As Our Understanding Of God Changes, Our God Does Not

There is a larger-than-a-blog-post sized debate about this in some circles, whether God “changes.” People theorize about this in different ways, using different kinds of logic; I think that if all we want to do is theorize about this, we should ponder Biblical declarations such as:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

-James 1:17

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

-Hebrews 13:8

However, this is more than a theoretical problem; it’s a personal one. Most of us can remember times in the past when we wanted, needed, expected, or understood God to be different than we do now. While some of these memories could embarrass us, highlighting our impulsiveness and shortsightedness (or is that just me?), some can also trouble us, suggesting that God may not be as unchanging as we thought. While we don’t expect to “master” God like some subject in school, we still hope to know Him well enough to trust in His faithfulness.

Here’s where I think Ezekiel’s experience can encourage us. Consider this vision from the end of his book:

Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

-Ezekiel 43:1-5

This vision is “just like” that vision, despite the fact that in that vision God had come to destroy and in this vision God is coming to fill the temple with His glory. Ezekiel felt differently about God then and now. He thought different things about God then and now. Yet, God had not changed. The same God–beyond description, with cherubim like wheels and brilliance like jewels and a throne and a voice like thunder–came to do different things because their circumstances had changed, their needs had changed, the time had changed. Yet, God had not changed.

God may do one thing one day and another thing another. Yet, God has not changed. God always arrives as the paragon of wisdom, love, justice, and might, and always acts out of that unchanging nature.

Who am I to declare this as a dinky little human on a dinky little blog? Certainly not one who can tell God what He should or must do. I am only one trying to listen for what God has chosen to do, what God has chosen to reveal, what God has chosen to promise, and if He has chosen to be the God in whom there is no shadow due to change, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, who is now and always the pinnacle of grace and truth as revealed in Jesus Christ, then I’m here to hear it, repeat it, and live like it’s so.

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