The topic of the immutability of God doesn’t get the same ink as do other attributes that we have discussed thus far. The omniscience and omnipotence of God seem to head the list. But what exactly does it mean that God is immutable? I have to confess that I have probably never used that word in any conversation other than ones that centred around the attributes of God. By definition it means that God does not change. As the writer to Hebrews put it, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” In the book of Malachi we read, Malachi 3:6 (NIV)“I the Lord do not change.”
At the very least it means that God hasn’t been deteriorating, that He isn’t quite as good as He used to be. The main reason that I retired at the end of last year is not because I didn’t enjoy the ministry that I had, rather it was that I simply didn’t have the energy that I used to have. I was finding that it took longer for me to recover than it used to. It takes a lot more for me to prepare a sermon or teach a lesson than it used to. I used to teach Walk Thru the Old Testament which was a six-hour workshop. I was on my feet talking for that entire time. I was tired, but one good night’s sleep and I was ready to go again. It’s different now. After preaching, I don’t just enjoy a nap, I seem to actually need one. We don’t look at God and say, “Boy, was He ever something when He created the universe, when He parted the Red Sea or when He raised Jesus from the dead, but He’s starting to slow down a bit. We shouldn’t bother Him – He needs a bit of a nap.” God hasn’t and never will change. His strength will never diminish.
It also means that He isn’t improving with age. I had mentioned earlier that God has a learning disability because He already knows everything and can never learn – that He can never be taught. He also will never improve because He is perfect and by definition perfection cannot be improved upon.
Also, His attitudes haven’t changed. He is very serious about how He wants us to behave. He is serious that dishonouring parents is a terrible offence and so is murder, lying, stealing, and breaking marriage vows. God doesn’t look at prevailing social norms and say, “I really need to change what I am asking My people to do.” Micah summarized God’s expectations of us in Micah 6:8 (NIV) “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Put another way, we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and our neighbours as ourselves.
One last thought on the immutability of God – His means of salvation has never changed. According to Galatians the law was never given as a means of salvation, rather it was simply to show how incapable we are of meeting God’s standard of moral perfection, to show how much we are in need of a Saviour. Galatians 2:16 (NIV) “Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”
Some days I am in better humour than others. There are days when it is better than others to ask me for something. God doesn’t have mood swings. I love the way Jonah described God. It was after God accepted the repentance of the Ninevites. Jonah was angry and leveled this charge against the Almighty, Jonah 4:2 (NIV) “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah knew it and as we turn our attention to Jesus, we can to.
It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. That may be true about our world, but it is not true of our God – He truly is the same yesterday, today and forever. Allow that truth to bring you peace and comfort in the midst of our changing world and remember to Keep the Son in Your Eyes.