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God’s Word for You

Malachi 3:6 God does not change

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, April 28, 2021

6 Certainly I, the LORD, do not change. That is why you, sons of Jacob, have not come to an end. (EHV)

This is a powerful verse, especially for two reasons. First, Malachi is explaining to Judah why their nation has not been destroyed, even though they were carried away into exile by the Babylonians and restored to the land of Canaan by the Persians. Was it because they were any different from the northern tribes? The prophet stings them with that notion by calling the whole remnant of Judah “you sons of Jacob.” What “sons of Jacob” were left since the northern tribes were taken away? Only Judah. There were stragglers of other tribes, some Benjamites, some Simeonites, and perhaps a few others, but the only tribes with any identity to speak of were Judah and Levi. They were not spared because they were righteous. They were spared because the Lord had made a promise to send a Savior through David’s line, and therefore through the tribe of Judah. Hidden in God’s heart was the plan to use the withered twig of Levi to announce the coming of Christ through John, whose father was a Levitical priest as we are taught in the first chapter of Luke.

What should this lesson have taught Judah and Levi about their place in the kingdom? They were preserved for a purpose, but now that purpose is fulfilled. They were not spared because of their own righteousness, but so that the world would be made righteous through Christ. Would God cast them aside like an unwanted stick after their purpose was accomplished? Not if they put their trust in Christ, for it is through faith that we are saved (Habakkuk 2:4). They were stubborn and bull-headed, but the Lord knew that, and he warned them about it many times: “The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer” (Hosea 4:16). “I am sending you [Jeremiah] to a people who are obstinate and stubborn” (Jeremiah 2:4). “They have gone up to Assyria like a wild donkey wandering alone” (Hosea 8:9). The Lord told them these things to soften their hearts, to make them understand that he still loved them. But what would they do when the Messiah would come?

The second powerful statement comes at the beginning of the verse: “I, the LORD, do not change.” The Lord does not change in his love, and he does not change in his justice. If you escape his avenging, punishing justice, be assured that it isn’t because of anything deserving in you, but because God is gracious. If he comes swiftly to judge my sins, can I have any confidence that I’ve done a good job at covering up that sin? Or will God find out my sins as quickly as a mother finds her son’s green beans wadded up in his napkin? Do I imagine I could talk my way out of God’s verdict? Or would I be slammed down the way Jesus shut down the arguments of every Pharisee, Sadducee, and Teacher of the Law who tried to test him? No, when God promises to judge, he will judge and this will not change. But then again, when he has promised to be merciful, he will be merciful, and this, too, will not change. There are times when God has given man an opportunity to intercede when a threat has been made, such as the threat to destroy Sodom and the surrounding towns because of their sins. But when Abraham asked God to spare the city if there were fifty righteous people there, or forty-five, or forty, or thirty, or twenty, or even ten, God agreed to spare the city if even ten righteous people could be found (Genesis 18:23-32). And if Abraham had asked about five, the Lord would have agreed to five. But in the end, only four escaped: Lot, his wife, and their two daughters, and his wife turned back and was killed anyway.

But let’s take this passage and hold it up as a light to shine on our own day of judgment. The Bible teaches that on the Last Day, those who will be judged will be the evil angels (“He put them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment,” 2 Peter 2:4), human beings in general (“we will all stand before God’s judgment seat,” Romans 14:10), and especially the godless (“those who have done evil will rise to be condemned,” John 5:29) and finally the Antichrist (“the man doomed to destruction,” 2 Thessalonians 2:3). We will all stand before God’s judgment seat, but there will be a difference in the judgment. In what way? The sins of the evil angels, the unbelievers, and the Antichrist will be brought out and examined when they are judged (Matthew 25:41-43; Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Psalm 50:21; 1 Timothy 5:24). However, the sins of believers will not be revealed or uncovered in the judgment. While no one passage declares this, consider the following points:

1, There is no description of this in the process Jesus lays out in Matthew 25.

2, God has promised to sweep away our sins “like a cloud” (Isaiah 44:22), to cast them behind his back (Isaiah 38:17), to hurl them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19), all so that he will remember our sins “no more” (Isaiah 43:25). What God does not want to remember, he will not publish.

3, God does not change (this is our passage here in Malachi 3:6). Since God has forgiven our sins in this lifetime, he will not recall them in the next.

4, God is merciful and affectionate, even as our judge. Christ comes to our judgment as our Redeemer (Luke 21:28), and he presented the church to himself as a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:27), and he will not bring out the spots and wrinkles of the saints.

5, The office of Christ as high priest was to bear, pay for, and abolish sins with his blood (Romans 4:25).

6, When God converts us from unbelief to faith, he is filled with compassion for us (Luke 15:20).

7, The condition of the godly is to have eternal life and not be condemned, to cross over from death to life (John 5:24).

8, The norm of judgment is the gospel. The gospel declares sins to be covered by Christ (Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:7).

9. Uncovering sin would yield the unsuitable result of shame. According to Scripture, believers will arise to glory (1 Corinthians 15:44; 1 John 3:2).

10, Believers who enter into the judgment are already blessed and not condemned (John 3:18).

Therefore, when God says, “I the Lord do not change,” remember all his promises and the wonderful, changeless fulfillment of each one of them. And consider your own judgment, which will be no judgment at all but a welcome into eternal glory thanks to the victory of Jesus and the faith God has placed into your heart that trusts in Jesus. Surely this is a faith to be shared.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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