Most people are familiar with the truism, “The more things change the more they remain the same”. This saying can be defined simply as, “Many facets of life seem to have a way of reoccurring”, or in a more sophisticated manner, “Turbulent changes do not affect reality on a deeper level other than to cement the status quo.”
The expression first appeared in print in the year 1849 and is attributed to the French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. The idea that Alphonse Karr was trying to convey was that in life, many things remain consistent even as various changes do occur. When we move into a new house, although our surroundings may have changed, the monthly water and power bills still arrive in the mail, right on time. A business may relocate to a new office space only to find that its computers still have a way of crashing at the most inconvenient of times.
Spiritually minded people recognize that the principle brought forth by this phrase shares a commonality with the Biblical Maxim, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). That there is a “constancy” to be associated with day to day living. Many aspects of life do indeed re-occur, even as changes seem to be going on all around us. History does indeed have a way of “repeating itself” within any number of different periods of time and/or formats.
Admittedly, the greatest period of change to occur within Holy Scripture is the transitional time period when God had set Israel aside after the Crucifixion and began to speak to the world through the followers of His Son Jesus Christ, now commonly referred to as the Church. The Dispensational Age of the Law was now complete, as Jesus had uniquely fulfilled the requirements of the Law.
While the Law in one sense had been given to show man the futility of changing his heart from the “outside in”, with the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to all believers, man would now be changed “from the inside out.” The Law had largely served as a “schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:24) to reveal to man his utter need of a Savior.
After the initiation of the Church Age, there would also now no longer be a need for mankind to approach God in the same manner as was necessary in the days of the Old Testament, as the veil of the Temple had been rent (Matthew 27:51):
While during the Dispensation of the Law God spoke to the world through the Jewish
people, in the Church Age, He would now speak to the world through a different assembly
of people (Matthew 21:43). This new group of God’s representatives consisted
predominantly of Gentiles, believers who would be known as the Church, or Bride of Christ
Men would no longer be required to appear in Jerusalem 3 times per year during the
Feast days of Unleavened Bread/Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Exodus 34:23).
Animal sacrifices were also no longer necessary, as Jesus’ death on the Cross was the
perfect substitutionary atonement for all of mankind’s sins: “So Christ was once offered to
bear the sins of many…” (Hebrews 9:28), and “Now where remission of these is, there is no
more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18).
Neither was there any need for a Priestly go-between, as believers were now considered to
be themselves, “a Royal Priesthood” (I Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6).
Although the Law was still beneficial for instruction in righteous holy living (Romans 15:4,
II Timothy 3:16), with the initiation of the New Covenant, the Old Covenant of the Law was
“In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which
decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13).
The Faith Rest Life
While the changes in the outward religious format for believers in the Old Testament to the New Testament are indeed voluminous, Scripture tells us that apart from the fact that New Testament believers would all have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), God’s modus operandi for maturing believers in the faith had not changed one iota in the new Church Age.
In the Old Testament, we see that after God had provided the Hebrew people with freedom from their slavery in Egypt through a display of 10 major Judgments upon the Egyptians, He had then brought them into the Wilderness to test and mature them in their faith, to see if they would both acknowledge and rest in His goodness.
God’s Word reveals to us that time after time the Hebrew people failed to trust in God and in His Promises to supply all their needs in their journey through the Wilderness. Even though they had witnessed the fact that God had provided for their salvation from slavery in Egypt, they refused to fully trust in His ability to provide for the day to day needs of their lives. Rather than rest in His promises, the Hebrew people chose instead to constantly complain to God, thereby dishonoring Him.
Just as the Hebrew people had been delivered from slavery to the Egyptians, so too has the reborn Christian been delivered from the slave market of sin. As both groups had first trusted in God for the big thing in life, their salvation, they were to now begin to also trust in God to provide for the little things in life, their daily needs. Like the Old Testament Hebrews, believers in New Testament times are also given numerous Promises from God that He will care for them in this life here on Earth, including:
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20
“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is
cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we wear drink?
or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that
ye have need of these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of god, and his righteousness: and all these things shall
be added unto you.” Matthew 6:30-33
“My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
In his first letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul admonishes the New Testament believers to learn a lesson from the behavior of the Hebrew people:
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in
Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things,
as they also lusted.” I Corinthians 10:5,6
Paul then goes on to write:
“Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of
Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for
our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” I Corinthians 10: 10,11
The writer in the Book of Hebrews reminds New Testament believers that God’s way of maturing believers was still the same as it was in Old Testament days, that after experiencing their salvation, the believer was to then “rest in God’s Promises” to supply all their needs, and to acknowledge the fact that God has control over the events of their lives:
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works,
as God did from his.
Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest lest any man fall after the same
example of unbelief.” Hebrews 4:9-11
The believer is to also recognize that the reality in which God exists is not the same reality that is experienced by mankind, as it is not bound by time. That God had indeed already answered the believer’s prayers from the moment of Creation, and that we are by faith to honor Him by resting in this fact:
“For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if
they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the
world.” Hebrews 4:3
Just as God led the Hebrew people through the Wilderness to places where there was no human solution to the problems that they were confronted with, so too does God bring believers in the Church Age to places in their lives where there is no apparent human answer to the dilemmas that they may find themselves in. Scripture admonishes the Church Age believer to not repeat the thankless behavior of the Hebrew people in the Wilderness:
“…Today if ye will hear His voice,
Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the
When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works fourty years.
Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err
in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
So I swear in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in
departing from the living God.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:7-13
When a Christian is living his or her life with a conspicuous absence of joy, or constantly exhibiting an attitude that is anything but thankful (I Thessalonians 5:18), it is evidence that they are living a life that is not truly “resting in the Lord.” That they are in fact in their own way, “murmuring against the Lord”, just as the Hebrews of Old Testament times had done.
New Testament believers would do well to recognize the importance that God places upon believers “entering into His rest” as has been stressed both in the Book of Hebrews and in Paul’s 1st letter to the Church at Corinth. To acknowledge the fact that New Testament believers are still being “perfected in the faith” in the same manner as Old Testament believers had been, through the mechanics of the faith/rest life.
In conclusion, we see that although much of the religious format practiced in Old Testament times is no longer in effect in the New Testament’s Church Age, the essential ways of God in maturing believers have not changed at all. Though the outward religious structure and organization is quite different in appearance, God’s methodology for the “perfecting of the saints” remains the same. This of course gives credence to the notion, “That the more things change, the more they do indeed remain the same!”
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8