Theme: The God Who Changes Not
In this week’s lessons we learn that although at times it can seem as if there is a gap between God’s promises and reality, God is unchanging in his faithfulness.
Scripture: Psalm 89:38-52
I cannot end this treatment of God’s faithfulness and the way in which God seemed to have broken his covenant by allowing the throne of David to be overthrown without calling attention to Paul’s handling of the same problem in Romans 9-11. Paul’s concern is not identical; he knew that the kingdom of David has been established forever in the reign of Jesus Christ. He is concerned with salvation of Israel instead. Nevertheless, the covenant is the matter in question, and he introduces it explicitly when he combines the coming of Jesus with the Jews’ salvation, quoting from Isaiah: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins” (Rom. 11:26, 27; from Isaiah 59:20, 21; 27:9). Paul’s argument in Romans is that in time “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26), precisely because God made a covenant with them and God is faithful to his promises.
We also are party to a covenant, if we have believed on Jesus Christ. The Jews are to be brought to faith in the last days. But we stand in a like covenant today, and the attributes of God that formed the earlier covenant are for our encouragement. When we talk about God’s irrevocable covenant we are speaking about God’s immutability. Immutability means that God does not change, and because he does not change he can be counted on. In what ways does God not change? In his popular book, Knowing God, English theologian J. I. Packer lists six areas, three of which we will take up today.1
1. God’s life does not change. Created things have a beginning and an end, but God does not. God does not grow old or mature or weaken or grow stronger. God cannot change for the better, because he is already perfect, and he certainly cannot change for the worse.
2. God’s character does not change. One of the most repeated passages in the Bible is Exodus 34:6, 7, in which God reveals himself to Moses, saying, “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; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”
That is what God was like in the days of the Jewish Exodus, and that is what he is like today. Sickness, old age or adverse circumstances can destroy our good traits, but nothing like this ever happens to God. He can be counted on to be as kind, gracious, forgiving and holy as he always was.
3. God’s truth does not change. This means that the truths of the Bible do not change. What we read in the pages of Holy Scripture is as right and true today as ever.
1J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973), pp. 68-72.
Compare and contrast David’s situation in Psalm 89 with Paul’s concern in Romans 9-11.
What does immutability mean? What does it teach us about God and his dealings with us?
What can be learned from studying this psalm and other passages about the covenant?
Review the first three areas in which God does not change. How does each one address and challenge ideas popular in contemporary secular culture concerning things such as origins, behavior, and truth?
Application: Pray for opportunities to share with others how God does not change, and what that means for those who need to repent of their sin and trust in Christ.
Key Point: He can be counted on to be as kind, gracious, forgiving and holy as he always was.
For Further Study: To learn more about the covenant God who always keeps his promises, download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “God of the Covenant.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)