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If God Never Changes, Where Is My Burning Bush?

Sometimes worded differently, this is an age-old question that has plagued believers and fueled the skeptics for centuries. If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and does not change (Malachi 3:6), then why does he not speak to us in the same manner as he did to people such as Moses? Many people use this argument to assert that the God of the Bible must not exist being that his communication is never today presented in a way that can be empirically tested. Many would even shape the argument as such: The God of Christianity never spoke to those men back then anyways. It was all shared by word of mouth back then, but today we have video and audio recordings all over the place and not once have we seen God show up in a pillar of smoke or can be heard thundering commands down from Heaven. How do we address this issue as evangelical Christians? How can we help the skeptic see the issue for what it is while showing them that God does exist even if there are a difference in his communication methods?

To start, we must address the issue of the passages used to affirm this doctrine. Let us first address Malachi 3:6 in context.

Speaking of his return to govern Israel, God says:

“’Then I will draw near to you for judgement. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner and do not fear me,’ says Yahweh of Hosts. ‘For I, Yahweh, do not change; therefore you, oh children of Jacob, are not consumed.’”
(Malachi 3:5-6)

The point of this passage is not that God does not change his methods of communication, but that his standards of right and wrong, his commandments, his precepts, and ultimately his character, do not change. Why? Because he reminds Israel (“children of Jacob”), who are soon to become slaves again, that he will return and judge them against his pre-given laws. He is reminding them that in his absence, he will remain the same; when he returns, he will expect them to act in accordance of his word just as much as he did when he left. This passage cannot therefore be used to claim that God’s communication methods cannot change; this passage is merely speaking of his character and expectations.

Next, let us address Hebrews 13:8.

“13 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.3 Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.” (Hebrews 13:1-10 ESV)

Here again we see that, when the verse is seen in light of its immediate context, the use of the verse is again used to affirm the fact that the character and expectations of God do not change, with no suggestion of a point being made about his communication methods.

Allow me to pose this question: Being that there are less than 50 people that the Bible claims to have spoken to directly, why do we assume, in light of the entire human population, that he would speak to even that many people today? Further, what if he is actually speaking to hundreds of people such as the native people of the Amazon that have no direct contact with recordable technologies or even connection with the general population? If we question God on his communication methods, we must accept the possibility that he communicates in these manners with people without technology or connection. Why does he have to speak to the CNN news anchor on live television for us to affirm that his communication methods are the same today as they were in 1400 BCE with Moses?

But does not the Holy Spirit speak to us? Of course, but nowhere are we told that it would be in an audible manner. The Spirit directs us via our conscious in light of the “sword of the Spirit” which is God’s word – the Bible (Ephesians 6:17). God spoke directly to Moses because there was no written word for Moses to have the Spirit guide him in; Moses was the very person who wrote the first five books of your Bible based on what God told him.

Maybe you are upset because you feel as though God speaks to you in neither audible words nor guidance of the Spirit. What I would suggest is that you first look inward and see if there is anything that is hindering him from communicating with you. We know that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4:8), but the verse immediately before verse eight shows us how to draw near to God.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:7-8)

In order to draw near to God, we must first submit to him. God does not dwell close with unreprented sin. If you are a Christian who feels as though God has abandoned you or is choosing not to speak to you personally, it might be that you have tainted yourself with unrepented sin and must first submit yourself to God through repentance, resist the Devil and his influence, and then you will be able to draw near to God. If you refuse to submit yourself to God’s standards, how can you truly know him? And if you do not truly know him, how can you be close to him? In order to be close to a holy God, we must first repent of our sins, receive forgiveness, then walk near and alongside God. If you do this, I promise that you will begin to hear more from God.


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