Most students of history are probably familiar with names like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the greatest of all the ancient Greek philosophers. And while the ideas of these men continue to reverberate today, there were several thinkers who developed systems of thought before them. One of these men was named Heraclitus.
Heraclitus is perhaps most famous for his statement, “Man cannot step into the same river twice.” As water flows, change occurs even if it is imperceptible to us. The riverbank slowly erodes, the molecules of the water advance, or, if nothing else, a person is older the next time he steps in the river, even if it occurs only seconds later.
In this statement, Heraclitus was simply pointing out that change is a constant for us. The advancements of modern science may tell us that a person’s DNA code remains the same throughout his life, but we all know that we change physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually over time. However, as today’s passage tells us, while creatures necessarily change, such change does not apply to the Creator (Mal. 3:6).
The Lord is immutable — it is impossible for His character or being to undergo any mutation. His power cannot be augmented or diminished. He never learns or forgets, and He cannot be anything other than perfectly holy. Human beings can change in a multitude of ways, but our Father remains ever the same.
God’s immutability does not mean that He cannot move or that He remains inert. In fact, Scripture in many places testifies of the Lord’s constant work to sustain creation (Heb. 1:3a). Furthermore, the Lord’s unchanging character does not mean His relationship with us is not real. In fact, it is His unchanging righteousness that results in His wrath toward the impenitent (Rom. 1:18–32), and it is His unchanging love that leads Him to call out His people (Ex. 2:23–25).
Jonathan Edwards said immutability provokes sinners to enmity. The world hates God because it knows that His unchangeableness guarantees He cannot forget or overlook its rebellion. But for Christians, the unchanging character of God is the rock upon which we stand in all our circumstances (Ps. 46).
Take some time today to meditate on the Lord’s unchanging character. Even the most faithful Christian doesn’t act according to his new disposition at all times, but God is always reliable. We can always trust in His holiness, justice, goodness, love, and every other attribute of His being. Think of some ways in which His unchanging mercy has been evident in your life. Thank Him for this and go tell of His wonderful presence to others.