DEUTERONOMY 4:1-2, 40: “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you…You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Does God’s Word change? Is the Bible an antiquated book that needs to be updated to match our current culture? Is there a difference in the revelation of God in the Old Testament from that of the New Testament? Are the moral teachings of Scripture fluid? These are very relevant questions for the church of today to grapple with.
We live in a time of constant change. In my short lifetime, I have seen the threat of nuclear war rise, subside, and rise again. As a child, I went through bombing drills as we feared the threat of the USSR. As a young adult, I saw the USSR crumble and independent nations reclaim their freedom. And, now, in this current midst of uncertainty, I am witnessing another madman attacking innocent people as he dreams of putting the USSR back together again.
Change is a constant in our world. What was, is not. What is not, is now again. What was socially unacceptable 20-30 years ago is now becoming the norm. Some would call this progress. After all, as man evolves and becomes more enlightened, his previous thoughts and assumptions will change. This may be true when it comes to science and technology. However, is it true when it comes to our concept of God, His revelation to mankind, and our responsibility to these?
If we serve a changing God then His Word is also something that will change. However, the revelation of Scripture is clear – GOD DOES NOT CHANGE! And, if the Bible is the revelation of God to His creation, then it will not change either. In the book of Deuteronomy, which is called the Second Law, or more correctly the restating of God’s revelation to Israel and mankind, Moses writes,
- “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
You could say that God’s Word was set in stone. In fact, the 10 Commandments, which were the terms of God’s Covenant with Israel were literally written in stone. God knew that the biggest temptation Israel would face would be that of changing God’s Word to fit their preferences and lifestyles. And, to that temptation God was very clear – “You shall not add t the word which I commanded you, nor take from it!”
Some may object and say – “This is only referring to the Old Testament. The New Testament changes God’s revelation in the Old Testament!” Is that true? Did Jesus change God’s Word? Is the New Testament a nullification of the Old Testament or is it a fulfillment of it?
- “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV
Jesus did not come to take away or add to the revelation of the Father in the Old Testament. Rather, He came to clarify it and fulfill it. And, He warns against the very same temptation that Moses was addressing – changing God’s Word.
- “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19-20 NKJV
It is very interesting, and very insightful, that the beginning of the Old Testament revelation and the ending of the New Testament revelation, end with the same warning about changing God’s Word. God speaks through Moses to Israel in Deuteronomy. Jesus speaks through the Apostle John to all mankind in the book of Revelation.
- “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19 NKJV
Why is this so important? The injunction in the book of Revelation makes it very clear. To add or take away from God’s Word is a life-threatening action. In the Old Testament, it was met with the judgment of Israel by surrounding nations. In the final outcome of history, it will mean the difference between eternal life and damnation. It is very clear – to honor God is to reverence His Word. To dismiss God’s Word, to add to it, or to take away from it, is to dishonor and reject the only one who can give us life. It cannot be more serious.
- “…And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
This discussion naturally leads to the question about the difference between the ceremonial laws and moral laws revealed in the Bible. This is another discussion and not the focus of my reflections today. Today, I am moved to affirm the truth of God’s revelation in its entirety. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. The Word of God, Who is God, Who existed from all eternity, did not change – He simply humbled Himself, became a man, and walked among us. Jesus came to this earth to reveal the unchanging nature of the Godhead and His revelation to mankind.
GOD’S WORD NEVER CHANGES BECAUSE GOD NEVER CHANGES!
Lord, thank you for Your unchanging Word! Thank you for the privilege of opening Your Word each and every day to discover who You are. Give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You. Open up my spiritual eyes and give me the grace to see, hear, and do Your Word! May I reverence Your Word each and every day and never shrink back from defending it.
- “You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”
In Jesus’ Name!