Our Unchanging Redeemer

  • Steve Hatter
Something Needs to Change book cover

I love to consider God’s attributes, and I’ve found myself pondering these elements with higher frequency and in greater depth as I grapple with how extraordinary the past months have been. One wonderful attribute that perhaps does not get talked about enough is God’s immutability. Immutability means unchangeable. The doctrine of divine immutability asserts that God cannot undergo real or intrinsic change in any respect. In other words, while everything in our temporal world continually changes, and at times overwhelmingly, God does not change.

Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, coined a phrase around 500 B.C. that has been repeated countless times across the ages. We’ve all heard this proverb: “The only constant in life is change,” and we certainly have seen unexpected and dramatic change come upon us, with more ahead, no doubt. We also know that change is typically hard, and generally, we try to avoid it if we can. As human beings made in God’s image, we want something, or someone, unchangeable to hold on to in the thrashing of the storm, don’t we? Well, the God of Holy Scripture in unchanging and unchangeable. Take heart! And now, consider how the Old Testament Book of Exodus helps us to see God’s immutability on full display in His salvation plan for mankind. The Exodus rescue is history, and history is nothing more than the unfolding of God’s—immutable God’s—purposes. In terms of His sovereignty and highest purposes, things always happen as He plans them. Redeeming humanity is one such highest purpose.

The lead-in to the Exodus rescue is important context. Genesis ended with Joseph, his brothers, and their families in Egypt. Genesis 50 narrated the death and burial of Jacob—Israel—and later, Joseph. Israel’s burial in Canaan, along with Joseph’s deathbed plea to his brothers—the Sons of Israel—to trust God’s covenantal promises to Abraham, and to, in God’s timing, carry his bones back to Canaan from Egypt, provided both foreshadowing and context for understanding the sweeping narrative of the Exodus.

“Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.’” (Genesis 50:25)

Exodus was the continuance of Genesis, where through the story and dialogue, the one and true God proved wholly faithful to His oath to Abraham while revealing more of Himself to men through Israel’s deliverance. The first fourteen and a half chapters of Exodus played a vital role in the Old Testament Canon because they introduced and developed the concept of redemption through deliverance. Exodus 6:6 marked God’s intent that His rescue was to be understood as a redemption: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Key theological language and themes emerged when the rescue, in all its high drama, was viewed as a redemption

First, the facts of the rescue proved God as the one who did it, through His power, on His timing, and for His purposes. The Nation of Israel could not save themselves and was utterly dependent on God’s timing, instruction, and supernatural action to be saved. 

Next, there was a price to be paid by God to accomplish the completed rescue. God purchased a Nation in bringing the Sons of Israel out of Egypt and, in so doing, set them apart for Himself. This separation was in keeping with His past covenant promises, but also an essential principle for future covenants, namely the Davidic, Mosaic, and New Covenants. 

Finally, rescue viewed as redemption was meant to elicit recognition and gratitude by the chosen recipients of God’s favor over those who received wrath. God introduced the idea of marking events to be forever remembered through memorials and celebrations within the context of the rescue. Exodus 15:13 then bookended Exodus 6:6 in the Song of Moses when the now rescued peopled were referred to as redeemed:

“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.” (Exodus 15:13)

The echoes of this “prototype” redemption came replete in all Scripture that followed, and all redemption language pointed to Jesus Christ. Through His sacrificial death, He purchased believers from the slavery of sin to set them free from that bondage.

In looking at the Exodus rescue, and the theological implications of its main elements, we should be both astonished and comforted that God’s great purposes for us are motivated by His fundamental nature, which is love: 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7–12)

We should also marvel that He is a detailed planner and that He executes His love-motivated plans perfectly. His redemption plan for humanity began unfolding in the Garden of Eden and continues unchanged to this very moment. Moreover, His plans will continue, never frustrated, until complete.

We need a rescuer. Our rescuer is our redeemer, Jesus, who paid the highest price for us, His shed blood. Hold on to the unchanging one Jesus Christ:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)