The author of Hebrews specified that it is Jesus who is eternally the same. But Jesus was quite clear—as is all of Scripture—that the three Persons of the Trinity are in perfect harmony. As referenced in my previous post, John’s Gospel mentions the unity between God the Father and God the Son numerous times. Regarding the Holy Spirit, Jesus told His disciples, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” A short while later, He added, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” Paul tells us that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,” and Peter linked the Persons of the Trinity when he wrote “To God’s elect . . . who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood.” The Great Commission does likewise, instructing us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We also see the unity of the Trinity at Jesus’ baptism.
I could go on and on, but I mentioned something above about brevity, and I think the point is made. And while I don’t have time to explore them all here, there are a number of other verses that support the idea of immutability we see in Hebrews 13. To summarize, the author of Hebrews could have accurately written, “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” It may seem like belaboring the obvious to show evidence that Jesus Christ is God, but it becomes pertinent as we move on.
One of the common “contradictions” skeptics (and even many well-meaning believers) raise is how the Old Testament reveals a “God of wrath” whereas the New Testament reveals a “God of love.” So how do we reconcile that—or other such conundrums—with what we find in Hebrews 13? We start by analyzing the premise of the contradiction and, in this case, rejecting it. The “God of the Old Testament” is actually a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” It is in the Old Testament that we read of God’s numerous commands to care for the poor and needy and the foreigner. The Old Testament’s Psalmist wrote, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies,” “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations,” and “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” And it is in the Old Testament that we find numerous references to the coming of the Messiah, the greatest demonstration of love ever.
Moreover, the “God of the New Testament” spoke about those who would “go away to eternal punishment,” the varying levels of severity in that punishment, and examples of those who would suffer it. He “knows how to . . . hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment” and “will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” with “everlasting destruction . . . shut[ting them] out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” We’re even told in the New Testament that “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”
The idea that the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath and the God of the New Testament Is a God of love doesn’t hold water. That being said, the apparent contradiction doesn’t go away that easily. We’re still left with an immutable God who clearly displays both wrath/punishment and love. How can this be? What’s to be made of this dichotomy? Put another way, we know that God is just and that He is merciful. He doesn’t just display those attributes; He is those attributes. God cannot be other than just and He cannot be other than merciful. So how does that work?
The answer is the cross. If God is truly just, He must punish us for our sin—He must pour out His wrath. If God is truly merciful, He must not punish us for our sin—He must show us His love. The beauty of the gospel is that God is both fully just and fully merciful. He did indeed pour out His wrath—but He poured it out upon His Son. The only injustice is that suffered by Jesus, “who had no sin” but became “sin for us.” Thus God’s mercy is free to flow upon us without impeding His judgment, enabling James to write, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” This is not because God is more merciful than just or because He set aside His judgment, but because Jesus stepped in front of God’s wrath for us.
It is only through the cross of Jesus Christ that we see these seemingly contrasting characteristics of God coexist in unchanging harmony. And if we closely study the Scriptures and understand all that took place at the cross, we see other supposed contradictions regarding God’s nature melt away. I don’t mean to be glib or tritely dismiss hard questions about God, and to be sure, they exist. Read the Pentateuch and you will end up scratching your head. But if we interpret Scripture in light of Scripture and view God not in a snapshot from Leviticus or a soundbite from the Sermon on the Mount, we see Him as He truly, fully is—we see all His attributes. And they, like He, are unchanging from eternity past to eternity future. The God who spoke the universe into existence is the God who gave Himself on the cross for all of humanity is the God who will one day return “coming with the clouds” is the God we will worship infinitely in heaven.
So what does that mean for us? To find out, let’s go back to our original text and, as we would always be wise to do, examine the context. There we find the following: Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. The author of Hebrews places this assertion in the midst of two commandments. The first is to emulate biblical leaders. The Greek meaning of “consider” would suggest a careful observation, a study. Remember that just two chapters ago, the author of Hebrews spent 40 verses recounting the great heroes of the faith and issuing a call to persevere in their footsteps. We see the same thing here, leading us up to the statement about the unchanging nature of God. The question we have to ask ourselves, then, is what ultimately brought about an outcome worthy of following? Was it the faith of these heroes or “your leaders,” or was it One in whom they had faith? Faith or belief in itself is useless if the object of faith is not trustworthy. The readers of Hebrews were directed to emulate the faith of previous generations because they had faith in the Faithful One. He called Abram and made him into a great nation. He delivered that nation out of bondage in Egypt. He brought His people into the Promised Land. He led them faithfully despite their faithlessness. He rescued them from exile in Babylon. He sent the long-awaited and promised Messiah. He turned cowering disciples into bold apostles. And because He does not change, the God who did all of that is the God worthy of their faith and ours.
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. This seems like a sudden shift in gears, but it is a warning very applicable to the Hebrew readers and to us today. If God does not change, His Word does not change, nor does His standard, nor do His values. Right and wrong do not change with the culture or popular opinion or political party or leader. What was sin in the opening chapters of Genesis is sin today. And what was the only cure for sin promised in Genesis 3 is the only cure today. As Christians, we must not stray from the gospel because we know it does not change since the One who breathed it does not change.
Jesus Christ—One with the Father and Holy Spirit in a mystery we cannot understand—is unchanging. We may not always see that in our experience, just as we may not always see it if we narrow our focus to one verse or passage of Scripture. But we are told “my righteous one will live by faith,” not by experience. Only by faith can we see the whole picture—faith banking on the promise of an immutable God.
 John 1:1; 5:17-18, 8:12-58, 10:30, 14:6-11, 17:20-22
 John 15:26
 John 16:13-15
 Colossians 2:9
 I Peter 1:1-2
 Matthew 28:19
 See Matthew 3:16-17, Luke 3:21-22
 See Numbers 23:19; I Samuel 15:29; Psalm 102:26; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17
 Exodus 34:6; see also Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 145:8
 Lamentations 3:22
 Psalm 36:5
 Psalm 89:1
 Psalm 115:1
 Matthew 25:46
 See Luke 20:47
 Jude 7
 II Peter 2:9
 II Thessalonians 1:8-9
 Romans 1:18
 II Corinthians 5:21
 James 2:13
 Revelation 1:7
 Hebrews 13:7-9
 Hebrews 10:38