In the last century, the number of glaciers in Glacier National Park has decreased from 150 to 35. Grinnell Glacier has lost 90 percent of its mass. Boulder Glacier no longer exits. Ecologists, geologists, and other types of “ists” estimate that the last of these ice fields will be gone in 30 years. Nothing stays the same. Everything changes.
I am a pastor. I experience the manifold privileges and blessings of this work. I get to see dead souls come to life. I get to see broken relationships restored by the Gospel. I get to see women and men who love Jesus lay down their lives for Him and His kingdom in stunning and remarkable ways. But I also watch people walk away from Jesus and reject the only source of life anywhere to be found. I watch marriages fall apart. And I watch people get sick and die. A dear and faithful man in our church buried his wife recently. At her￼memorial service, he said, “I spent so much time helping her get well it never occurred to me that she might die.” Nothing is dependable. Everything falls apart.
Is there anything in your life, anything around you, anything in the entire universe of things you can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste that you know, with certainty, will be here tomorrow? Your health, your job, your marriage, your son or daughter, your securities? Anything? Anything at all?
Study the life of Jacob. As you read it, do your best to put yourself in Jacob’s shoes. Try to feel what he felt, experience what he experienced. Here is a sampling:
He leaves home to avoid the threat of an older brother from whom he has stolen the family inheritance. He has brought this estrangement on himself, to be sure. But until his brother is dead or somehow reconciled, he cannot go home (Gen. 27–28).
Jacob finds a new home with a relative, an uncle named Laban, a more practiced thief than Jacob. Jacob agrees to work for this uncle and receives the promise that he will be given Laban’s youngest daughter in marriage. But the employer and future father-in-law cheats him out of his fiancée, fails to pay him as agreed, and attempts to defraud him repeatedly (Gen. 29–30).
He secures his wife and manipulates wealth from Laban. But Laban’s household is “no place to raise a family.” So he returns to his homeland and settles a considerable distance from his brother (Gen. 33).
Then the “fun” begins: Over the course of the next 30 years, Jacob’s daughter is raped (Gen. 34); two of his sons murder not only the rapist but the man’s father and all of the males of the town (Gen. 34); his oldest son commits adultery with one of his wives (Gen. 35:22); his favorite son, Joseph, is mauled and killed by wild beasts (which is not true, but he thinks it is; Gen. 37); his other sons conspire to kill this favorite son, Joseph, but instead sell him as a slave and concoct the previous story to deceive their father (which is true, but Jacob does not know it; Gen. 37); his son Judah leaves the family, rejects the promises of God, and abandons the faith (this is the significance of the phrase “went down” in Gen. 38:1); Judah marries a non-believer and lives a life of unbelief (Gen. 38); Jacob and his family are threatened by a famine, probably brought on by prolonged drought, exposing them to slow and agonizing death (Gen. 42); and, finally, with one son already in prison in Egypt, he is required to send his youngest and most loved son as a kind of ransom to secure food for his family (Gen. 42–44).
This man is a believer. He is the heir of the promises. And how does he respond at the end of these 30 years? If you listen closely, you can hear the agony in his voice. You can feel the weight of his fears, hopelessness, and despair. He cries:
“You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more; and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36). Everything changes; everything is uncertain; everything falls apart.
Jacob’s story is your story. How do you live in such an uncertain, always-changing world? Is there a solid place?
While the world and everything in it changes, God does not. Mutation is a word typically associated with the biological sciences, especially genetics. When an organism mutates, it changes. Everything mutates. Everything but God. He is immutable; not mutable; not changing. He does not change. Your marriage may; your health may; your job may; your children may. In fact, they all will. Count on it. None of these things will stay the same. But God will not change. Not today, not tomorrow. Not ever.
“Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end” (Ps. 102:25–27).
Here is the spiritual significance of this doctrine: Because God does not change, His Word does not change. That means when He says that He is a “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (literally, “an abundantly available help”; Ps. 46:1), He can say that because He is that and He will never be anything other than that … because He never changes.
Can you say with the psalmist “we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Ps. 46:2)? May I plead with you that you consider this doctrine? That you dwell on it? That you ask the Holy Spirit to make it for you a truth of deep comfort? In the midst of life’s mutations, God and His promises never, ever change.