If the Bible says, God does not change (Malachi 3:6), yet God became flesh (John 1:14), Did God not change? How do you reconcile these two passages, if they seem to contradict?
At first glance it may seem that the two stated passages might contradict.
- Malachi 3:6 I am the Lord, I change not….
- John 1:14 The Word (God) became flesh and dwelt among us…
After all, Jesus did become a man. He hasn’t always been a man. If God became flesh, does this mean God changed and contradicts Malachi 3:6?
As we investigate the context of Malachi and the nature of God, we will discover these two passages do not contradict one another but rather complement each other. Consider this, the writer of Hebrews say Jesus “…is the Same, Yesterday, Today and Forever (Hebrews 13:8)”. If the writer of Hebrews concludes that Jesus is unchanging, he must also see no contradiction between Jesus becoming flesh and the promise that God never changes. How?
Exploring Malachi 3:6
Promises are only as good as the character of the person who makes them and the authority the promise rests upon. When we investigate God’s specific promise that he does not change, His promise is based upon his character and his authority to uphold it. When God says he does not lie, it is because God’s nature is truthful and he has the power to uphold that truth. When God says he does not break his promises, it is because His nature and authority does not permit it. In Malachi 3:6, When God said he does not change, this promise is specifically in reference to His covenantal promise to Israel that he would bless all nations through them despite their disobedience. God has every right to judge us in our sin but He does not justly judge Israel in this passage because he promised to fulfill his covenant of redemption for mankind through them. This covenant promise of God was fulfilled by the arrival of God (Jesus) in the flesh. When Jesus became flesh in John 1:14, God wasn’t changing. In fact, he was fulfilling the promise he gave beginning in Genesis (Gen 3:15; and12:1-3) just as He said he would.
Certainly, God did fulfill his promise. However, one may still object to the fact that God did not change. They may state, “God did fulfill his promise, but didn’t God change by becoming flesh? God had to change in order to fulfill his promise” (i.e. He became flesh).
To best understand the answer to this question above, one must understand the difference between nature and position. In order, for God to be faithful and always fulfill his covenant promises, it must require that his nature never change. However, such promises do not necessitate that His position cannot change. Remember the promise of Malachi is that God’s promise will not change based upon His truthful nature. However, God can in his nature lower himself in position, to the point of a servant in order to best fulfill his promises. He doesn’t have to change his nature to do this, rather he lowers himself in His nature to do this. He takes on a different position. In fact we could take it one step further and say, “Jesus’s position lowers so that he can fulfill his promises in accordance with his nature (See Philippians 2:5-8).”
In Malachi chapter 3:6 is a promise based on the nature of God. His Nature will NOT change. In this passage we find the nature of God to be merciful, faithful, loving and gracious. In Jesus’s coming we see a God who is merciful, loving, faithful, and gracious. Thank you God that your nature never changes, but you took on the position of a servant so that you could fulfill your covenant and we could connect to you through the redemption you have brought by way of the cross.
If you really want to know more about the way in which Jesus took on flesh, you can study theological topics such as the Kenosis, Hypostatic Union, Anhypostatis, and Enhypostasis or Study bible passage such as John 1, Philippians 2; Hebrews 1; Colossians 1 & 2; Hebrews 13; Daniel 7; Isaiah 53;)