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Volume 23 - Page 131 of 207 Index | Zoom | |
#7. The immutability of God.
"I change not" (Mal. 3: 6).
pp. 183 - 186
We have now passed in review the names of God, under which He has been pleased to
reveal some of His wondrous ways and acts as well as His essential Being. It is our
desire to avoid, wherever possible, the language of theology. Instead, therefore, of
speaking of the essence and attributes of God, we use the terms "Being", "ways" and
"acts", as being less formal and also scriptural. The term "Being" is justified by the title
"I am" revealed to Moses, and by the statement of Heb. 11: 6: "He is." The outgoings
of this glorious Being, known to us as El, Elohim and Jehovah, are spoken of as His
"ways" and His "acts":--
"He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel" (Psa. 103: 7).
The Companion Bible gives the following note to this passage:--
"Ways: i.e. the reasons of His acts (esoteric) to Moses. Acts: i.e. the acts (exoteric)
visible to the people."
It is essential to a right understanding of our subject that we should not attempt to
form a judgment of the character of God solely by His visible acts, for we shall discover
that in His dealings with men there is of necessity an element of contingency:--
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you" (James 4: 8).
"With the merciful Thou wilt show Thyself merciful: with an upright man Thou wilt
show Thyself upright: with the pure Thou wilt show Thyself pure: and with the froward
Thou wilt show Thyself froward" (Psa. 18: 25, 26).
Such are the "acts" of the Lord; but it would be misleading to attempt to construct His
essential character from such information.
The thought underlying His "ways" is not so superficial; two opposite "acts" may
spring from the same unseen "ways". An illustration will perhaps make this clear.
Judged superficially, Paul's two acts regarding circumcision as recorded in Acts 15: 1, 2
with Gal. 2: 3, 14, and in Acts 16: 1-3 with Gal. 5: 3, would lead us to a very wrong
conclusion about the character of that faithful servant of Christ. We can only rightly
appraise both his actions and his character by learning what were the underlying "ways"
that, meeting two different sets of circumstances, led to apparently contradictory lines of
action. Our theme at the moment is the immutability of God, and we have only touched
upon some of the ways in which He appears to change, so that this other aspect of the
subject may not be forgotten or confused with our present line of study.