April 6, 2014

Immutable Does Not Mean Uncaring

Some individuals have incorrectly concluded from Scripture that God is unchangeable in all senses of the word. When this is said of God, it is in reference to His character. There are some who would say that when it comes to real emotions like anger, and joy, and grief...they are impossible to God because these would involve variations within Him and we all know God is immutable. Yet we also saw Jesus weep at Lazarus’ tomb, didn’t we?

There are many theologians that the Biblical writers attributed human feelings to God in order that they might reveal Him to us. In this way they believer that man anthropomorphized God (gave Him human characteristics) so that we could grasp and understand Him. Many learned Bible readers would say that God is all seriousness and completely emotionless. It is said that a sinner places himself in the jurisdiction of God's wrath because God’s wrath is God's ageless attitude toward sin. These same people will say that the person who receives Jesus Christ places himself in the realm of God's love. We get an image of God as a stoical, humorless rigid Being. An acrylic bulletproof God.

This is just not the God described in the Bible. The Scriptures are clear that God is personal and no place is this better exemplified than in Jesus. Jesus who was the God who could be touched, He could be touched physically, emotionally and even spiritually. He knew our infirmities, our temptations, our sufferings….our death.

In Song of Solomon we see many verse but one stands out in Song of Solomon 4:9. Song of Solomon is a book pure poetry speaking of God’s love for the Church or believers or at least that is one of the ways it can be interpreted. Once someone has been able to decipher the poetic song, it will break a believer’s heart due to the disclosure of how much God truly loves us and longs for us to be with Him. Once we understand how greatly He loves is it is heart-rending to see how we have so lightly treated His excitement for our relationship with Him. It is a disgrace to see how we have tread carelessly and callously on His "heart".

Song of Solomon 4:9 ~ You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.

The words in this verse are not words of a being that does not care or is an emotional stone. This is a loving relational God. The Hebrew word לִבַּבְתִּ֙ינִי֙ / libbaḇtini and comes from the root word levav. This word is in a Piel perfect form. There is a double Beth in use here also. The Beth represents the heart. Therefore, this double Beth in this context represents God’s heart and our hearts joined in a loving intimate relationship. It is a picture of two hearts opening up to each other and becoming equally as vulnerable. Two beings/people in love in the truest sense. 

God may be this immutable, impervious, unchanging and sovereign God of Scripture but He is simultaneously allowing Himself to be hurt by putting Himself in a relationship with a fickle and capricious being called man/woman. God purposely makes Himself vulnerable to believers by opening up His heart to us. He even allows Himself to have His heart betrayed when we turn away like a cheating spouse and we chase after idols on nearly a daily basis. God didn’t have to do this but He chooses to anyway. This should affect the way we behave as Christians at all times. We should be ashamed and mortified by our behavior.

This is also why God takes great joy and pleasure in mercy and grace. It is why he rejoices when one sinner repents and turns back to Him. It is why Jesus participated in our temptations and sorrows but overcame them. God’s call for us to repent are as zealous, jealous and true as they were in the days of Ezekiel when God called on His people to turn back to Him.

Ezekiel 33:11 ~ “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Shouldn't we at least try and reciprocate this intense burning love instead of spurning God? Immutable does not mean aloof and heartless. God's immutability should be a reassurance to us for our salvation, not a scary attribute of a brutish God. Not cold and distant, warm and imminent. This warm God is exactly what is described earlier in Ezekiel 8:2...

Ezekiel 8:2 ~ I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal.

A glowing metal or aglow as in the color of amber/copper (literal). This figure like a man was aglow in a warm copper hue. What Ezekiel is probably seeing here is a feeling through his field of vision or a feeling that paints a warm image of God in a visible manner. We see what is a shadow or type of the episode with Jesus on Mount of Transfiguration. It should not then be surprising that the Transfiguration is actually a culmination of the Law and the Prophets promises in Jesus. God wishes to be reconciled to us and this is exactly what the Law and Prophets points us to...reconciliation in Jesus. He is even willing to abrogate our sin if we would only trust in His Son, His promises and repent by turning back to Him in faith.

Bentorah, Chaim (2013-07-24). Hebrew Word Study: A Hebrew Teacher Explores the Heart of God (Kindle Locations 163-167). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.


Jeff Simms said...

I appreciate your thoughts. i think some people think of God as as a stoic sitting on his throne in heaven ready to stop us from having any fun at all. But, John tells us that God is love.

Andy Pierson said...

Glad you appreciated this Jeff. Just doing my own home study and learning more about our God through meditation on the word. The more I dig the more amazed I become. The more coherent and solidified its truth becomes too.

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