6 “…I the Lord do not change…” – Micah 3:6 ESV
14 God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,
my name to remember for all generations.
16 “Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me.” – Exodus 3:14-16 NLT
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8 ESV
Our God is unchanging. He is consistently constant and constantly consistent in every way. He does not grow older. He cannot increase in intelligence. There is never a time when He is weak or tired. According to the psalmist, “he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps” (Psalm 121:4 NLT).
This is all tied to His eternality, a one-of-a-kind attribute that He alone possesses. His eternality declares that He has always existed and is uncreated. Which means there He has no beginning or end. God has no birth date and, contrary to the opinion of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, God has no death date. James refers to Him as “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17 NLT).
When God spoke to Moses from the midst of the burning bush, He identified Himself as “I am who I am.” That sounds like an odd way for anyone to introduce Himself, let alone God. But in Hebrew, the statement is ehyeh asher ehyeh and it has a rich and expansive meaning. The word ehyeh is the verb to be, but it appears in this verse in the first person common singular. If God has simply answered Moses by saying, “I am God,” that would have been perfectly normal and acceptable. But He said, “I am who I am.” He repeated the same word twice, declaring His self-sufficiency, self-existence, and immediate presence. God was letting Moses know that he was talking to the eternally constant God, the ever-present and unchangeable creator of the universe.
In the book of Revelation, God refers to Himself as “the Alpha and the Omega…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8 ESV). Later on in the same book, Jesus declares Himself to be “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13 ESV). Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, respectively. They start and finish it. Just as God is the start and finish of all things. But unlike the Greek alphabet, God is without beginning and without end.
When we speak of God’s unchanging nature, we are dealing with what theologians call His immutability. That’s a high-sounding word that simply means that God is changeless and unchangeable. In other words, He does not change Himself and He cannot be changed by others. He is impervious to change. The very idea of change suggests either improvement or diminishment. For something to change, it must get better or become worse. It must move from one state to another. And to do so requires time. But God exists outside of time. Again, the psalmist points out God’s timelessness which makes possible His changelessness.
Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!
Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from beginning to end, you are God. – Psalm 90:1-2 NLT
A. W. Pink expresses God changelessness this way:
God is immutable in His essence. His nature and being are infinite, and so, subject to no mutations. There never was a time when He was not; there never will come a time when He shall cease to be. God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved. All that He is today, He has ever been, and ever will be. – A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God
God can’t change for the better, because to do so would mean He was somehow insufficient or imperfect to begin with. God has no deficiencies or defects. He has no lacks in His personality or weaknesses in His attributes that need improvement. A. W. Pink puts it this way: “His power is unabated, His wisdom undiminished, His holiness unsullied.”
This particular attribute of God is difficult for us to understand because we are creatures who exist within and are governed by time. We are born and then we begin the process of growth. We grow up. We gradually become stronger. But our strength is often accompanied by weakness. Eventually, we may find ourselves growing smarter. But our intelligence is never perfect or complete. We will even experience the frustration of forgetting what we once knew. And in time, we will grow old and experience the ultimate and unavoidable change called death.
So, it is almost impossible for us to comprehend the immutability of God. And it doesn’t help that when we read the Scriptures, they seem to portray a God who exhibits all kinds of changing characteristics. When we read the Old Testament, we seem to find a God who is harsh, unforgiving, and legalistic in His relationship with mankind. But the God of the New Testament appears more living, gentle, and kind. But the doctrine of God’s immutability reminds us that our God is the same yesterday and today and forever. What the Bible reveals to us is our unchanging God relating to humanity at various times throughout history. It is the circumstances that are changing, not God. More often than not, it is the particular people group with whom God is interacting and the cultural context within which they lived that is creating the sense of mutability or change in God.
But He is and always has been the same. He has always been loving, righteous, just, holy, set apart, and transcendent. He has always hated sin. He has always shown grace. He has always extended mercy. But He has also been consistent in His hatred of pride, His punishment of the wicked, His desire for mankind’s redemption, and His plan to bring it about through the death of His Son on the cross.
God’s immutability should bring us comfort. What A. W. Pink refers to as “solid comfort.”
Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If He varied as we do; if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow; if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But, all praise to His glorious name, He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed; His will is stable; His word is sure. Here then is a Rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent is sweeping away everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises… – A. W. Pink, The Attributes of God
In a world where inconsistency, unreliability, and constant change are the new normal, it is comforting to know that we worship a God who is consistently constant and constantly consistent. He is totally reliable because He is completely unchangeable. His love never fades. His plans never fail. His power never diminishes. His patience never runs out. His promises never disappoint. And according to the prophet Isaiah, “His government and its peace will never end.” This comforting fact will be made possible through the eventual return of His Son to earth, when “He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
(Isaiah 9:7 NLT).
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.