:22-25  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

We also see a lot of this these days – the changing of the glory of God into the image of man and creatures, and changing the truth of God into a lie.  This covers all the bases; from heathens and the world who deny the glory and truth of God and live for their idols, to the modern church that follows every trend and wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:13-14).  We see God’s truth being adjusted and redefined constantly in Christendom, and then we are surprised when the world wants to redefine it?  Really?

[By the way, this is one reason that my husband and I hold to the King James Bible.  We believe that we should have a translation of scripture that reflects the unchanging God.]

Change Can Be Good

Some change is necessary or unavoidable: change like the cycle of life as loved ones die and new ones are born, the passing of the seasons, the changes of life from aging, etc.  But, some changes are definitely good, even from our limited human view.

Philippians 3:20-21  For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

This is a wonderful change!  To have our vile bodies changed to be like His is truly a change that we can look forward to with joy.  This amazing change is spoken of again in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53,  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

We also should be changing now in our daily walk with Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

This is about growth and being conformed to the image of God’s Son (Rom. 8:29).  While this change is a good and blessed change, it can also be painful and unpleasant as it occurs (Heb. 12:11).

Hebrews 7:12  For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

This is speaking of Jesus Christ and how He was a priest of the order of Melchisedec, not of the tribe of Levi.  That there was a change of the law is to our benefit because it allowed one – Jesus Christ – to become our high priest, and through Him the veil has been rent and we have access to the holiest place (Heb. 10:19-21), something that was not available under the O.T. Law.

God Is Unchanging

In the midst of all the change that goes on around and in us, it is of great comfort to know that God does not change.  He may work with different people differently, He may deal with different situations or groups differently, but He Himself is the same forever.  What is sin before Him today will be tomorrow and 100 years from now and 1000 years from now.  His mercy will be new every morning, which is why we are not consumed by His wrath on sin which also does not change.   

Lamentations 3:21-24  This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

The fact that the Lord does not change should give us good hope.  We can know that as He kept many, many promises yesterday, He will today and forever.

Hebrews 6:17-18  Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:  That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

The counsels and oaths of God are immutable – they can’t change.  In other words, it isn’t just that they won’t change, they actually cannot change.  Because He is also eternal, that means that His promises are also eternal.  He is not going to keep His promises to us today and tomorrow “change His mind” and stop.  He is not a liar – it is impossible for Him to lie. 

James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

With the Lord there is not even a shadow of turning.  I believe this comes from the idea of the sundial.  If you stand and watch a sundial you will, after a little bit, begin to notice that the shadow is moving – turning – on the face of the dial (marking off the minutes).  But, the Father of lights doesn’t change.  The shadow will never move, there will be no varying with Him.

Sadly, I think there are some people who actually resent the fact that God is unchanging, even among those who profess to be Christians.  They would like us to believe that God is thoroughly modern and changes with the times because that gives them license to change as well.  But, according to scripture the Lord would have us reflect His unchangeableness as we follow Him.  1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Psalms 102:24-27  I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:  But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

This earth we live on and all that is in it is destined to pass away, to wax old like some piece of clothing and have to be changed. (So much for “saving the earth”.)  But, God Himself will remain the same.  This is perhaps the most extreme change that can come – to have all this earth and all that we know of life and living perish and be changed is beyond our comprehension as mere humans.  But, the Lord Himself shall endure.  He will not change.  He is the only being or thing in existence that will never change.  Even the heavens shall pass away (2 Peter 3:10), but the Lord will not.  Do you see why our hope must be in God alone and in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ?

Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Psalms 46:1-2  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

When everything else is failing, falling apart and changing, it is the Lord alone whom we can trust to be the same – always and forever. 

This month let’s try to focus on the fact that God is unchanging, even as we hear of the many changes that are happening in our world today.  Let’s take comfort and hope in knowing that there is one place where we will never find change.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

- Thomas Chisholm

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this is a really good one to think about this month! It's not just governments and politics and "churches" that are changing. Our personal lives and health also change a lot (often without our wanting them to) and our children grow up and change, and our neighbourhoods change. And sometimes those changes can be really difficult to come to terms with. It's WONDERFUL to have a God who NEVER, never changes. I am so very thankful for that! :)

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