Our Traditional Understanding
Our basis for this doctrine is Malachi 3:6 which states: “For I am the LORD, I change not;” And our traditional understanding of God’s sovereign immutability is based on history. We look at what God did in the past – how He forgave David and Peter, how He overcame incredible odds for the children of Israel in Egypt and for Daniel, how He was faithful for Job, Joseph, Jeremiah, and John – and we relate this to the present. We believe that if God made a conditional promise and we meet the condition, then we can be assured of the promise. We believe that every truth, Old Testament and New, is still just as true today.
This traditional understanding is by no means wrong. In fact, it is THE bedrock principle of the Christian faith. For, if God could change, none of His promises would mean anything! As Charles H. Spurgeon put it, God does not change in at least six ways: 1) in His essence, 2) in His attributes, 3) in His plans, 4) in His promises, 5) in His threatening, or 6) in the objects of His love. These principles are important. But I have realized this truth is bigger, deeper, and more amazing than this.
A New Perspective
Bible doctrines are much like a globe. When you change your vantage point, the globe obviously does not change, but you see something different. Similarly, as I have grown older – as I have encountered peaks and valleys – I have seen new facets of many biblical gems. Some recent challenges my friends have faced have made me reconsider all that immutability truly means. I have seen a pastor friend lose his father to suicide; I have seen a young lady whose husband served on a church staff deal with the death of that husband in a car accident; and I witnessed a youth pastor friend lose a four-month-old son to heart failure a few days ago.
In talking to these people, in watching the way they relied on God’s grace, in trying my best to be a help and a comfort, I realized something. The God we serve is absolutely and unquestionably the same today as He was before all three of these events. The “new perspective” on God’s immutability that I have seen is more “personal” than “historical.” It is this:
In each of our lives, no matter what happens, the great God we serve deserves our worship because He has not and will not change!
I believe this aspect of God’s sovereign immutability is exemplified in Job 1:21b: “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
He Is Not More Worthy of Praise When Things Go Right
When you have an answer to prayer, when you get that promotion, or when you see God work in a special way in the life of a loved one, you may feel like worshipping Him more than before. This, however, does not mean He is more worthy of your worship. Why? Because if He were “more worthy” afterward, it would mean He was “less worthy” before! As coarse as this might seem, the simple fact that I had something great happen to me has no impact on the greatness, righteousness, or love of God. So I must endeavor to serve Him faithfully because of who He is, not what He gives.
He Is Not Less Worthy of Praise When Things Go Wrong
The opposite is just as true. If you lose your job, God is no less Jehovah-Jireh – the LORD who provides. If your loved one receives devastating news from the doctor, God is no less Jehovah-Rapha – the LORD who heals. If life has you confounded and afraid, God is still Jehovah-Shalom – the LORD our peace. And if your faith waivers or if you fall into sin, God is still Jehovah-Tsidkenu – the LORD our righteousness!
As I stopped to consider the “events” I noted above, and as I attempted to reconcile them with my understanding of God . . . something in my mind changed. But NOTHING about God changed! He is still just as good; He is still just as worthy; He is still just as holy. He is still God!