Our Unchangeable God
The grandson of Rebbe Baruch, Yechiel Michal, was playing hide-and-seek with another boy. He hid himself well and waited for his friend to search for him. After waiting for a long time, he came out of his hiding place, but his friend was nowhere to be seen. It suddenly dawned upon the young Yechiel that his partner had not sought him out at all. The distraught child broke into tears and ran to the study of his grandfather. As the boy complained about his unkind friend, tears began to roll from the eyes of the Rebbe, and he said, "My precious child, today you have learned a lesson of life's sad reality. People change – the one who promised you to be a friend forever, broke his promise and found another friend. He will not be the only one in your life time. But know this my child, God will never change. He will never leave you behind.”
The prophet Malachi delivered the words of God to His people who were plagued with the changes they experienced after they returned from exile in Babylon. It was about in 515 B.C. when they worshipped again at the temple after it was rebuilt. But God's people had many complaints they brought before Malachi. In chapter 1: 2 we read the words of the Lord, “I have loved you,” says the Lord. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’” You see, they remembered the promise God made to their forefathers – He would be forever their God; He was going to deliver them from every hardship. But then, they ended up in exile. “How could God have done such a thing?”, they asked themselves. But then the prophet brought them the truth – they were the ones that changed. We read in the first chapters of Malachi about their honour for God that was very slack and about the lame sacrifices they brought to the altar. You know my friends, this prophesy is so relevant in our day and age. Because the commitment of many Christians in our world is shocking. The living sacrifices they are supposed to offer to God are half-hearted. A man once told me, “I don't need to go to church that often. I pray only when I feel the need. I know that I believe in God and that's enough for me.” No, God wants our entire lives and He wants our undivided commitment. He will never be satisfied with anything less.
In Malachi 3: 6 we read something that will always separate God from us – “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” It's like God says, “I'm not like the people of the world that change. Therefore my people will not be destroyed.” What proof do we have about Our Unchangeable God? First 1 His Nature Has Not Changed. He is infinite; He is almighty; He is all powerful. He hasn't changed and will never change. The mountains with their snow-white crowns will with time be worn away. Rain will beat upon them. Rivers will flow down their sides and wind corrosion will leave its marks. Perhaps we won't see it in our life time, but over hundreds and thousands of years changes will come. And now meditate with me on the nature of God. It can be millions of years that come and go, but God will always be the same. We change. As children we grow, not just physically, but emotionally and socially as well. It seems that our bodies are constantly in transition. And as we get older we tend to forget some things. Yet, God does never change. He never went through the stages of life like we did. He wasn't first a baby and then a toddler and later a child that developed. He never had to wait before He could reach adulthood and then to become of advanced age before death. Yes, some would argue that Jesus went through all those stages, but we should always remember the reality – God in Jesus Christ chose to become flesh. He didn't need that, because He existed already before the creation of the world. How can we ever fathom the fact that God was in existence long before the creation of the world and He will be in existence long after the world has perished? We can't ever fathom that my friends, but in child-like faith we can accept the fact that He is far above everything else that was created. He never had a beginning and He will never have an end. He is above seasons and centuries. He will always be the “I am Who I am” as He made Himself known to Moses at the burning bush. He will always be the One Who Isaiah described in his 40th chapter verse 28, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.”
This past Monday I attended a meeting of the PCC Covenant. It was a meeting where people reflected on the decisions at the General Assembly that caused some to leave our denomination. One of the speakers, a pastor from the Caribbean Presbyterian congregations commented, “The reality that gives me wonderful peace is that no one ever will be able to change God.” Can there be a greater truth and a greater peace my friends? With everything changing – our God is never going to change. And He will always keep our lives secure.
There is a second proof we want to meditate on about Our Unchangeable God – 2 His Character Has Not Changed. Whatever God’s character was from before time, it still is today. There is a little phrase we hear in some churches: “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.” There are so many things the bible tells us about our God's character. His righteousness is firmer than the foundations of the world He laid. That's why He will never tolerate sin.
In verse 5 Malachi expressed this truth – “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud labourers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.” You know there are those who think that sin isn't something they should take seriously. To them it's just a way of others to make them feel guilty. A man who had a conversation with a Christian colleague at work about his sinful ways, lashed out: “Don't you come to me with your church rules of what I'm not allowed to do.” The Christian man responded, “These rules aren't the church's rules; they are God's principles, for He will never tolerate sin.”
When we meditate on God's character we have to think of His wisdom. In wisdom He has made everything that we see. How can we ever explain how wonderful God has made everything? The beautiful flowers and small creatures of the field; there are all the species of birds. In Psalm 139 David exclaimed, “I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made...” But then, the wisdom of God is far more than just how He brought everything into being. We read in James 3: 17 that His wisdom goes from an understanding to appreciate the gift of life to the grace that we have received when we were transformed into the likeness of Jesus. It also helps us to find the right understanding to reason about what we believe. James says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
My friends, as you pause in this moment and think of the world you live, where do you place yourself? Do you feel like you have a place? There is only one place we can be safe and at peace. That is the shelter of Our Unchangeable God. The Psalmist tells us – “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Whom I trust.” We can be at peace.
Rev. Willem H. van de Wall