God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) as a result, we know there’s more to this life than the material, temporal, and trivial, and we know there’s something beyond the here-and-now. But, for most people, their dreams extend no further than their own comforts. No cause grips them, no quest inspires them, and no challenge motivates them. Their life is one prolonged yawn. Consciously or not, they’ve fallen prey to Macbeth’s delusion: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”1William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene V, Lines 19–28.
Looking around, we observe that happiness is the focal point of human existence. “[It] is the desire of all people,” writes Thomas Watson.2Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1–12 (1660; rpt., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1994), 24. No one wants to be unhappy. No one wants to be miserable. If we could travel to any place at any time in human history, we would discover that everyone is driven by the same fundamental desire to be happy. For this reason, parents seek to cultivate it, musicians express it, governments promise it, businesses market it, and commercials sell it. Yet happiness proves elusive because most people don’t know where it’s found. “Millions of men mistake both the nature of blessedness and the way to it.”3Watson, Beatitudes, 25. Why? Simply put, they equate it with outward things. But here’s what eludes them: blessedness isn’t found in changing conditions and circumstances, but in an unchanging God.
The Creator of the universe declares, “I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Here He declares His unchangeableness in two ways.
First, He declares it in His name: “I am the LORD [YHWH].” He is the great “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). This means He’s beyond the created universe, including time and space. He knows nothing of past, present, or future, but dwells in one indivisible point of eternity. Because God has no past or future, He doesn’t experience successive states of being; rather, He “encloses all being within Himself.”4Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 22 vols (London: James Nisbet, 1870–75; rpt., Birmingham: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2008), 2:312. God doesn’t change because change requires a cause that makes something to be; but there’s no cause prior to God. He alone is uncaused, and He alone is the uncaused cause of all things (Romans 11:36).
Second, God declares His unchangeableness in His nature: “I do not change.” Because God is an unchangeable being, He’s incapable of the least alteration. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is eternally what He was and what He will be. He is as He was before the universe was made and as He will be after the universe is remade. He’s “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). The “lights” (sun, moon, and stars) cast shadows as they move in their orbit, but God isn’t like that. There are no processes active within God’s nature that can cause Him to change; moreover, there are no forces outside of God’s nature that can cause Him to change. J. I. Packer declares, “God exists forever; and He is always the same. He does not grow older. His life does not wax or wane. He does not gain new powers, nor lose those He once had. He does not mature or develop. He does not get stronger, or weaker, or wiser, as time goes by.”5J. I. Packer, Knowing God (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1973), 77.
Contemplating an Unchanging God
We would do well to fix our minds upon this unchanging God. Edwards Pearse counsels, “We should dwell much in meditation on this perfection of God. Our language should be: ‘Well, however changeable we are, God is unchangeable. He is forever the same: unchangeable in greatness, goodness, wisdom, power, holiness, faithfulness, fullness, and sufficiency. He is in every way an unchangeable God. What He was, He is; what He is, He will be forever.’ Thus, we should sit down and contemplate this attribute until we find our hearts affected and overawed by it.”6Edward Pearse, A Beam of Divine Glory: The Unchangeableness of God (1674; rpt., Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1998), 83.
We should meditate upon this unchanging God when struggling with trying circumstances:
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not abide with me.7Henry Lyte.
We should meditate upon this unchanging God when struggling with troubling sins:
My love is oft-times low. My joy still ebbs and flows;
But peace with Him remains the same; no change Jehovah knows.
I change, He changes not; the Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting place, His truth, not mine, the tie.8Horatius Bonar.
We should meditate upon this unchanging God when struggling with overwhelming obstacles:
The work which His goodness began, the arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is yea and amen, and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now, nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo, or sever my soul from His love.9Augustus Toplady.
We should meditate upon this unchanging God when struggling with nagging doubts:
Mine by covenant, mine forever; Mine by oath, and mine by blood;
Mine—nor time the bond shall sever; Mine as an unchanging God.
My Redeemer! O how sweet to call Thee mine!10Unknown.
This unchanging God alone is blessedness, and this is what Christ has purchased for us. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). When we come to Him through Christ, this unchanging God becomes ours. His power is ours to protect us; His wisdom is ours to direct us; His mercy is ours to pity us; His grace is ours to pardon us; His love is ours to refresh us; His joy is ours to satisfy us. On top of all this, He becomes “our God forever and ever” (Psalm 48:14). He isn’t our God for a day, week, month, or year, but “forever and ever.” He isn’t our God for a thousand years, but “forever and ever.” He isn’t our God for a million years, but “forever and ever.” Truly we can sing, “Mine as an unchanging God!”