Text:  Jonah
Title:  “Our Unchangeable God”
Subj:  The unchangeableness of God

Intro:  The Bible says, “For I Am the Lord, I change not.”
It has been said that the only consistent thing in our lives is change.  Today is not yesterday.  Tomorrow will not be today.  When you look back, even a few short months or years, all you see is change.  I have changed.  You have changed.  People around you have changed.  And this world has changed.  These changes may be positive or negative, but they are unrelenting.  And as they are unrelenting, they push and pull at your person as if in a tug-of-war for your soul.  And so change at times soothes you and at times buffets you.  Yet God has ordained that men live in the constant flux of change.  Therefore, is it not strange, then, that mankind, in general, does not like change?  And the bigger the change, the less you like it!  Where, then, can you find finality, consistency, dependability, continuity, stability and permanence?

The Bible says,
“For I Am the Lord, I change not.”
I would like to speak to you on the unchangeableness of God.  In theological terms this aspect of God’s essence is called immutability or unchangeableness.  Ps. 102:27 & Heb. 1:12 say, “Thou art the same.” Or put another way:
“God remains eternally the same.
God has not changed; He is the same as He was.
God does not change; He was the same as He is.
God will not change; He shall be the same as He was and is.
God cannot change; He is the same as He was and shall be.”  (Manley)
Who He is never changes.  His essence is forever the same.  His attributes are immutable.  His character never changes.  God remains eternally the same!

The Bible says,
“For I Am the Lord, I change not.”
Now I suspect that this topic might sound as if it is not relevant to your life today.  In fact, it might sound downright “theological,” which some construe as “boring.”  I promise you that it is relevant, and if you will follow along in your Bible, in your mind, and in your heart, it should not be boring.  And to help you along, here are some of the practical benefits of the unchangeableness of God in no particular order.  You check, in your own heart, if any of these would be beneficial to you.
1. It Provides Comfort and Hope
2. It Produces Purity and Holiness
3. It Provokes Courage and Faith
4. Presents Mercy and Grace
5. It Offers Safe Anchorage for the Storms of Life.
6. It Offers Perseverance for the Battles of Life.
7. It Provides Patience for the Cares of Life.
8. It Offers Strength for the Burdens of Life.
9. It Provides Light for the Shadows of Life.
10. It Extends Hope for the End of Life. (Manley)

The Bible says,
“For I Am the Lord, I change not.”

Jonah 3:5-10-- “Our Unchangeable God” -- prayer

We are going to take our sermon from the Book of Jonah, but we are not going to discuss Jonah, he is disgusting enough!  But Jonah, “This is your life.”
1.       God tells Jonah to go to Ninevah, the great heathen city, and cry against it.
2.       Jonah gets on a ship going to Tarshish
3.       God sends a terrible storm
4.       Jonah asks to be thrown overboard
5.       God sends a great fish to swallow Jonah
6.       Jonah spends 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the fish
7.       God has the fish spit Jonah up on dry land
8.       Jonah decides for Ninevah and goes there to preach
9.       God convicts the Ninevites and they believe God
10.   Jonah gets mad at God for being gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness
11.   God prepares a gourd to protect Jonah from the sun
12.   Jonah enjoys God’s shade
13.   God prepares a worm that eats the gourd, and an violent wind to buffet Jonah
14.   Jonah gets angry at the loss of the gourd.
15.   God uses the gourd to teach Jonah the value of a human soul.

I. The Unchangeableness of God
    A. As to God’s Person (1:1-2)
         1. Lord (Jehovah: Self existing, ever-present One) (21 times in Jonah (48 verses))
Ex 3:14 “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM…”

Gill: “This signifies the real being of God, His self-existence.  It includes all time, past, present and future.”   ISBE:  “It is the personal name of God, and reflects the O.T.’s insistence on the possible knowledge of God as a person; and Jehovah is His name as a person.”  As a Person Jehovah has and holds a special relationship to His covenant people, both O.T. & N.T.  The name “Jehovah” signifies His redemptive purpose and plan (BTD).
Therefore, God as Jehovah has always existed, He is a Person.  (You can relate to a Person!)
God as Jehovah is always present.  (You can know a God who is always and everywhere present)
God as Jehovah has a plan of deliverance for you.  (You can put your faith in His purpose for your life.) 

         2. God (Elohim: the Creator.  Used of God’s governance of the world and mankind in general.  It speaks to a plurality in the Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit) (13 times in Jonah)
Ge 1:1  “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

             a. There was a time when nothing existed except God

Note:  God as Elohim created everything!  Therefore, God as Elohim owns everything.  (Now you know Who you are responsible to, Who your entire life is a stewardship to, and Who you will ultimately give an account to!)
Mt 12:36  “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

God as Elohim is one God revealed in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  There is one God in essence (basic quality), but He has chosen to reveal Himself in 3 persons so that we might know Him more fully and relate to Him more completely.  (You can learn much of the fullness of God and the many ways He relates to His own.)

    B. As To God’s Word (1:1) (4 times in Jonah)
        1. The unchangeable God has determined to revealed Himself to mankind through His unchangeable Word.  (It can’t be any other way!)
Ps. 199:89 “Forever O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven”

FBN: “Settled in heaven; established in God's presence beyond the possibility of change.”  
TOD: “Man's teachings change so often that there is never time for them to be settled; but the Lord's word is from of old the same, and will remain unchanged eternally.”
Ps 119:160  “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever."
Isa 40:8  "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever."
1Pe 1:23 “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever."
1 Peter 1:25  “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”

Note:  We do not judge the Word of God by the events of earth, but rather, we are to judge the things of earth according to the Word of God. 

        2. Though unchangeable God’s Word causes great change
             a. It speaks to the needs of saved man (1:1; 3:1,6)
                 1) To obey God
                     a) Arise (get up, “come on the scene”)
                     b) Go (“proceed”, get moving)
                     c) Cry/preach (“proclaim, invite”)
             b. It speaks to the needs of lost man (3:5-8)
Ecc. 12:13  “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
                 1) To receive God
                     a) To believe in (“stand firm, trust in”) God 
                     b) Everyday folks (3:5)
                          (1) Proclaimed a fast 

Note: “In all ages, and among all nations, fasting has been practiced in times of sorrow, and affliction”

                         (2) Put on sackcloth

Note: “Sackcloth is a very coarse stuff, often of hair, Re 6:12. In great calamities, in penitence, in trouble, the Jews, etc., wore sackcloth about their bodies.”

                    c) Special folks (3:6)
                        (1) Arose from his throne (“place of royal dignity & authority”)
                        (2) Laid aside his royal robe (“emblem of glory, splendor, magnificence”)
                        (3) Put on sackcloth
                        (4) Sat in ashes

 

ISBE: “Among the ancient Hebrews and other Orientals, to sprinkle with or sit in ashes was a mark or token of grief, humiliation, or penitence. It was often used to signify worthlessness or insignificance.”
 Gill: “The ashes were either strewed under him,  or put upon his head; and this,  with the other,  were done to afflict the body,  and affect the mind with a sense of sin,  and the misery threatened for sin,  and to show deep humiliation for it.” 

   C. As to His Unchangeable Purpose
        1. For His people to cry against mens’ wickedness (1:2)
        2. For His people to live in obedience
        3. For His people to remember their God in the midst of their circumstances (2:7)
        4. For His people to express themselves to Him in prayer in the midst of their circumstances (2:7)
        5. For His people to take the Gospel to every creature (3:4)
        6. For His people to trust in a gracious, merciful, slow to anger, kind God (4:2)
        7. For His people, in their anger, to see the purpose of God (4:9-11)

     D. As to His Goodness (3:1)
          1. The God of the second chance

Note:  But the second chance is based on the first chance! (1:2)

     E. The Repentance of God (3:10)
           1. It is not the repentance (“change of mind”) required of man
Ac 20:21  “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
           2. It is not an emotional response from God toward man
2 Pe 3:9  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
          3. It is a change in God’s dealing with man based on man’s new dealings with God, explained in human terms.

ISBE: “God is not an unfeeling machine; he responds to man’s actions.”
Heb 4:15  “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities”
JFB: “But when they repented, the position in which they stood towards God's righteousness was altered. So God's mode of dealing with them must alter accordingly, if God is not to be inconsistent with His own immutable character of dealing with men according to their works and state of heart, taking vengeance at last on the hardened impenitent, and delighting to show mercy on the penitent.  What was really a change in them and in God's corresponding dealings is, in condescension to human conceptions, represented as a change in God (compare Ex 32:14), who, in His essential righteousness and mercy, changeth not.”
MHWBC: “When they repent of the evil of sin committed by them He repents of the evil of judgment pronounced against them.”
Though God’s nature and purpose remain unchangeable, God’s outward dealings with men do change based on man’s obedience or disobedience.  This is not God changing, but God now dealing with men as men have changed in their relationship to Him.  God always remains eternally the same

a. Notice Ninevah
    1. Secure in their surroundings (1:2)
    2. Ripe for judgment (1:2)
    3. Ready to believe (3:5)
    4. Willing to change their minds (3:8)

Conclusion:  God is unchangeable—that is my conclusion.  You and I are always changing—that is my experience.  God gave Nineveh 40 days to repent—I can’t promise you 40 seconds!
Perhaps you are here as a “Ninevite.”  By that I mean you are one who has never repented of your sins and placed your trust in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  You don’t know where you will spend eternity, but I can tell you that without Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you will spend eternity in Hell!  You don’t have to, for today you can get accounts settled with God, and receive His Son.  Will you do it?
Christian, how about the changes in your life?  Are they drawing you closer to the likeness of Jesus Christ, or are you being transformed, step by step, into the likeness of the world.   Are you moving forward, or coasting backward?

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