Summary: This series explores the person of God and seeks to know him better. In this introduction we study the immutability of God, his unchanging nature.
GOD: NO CHANGE, KNOW HOPE
Marriage counselors teach us that there are two words that couples should never use: “always” and “never.” These two words have such absolute meaning no one could ever possibly be one or the other.
A husband could say that his wife is always nagging him to fix things around the house. While his feelings are valid it is hardly the reality. He says, “Good morning, honey,” as he rolls over to greet his wife, and she responds, “Did you fix the toilet yet?” Is that true? Probably not. But all he hears are the commands. She always nags him.
A wife might say that for all the meals she has prepared, all the laundry she has folded, and keeping the house clean to boot, he never says “thank you.” He probably thinks that if he doesn’t complain about the fact that she doesn’t cook like his mother that is thanks enough.
Is she always nagging? Is he never thankful? Knowing human nature we can certainly say that no one is that consistent. We cannot apply “always” and “never” to human beings. It isn’t fair and it isn’t possible.
What is possible is that a person can change. A seminary professor once said about a theological stand, “Ask me my opinion today and I will tell you. Ask again in ten years and it will probably change.” We are not that static in our convictions.
Our behavior can be modified. Our beliefs may morph over time. Our personalities will develop. Human life is about change. That is why “always” and “never” don’t fit us.
“Always” and “never” do fit God however. God never changes. God is always the same. You can count on this to be true: God is immutable. That means that God cannot and does not change in his basic character. God is always wise, always loving, always faithful, always just, and always holy. Whatever God is, He always is. He always is what he is. And in this we find incredible hope.
In learning to know God this is a characteristic we need to become more familiar with. To do that we will study our main passage this morning, Hebrews 6:13-20, and share in the knowledge of our unchanging God.
1. God’s Promises Never Change
For an example of the unchanging nature of God, the writer of Hebrews points us to the story of Abraham. “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (13-15).
Now what was the promise and what was it based upon?
The promise that God made to Abraham was to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore (Gen. 22:16-17). Abraham is the epitome of a faithful person in both the OT and the NT. It says of him in Romans that “Against all hope, in hope Abraham believed…” (Rom 4:18).
There was just one problem: he had no son. His original name “Abram” meant “exalted father.” So when he introduced himself he would say, “Hi, I’m Abram (exalted father)” to which the other person would reply, “Oh, how many children do you have?” “None,” was the answer. And Abram was 75 at the time, so consider the odds.
When Abram was 99 God changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude.” Now this is 24 years later and Abraham still had no son. Eventually Isaac, one son, would be born to Abraham through whom this promise would be fulfilled. And though Abraham did not see this promise in its entire fulfillment, God proved faithful. Physically there are countless Jews and Muslims who call Abraham father. Spiritually, those who believe in God like Abraham, there are many more who call him father.
What do we learn from God’s promise to Abraham? We learn that no one who trusts in God’s promise will ever be disappointed. Our frustration is based on our impatience. We pray and expect immediate answers. We hope and expect that the next day all will be made right. What we don’t see is that God delays the visible answers and responds in his own timing. We may not see the answer to our prayers in our lifetime, but if God has promised something he will do it.
This is based on the unchanging nature of his person. To trust in God’s unchanging promises is to trust in the God who does not change himself. The Psalmist said, “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end” (Ps 102:25-27).