Have you ever visited a place that you hadn’t seen for 20 years or more and when you did, you saw that so much of it had changed? Perhaps it was the area in which you grew up, having spent many years there; but then moved away and hadn’t been back for decades — until recently.
Sometimes it can be interesting to see those places again. But when nostalgia is one of the motivations, it can be rather sad to see so much that is now different and not at all like you remember it.
Of course, even those places of the distant past that have remained pretty much the same, might now appear to you as if some of the houses had shrunk and were not quite as big as you had remembered them. You might also be somewhat disappointed to see that some of those areas have become a little rundown or shabby.
And even when much of the change would be an improvement, you still might prefer to see some of those old places just the way they used to be, in order to match up with your recollection of them, while reflecting on memorable times.
Time itself brings change to everything — though at different speeds. A diamond, for example, will certainly outlast a banana. But much of what we see is far from that lasting quality of the diamond.
In one of my trips back to where I had been raised, after having been away for many years, I felt a little sad in seeing so much that looked so different.
But where I then found comfort was in realizing that, regardless of how much change there would be around me, I could rest assured in knowing that God never changes (cf. Mal. 3:6); and if I, therefore, live to be 100, His word will also still be the same! As Isaiah writes, “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:8).
Unlike everything else that we know, which grows old with age, God is eternally “new.” He doesn’t age. The Lord will not be a day older tomorrow nor a year older next year. God doesn’t even dwell in time. He dwells in eternity. And concerning God’s Son, the Bible states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He, too, does not change. For though He came into this world through the virgin Mary, about 2,000 years after Abraham was born, yet the Lord was still able to say, “…’Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (Jn. 8:58), which expresses His eternal nature.
In writing of Jesus, the Hebrew writer also declares, “And, ‘You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle you will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not come to an end'” (Heb. 1:10-12).
The “years” in this passage is accommodating language to better relate to man, such as when the Lord states in Genesis 18:20,21, “…’The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.'” Does God have to literally “go down” to a place to know what is going on there? The Bible says that “The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men” (Psa. 33:13). Similarly, even though God is spirit (Jn. 4:24) and “not a man” (Num. 23:19), nor “flesh and blood” (Matt. 16:17), yet He is anthropomorphically described so we can better relate to Him with those human characteristics of having “hands” (Exod. 15:17), a “finger” (Deut. 9:10), a “face” (Num. 6:25), a “mouth” (Psa. 33:6), “lips” and a “tongue” (Isa. 30:27), “eyes” and “ears” (Psa. 34:15), “nostrils” (2 Sam. 22:16), an “arm” (Psa. 89:10), and “feet” (Nah. 1:3).
In addition, “years” do not literally pertain to heaven. Rather, they pertain to this physical realm. But even here they can greatly vary. For one year on the dwarf planet Pluto is the equivalent of 248 years on earth, and one day on Mercury is likened to 58 days and 15 hours on earth. A day on Venus is equivalent to 243 earth days; and strange as it might sound, a year on Venus is actually shorter than its day! For it takes just 224.7 earth days for Venus to make its orbit around the sun. So time is relative. God put the “lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night”; and so they would “be for signs and for seasons and for days and years” (Gen. 1:14,15). But there is coming an end to time when all in the universe will cease to be (2 Pet. 3:10-12). However, eternity will still be as it has always been — and it is because God is! For the phrase “Eternal Father” (Isa. 9:6), in referring to Jesus, is not said to mean that Jesus is “God the Father”; but that Jesus, who “is before all things” (Col. 1:17) and has created all things (cf. Jn. 1:1-3), is also “the Father of eternity.”
Time to us is linear, such as a timeline. We also view time as past, present, and future, and can depict “now” as if it were an ocean wave that we are riding with a surfboard toward the shore. “Now” keeps moving forward in time. But can we really conceive what it must be like to dwell in and relate to eternity? For we are a people who are always changing or becoming; but God is and always has been a changeless perfection without ever having the need to improve anything about His nature. And He is already eternal in a realm apart from time.
Another way God figuratively expresses His eternal nature can be seen in Isaiah 44:6: “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.'”
And though Jesus’ earthly body had a beginning when borne of Mary, yet the true essence of the Lord has always existed. For He “is from the days of eternity” (Mic. 5:2) and just as eternal as His Father in heaven. Jesus says of Himself, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13). Consider also Revelation 1:17 and 2:8.
The eternal nature of God is also expressed in the name that He told Moses to use in referring to Him. For Moses wanted to know what name he should say when the sons of Israel would ask him who sent him. And “…God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”‘” (Exod. 3:13,14). The Hebrew word for “I AM” expresses God’s “unchanging and eternal Being” (Albert Barnes), that He is self-existent, self-sustaining, self-sufficient, and is always the same.
Consider also Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” We are not told in this passage that “from everlasting to everlasting, You WERE,” “You HAD BEEN,” nor ‘You WILL BE”; but, rather, “from everlasting to everlasting, YOU ARE GOD” (emphasis mine). Yes, the Lord already is everlasting! It is not just something He used to be or one day will be. And as our great eternal God, He never changes; and His word for us today, as recorded in the Scriptures, will be the same as long as time shall last. As Jesus states, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). May we each find great comfort in that!
Not only is God great because of His eternal nature, His supreme power, and His superior intelligence, but also because of His great love for us. And because of that, He can be, as we recently saw, “…our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1); and why we need not fear, “…though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea” (v. 2).
Yes, change will continue to take place to our world and eventually to our entire universe in a very major way when it will all be destroyed and cease to be (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10-12).
But, again, God will never change; and for those who accept Him by their faith and obedience to the gospel, they will also be able to dwell forevermore in that blissful place where all can be described as being eternally “new” or ageless. What a wonderful, timeless place for each of us to be striving for; and where we, too, can enjoyably be forever “new”!