Numbers 23:19
God is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?
The Lord is Unchangeably True in All His Ways, Words, and WorksW. Attersoll.Numbers 23:19
The Unchangeable Faithfulness of GodE.S. Prout Numbers 23:19
The Unchangeable GodH. Melvill, B. D.Numbers 23:19
The Unchangeableness of JehovahC. Simeon, M. A.Numbers 23:19
The Word of God UnchangeableJ. Slade, M. A.Numbers 23:19
The Second Prophecy. Balak's State of MindD. Young Numbers 23:13-26

Two truths are suggested in contrast.


1. They repent, i.e., they change their mind, frequently, hastily, because of ignorance, or short-sightedness, or prejudice, or narrow-mindedness. Picture a man, fickle, irresolute, and therefore "unstable" (James 1:8). When he does not repent it may be a sign of obstinacy rather than of laudable firmness (Jeremiah 8:6).

2. They lie. Children of Satan (John 8:44), often trained from childhood in ways of falsehood (Psalm 58:3), they help to undermine the foundations of society (Isaiah 59:13-15), and to tempt truthful men to universal distrust (Psalm 116:11). Such men are apt to think that God is like themselves, changeable and unfaithful. They project an image of themselves, like idolaters, and call it God (Psalm 115:8). E.g., Balak (verses 13, 27), and Balaam himself at first (Numbers 22:8, 19).

II. IT IS "IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO LIE." Some of God's threats and promises are conditional, though in form they may seem absolute. E.g., Numbers 14:11, 12; Ezekiel 33:12-20. But others are fixed and absolute. We see this in -

1. Threats. E.g., exclusion of Hebrews from Canaan (chapter 14:20-22); Saul's loss of the kingdom (1 Samuel 15:22-29); exclusion of the impure from heaven (Hebrews 12:14; Revelation 21:27). Hence learn the folly of those who hope that God may change his mind, while theirs is unchanged; that God may repent instead of themselves. (Illustrate from Simon Magus, who desired to escape God's wrath while he gave no hint of abandoning his sins - Acts 8:24.)

2. Promises. E.g.,

(1) To Abraham, hundreds of years before (Genesis 12:1-3). Therefore Balaam says, verses 19, 20. So we may trace the effects of the promise down to the latest of the Old Testament prophets (Malachi 3:6) and the greatest of the Christian apostles (Romans 11:28, 29).

(2) To believers in Christ. Because with God there is "no variableness," &c., therefore we have "strong consolation," &c. (Hebrews 6:18, 19; James 1:17), and hope of the fullness of "eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised," &c. (Matthew 24:35; Titus 1:2).

(3) To suppliants who claim God's promises. God can as soon cease to exist as refuse to "make good" any promise claimed with faith through Jesus Christ our Lord. - P.

God is not a man, that He should lie.
I. GOD IS UNCHANGEABLE. God cannot change; to suppose that He could change would be to suppose Him not Divine. A finite being may refuse to change, adhering rigidly to some purpose; but all the while that being is capable of change, there is n thing in his nature which makes it absolutely impossible that he should change. But it is so with God. We here speak of unchangeableness in regard of God's dealings with His creatures, though of course it is also in Himself, in His essence, in His own property, that God is unchangeable; and it is an amazing and overwhelming contemplation, that of our Creator as in no respect capable of change, immutable because infinitely perfect.

II. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN GOD AND MAN. This unchangeableness is indispensable to the Creator, but incommunicable to the creature. It is indispensable to the Creator, forasmuch as the Creator must he in every respect infinite. But all change ends in addition or diminution: if anything be added, He was not infinite before; if anything be diminished, He is not infinite after. But if indispensable in the Creator, it is incommunicable to the creature. We say nothing against the powers of God, when we say that God could not have made an unchangeable creature. Must not that which is unchangeable be self-existent, and therefore eternal? That which has already had beginning, has already undergone change — the change from nothing to something, so that a creature, because not eternal, cannot be unchangeable. God alone is unchangeable, because God alone is eternal. It is self-evident that He cannot make an eternal creature, and therefore certain that He cannot make an unchangeable creature. The creature, then, is changing, the sun as well as the atom, the archangel no less than the worm (Psalm 102:25-27). Was it only of the material fabric of the earth, with its many productions-of the firmament, with its majestic troop of stars, that the Psalmist asserted this? Nay, it is true of the intelligent creation as well as of the material. And spirits are immortal: sparks from the eternal fire, they shall never be quenched; but though immortal, they shall not be the same; indestructible, they shall be always on the march. Angel and man, they shall not, as we have already said, be ever at a stand. Stand! when there are new heights to be scaled, new depths to be fathomed? Nay, it were imperfection, it were wretchedness. It is the glory of the Creator that He never changes; it is the glory of the creature to be always changing. Eternity shall be one mighty progress to all except the Eternal. "I am Jehovah, I change not, the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

1. "God is not a man, that He should lie." Balaam knew how capable he himself was of deceit and falsehood, how liable to be changed by bribery from one course to another; and it is possible that he might have entertained such unworthy notions of the Almighty as to imagine Him also movable and uncertain. But God has no admixture of evil, no imperfection; nor can He "be tempted with evil." Men have their own corrupt interests to serve; their own gain to study, their own gratification to seek: and when these things cannot be so readily compassed by integrity, recourse is often had to deceitful dealing. It may not always be that a man's word is actually broken; but there is very commonly, in the children of this world, some kind of double dealing to suit a carnal purpose. From all this, and from all approach to this, the Lord is purely free: He can neither deceive nor be deceived.

2. "Neither the son of man, that He should repent," or change His purpose. Man is ignorant and short-sighted; often knows not what will be for the best: and the plan, which he bad contrived with his utmost skill, is not seldom injurious; and thus he is compelled to alter and relinquish. But God is all-wise: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"

3. We may infer —(1) That all the Divine judgments against sin and sinners will be infallibly executed. And —(2) That every promise of God to His people will, in due season, be abundantly accomplished.

1. The imminent danger of sin, and the certain ruin from it, if persisted in, are by no means believed and perceived, as they ought to be. The Almighty has declared, throughout His word of truth, that He is a God of holiness; and that in unholiness, in disobedience, in unrepented guilt, no man can be accepted, no man can approach Him.

2. And, blessed be the holy name of God, the gracious promises of mercy to His faithful and obedient servants are not less frequent than the threatenings of wrath upon the impenitent and forgetful.

(J. Slade, M. A.)

I. SOME MEN THINK THAT GOD WILL LIE. God has told us, with strong and repeated asseverations, that "we must be born again" (John 3:7); but this is totally disbelieved by —

1. The profane. They persuade themselves that such strictness in religion, as is implied in the new birth, is not necessary; and that they shall go to heaven in their own way.

2. The self-righteous. These consider regeneration as a dream of weak enthusiasts, and are satisfied with the "form of godliness, without" ever experiencing "the power" of it.

3. The hypocritical professors of religion. These, having changed their creed, together with their outward conduct, fancy themselves Christians, notwithstanding their faith n either "overcomes the world," nor "works by love," nor " purifies their hearts." That all these persons think God will lie, is evident beyond a doubt; for if they really believed that old things must pass away and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17), before they can enter into the kingdom of heaven, they would feel concerned to know whether any such change had taken place in them; nor would they be satisfied till they had a Scriptural evidence that they were indeed "new creatures in Christ Jesus."

II. OTHERS FEAR HE MAY LIE. This is common with persons —

1. Under conviction of sin. When men are deeply convinced of sin, they find it exceedingly difficult to rest simply on the promises of the Gospel; such as John 6:37; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 55:1.

2. Under temptation or desertion. God has declared that He will not suffer His people to be tempted above what they are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). But when they come into temptation, they are apt to say, as David, "I shall one day perish," &c. (1 Samuel 27:1).


1. He will not lie.(1) Let us hear the testimonies of those who have tried Him. Moses (Deuteronomy 32:4); Joshua (Joshua 23:14); Samuel (1 Samuel 15:29).(2) Let us attend to God's own assertions and appeals (Isaiah 5:4; Isaiah 49:19). Would He ever venture to speak thus strongly on His own behalf if His creatures could make good their accusations against Him?(3) Let us look to matter of fact. Are not His past actions so many types and pledges of what He will hereafter perform? (2 Peter 2:4-9; Jude 1:7).

2. He cannot lie. Truth is as essential to the Divine nature as goodness, wisdom, power, or any other attribute; so that He can as easily cease to be good, or wise, or powerful, as He can suffer one jot or tittle of His word to fail.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

His decrees are immutable and irrevocable, and without shadow of turning (Psalm 105:7, 8, 10). To this purpose the apostle saith, "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Romans 11:29). By all these places we see that God is unchangeable in His mercy and goodness toward His Church and children. The reasons follow to be considered.

1. First, He is not like unto man, His ways are not like man's ways, nor His thoughts like unto man's thoughts; but as far as heaven is distant from the earth, so far are the works of God from ours. We know by experience the changeable nature of man. He is constant to-day, he changeth to-morrow. He loveth one day, and hateth another.

2. Secondly, His love and mercy to His people is not changeable as the moon, unconstant as the wind, floating as the sea, uncertain as the weather, but stable as the earth that cannot be moved out of his place, and steadfast as Mount Sion that remaineth for ever. This will plainly appear unto us if we consider the similitudes whereby it is expressed. His love is like to the covenant of waters, and as sure as the promise that He made to Noah, that the waters should no more overflow the whole earth, as the prophet Isaiah teacheth, Isaiah 54:7, 8, 9.

3. Again, His goodness is as the ordinance of God, that hath set an order for summer and winter, for day and night, for seed-time and harvest, for cold and heat, which shall not be changed, therefore the Lord saith (Jeremiah 31:35, and Jeremiah 33:20). Nay, His mercy is said to be more stable than the mountains (Isaiah 54:10).Now let us come to the uses of this doctrine.

1. First, hereby we learn that God is to be preferred before all creatures.

2. Secondly, we may from hence assure ourselves that God will make us unchangeable like Himself, and we may rejoice in the comfort of thin His favour. For seeing His nature is unchangeable, He will make us in our men, sure partakers of immortality. This is a great comfort unto us in these days of sorrow, to consider that the time will come, when our state shall be changed, and we continue for ever without change. Here we are subject to many turnings and returnings, but after this life shall be no more place for changing; our happiness shall be unchangeable, and firmly established with God. This the prophet sets down (Psalm 16:12).

3. Thirdly, it teacheth that it is time for us to repent and turn unto God. An unchangeable God, an unchangeable word. Let us be transformed into the obedience of it. It is not a leaden rule to bend every way to us. All our ways must be framed unto it. And when once we are turned to God, let us not return back again to our old ways, but persevere constant unto the end. The unchangeable God requireth an unchangeable servant.

4. Lastly, herein is great comfort offered to the servants of God, as on the other side horror to the wicked and disobedient. For seeing God is immutable, we may from hence take strong consolation by former examples of God's dealing toward His children, and in all temptations build ourselves upon that blessed experience, as upon a sure foundation that can never fail us.

(W. Attersoll.)

Aram, Balaam, Balak, Jacob, Moses, Zippor
Aram, Bamoth-baal, Egypt, Moab, Peor, Pisgah
Act, Change, Changed, Confirm, Effect, Fulfil, Fulfill, Lie, Lieth, Mind, Mouth, Promise, Purpose, Repent, Repenteth, Speak, Spoke, Spoken
1. Balak's sacrifices

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Numbers 23:19

     1035   God, faithfulness
     1105   God, power of
     1120   God, repentance of
     1150   God, truth of
     1155   God, truthfulness
     1160   God, unchangeable
     1210   God, human descriptions
     1305   God, activity of
     1340   consistency
     1461   truth, nature of
     2221   Christ, Son of Man
     5020   human nature
     5036   mind, of God
     5167   mouth
     5329   guarantee
     5467   promises, divine
     5973   unreliability
     8214   confidence, basis of
     8715   dishonesty, and God

Numbers 23:18-26

     1421   oracles

Numbers 23:19-20

     8112   certainty

An Unfulfilled Desire
'... Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!'--NUM. xxiii. 10. '... Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.'--NUM. xiii. 8. Ponder these two pictures. Take the first scene. A prophet, who knows God and His will, is standing on the mountain top, and as he looks down over the valley beneath him, with its acacia-trees and swift river, there spread the tents of Israel. He sees them, and knows that they are 'a people whom the Lord hath blessed.' Brought there
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Philo of Alexandria, the Rabbis, and the Gospels - the Final Development of Hellenism in Its Relation to Rabbinism and the Gospel According to St. John.
It is strange how little we know of the personal history of the greatest of uninspired Jewish writers of old, though he occupied so prominent a position in his time. [173] Philo was born in Alexandria, about the year 20 before Christ. He was a descendant of Aaron, and belonged to one of the wealthiest and most influential families among the Jewish merchant-princes of Egypt. His brother was the political head of that community in Alexandria, and he himself on one occasion represented his co-religionists,
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

Balaam's Wish Num 23:10

John Newton—Olney Hymns

The Night of Miracles on the Lake of Gennesaret
THE last question of the Baptist, spoken in public, had been: Art Thou the Coming One, or look we for another?' It had, in part, been answered, as the murmur had passed through the ranks: This One is truly the Prophet, the Coming One!' So, then, they had no longer to wait, nor to look for another! And this Prophet' was Israel's long expected Messiah. What this would imply to the people, in the intensity and longing of the great hope which, for centuries, nay, far beyond the time of Ezra, had swayed
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Nature of Spiritual Hunger
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness Matthew 5:6 We are now come to the fourth step of blessedness: Blessed are they that hunger'. The words fall into two parts: a duty implied; a promise annexed. A duty implied: Blessed are they that hunger'. Spiritual hunger is a blessed hunger. What is meant by hunger? Hunger is put for desire (Isaiah 26:9). Spiritual hunger is the rational appetite whereby the soul pants after that which it apprehends most suitable and proportional
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12

Memoir of John Bunyan
THE FIRST PERIOD. THIS GREAT MAN DESCENDED FROM IGNOBLE PARENTS--BORN IN POVERTY--HIS EDUCATION AND EVIL HABITS--FOLLOWS HIS FATHER'S BUSINESS AS A BRAZIER--ENLISTS FOR A SOLDIER--RETURNS FROM THE WARS AND OBTAINS AN AMIABLE, RELIGIOUS WIFE--HER DOWER. 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.'--2 Cor 4:7 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.'--Isaiah 55:8. 'Though ye have lien among the
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

How those are to be Admonished who Abstain not from the Sins which they Bewail, and those Who, Abstaining from Them, Bewail them Not.
(Admonition 31.) Differently to be admonished are those who lament their transgressions, and yet forsake them not, and those who forsake them, and yet lament them not. For those who lament their transgressions and yet forsake them not are to be admonished to learn to consider anxiously that they cleanse themselves in vain by their weeping, if they wickedly defile themselves in their living, seeing that the end for which they wash themselves in tears is that, when clean, they may return to filth.
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Fragrant Spices from the Mountains of Myrrh. "Thou Art all Fair, My Love; There is no Spot in Thee. " --Song of Solomon iv. 7.
FRAGRANT SPICES FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF MYRRH. HOW marvellous are these words! "Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee." The glorious Bridegroom is charmed with His spouse, and sings soft canticles of admiration. When the bride extols her Lord there is no wonder, for He deserves it well, and in Him there is room for praise without possibility of flattery. But does He who is wiser than Solomon condescend to praise this sunburnt Shulamite? Tis even so, for these are His own words, and were
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come

Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners Or, a Brief Relation of the Exceeding Mercy of God in Christ, to his Poor Servant, John Bunyan
In this my relation of the merciful working of God upon my soul, it will not be amiss, if in the first place, I do in a few words give you a hint of my pedigree, and manner of bringing up; that thereby the goodness and bounty of God towards me, may be the more advanced and magnified before the sons of men. 2. For my descent then, it was, as is well known by many, of a low and inconsiderable generation; my father's house being of that rank that is meanest, and most despised of all the families in
John Bunyan—Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

Christ a Complete Saviour:
OR, THE INTERCESSION OF CHRIST, AND WHO ARE PRIVILEGED IN IT. BY JOHN BUNYAN Advertisement by the Editor. However strange it may appear, it is a solemn fact, that the heart of man, unless prepared by a sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, rejects Christ as a complete Saviour. The pride of human nature will not suffer it to fall, as helpless and utterly undone, into the arms of Divine mercy. Man prefers a partial Saviour; one who had done so much, that, with the sinner's aid, the work might be
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Of the Decrees of God.
Eph. i. 11.--"Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."--Job xxiii. 13. "He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth." Having spoken something before of God, in his nature and being and properties, we come, in the next place, to consider his glorious majesty, as he stands in some nearer relation to his creatures, the work of his hands. For we must conceive the first rise of all things in the world to be in this self-being, the first conception
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Heavenly Footman; Or, a Description of the Man that Gets to Heaven:
TOGETHER WITH THE WAY HE RUNS IN, THE MARKS HE GOES BY; ALSO, SOME DIRECTIONS HOW TO RUN SO AS TO OBTAIN. 'And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain: escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.'--Genesis 19:17. London: Printed for John Marshall, at the Bible in Gracechurch Street, 1698. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. About forty years ago a gentleman, in whose company I had commenced my
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Desire of the Righteous Granted;
OR, A DISCOURSE OF THE RIGHTEOUS MAN'S DESIRES. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR As the tree is known by its fruit, so is the state of a man's heart known by his desires. The desires of the righteous are the touchstone or standard of Christian sincerity--the evidence of the new birth--the spiritual barometer of faith and grace--and the springs of obedience. Christ and him crucified is the ground of all our hopes--the foundation upon which all our desires after God and holiness are built--and the root
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

Thirdly, for Thy Actions.
1. Do no evil, though thou mightest; for God will not suffer the least sin, without bitter repentance, to escape unpunished. Leave not undone any good that thou canst. But do nothing without a calling, nor anything in thy calling, till thou hast first taken counsel at God's word (1 Sam. xxx. 8) of its lawfulness, and pray for his blessings upon thy endeavour; and then do it in the name of God, with cheerfulness of heart, committing the success to him, in whose power it is to bless with his grace
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The Unchangeableness of God
The next attribute is God's unchangeableness. I am Jehovah, I change not.' Mal 3:3. I. God is unchangeable in his nature. II. In his decree. I. Unchangeable in his nature. 1. There is no eclipse of his brightness. 2. No period put to his being. [1] No eclipse of his brightness. His essence shines with a fixed lustre. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.' James 1:17. Thou art the same.' Psa 102:27. All created things are full of vicissitudes. Princes and emperors are subject to
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

Like the last part of Exodus, and the whole of Leviticus, the first part of Numbers, i.-x. 28--so called,[1] rather inappropriately, from the census in i., iii., (iv.), xxvi.--is unmistakably priestly in its interests and language. Beginning with a census of the men of war (i.) and the order of the camp (ii.), it devotes specific attention to the Levites, their numbers and duties (iii., iv.). Then follow laws for the exclusion of the unclean, v. 1-4, for determining the manner and amount of restitution
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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