God Does Not Change

Jonathan Griffiths
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When we lived in the UK we always enjoyed visiting places that seemed immune to change—rural villages, castles, and countryside—where things have been more or less the same for as long as anyone can remember. Despite the variations of the years, the places that we visited had not changed much in a long time. I think everyone, to some degree, loves those fixed points in life. They are comforting to us because we live in a rapidly changing world. We ourselves are constantly changing and developing even though, not to be too morbid about it, we are actually constantly declining as we move through each day.

The psalmist spoke of this experience in Psalm 102, “For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace” (v. 3). And again later on, “My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass” (v. 11). It was the psalmist’s reality, and it is still ours. Even the world itself deteriorates. The psalmist cut to the heart of the issue: “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.” He went on, “They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away” (vv. 25–26). We are changing and declining; our world is changing and will not last. But the psalmist proclaimed the glorious truth that God does not change, “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations,” and against the background of our world’s perishing, “but you are the same, and your years have no end” (Ps. 102:12, 27).

The Scriptures could not be clearer. The Lord is the unchanging One. All else will change and decay and much will disappear, but the eternal God does not change. The nineteenth-century hymn writer Walter Chalmers Smith captured this sentiment so well, “We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, and wither and perish but nought changeth thee.”[1] The Bible affirms this truth again and again, “I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Mal. 3:6); “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17); “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). In fact, the name by which God introduced Himself to Moses, the name “I Am,” carries with it the truth that God does not change. He is the One who was and is and is to come—always the same—simply the “I Am.” The unchangeability (or “immutability”) of God is a wonderful Bible truth. That God does not change is basic orthodoxy that Christians have understood and affirmed throughout church history.

[1] Walter Chalmers Smith, “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise,” Hymnary.org, 1867, https://hymnary.org/text/immortal_invisible_god_ only_wise.

For Further Reading:

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