Does God Change?

Introduction
In Reformed theology, the doctrine of God is at the headwaters. What we say about God touches every locus of theology. It shapes our theology, piety, and practice. When we say that humans are created in the image of God, we cannot understand that until we know something about God. When we speak of sin and redemption, we can only understand that in light of what we say about God’s justice and mercy. When we speak of Christ as true God and true man, we do so in light of our doctrine of God.

Theology is not purely theoretical. There are always practical consequences to our theology. For example, when I first began studying Reformed orthodoxy 20 years ago one of the things that struck me right away was the way that Reformed writers would teach the doctrine of God and then move to worship. That is how I began to see the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW), i.e., our principle of worship that says that we worship God only in the way he has commanded (either explicitly or by good and necessary inference). One essential component of our understanding of the second commandment is our understanding of who and what God is to us. The God who regulates and authorizes our worship is he who is holy, righteous, infinite, eternal, spiritual, simple, immense, and immutable. We approach him in worship with reverence and awe because he alone is God. The church’s authority is not original. It is derivative. This is why we confess sola Scriptura. We begin with God’s Word as the unique, sole norm of the Christian faith and the Christian life. This is why we say Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be the glory), because he is sovereign and we but creatures. He is infinite and we are finite.

One aspect of the biblical and historic Christian doctrine of God that has come under criticism from various quarters is the teaching that God is immutable, i.e., that God does not change. In modern theology (as distinct from confessional Reformed theology that is done in the modern period) it is considered axiomatic that everything changes and that, in some way, God is also in process. It is widely thought by modernist theologians that God is, in some way, becoming, that he is in some way contingent upon us. Some evangelicals have attempted mediating positions between these views and the traditional or “classical” doctrine of God. Recently, some influential Reformed writers from within the confessional (NAPARC) world have also sought to modify the classical view.
In view of these developments, I offer a brief two-part survey of the traditional Reformed doctrine of the immutability of God.

Biblical Proofs
Systematic theology works both from the explicit teaching of Scripture and from good and necessary inferences.

James 1:17 (ESV):

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.

In its original context, this declaration comes after James has reminded his hearers (and now us, his readers) that God is not like us. We ought to persevere but we do not. We are fickle, we change but God does not. We are double minded but God is not. According to 1:11, flowers fade but God does not. We are tempted, we sin but God is not and does not (v. 14). We must not be deceived (v 16). All good gifts come from our utterly faithful and immutable God. He is reliable because he does not change. In his sovereign providence, he controls all things but is not controlled by them. He is the Creator (v. 18) not the creature.
Hebrews 13:8 (ESV): “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

The pastor writing to Jewish Christians who were tempted to turn back to the Old Covenant and to turn away from Christ reminds them that though they are tempted to be faithless to him who died, who was raised, he is not so. He does not change. He is the “I AM” and he who said to Moses (Exod 3) “I am that I am.” He is worthy of their trust because he is immutable.
Hebrews 6:17–18 (ESV):

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things (δυο πραγματων αμεταθετων), in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

Christians may rest safely in God’s promises because he is faithful not only in his intentions but in his nature. By nature he unchangeable. God swore by himself. He is immutable. Therefore his oath/promise is immutable and therefore reliable.

God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19)

This is substantially the same teaching we see in James chapter 1 and in the other passages but expressed rhetorically, i.e., in rhetorical questions. The expected answer is, no, God is not a man. Therefore, in contrast to humans, who do change and lie, God, who is not human, who does not have “parts or passions” (i.e., he is simple and he doesn’t suffer change) is not mutable and therefore he does not lie.

The first proof text to which Thomas Aquinas appealed in his Summa Theologiae (1a 9.1) under this heading, “immutability,” is Malachi 3:6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

We will return to this passage later but suffice it to say for now that the most basic premise of the passage is that humans change but God does not. That is why is threats and promises are reliable.

From passages such as these Louis Berkhof concluded that the doctrine of immutability is

…a necessary concomitant of his aseity. It is that perfection of God by which he is devoid of all change, not only in his Being, but also in his perfections, and in his purposes and promises.

The biblical God is neither identified with history nor subject to it. This is not to say that he is cold or remote from our needs, he is after all our heavenly Father from whom we ask and receive our daily bread and forgiveness of sins. That is why we confess in Heidelberg Catechism Q/A 26:

26. What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth”?

That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who of nothing made heaven and earth with all that in them is, who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence, is for the sake of Christ, His Son, my God and my Father, in whom I so trust, as to have no doubt that He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul; and further, that whatever evil He sends upon me in this vale of tears, He will turn to my good; for He is able to do it, being almighty God, and willing also, being a faithful Father.

The God whom we trust is eternal. He is our Father for the sake of Christ alone, his eternally begotten Son, in whom, by his grace alone, through faith alone, we who believe are adopted sons. That same God upholds and governs. If he is mutable, even in the slightest—there is no such thing as a little mutability. If God changes at all, even in the slightest, he changes completely. It’s binary matter—then he is of no help. We trust him because he is reliable and he is reliable because he does not change. The God who is immutable, is sovereign. He determines all things and his sovereign providence is such that we may even speak of him sending “evil” upon us. He is so powerful and powerfully involved that he actively turns that evil to our good, to our benefit and we can trust that he does so because he is sovereignly immutable.

History Of The Doctrine
The early Fathers articulated Christian theology, i.e., their understanding of the teaching of Scripture in a context that was dominated by paganism. The gods of the pagans are nothing if not mutable. Read the classical myths. Against the pagans they asserted the immutability of God. Over against the dualism of Manichaeans (i.e., the notion that there are two great competing principles, good and evil), the fathers asserted the utter uniqueness, simplicity, and immutability of God. Against the Gnostics they asserted that God does not become more or less than he is. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was, is, and shall be what he is. Augustine reflects on God’s immutability repeatedly in his Confessions (c. 397–98). One of the prima facie problems with the thesis that Christianity was unduly affected with “Greek thought” (whatever that is) in its doctrine of divine immutability—which is the basis for the charge that the historic Christian doctrine makes God “static”—is that it fails to account for the antithesis between Christianity and the surrounding paganism of the period. The irony of teaching that God is mutable is that it tends to make God, were it possible, into one of the Greco-Roman pagan deities.

The Catholic (Universal) Creeds
In the Nicene-Constantinopolian Creed (325; 381 AD) we confess that God is “almighty” (παντοκράτορα). He is Creator of all things. He is uncreated. It never entered the minds of the Nicene fathers (et seq) that when they said, “almighty” they meant “almighty but mutable). They intended us to think exactly the opposite. When the Definition of Chalcedon (451) declares that our Lord Jesus Christ is “perfect” (τέλειον) in Godhead and perfect in manhood” and “the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence” it assumes that we understand what it means to say, deity and humanity. Jesus is one person with two natures. His deity is immutable and his humanity mutable. Jesus was beaten. He did suffer but we cannot say that God suffered (Dei passionism) but we can say that the one person of Jesus suffered. What we say about either of the natures of Christ we can say about the person but not the reverse.

This is another illustration of how the doctrine of God reverberates throughout the rest of our theology. In this case, Christology. Any revision of one’s doctrine of God entails a revision of Christology, anthropology, and soteriology. A new doctrine of God means a new religion.

The Athanasian Creed (7th century) means to teach us the doctrines of the Trinity and Christology but it necessarily begins with and assumes certain predicates or attributes of God. We say “but of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit there is one divinity: equal in glory and co-eternal in majesty” (Sed Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti una est divinitas: æqualis gloria, coæterna majestas). The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are uncreated (increatus). The Trinitarian persons have no beginning, no point (as it were) at which they were not. They just are, as they are, and what they are to each and to us. When we confess “co-equal in majesty” and “co-eternal” the clear implication is that majesty and eternal glory is immutable. We say that God is “immense,” i.e., as Louis Berkhof has it, “that perfection of the Divine Being by which he transcends all spatial limitations, and yet is present in every point of space with his whole being.” God cannot be immense and mutable. He is immutable immense and thus incomprehensible, which is the traditional translation of the Latin text of the Athanasian (Immensus Pater: immensus filius: immensus [et] Spiritus Sanctus). Finally, for our purposes here, we note that the Athanasian says that God is “omnipotent” (Similiter omnipotens Pater: omnipotens Filius: omnipotens [et] Spiritus Sanctus). If he is mutable, if he is more or less or something other than what he is, then he is not omnipotent. In the catholic creeds any theory of divine mutability runs into a serious obstacle.

Reformed Orthodoxy
Richard Muller writes,

The conception of divine immutability is certainly a mark of continuity between the Reformers and the Protestant orthodox—indeed, it is a mark of continuity in the thought of the church from the time of the fathers through the seventeenth century. For Augustine, immutability was a necessary corollary of the divine self-existence declared in Exodus 3:14: “That which is called ‘IS’ and not only is called such, but also is so, is unchangeable: it remains forever, it cannot be changed, it is in no part corruptible.” This intimate relationship between the divine self-existence and the assumption of immutability, moreover, remained at the heart of the doctrine in both the era of the Reformation and the era of orthodoxy (Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 3.271).

As his survey of the sources suggests, as anyone who has read them knows, the Reformed orthodox affirmed divine immutability clearly and unequivocally. E.g., regarding Petrus van Mastricht, Muller writes,

In Mastricht’s order, the first three of these attributes, spirituality, simplicity, and immutability, together with the divine aseity, belong to a “primary class” of divine attributes and answer the basic question, Quid sit Deus? Spirituality is treated first on the understanding that the other terms follow from the biblical truth that “God is Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)—the text that provides Mastricht with his exegetical foundation for the discussion. Indeed, simplicity follows among the consectaria of spirituality, stated as a second theorem of the locus with no new exegetical point of departure. (Immutability follows, in clear logical relation, but with a new exegetical foundation, namely, James 1:17). (ibid., 3.272).

My thesis is that Open Theism or any other theory that posits change in God constitutes nothing less than a radical revision of the Biblical doctrine of God and a rejection of catholic doctrine held by most Fathers, Medieval theologians, Reformers and the Orthodox theologians of the 17th century.

Insofar as the evangelical theology turned in the 18th century away from the objective to the subjective, to our experience, It is not entirely surprising that contemporary (neo) evangelicals would lose interest in an immutable God. Cornelius van Til (1895–1987) warned us 70 years ago that the evangelicals would default. We Reformed, Van Til said, begin with the triune God, with divine revelation and the objective work of Christ for sinners. The evangelicals, he warned, begin with religious experience.

It is surprising, however, that Reformed theologians would play with such fire. Immutability is not a purely Reformed concern. It was The Lutheran orthodox theologian Johann Gerhard (1582–1637), whom you will not confuse for a Reformed theologian, who said,

…Deity is incapable of suffering, or of change, and interchange; therefore suffering cannot be ascribed to it. Deity pertains to the entire Trinity;…but if, therefore, Deity in itself were said to have suffered, the entire Trinity would have suffered, and the error of the Sabellians and Patripassians would be reproduced in the Church.

Further, both the Lutherans and the Reformed affirm the doctrine of immutability, which is of the essence of the doctrine of impassability, in nearly identical terms. The Solid Declaration (of the Formula of Concord) speaks repeatedly of the “eternal, immutable righteousness of God” and an “eternal, immutable order” and God’s “immutable will.”

In fact all of our great theologians, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, have taught the doctrines of impassability (i.e., God does not suffer) and immutability (i.e., God does not change).

The Scriptures and our theology teaches that there is no potential in God (God is actus purus). He is fully realized. He is not in therapy, he is not finding himself. The God of the Bible and the Christian faith knows everything (omniscience), is in charge of everything (omnipotent), eternal and triune.

Mutability, Immutability, And Hermeneutics
The historic Christian doctrine of God is in stark contrast to the view proposed by proponents so-called Open Theism (e.g., Clark Pinnock, Gregory Boyd). They claim to have constructed a doctrine of God which is more biblical than the historic Christian doctrine.

Upon examination, however, it seems rather that they have adopted a Socinian, biblicist hermeneutic (a way of interpreting Scripture) that has more to do with Socinus than Athanasius and they’ve constructed a doctrine of God that leads to a therapeutic, incompetent, Marcionite god. According to the proponents of Open Theism, God actually repents, halters and changes. The future is genuinely open to God. He is contingent upon us. In this approach, omniscience is redefined to mean that God knows only what can be known. The future (e.g., the free choices of humans), they argue, cannot be known, therefore God cannot know it. He cannot control the future, for that would jeopardize the autonomy and dignity of human persons.

The hermeneutical question is this: If the clearer passages interpret the less clear, which are the clearer and which are the less clear? Traditionally we’ve used didactic passages to interpret narratives. Open Theism reverses this order. They use narratives to norm didactic discourse. Thus, in this view, when the narrative in Genesis 6:6 says that God “repented” that he had made man, they understand that God actually thought one thing, and then, in a successive moment, thought better of it and changed his mind.

In the case of immutability there are two sets of passages. Those who deny the classical Christian doctrine of immutability argue that we must take literally the passages that suggest that God changes and take figuratively those passages that appear to teach immutability.

It is my contention that the ‘change’ passages make the most sense when interpreted against the background of the ‘changeless’ passages since revealed ‘changes’ in God are predicated on his ‘changelessness’ (e.g., Mal 3:6,7)

Immutabilty Passages
Most recognize that there are passages that unequivocally teach that God is immutable.

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath (Hebrews 6:17).

Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8 ; See also Mal 3.6,7)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17 ).

Mutability Passages
There are also those passages which seem to suggest that God does change, that he experiences sorrow, joy etc. Genesis 6:6 is a good test.

And Yahweh repented (וַיִּנָּחֶם) that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart (revised from the ESV).

Those who are opposed to the traditional understanding of Scripture say that God literally, actually thought one thing (i.e., the creation of humanity was a good thing) and then, at another moment, he thought something else (i.e., the creation of humanity was not a good thing).

Nacham (to repent; נחם) in Scripture
The verb Nacham has a range of meanings. According to Holladay in the Niph. it signals the range “to regret” (e.g., Gen 6:6.–7; 1 Sam 15:29) but in the Piel and Hithpiel it means “to comfort/console,” (e.g., Gen 5:29; 2 Sam 12:24). Gen 6:6—7 “Yahweh repented (נחם – Niph waw conseq 3s ) that he had made man on the earth…”

Exodus 32:14. “Then Yahweh repented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”
1 Samuel 15:11 Then the word of Yahweh came to Samuel: 11 “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.”…. (See also 1 Sam 15:35)

2 Samuel 24:15–16. So Yahweh sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died.  When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, Yahweh was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of Yahweh was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (see also 1 Chron 21:15).

Psalm 110:4 Yahweh has sworn and will not repent….

Jeremiah 26:13 “Now reform your ways and your actions and obey Yahweh your God. Then Yahweh will relent (Nacham) and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you.” (see also 26:19)

Ezekiel 5:13 “Then my anger will cease and my wrath against them will subside, and I will be avenged (Nacham).”

Ezek 24:14 “`I am Yahweh. I have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent (Nacham). You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares Adonai Yahweh.’ ”

Joel 2.13-14 “Return to Yahweh your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity…Who knows? He may turn and have pity (Nacham) and leave behind a blessing–

Amos 7:3,6 “So Yahweh repented/relented.”

Jonah 4:2 “He prayed to Yahweh, “O Yahweh, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. ”

These passages do not intend for us to think that God actually thought one thing and then, in response to human choices, thought something else any more than we are intended to think that God is actually pacific one moment and then, upon seeing Israel commit sin, flies into a rage only to be pacified again by Moses.

Yes, Scripture does use this sort of imagery of God. That is not in dispute. What is at issue is how we should understand such language. The historic Christian way of understanding such imagery is to use the didactic passages to help us understand the narrative passages. The didactic passages give us the baseline, as it were. The narrative passages should be read in light of the didactic. As we read the narrative passages we are expected to remember certain basic truths. God created ex nihilo. He is not actually contingent (either by nature or by choice) upon his image bearers, whom he formed from the dust and into whose nostrils he blew the breath of life.

God does enter into a vital, genuine, dynamic covenant relationship with his people but that covenant does not change his attributes. He knows everything (for us past, present, future) in a single, eternal, act. He is not surprised by our uncoerced choices. They are all part of his eternal, providential decree. He reveals himself as passionate and repenting (turning away in disgust) of us and the like as a way to communicate his eternal, constant, utterly righteous indignation at our sin. We are not to imagine that God was actually surprised. If so, when did he lose his omniscience? When did he become subject to animated dust stamped with his image?

Final Thoughts
Consider the the prima facie difficulty of positing change in God. When did he change? Was it when he said to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Rom 9:17; ESV). According to Paul, Pharaoh was not an autonomous actor upon whom God waited. He was an instrument for God’s glory. Indeed, if we compare this verse with Exodus 9, it seems that the Apostle actually intensifies the problem of evil. In Exodus 9 Scripture says that Yahweh demonstrated to Pharaoh his power. Paul makes Pharaoh not the recipient of the demonstration but an instrument of the demonstration. This is not the way someone writes who thinks that God is contingent upon autonomous, free human actors.

In case Paul’s view isn’t abundantly clear, he continues:

So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—(Romans 9:18–23; ESV)

Who can resist his will indeed? The God described in Exodus 9 and Romans 9 is hardly the incompetent demigod of the Open Theists or of any view that posits change in God. In Paul’s view God is the sovereign, immutable, impassible actor throwing pots on wheels, discarding and keeping as seems right to him. Our recourse is but to adore him. This is not a demigod who is surprised by the free choices of his creatures or who, in himself, feels one thing one moment and feels another thing in the next.

In order to make their case more plausible, the advocates of Open Theism have caricatured the traditional view by giving the impression that it teaches that God is “static,” “immobile,” “impersonal.” We should reply that, when they posit a god who changes, the Open Theists et al are really proposing a Manichaean dualism, in which our wills are one principle and God’s is another. Otherwise they are proposing a  polytheism. Neither alternative is Christian and both are the very sorts of worldviews that Moses intended to combat in Genesis 1–2. The God of Genesis speaks creation into being. He is not contingent upon it nor is he changed by it.

The best way to read these passages is by analogical realism, i.e., with the understanding that there is a genuine analogy between the way God reveals himself and what is true of God as he is in himself (in se), even though we cannot say exactly how the revelation corresponds to reality in God. If we knew exactly how the sign relates to the ultimate reality in God, we wouldn’t be mere humans would we? Our job, if you will, is to understand the intent of the figure, to understand the analogy but not to read the figure woodenly and thus construct another god. This is the historic Christian hermeneutic. Consider the language just two verses away from Genesis 6:6, v. 8. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of Yahweh” (ESV).

Does Yahweh have actual, literal, physical eyes? No. That’s a figure for God’s awareness of the created world. It’s an anthropomorphism. One of the earliest Christian heresies was the doctrine that God is bodily. One of the grossest Mormon errors (which Clark Pinnock favored in Most Moved Mover) is the doctrine that God is bodily. Scripture teaches the exact opposite. God is not bodily. He is a Spirit and worshipped in the Son, and in the Spirit (John 4:24). Scripture attributes feet, a nose, and other anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms (human feelings) to God. All these are figures to help us understand our heavenly Father and the God of the covenants. These are homely, simple images. They were never meant to be taken literally, as if the God of the Bible is just like the pagan deities or the Greco-Roman pantheon.

God does not change. The corollary for this is that God does not suffer. This is what we mean when we confess that he is impassible. This doesn’t mean that God does not feel. The adjective “impassible” is the privative of the verb “to suffer” (patior, pati, passus sum). From it we get the noun passion. Our English word denotes a rise in feelings but in theological usage we mean to say that God does not suffer a change in feelings. We don’t mean to say that God has no feelings. Charles Hodge said about God:

[H]e is not a stagnant ocean, but an ever living, ever thinking, ever acting, and ever suiting his action to the exigencies of his creatures, and to the accomplishment of his infinitely wise designs. Whether we can harmonize these facts or not, is a matter of minor importance. We’re constantly called upon to believe the things that are, without being able to tell how they are, or even how they can be. Theologians, in their attempt to state, in philosophical language, the doctrine of the Bible on the unchangeableness of God, are apt to confound immutability with immobility. In denying that God can change, they seem to deny that he can act.

God is what he was, is, and shall be. He just is. He is never more or less than he is. If there is a real analogical relation between the way God reveals himself and what he is in himself, then we may say that God feels but we cannot say how he feels nor may we posit that his feelings change. He is what he is and he will never be anything other than what he is and he is what we need him to be for creation, providence, salvation, and glorification.

There is no such thing as a little bit of mutability in God. If he is a little mutable, then he’s mutable, full stop. The God of the Bible, who covenanted with Abraham to be a God to him and to his seed, who fulfilled that promise in the incarnation, obedience, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus doesn’t change in his nature, his purposes, or his will. He is immutably good, holy, righteous etc. Whatever he feels is consonant with those attributes.

To posit mutability is to destroy the Biblical doctrine of providence and prayer. God of the Bible speaks reality into existence. He sustains continuously, actively governing and concurring in all actions. If the Open Theists (or other advocates of divine mutability) were right,the world would spin into oblivion and prayer would become a futile exercise. To posit change by suffering in God is to make him into a demigod.

In his fundamental 1983 critique of Open Theism Richard Muller used Malachi 3:6–7 as a test case. Here we have both kinds of passages, so to speak, under one roof: proposition that God does not change and narrative suggesting he does. If the mutability theory cannot account for these passages, then it fails as a hermeneutic.

I Yahweh do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says Yahweh Sabbaoth….

    Yahweh does not change.

  • Israel has ‘changed’ (turned away from his decrees)
  • If Israel repents (changes)
  • God will “change”—i.e., in his relations to them.
  • God has not changed
  • Therefore Israel can rely upon God’s faithfulness to his promise

Israel’s change and God’s own (figurative) change is premised logically upon his actual immutability. If God is actually mutable, if he is actually contingent upon his creatures, then Israel has not basis for trusting his promise that he will respond favorably to Israel’s change.

Thanks to Rich Barcellos for his editorial help with this series. I’m grateful.