God’s Covenant, Part 4 – The Eternality of God

B-God does not change

Since eternity is always the present it never changes, everything remains the same. This is true of God who says to His people “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (Mal. 3:6). God says this in reference to both His nature and His covenant. If God should ever change then so can His covenant. The unfaithfulness of Gods covenant people would then have them in jeopardy if there were any possibility that He might change. But God is faithful because He does not and cannot change under any circumstance. Those who are in covenant relationship with God are always in a present position of security for God is eternally what He is and who He is. Therefore, the eternal nature of God determines the nature of His Covenant. It is in fact, a metaphysical reality. Ponder for a moment what is at stake in the matter for the people of God. What value is a commitment made to anyone if the one making it is unable to see it to fulfilment? With God this is not posssible for His covenant commitment is as good as He is, as unchangeable as His nature, and as sure as He is eternal.

We, on the other hand are in quite a different state. This world with its created order is one of constant change. Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas after him both viewed nature in its processes of constant change and concluded that there is a cause and effect relationship that exists within everything. They reasoned that God is the power or force behind all change and that therefore, we can conclude that God exists based on our observation of those things which happen within the cosmos. But nature is nature and God is God, He must reveal Himself in words suited to the intellect for us to truly and accurately understand anything about Him. Therefore, it is revelation not nature which establishes the covenant promise of God.

God’s works are not processes of change even though they may happen one after the other; God does not act after the fact in anything nor as a result of any prior event moving or prompting Him to action. Nor does God act because He knows what will happen either, for His foreknowledge is His foreordination (Rom. 8:28-30). All of the works of God originate within Himself. “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” (Acts 15:18). The works of God are His covenant acts, but these all exist with Him from eternity. The past, present and future providential acts of God are all a present reality with Him.

Oftentimes, Scripture presents instances from events that seem to suggest otherwise. Since God exists in eternity, which is always the present there can never be a time, in which God is moved by some external force placed upon Him to act. These instances in Scripture which seem to suggest that this happens, simply use the literary method of human comparison to convey to men God’s will. These instances of human comparison are called anthropomorphism, given by God for the accommodation of our human weakness.

When the Scripture says “Then God said” (Gen. 1:3), we do not suppose He has a mouth. When Scripture says “And God saw” (Gen. 1:4), we likewise do not conclude that He has eyes. And finally, when Scripture says “Thus God made” (Gen. 1:7), we do not reason therefore, that He has a set of hands like we do that pick up things to handle them. Whatever way God has acted in nature it cannot be like us because He is not like us in any way.

God does communicate His will to us in language we can understand. God’s covenant is given in the form of an oath. God’s unchangeable nature is the guarantee of the covenant oath that it will come to pass because it is established upon the greatest object, His nature. This is why it is sin for man to swear oaths. Man is changeable and therefore, cannot guarantee his word will remain and be fulfilled. God swears by Himself for there is nothing greater than He (Heb. 6:13-15).

God’s covenant is therefore, eternal and unchanging just as He is. It is not a contract made between equals that depends upon all of the cause and effect circumstances that appear in nature. Instead, Gods Covenant is always present, always endowed with the power of His eternal, self-sustaining life. The covenant of God in Scripture is likened to His nature, it is expressed in His words which are in actuality one and the same thing. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. “Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.” (Heb. 6:16-18).

God’s covenant oath is the establishment of truth based on a law of non contradiction. The law of non contradiction is the first law of logic but it does not originate with human philosophy. Truth pertains to the very nature of God that it is eternal and unchanging. Truth is what it is as truth because it does not change either, any more than it is possible for God to change. The law of non contradiction says that two things that are unlike each other cannot be true at the same time, in the same way, nor in the same sentence. God’s word and His nature are two things which agree with each other making them one and the same thing.

The Word of God is more than language, more than an idea and more than some simple analogy of some mystical experience. The Word of God is not an esoteric concept which accords with Gnostic ideas of knowledge. No, the Word of God is God Himself, the Logos Jesus Christ (John 1:1). The eternal unknowable transcendent Deity has come in flesh incarnate bringing rational knowledge and understanding of Himself and His covenant (John 1:14). This is what it means for God to swear by Himself an “Oath for confirmation” concerning His covenant commitment (Heb. 6:16). God is swearing by the eternity of His Being. He swears by its unchanging ever present nature. Swearing that He will sooner change than that which He has promised might not come to pass. God sent Jesus Christ as the Word of God incarnate in order to establish that oath in His person as God, the second person of the Holy Trinity.

Therefore, the eternal immutable God can be trusted, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible, to keep His word in all He has said concerning covenant salvation.

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