Ramifications of God’s Immutability

In our last post we mentioned the Biblical truth of Malachi 3:6 that states that God does not change, looking at it specifically in relation to His characteristic of faithfulness.  Since God does not change, then if He has been faithful in the past, then He will be faithful in the future.  This week I want to look generally at the truth of Malachi 3:6 that God does not change.  When we speak of God’s immutability, we are speaking of the truth that He does not change.  In His nature as God and in His character, God never changes.  Malachi 3:6 teaches this when it says, “For I am the Lord, I change not; Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  We’ll come back to the end of the verse in a minute, but in the beginning of the verse, God unequivocally declares that He does not change.  We see this truth repeated throughout the Bible.  Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”  From everlasting to everlasting, the Lord is God.  Going back into eternity past and going forward into eternity future, the Lord is God.  In terms of geometry, a line continues to infinity while a line segment has a fixed starting point and a fixed ending point.  A line is designated with a straight line that has an arrow on each end, indicating that the line keeps going in both directions, even though we only see the part of the line that is actually on the page.  Technically a line has no beginning and no ending.  When we consider who God is, He continues in both directions to infinity.  He was already God in eternity past, and He will be God in eternity future.  He has no beginning and no ending.  In His very nature as God, He has always been the same; He has always been God.  There has never been, nor will there ever be, a time when He was not God.  Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”  Jesus, whom the Bible clearly teaches is God, is always the same.  He’s the same yesterday (in the past), today, and forever (in the future).  Over and over again the Bible teaches that God never changes; He is immutable.

But God’s immutability has practical ramifications in our lives.  The book of Malachi as a whole confronts Israel for their unfaithfulness to God.  Malachi was probably the last book of the Old Testament to be written, in the 400’s B.C.  It’s likely that he was writing around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, because he confronts many of the same problems that they did.  So Malachi was written centuries after God gave the Old Testament law at Mount Sinai to the nation of Israel.  But even before God gave the law at Mount Sinai, God had given great promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God had promised to bless their family and make them a great nation.  God had promised to bless all the nations of the world through them, a promise that was fulfilled by sending Jesus through the line of Abraham (Gal 3:8-9).  God is a faithful and truthful God.  So when He promises something, He will fulfill His promise.  Again, Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the Lord, I change not; Therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  We return now to the end of this verse, where it states an application of God’s immutability.  Precisely because the Lord does not change, the Israelites are not consumed.  The clear implication is that if the Lord changed, then they would be consumed.  If the Lord’s character changed, if He went back on His word and broke His promise, then Israel would have been destroyed for their unfaithfulness long ago.  In other words, the reason that Israel endured as a nation and that the promised blessing (Christ) was sent was not because of their great faithfulness to God.  They did not earn God’s favor through their faithfulness.  In fact, throughout the centuries of the Old Testament, they had been very unfaithful.  But despite the vacillation of Israel between worship of the true Lord and other idols, God had not destroyed them and broken His promises.  He was faithful to His promise because He is faithful, and that does not change.  When God makes a promise, He will fulfill what He said.

But we may think, “But God did punish other nations.  After He gave the nations of Canaan mercy for several centuries while Israel was in Egypt, but He did still command for them to be punished for their sin in the book of Joshua.”  But the difference is that God did not promise those other nations the same endurance and other blessings that He promised to Israel.  He did warn them that He would punish them if they did not turn to Him, and faithful to His Word, He did punish them.  But for Israel, He had also given these promises of blessing and endurance.  He promised that their nation would endure.  Not every individual in the history of the nation would enjoy every specific blessing, but the nation as a whole would endure, and it would receive the promised blessing.  Because God is unchanging, He will do what He promised.  When He promised certain things to Israel as a nation, He would fulfill His promises to them as a nation.  When He promises that sin deserves judgment, then He will fulfill that promise.  When he promises that Christ will pay the punishment for our sin if we only believe in Him, then He will fulfill His promise (2 Cor 5:21).  We can trust what God said because God does not change.  People break promises.  People change what they want.  People change what they expect from us.  People let us down.  But God does not change.  God’s promises endure and His Word does not change, because God Himself does not change.  “For I am the Lord, I change not . . .”

–Pastor Tim

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