Mike T Holland

Nehemiah 9: 5-7

Psalm 102: 25-28

Hebrews 13: 8

         I have been encouraged by what has been brought before us.  I was thinking of the hymn right after the one that has been referred to.  Hymn 349 has often encouraged me with these words: 

                  ’Tis everlasting peace,

                  Sure as Jehovah’s Name;

         ’Tis stable as His steadfast throne,

                  For evermore the same.

                  Our love is oft-times low

                  Our joy still ebbs and flows;

         But peace with Him remains the same;

                  No change Jehovah knows.

                  We change - He changes not,

                  Though changing years roll by.

We often sing that hymn; and I have been thinking of this name of God, since we had it in a different form in Isaiah.  In chapter 41 we get a sense of this Name.  We get “I am HE” (v 4), which the note says is the same name as this: it is literally ‘I, THE SAME’.  That name has been before me and we have it in these scriptures.  We find this name also used by Hezekiah, Isa 37: 16.  We get, “the same”, as a phrase, used a large number of times really, but not as frequently as I expected as a name of God. 

         These references I have selected highlight what we have in that hymn.  I think of what has been set before us in relation to the love of God, an aspect of God that does not change, which has been shown to us wonderfully in the Person of Jesus Christ, of whom we have read in Hebrews; it does not change in thousands of years before or thousands of years later. 

         In reading these verses in Nehemiah, I was thinking of how this Name comes in even before they go over a lengthy history of the people of Israel, and how very much, as that hymn says, they had changed constantly and how their love had been oft times low.  That recounting of their history in chapter 9 is full of that; the last few verses specifically, feelingly so.  The history as recounted itself is interesting.  What it says of the people in contrast to God is very affecting because it is very much the same as we might say of ourselves.  It says in verse 35, “And they have not served thee in their kingdom, and in thy great goodness that thou gavest them, and in the large and fat land that thou didst set before them, neither turned they from their wicked works.  Behold, we are servants this day”.  It highlights that, despite their unfaithfulness, God was “the Same”, the same God. 

         We mentioned this in our readings going over that Name in Isaiah: “I am HE”.  We have it specifically in chapter 41: 4, “I, Jehovah, the first; and with the last, I am HE”.  That is the self-existent One, the One who is uncreated; He is “the Same”, the same God who is spoken of here in this wonderful section.  The wall has been built.  Chapter 7 begins with “And it came to pass when the wall was built” (v 1), which is a really wonderful statement considering all that has gone before.  Think of all the feelings expressed in the previous chapters, all the work that had gone on in those chapters and all the prayers that had gone up.  “And it came to pass when the wall was built”; there was a changing world around these persons and yet God was “the Same”.  How encouraging that is!

         When we go to the Psalm, and if we read

         the heading of this Psalm we get,

         A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed,

            and poureth out his complaint before Jehovah. 

(This heading is unlike some of them where you do not get the same level of detail as you get here.)  You can read of  the weight of the affliction of the writer found in the prayer in this Psalm.  That heading really spoke to me; it would speak to anyone who considers the current times around us.  How we might feel some level of this affliction!  He desired to pray to One who is “the Same”.  He speaks much of the affliction, and as we know the Psalms are full of this language which is descriptive, very feeling, and describes a real depth; and yet as we have -

         Of old hast thou founded the earth,

              and the heavens are the work of thy hands: 

         They shall perish, but thou continuest”.

I love those italicised words: “They” and “thou”.  There is a stark contrast between what changes and what changes not.  The God of the universe is the same,

         But thou art the Same,

                    and thy years shall have no end”. 

We spoke on Lord’s day about what is established, what is certain; and that is how this Psalm ends.  What a comfort to one who is afflicted.  What a comfort to any who feel any sense of what it says in the heading -

         … when he is overwhelmed

                    and poureth out his complaint. 

You certainly see the heart pouring out.  What a comfort to cry out and to pray to One who is “the Same”. 

         I was speaking to a brother over the past couple of days, and something that came up is this wonderful verse in Hebrew 13.  It is a wonderful opening up of the Name that was previously known as “the Same”.  We have the One who is “the same”: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and to the ages to come”.  We spoke on Lord’s day about knowing the One in whom we believe and having an intimate, personal relationship with Him.  He is a God who is not far off, the God of old, who was at times was referred to in that way.  Jesus Christ, who came so near to man, “is the same yesterday, to-day and to the ages to come”.  It is not put as a capitalised title, ‘the Same’ here, but it tells you who “the same” is and it tells you what “the same” means. 

         We find that the years change, men change and our circumstances change.  To prove the point, just yesterday we had a quick turnaround in terms of restrictions from the government; clearly, governments change.  The past two years have taught us that very clearly!  Constant change is the only constant, and yet we can cry out, we can pray to One who is “the Same”.  We have mentioned that in our readings together, but I think it is a great comfort to look around and see change, mysterious and severe change in many cases, concerning changes to those of us who believe; and yet to have relationship with Jesus Christ who is the same through all of the changing years, “yesterday, and to-day, and to the ages to come”.  I simply hope and pray that it will be a comfort as we know that if we are left here, He will continue to be “the Same”; change will go on, but He will remain ‘the same’. 

         May it be a comfort to each one of us and an encouragement to each one of us, for His Name’s sake.

Word in a ministry meeting in Calgary

9th February 2022