First Mennonite Church
October 26, 2014
Texts: Exodus 32: 1-4; James 1:17
The Attributes of God: His Immutability
Something that changes so very faster is technology. But not only technology changes; people change too. Oh, how we change! People change not only in their physical features, looks, but also spiritually, intellectually, and in their worldview. We will take a direct look on human change when we consider God’s regenerative power next Sunday.
Today I want us to consider the attribute of God of his being immutable. God does not change! In Malachi chapter 3, verse 6, reads: “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” God’s immutability is another characteristic that set Him apart from all creation. God remains the same in essence for perpetuity; nothing changes in his nature. There is no fluctuation in the character of God. There had never been a time when He had not been God, nor will ever there be a time when He will cease to be God! God never developed or evolved into being God. He has not improved at being God over the course of time nor will His divinity ever diminish. God will ever remain perfect in all his ways!
God is immutable in his character. His holiness and glory never fade nor can be soiled or defiled. His trustworthiness can be relied on. He is the Rock, says Exodus 32, verse 4. A mild example of God’s steadfastness is like that rock cropping out the surface of a fluctuating sea. The rock remains unmovable amid the rushing waves of the sea and so does God; although the world rumbles and tumbles, God remains the same. He is steady, unmovable, and reliable. God’s word is forever true and trustworthy as the psalmist exclaims:
Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations (Psalm 119:89-90a).
God’s love and mercy never decrease nor increase. God’s love is not affected by our rejection or indifference to it. He loves us with eternal love. His love for the world is not diminished even if the world turns its back on Him. But God’s justice and righteousness are also steadfast and eternal, because he is a God of justice (Psalm 50:6). He will hold accountable each and every person, even those who openly deny his existence will one day have to come face to face with God. And unfortunately for them, God will not change in his righteousness and justice to accommodate to the excuses of their ignorance. Numbers chapter 23, verse 19 states it very plainly:
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 fulfill?
God is steadfast in all his decrees. God has no need to revise his plan as the psalmist exclaims: the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations (Psalm 33:11).
The immutability of God is quite a contrast to our finitude. We are like the fading morning mist that vanishes when the sun takes on its course (James 4:14). Even the strongest and most robust cannot escape the passing of time. Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. (Psalm 90:10). We irreversibly mutate from the day we were born to the day we breathe our last. But our fluctuation and mutation is not limited to our decaying physicality, but we are also like “wandering stars” as Jude says (13). We lose our proper orbit and wander away even when our desire is to remain solid in the love and righteousness of God in Christ. Suddenly we awake from our slumber and realize how far we have drifted away and are need to turn back to God. Our instability is not only towards God but also towards our fellow men. How many times haven’t we had to back track on what we said? How many times have not we had to revise our plans? How many times have we not have to ask for forgiveness? It is no wonder why the psalmist said: “Put not your trust in princes, in the son of man, in whom is no help” (Ps. 146:3). Humans cannot be depended on as we do on God. Like the people in Jerusalem, at one moment we give God our Hosannas and in the following we chant, “Away with Him; crucify Him!”
In a moment of solemn fellowship we offer God our whole heart but in the next we forget and pledge our heart to our self.
It is so clear to see the unbridgeable chasm between God’s immutability and our pitiful fluctuant and mutable nature. We have nothing to sustain us or to keep us steady other than the power and mercy of God. That is why we should be ready to join with the psalmist who cried:
Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard;
He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping (Psalm 66:8, 9).
The realization of who and how we are before the steadfast and unchanging God should help us understand what Paul meant when he wrote: ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28a). We are who we are not because we are strong and good enough to love God. We are who we are because the God who called us through Christ is powerful and faithful. In Christ He has promised never to abandon us or to forsake us.
Every morning when I come to the office and bow down on my knees in prayer, I cannot help but to praise God that He has not changed. I am moved to worship God when I remember that His call is eternal. His mercies are new each morning. His love endures forever. His compassion they fail not. His righteousness is for all generation. And I rejoice in Christ my Lord. I then can stand up on my feet and face the day ahead. Not because I am good enough. Not because I am worthy of God’s love. Not because I am more special than anyone else, although that is how everyone feels before God, but because God pours his love in my heart through his Spirit! It is so wonderful to have a relationship with a God that remains the same forever. It is a marvelous assurance to know that God’s love; His will for me and His calling will never change.
There is great comfort to know that our God never changes. It should encourage us to pray. Our God is not like a chameleon that changes color every moment. He never changes his mind. And he wants us to know that He has good plans for you and me, plans to do good and not to harm (Jeremiah 29:11). If we only come to God in humble prayer, He will make us know his good plans for our lives. If we only plead with God we would be filled with joy and comfort unknown. If we only rely on God each moment for everything in life, we would learn that God is trustworthy. So let us seek this immutable God and He will make of our lives a permanent altar where His presence abides.
On the other hand, God’s immutability should be cause of fear to everyone who rejects his love. To all those who take it lightly to do evil, to all those who fill the land with violence and to those who test God’s patience, the prophet Ezekiel has harsh words from God to them. “I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them” (Ezekiel 8: 17, 18). Or as Jesus said, He will say to them. ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ (Luke 13:27)
These words of judgment might sound extreme and unnecessary to some, but just as God is a loving and merciful God, His justice and righteousness are part of His immutability. That is why can be trusted in everything He says in his Word.
Let me close with the promise of God to us his people:
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you (Isa. 54:10). Amen!