God Names & Exegetes Himself

18 And he (Moses) said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen….”

Exodus 34:5 Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” “The meaning of the divine name and thus the very person of God are revealed in the two texts. The first one exposes what God will do when he discloses His name to Moses on the mountain, and the second one exegetes the content of that meaning.
The first text anticipates the second. Moses wishes to see the divine glory and God permits him to see the divine goodness — tantamount to proclaiming the divine name in his hearing.”

Stephen G. Dempster
Dominion and Dynasty; A theology of the Hebrew Bible — pg. 105-106

What must not be missed here, if Dempster is correct, is that God binds up His name and the exegesis of His name not only with the idea of His graciousness, mercy, longsuffering, goodness, truth, justice and forgiveness but also with the idea of divine freedom, or as Calvinists prefer, divine sovereignty. God’s very name is and means His ability to have compassion and to not have compassion on whom He sovereignly chooses and refuses to choose.

Of course, legion are the name of the Evangelicals who refuse to accept this proposition. Per, the expansive Arminian camp inside Evangelicalism it is absolutely denied that this is the character of God’s name. God’s name is not “divine freedom,” but “divine lack of freedom.”

If God says is divine freedom is the very essence of who He is, doesn’t it teeter on the denial of God to deny God’s freedom? Of course this divine freedom operates in the context of grace, mercy, forgiveness, long-suffering and goodness but as Pharaoh discovered it also operates in the context of justice and wrath.

To deny God His essence by denying Him is divine freedom is to create an idol instead of God. Hard Arminians, never mind Open Theists have taken to themselves a God who is not the God as God names and exegetes Himself in Exodus 33 & 34.

Rev. Mika Edmondson On the Need For Nations and Ethnicities

Recently Rev. Mika Edmondson, a non-caucasian minister in Grand Rapids, Michigan tweeted out below on Twitter. He makes many of the same points that I was attempting to make in my post here,


I’m glad to see another minister making the same argument. I do hope he isn’t called a “white supremacist” for making these points as I was for making many of the same points.

Rev. Edmondson writes,

“Colorblind theology denies 

1. God’s promise to Abraham that “in you all the nations shall be blessed”(Gen18:18)

2. The Father’s promise to the Son that “I will make you a light to the nations”(Is.49:6)

3. The Spirits promise to us that “all the peoples will praise God” (Ps 67:5) 

4. Christ’s great commission to disciple the nations.

5.The Spirit’s work to prepare us for a multi-ethnic table. In Acts 10, the Lord prepares Peter with a vision, not only to preach to Gentiles but to accept them as clean/equals in Christ.

6. One of the main tenets of the historic Christian faith as outlined in the Apostles’ Creed. “I believe in the holy Catholic Church” Catholicity means precisely the opposite of colorblindness, celebrating the inclusion of all ethnicities in Christ.

7. Christ’s power to heal racial divisions, disparities, and injustices by ignoring their ongoing impact Colorblind theology undermine unity in the church by refusing to acknowledge significant ethnic differences or address significant problems.

8. Christ’s command to neighbor love by refusing to see or love others in their cultural particularity. It suggests there is nothing about the culture of its neighbor to really see or appreciate.”

Dr. Peter Jones… One or Two?

“One-ism, (all-is-one) is an esoteric read on reality. It maintains that everything can be explained by everything else. There are no qualitative distinctions to be found in the universe. The world creates itself and humans are ‘co-creators’ along with everything else. In this system reality is One. Think of one big circle. Everything is contained within it; rocks, trees, planets, human beings — even God, as a kind of energy. Everything is connected to everything else. There is nothing outside the circle.

Two-ism (all is two) is an exoteric read on reality. It maintains that the world is made by a Creator who is uncreated and radically different from His creatures. There are two forms of existence: the created and the one who created it. The two, while deeply related, are qualitatively distinct. Think of two circles, connected but distinct and essentially different.”

Dr. Peter Jones 
One or Two; Seeing a World of Difference — pg. 88

1.) What Dr. Jone’s labels as “One-ism,” is the idea where ontologically speaking, all reality participates in the same being. In most of these systems, one’s status in the social order is dependent on how much of that ultimate being they have unique to others who have less of this Oneist being.  The Mahat system of ancient Egypt was a Oneist system. The Pharoah was at the top of beingness and everyone descended from Pharoah had a lesser measure of being than Pharoah possessed. Animistic, Pantheistic, Hindu, are all Oneist systems.

The 1996 film “Phenomenon” is a classic expression of this One-ist Worldview as is the whole “Star Wars” series.

2.) Since everything is one and so all share the same being the ability to make qualitative distinct distinctions is impossible. For example, if a man and a woman share in the same universal being who is to say that there exists a qualitative distinction between what, in a non-Oneist worldview, has always been understood to be “male,” and “female?” Since the Oneist worldview finds an impossibility to make qualitative distinctions we get the idea of sexual fluidity and/or fluctuating gender. Indeed, in any consistent One-ist worldview any distinction has to be seen as temporary or arbitrary. Not only do we see the incapability of making hard gender and sexual qualitative distinctions we are increasingly seeing in some quarters of our culture the desire to erase the qualitative distinctions that once distinguished a child from the adult. There is a push in some quarters to sexualize the child arguing that the distinction between child and adult is unhelpful and arbitrary. On all these points we hear that heretofore universally accepted qualitative distinctions are merely “social constructs.” In Jones’ words above, humans are co-creators and as co-creator humans create these putative ‘social constructs’ that provide qualitative distinctions that we now, as a more enlightened One-ist people, understand are no distinctions at all. We hear this same kind of language about nations.  Distinct Nations, it is increasingly said, like gender, sexuality, and age are merely social constructs created by human co-creators who are free to uncreate what they had previously arbitrarily created.

Along this line, in One-ist worldview, religions likewise begin to break down and converge. Hard Ecumenicalism and a refusal to embrace the rough edges that segregate one religion from another becomes the watchword. Unity (really uniformity) becomes the be all end all passion. If all is one then uniformity is obviously the highest virtue and anyone who disturbs the pursuit of uniformity is a pebble in the shoe that must be eliminated. Of course, for the Christian unity is something that is never pursued. The Christian understands that unity is the residual byproduct of a common embrace of truth. The more people agree on truth, the more people will discover unity.

The demonstration of this mad pursuit for One-ist uniformity is commonly seen in the Revolutionary. Whether it was the One-ist leveling of the Bogomils, Cathar, Albigensians, and Ana-Baptists, whether it was the Phrygian cap in the French Revolution with the common leveling greeting to one and all, regardless of status or rank of “citoyenne,”  whether it is the universal leveling greeting of “comrade” during the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, or whether it was the ubiquitous leveling Mao suit found in the post-Communist Chinese Revolution, the One-ist worldview passionately desires to press upon people uniformity. Uniformity in One-ist slovenly thought, uniformity in slovenly clothing, uniformity in One-ist speech pattern. If all is one then all are interchangeable uniform cogs in the One-ist world.

Actually, in a genuinely One-ist world, as consistently followed, language and communication would be utterly impossible since qualitatively distinct meaning is impossible in a consistently One-ist world. Perhaps this explains God’s confusing of the language at Babel. Babel was perhaps the greatest attempt to build a One-ist social order ever.

George Orwell’s novel, “1984” is a wonderful fiction that describes the pursuit of Revolutionary One-ism.

3.) The One-ist will, of course, appeal to “Science” as a support to their One-ist cause. However, what most people don’t realize is that convictions don’t change because of science but rather science changes because of our convictions. This is a huge subject and so I will merely recommend three books that explain what I am getting at here,

a.) The Structures of Scientific Revolutions — Thomas Kuhn
b.) The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God — Gordon H. Clark
c.) Hermeneutics and Science –Vern S. Poythress

An appeal to Science in order to prove One-ism will always be successful as coming from One-ist “Scientists.” Of course, if all is one, then anything and everything and nothing can be proven because no qualitative distinctions exist. One of the greatest failures of “Science” to give scientific heft to a distinctly non-scientific pursuit was the Soviet Union’s pursuit of Lysenkoism over Genetics. Lysenko insisted that he had overcome the qualitative distinction between Spring Wheat and Winter Wheat. He hadn’t and food shortages followed. “Science,” so-called, “proves” all kinds of things that just aren’t so. One-ism makes it easier for “Science” to do just that.

All of this to say that Science is only as good as the Theology that it is dependent upon and of which it is an expression.

4.) In Two-ism, because you have a distinct Creator and creature you also have other qualitative distinctions that are what they are because of how they have been named so by the Creator in His revealed Word. Genesis 1 is a long story of the Two-ist God making qualitative distinctions, and then God’s Law-Word goes on to make other qualitative distinctions which are definitely not social-constructs, though the One-ists will insist that God’s qualitative distinctions are instead really just so many social-constructs.

According to Bouwsma the idea of God’s creating qualitative distinctions was something well understood by John Calvin,

“The positive corollary of Calvin’s loathing of mixture was his approval of boundaries, which separate one thing from another. He attributed boundaries to God Himself: God had established the boundaries between peoples, which should, therefore, remain within the space assigned to them … ‘Just as there are in a military camp separate lines for each platoon and section,’ Calvin observed, ‘men are placed on the earth so that each nation may be content with its own boundaries.’”

W.J. Bouwsma
John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait — p.34-35

I highly recommend reading Dr. Peter Jones’ books. He provides scintillating analysis of how the culture and the Church are slipping faster and faster into One-ist presuppositions that are not Christian in their origin. Postmodernism, for example, is a child of One-ist ideology. Postmodernism teaches that no grand narratives exist and that all personal narratives are social constructs. Reality is malleable. Qualitative distinctions do not exist except as man subjectively creates them.

When One-ism slips into the Church the traditional language is retained but emptied of its original Two-ist meaning and is re-filled with One-ist pagan content. Dr. Jones’, in is “One or Two,” demonstrates how the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 deconstructs One-ism while making the case that our church and culture is increasingly falling into Oneism.


Good Friday and Propitiation


“God put forward Christ as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Romans 3:25

Liberals and Neo-orthodox have historically blanched at the idea of Christ’s sacrifice being a propitiation for the sin of the elect. … a means by which the turning away of God’s just wrath is accomplished.

Their objection is with the idea of an angry God who needs be appeased. The find in the idea of propitiation the idea of a volcano God who needs a fair virgin to be cast into the volcano before the volcano God can be satisfied. They are offended by this kind of God.

The Biblical Christian responds by noting that unlike the volcano God the God of the Bible is a God of justice who has promised that the soul that sinneth shall surely die. If God forsakes His opposition to sin … His anger against sin then God forsakes His attributes of Justice and Holiness. If God is not angry with and against both sin and sinner God is not God. Besides all this we have the explicit testimony of the Scripture that God is angry with the wicked every day and that God hates the wicked. Becuase of this God needs be propitiated and the Cross of Jesus Christ is where we find the propitiation of God that man could never provide.

The liberal and neo-orthodox still tend to see this as not only unbefitting of God but also as not fair. Some have even styled the Son providing propitiation as “Divine child abuse” by the Father. A few things are missed though.

1.) Jesus is not just some aimless wandering Jewish Rabbi that God seizes and throws on a cross. The Son came to do the will of the Father. The Father and the Son in eternity past covenanted to redeem a people. The Father agreed to send the son to do the work of Redemption and the Son agreed to do the work of Redemption so gaining the inheritance of a people by His own name.

2.) The Liberal and neo-orthodox are appalled at the anger of the Father but they miss that it is the love of the Father who sent the Son to be the appeasement (propitiation) for a people who without the work of the Son would never know the comfort of God’s love nor relief from the Father’s just anger.

3.) The liberal and neo-orthodox miss the fact that God’s anger is spilled out on God Himself as incarnated in the God-Man Jesus the Messiah. God loves us so much that He bears His own Just anger against us upon Himself there at and in the Cross. This is why we can say that we are saved by God, from God, for God to God, to God be the Glory.

4.) Of course, all this bears upon the reality that unless one closes with the Son, that is, unless one looks to the Son for safety and for mediation with and introduction unto the Father that person is eternally without hope and without God. God will not provide salvation for anyone who is not under the umbrella of the Son’s Cross Work because apart from Christ the Father’s wrath abides.

Unless Christ is a propitiation for our sins on that Good Friday Cross we are still in our sins. Expiation alone (the removal of sin) is not enough. God is a personal God who is personally angry with personal sinners. God must be propitiated or we of all men are to be pitied.

Those who reject propitiation, while doubtlessly well intended, are not Christian.


Isaiah 46;9 Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ 11 calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth My counsel from a far country. Yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

Psalm 33:11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.

Psalm 102:26 They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed. 27 But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end.

James 1;17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

All of these passages, and others like them that we will be referencing alike teach that there is no change in God.

The fact that God is changeless is called immutability. Theologians thus speak of the immutability of God. 

“Whatever is changeable is not the most high God,” and “that which truly is is that which unchangeably abides.”

Augustine of Hippo

There is a reason that God speaks of Himself as immutable and that is because mutability in God … changing in God would imply that God was not a perfect being. Change implies as going from worse to better or from better to worse or as to something different but as God is perfection there can be no going from worse to better, better to worse or going to something different. God is absolute perfection and therefore improvement, deterioration, or transformation into something other is impossible.

Now before we get rolling here on God’s immutability we must note that all because we note that God is immutable that does not mean that we are teaching that God immobile. The God of the Bible is not the God of Aristotle… “The unmoved mover.” God enters into relations with man and He is active in the affairs of man working for the benefit of His people and the destruction of the wicked.

Berkhof offers here,

“There is change around God, change in the relations of men to Him, but there is no change in His Being, His attributes, His purpose, His motives of action, or His purpose.”

As we speak of the Aseity of God so it is true of God’s immutability. God is free from all change … all improvement. In the words of A. W. Tozer,

“All that God is He always has been, and all that He has been and is He ever will be.”

The theologian Theissen offers,

“In essence, attributes, consciousness, and will God is unchangeable.”

We might ask,

Where is God’s immutability seen in the doctrine of our salvation? Well, we know that God is perfectly Just. Crime must be visited with its penalty or God is unjust. God consistently promised throughout Scripture that the wages of sin is death. Sin deserves death and a God who has promised death for sin, being immutable must visit sin with death or else he is neither just nor immutable. In brief, if God doesn’t visit sin with penalty then God de-gods himself. But God is also merciful and as God is immutable in His mercy neither can His mercy be called into question. So, God being immutable visits sin with its Just consequence in offering up Himself in the 2nd person of the Trinity in order that His immutability is not brought into question as He reveals that He is both Just and Justifier … both just and merciful, to those who have faith in Jesus.

God’s immutability in His Holiness and Justice and mercy find their consistency in the death of Christ.

Christian, would you like to see God’s immutability? Then look to the Cross. There at the Cross, it is screamed that God changes not. If there ever may have been a place for God to renege on His immutability it would have been with the Cross, but there at the Cross we see that God changes not.

Because of God’s immutability, we can trust that God’s promises will come to pass. Whenever I lay a loved believer in the grave I think of God’s immutability. This is not the end. God has promised eternal life. God is immutable. There will be a resurrection from the dead.

Whenever I have troubles and trials I think of God’s immutability. He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that all that comes from the Father’s providential hand is for my good. God is immutable. If God says that then it is true.

Now we may ask,

What about those times where Scripture uses language like, “God relented,” or “God repented,” or in some translations, “God changed His mind?”

Examples, (And we can’t get at them all)

Immutability and Abraham’s Prayer (Gen. 18:16-33)

1.) God from eternity past determined to destroy Sodom
2.) God also from eternity past determined that Abraham would intercede for Sodom
3.) God determined from eternity past upon His interaction with Abraham to the end that He would spare Sodom if 10 righteous could be found

So, here in this narrative passage, you have a God, if read one way, is constantly changing His mind (50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10) but if read in the broader context that God predestines the end (Sodom’s destruction) as well as the means to the end (a prayer that Sodom not be destroyed if x amount of the righteous could be found in Sodom) than God’s immutability is seen as abiding.

As an aside this should encourage us in our prayer life. No, God’s mind is not changed by our prayers, as if we could bend the immutable God’s will to our mutable ends, but it may well be the case that the ordained end that God has ordained may well include the ordained prayers of God’s people to that end. So, God may well ordain some result but only in the context of His ordaining prayer as a temporal means to that result.

Another example,

Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: “LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.” So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people. (Exod. 32:11-14)

So, here we have in this narrative passage that “God relented,” but in other passages we get this,

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it. (Num. 23:19-20)

And again, “And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent”(1 Sam. 15:29).

So, how do we harmonize these kinds of passages so that God’s immutability is sustained?

Well, first note that most of the passages that teach that God’s repents, relents, or changes His mind come in the context of narrative passages … often passages that have to do with God relenting from visiting sin with judgment. While the places where we get the bald statements that God changeth not is what we might call didactic passages. Passages, that have as their express purpose to say something about the character of God.  We would offer here that this is a case where the didactic passages are the more clear passages where the narrative passages are the less clear passages and so the less clear must be read in light of the more clear.

But aside from that observation, consider this prayer of Moses. If we understood this prayer of Moses the way that those who want to deny God’s immutability we would be left with a pretty small God and an awfully big Moses. Here we have the all-wise Sovereign of the universe resolved upon destroying Israel but Moses intervenes just in time to convince God how unreasonable that would be. Moses puts before God some truths that God didn’t think of. Whew, what a lucky God that He had Moses around. Do we really want to conclude that God

1.) In a fit of impulsive anger, God forgot the consequences of His proposed actions upon His reputation? (That Egypt would speak ill of Him)

2.) In a fit of impulsive anger, God forgot His promises to the patriarchs?

God forgetting consequences and promises would mean that God was not omniscient … not all knowing. So, to interpret these texts the way that some seek to do gives us a God that is neither

a.) Immutable           b.) Omniscient   c.) Longsuffering   d.) Merciful

To make these narrative texts control the didactic texts is to give us a God who is pretty small.

So, we read these texts which seem to deny God’s immutability as texts that are using what is called phenomenological language. For example, Scripture speaks of God as having a might right arm. Scripture speaks of the finger of God. Scripture speaks of God having wings. But very few people I know want to make these passages contradict the passage that teaches that God is Spirit. No, we all understand that the text is describing God phenomenologically. God is being spoken of from the way man comprehends these matters. The purpose of the author of the text when it speaks of God’s mighty right arm is to communicate that God’s might is not limited. Just so we would say that the purpose of texts where God proposes instantaneous judgment, only to be “appealed to out of such judgment” is to communicate both God’s Holiness (He cannot abide sin) and God’s Mercy (God provides a High Priest to intercede). So, in the usage of phenomenological language God the inspired writer of Scripture is seeking to make a theological statement regarding the character and nature of God and His relation to man. The literature in these narratives that deal with Judgment and relenting is not used as a how-to manual to assemble a lawnmower but rather it is literature used to describe events as they appear to the observer.

This is not uncommon in Scripture. The Bible speaks of sunrises and sunsets as does the guy on the Weather channel.  This is the way that it phenomenologically appears to us. Scripture frequently in its narratives describes events in terms of how they appear to the observer.  But these phenomenological narrative descriptions cannot overturn the explicit didactic assertions.

“And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent”

Malachi 3:6 

“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

Isaiah 46:10

 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;

It seems to me that the flavor of theology called Dispensationalism has a serious problem with God’s immutability because in their theology they actually believe that God’s real intent to set up the Messianic Kingdom was foiled by the Jews refusing Christ as their King. At that point, God went to plan “B” and introduced the Church. For the Dispensationalist God neither determined His will (there goes omnipotence) nor did God know His plan would be foiled (there goes omniscience) and God was forced to change His mind in favor of a new plan (there goes Immutability).

And of course Dispensationalism also has a problem with how God’s plan of salvation changes from dispensation to dispensation.

Those who fiddle and play with God’s law as applicable to and for man from the Old Covenant and the New Covenant need to be warned about this matter of God’s immutability. If God has one law for His people in the old Covenant and another law for His people in the new covenant well, some can easily see a denial of God’s immutability there. Yes, yes, I understand all the arguments that seek to escape that point but let the warning be raised that when you change God’s law in its applicability and enforcement, in ways inconsistent with an expressed Word you are treading on the thin ice of denying Gods immutability.

The Biblical understanding of Immutability stands as opposed to Arminian doctrines of the immutability of God. For the Arminian God does not change in His being but God does change in His knowledge and will. For example the Arminian believes that God will is changed all the time. God’s will is for all men to be saved but God’s will is not immutable because some men aren’t saved. God’s will is not immutable. God’s decisions are too a great extent dependent upon the actions of man. Man acts and God reacts.

The Biblical understanding of Immutability stands as opposed to pantheistic denials of the immutability of God. For the pantheist, God is in tandem with man eternally becoming as opposed to owning absolute being. In its Hegelian expression pantheism teaches that the unconscious absolute is gradually coming into conscious personality in man. God through and with man becomes God.


Cash value of this doctrine  … wherein does this doctrine provide for us comfort and strength?

1.) The immutability of God guarantees that his character and all moral distinctions will never fail. God is and ever will be Holy, Just, Sovereign, Patient, Good, Merciful … Because God is immutable God will always be God. Immutability is implied in the “I am-ness” of God.

2.) The immutability of God is a great consolation to all who put their trust in Him. The immutable God will make good on all His promises.

3.) God is constant and His affections do not cool. He immutability is a stern warning to all who reject His mercy … to all who seek to make Him other than He is … to all who raise up Idols and call those idols God.