The Importance of God’s Immutability
It is likely the most overlooked, underappreciated, unknown attribute of the living God. Of course we are in grave danger indeed if we seek to pit against one another or to rank in relative importance the attributes of God. The doctrine of His simplicity reminds us that God is one, that He is not composed of parts. The attributes of God are not like that old spiritual, Dry Bones, wherein we affirm that the wrath bone’s connected to the justice bone, the justice bone’s connected to the omniscience bone. Neither does God find balance between competing qualities, as if His wrath were muted by His grace, or His love tempered by His holiness. These are all one, the same thing. In the end all of what He is He is because He is God.
Which, in the end, is why His immutability is so vitally important. This attribute is that which enables us to depend on God to be God. It is why we can be certain that every excellency, every perfection, indeed every promise of God is utterly inviolable. He shall not be moved. Jonathan Edwards wisely pointed out that this is one of the reasons the heathen hate him so much. They have other potent enemies. But those enemies can grow weak. They have other angry enemies, but they can be calmed. They have other knowing enemies, but they can be fooled. The God of heaven and earth, on the other hand, will never cease to be all-powerful. His wrath will never turn from sin. And His eyes will never grow dim.
This same attribute, however, redounds to the good of those who love Him. Last night, as with many nights, I gathered my two littlest boys, Reilly and Donovan, before bed. I read to them a rather silly story about a robot and a goat in search of a missing sock. They snuggled up to me as we read, and later as we said our bedtime prayers. Finally, I sang to them their lullabies, one of which comes, in our evening liturgy, complete with shaking, squeezing and giggling. It is a precious time for all three of us, and they go to bed at peace having heard me pray these words, “Lord help these boys to know that daddy loves them, mommy loves them, mommy and daddy love each other, and you love them.”
It’s all true. But sometimes I lose my temper. Sometimes I speak to these precious boys in anger. Sometimes I am merely distracted. The certainty I want to give them is radically muted by my own unpredictability. Not so with our heavenly Father. His immutability isn’t a mere battlefield wherein we tussle with process theology. It isn’t a mere bulwark against the folly of open theism. It isn’t even a mere facet of His character to be put under a microscope to be examined and expounded upon. It is instead a promise, a covenant promise. It is my certainty when I lie down to sleep that He will love me in the morning even as He loves me through the night. It is how I know that nothing can take me from His hand. It is the very reason we not only believe His promises, but believe He is the promise. The grass withers. The flower fades. But the Word of our God endures forever.