God Unchanging

Malachi 3:6, “For I the LORD do not change.”

We live in a world of change. Our lives are filled with change. We change. Our relationships change. Our priorities change. Our jobs change. Our politicians change. Our pastors change. Our hometowns change. At times, such change can seem discouraging and overwhelming. Often our hearts ache for some permanence in this world. Is such constancy and permanence to be found? Indeed, there is one who does not change – the God of heaven and earth, the God of Israel, the one, true, and living God, does not and will never change. The Lord himself makes this declaration in clear and unmistakable language, “For I the LORD do not change” (Mal 3:6a). There are two points to note regarding the unchanging character of our Lord.

First, note the ‘result clause’ that follows v. 6a: “For I the LORD do not change … therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (3:6b). The Lord is unchanging in his purposes towards his people. God had made promises to bless Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen 12:1-3; 22:15-19), and through them, to bless the world. At the time of Malachi’s ministry, however, Israel was not a powerful monarchy as it was under the kingship of David and Solomon; rather it was an insignificant vassal of Persia (and later Rome). And thus the questions from God’s people: “What of God’s purposes? What of his promises?” God then reassures his people by pointing to his ‘immutability’ – that is, to his unchanging character and his unchanging promise. God will fulfill his promises. God will bless his people. His people will not be consumed. He will bring them home to himself (Phil 1:6; Rom 8:31-39).

Second, the truth of God’s immutability does not mean God does not respond to his people. The Lord continues in Malachi 3: “Return to me, and I will return to you” (v. 7b). God’s immutability is not like that of an unresponsive rock. In other words, God’s unchanging purpose includes his purpose to respond in grace and mercy to his repentant children. When we stray from his word, God’s purpose is to discipline us; when we return in repentance, God’s purpose is to respond as a loving Father. But in both, God’s essential character and being does not change. As Israel was suffering under the discipline of their Covenant God, so also would they experience the return of His favor in response to their repentance.

God’s immutability – his unchanging nature and character – cuts like a double-edged sword. To those who persist in unrepentance, God is unchanging in his purpose of judgment. He will judge those who refuse his offers of forgiveness. He will not lower his standard. He will not sweep away his standard of justice. He will judge unrepentant sinners. However, to those who fall before him in repentance and humility, He is unchanging in his mercy, goodness, grace, presence, and love. He will be with his people! He will work in the lives of his people! And he will bring his people home to himself in the New Heavens and the New Earth!