“God is not a man, that he might lie,
or a son of man, that he might change his mind.
Does he speak and not act,
or promise and not fulfill?
I have indeed received a command to bless;
since he has blessed, I cannot change it.”
In this passage, we’re able to see a stark contrast between the God of Israel – our God, the true and living and active One – and the false gods perceived by other nations. And to me, somehow seeing the contrast further emphasizes what these verses declare: Our God does not change and He does not change His mind. He is steadfast and faithful to His Word.
A king, Balak, had hired Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam is brought out, sacrifices offered, and he speaks a blessing (rather than a curse) toward Israel, as the Lord had commanded him. So the king takes him elsewhere, offers more sacrifices, and when Balaam speaks again, further blessing is given to Israel along with these words of the character and nature of God.
Then, despite the clarity of that declaration, Balak says, “Please come. I will take you to another place. Maybe it will be agreeable to God that you can put a curse on them for me there” (v. 27). He didn’t get it. His whole perception was of a god that is changeable. A god who, if you do the right thing, say the right words, offer enough sacrifices, will do as you ask. Balak was seeking that right combination so he would get what he wanted: a curse on his enemies. So maybe, since the other two locations didn’t work, this new one would change the response. He thought that regardless of this God’s previous words and promises, things could change.
Really, this makes sense when you consider that the false gods of other nations were set up the same way faulty humans are. They lie. They change their mind. They can be bought by the highest bidder. They have their favorites, although those can change if those favorites mess up or if someone else does better. They might even get it wrong. So here, in Balak’s response, it’s clear that he isn’t comprehending that this God is entirely different from their human-like conceptualization.
By this time, though, Balaam realizes that God isn’t going to change His answer. So while he goes with the king to the new place, he doesn’t bother to inquire of the Lord; he simply declares further blessing over Israel as well as a warning against their enemies.
This unchanging God is the God who is ours. The God who declares we are His. He has chosen us, saved us, and made us alive in Christ. He has set His love on us and has said that He is for us and acts for our good, our healing, and our ultimate joy as He forms us to be like Himself.
His promises, His declarations of who we are in Him: they do not change. Because He does not change. “Does he speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?”
In painful seasons, it can be hard to see Him or feel His presence. So the enemy’s whispered questions of where He is, and the lies that counter God’s promises, can start to settle in. We feel hurt and fear. We feel alone. But God is here. He is with you. He is watching over you and knows the way that you take (Job 23:9-10). He is guiding you on this path in great love, faithfully fulfilling His every promise – because His promises apply to you. And throughout the ages, we will see that not one word has failed of all He has promised (Joshua 21:45). Not one, of all God has declared. He is that powerful. He is that faithful. He is that great.
Our God’s word proves true because it is grounded in His power, His faithfulness, His wisdom, and His righteousness. He knew what He was saying when He said it. He knew what He was doing when He chose us. Nothing will make Him change His mind. To do so would alter His entire character. And He never changes. The God who is always the same is the God who has chosen to love you, to draw you to Himself, and to present you blameless before His throne with great joy. The end of your story is already written, and His faithfulness to you every step of the way there is entirely sure. He will not leave, He will not fail, and He will not change.
“Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
but you are the same, and your years have no end.
The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.”
“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers…Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”