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It is a new year. Behind us are memories of joys, new beginnings, achievements but also losses, times of sadness and heartbreak. We cannot turn back the clock, nor should we waste our time wishing that it was possible. The wise man said it is foolish to ask, “Why were the former days better than these?” (Ecc. 7:10, NKJV). All the good things that have passed came with their own share of pain and hardship. While the Lord allows the world to stand, in the time that lies ahead there will be more of both good and bad in varying degrees. It is impossible to take the good and cause time to stand still so that it may endure longer. Every passing moment brings a new assortment of circumstances and situations that have never existed before, nor can ever be repeated. The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus compared this to a river. Just as we can never step into the same river twice, because the water displaced by each step flows on and never returns, so time is an ever-flowing and ever-changing stream. As he put it, “everything changes, and nothing stands still” (Plato, Cratylus 402a).
Heraclitus was right as it pertains to earthly things. Change is constant. The phone you buy today will be outdated before the year is over. The skill you learn to earn a living will be modified and refined and you will likely have to receive ongoing training. People whom you love and trust will change and your role in their lives will also change. Those who cared for you may come to need your care. Those who filled your life with joys may no longer be there. Relationships that shaped your view of your own life and family may leave you empty. Even the places and surroundings you considered constant will change. That restaurant you liked will close. The park where you played as a child may become a parking lot. Even the values and attitudes of the culture around you will change, until one day you look around and feel like a stranger in your own hometown. This can be quite unsettling.
Heraclitus was a pagan. He did not know the god of the Bible. He lived 500 years before Jesus was even born. He could not know what we are now privileged to understand. The Hebrew writer made the simple and profound revelation, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
This does not mean that Jesus always does the same thing. In the beginning Jesus “was with God” and “was God” (John 1:1). It was not until He came to this world that He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). As God in the flesh He was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28a). Now as our High Priest, He is “at the right hand of God” and “makes intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). One day for “those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb. 9:28b). Even so, His Deity, His nature, and His character have not changed.
The fact that Jesus is “the same” does not mean that His law for man has never changed. Before the Law of Moses was given God did not expect man to follow the laws it would reveal. That “law was given through Moses” (John 1:17). In it God “made known to them” all of the “precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses” (Neh. 9:14). But the Law of Moses foretold the coming of Christ as a “lawgiver” from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10). Now, “in these last days” God “has spoken to us by His Son” (Heb. 1:2). Now, all are accountable to “the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) and all will be judged by His word (John 12:48).
While the revelation that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” doesn’t mean His deeds or laws have not changed, it does offer us great comfort in the midst of this ever-changing world. It means…
- No Matter How Much Everything Else Changes Around Us, God Remains the Same. A prayer written by Moses and included in the book of Psalms reads, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psa. 90:2). The changes that go on around us can easily make us forget the eternal nature of God. We can’t allow ourselves to think that advancing technology, modern tolerance of immorality, or increased knowledge of science, philosophy, or medicine has the power to change God. These tiny ripples in the flow of the stream of time that carries our brief lives is nothing to a God that has always been and will always be. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
- No Matter How Much People Around Us Change, We Can Count on Jesus. People will let us down! Either because we unfairly place expectations on their behavior that we should not, or because by their own freewill people can and do choose to do things that are wrong. Sometimes we allow this to shake our faith, but the truth is if every human soul who has ever lived chose to reject the will of God and act with falsehood, sin, and rebellion it would not change in the slightest anything about God or the covenant He makes with His people. Jesus promised His disciples, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Even in a faithless world “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
- No Matter How the World Changes His Word Remains the Same. Peter declared centuries ago, “The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Pet. 1:24b-25a). Centuries before Peter wrote, the Psalmist proclaimed, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psa. 119:89). Why do we imagine that changes in our thinking somehow changes what God has commanded? Why do we suppose that because His word was first revealed to people with no cars, computers, or airplanes it is somehow less relevant? The same eternal God who sent Jesus to die for our sins thousands of years ago, still offers salvation through the message of Christ’s coming. Nothing that changes around us can remove the demands that His word places upon our lives. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”