Chapter 7 of Knowing God draws our attention to the unchanging nature of God— his immutability. [A copy of this chapter can be downloaded by scrolling down to the previous post.] God’s unchanging nature is affirmed by his self-disclosure to Moses, both in Exodus 3 and then reaffirmed in Exodus 34. God’s life, his character, his word and truth, his ways, and his purposes are eternally perfect and fixed.
So, for example, we read of this encounter at the burning bush:
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation. (Exodus 3:13-15)
That Hebrew phrase ‘I am who I am’ (literally, ‘Yahweh’), could also be translated in the future tense, ‘I will be who I will be’. God’s saving actions, promised in the rest of the chapter, will demonstrate his character — he will be shown to be the God who saves: ‘He will be who he will be’. But even before his saving actions on behalf of Israel, God’s character and name are fixed, as they have been for eternity: ‘I am who I am’.
God also reveals his unchanging nature in his declaration of his Name in the hearing of Moses in Exodus 34:
Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD (i.e., “Yahweh”). And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Exodus 34:4-7)
The phrase ‘love and faithfulness’, underlined above, translates the Hebrew word hesed. Careful studies of this word demonstrate that it connotes long-term, reliable loyalty of one member of a covenant relationship to another. It is an expression of God’s unchanging commitment to love his people. That this love is maintained to ‘thousands’ means that God will continue his covenant blessings to his people indefinitely—to ‘thousands of generations’, not merely ‘thousands of people’— so long as they do not break his covenant and thereby force him to unleash its sanctions. So God’s hesed love and faithfulness is another expression of his unchanging nature.
Our reflection today on God’s immutability, as revealed to Moses, encourages us with the truth that God does not change; from Old Testament to New Testament, from Bible-times to present times, and forevermore. He is eternally self-existent and independent, reliable and trustworthy.
How might you respond today to God’s immutability?