Isaiah 41:4 commentary

Isa 41:4  Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. 

Louis Berkhof stats that Isaiah 41:4 is “clearly” about “immutability”.

The Immutability of God is a necessary concomitant of His aseity. It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises. In virtue of this attribute He is exalted above all becoming, and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections. His knowledge and plans, His moral principles and volitions remain forever the same. Even reason teaches us that no change is possible in God, since a change is either for better or for worse. But in God, as the absolute Perfection, improvement and deterioration are both equally impossible. This immutability of God is clearly taught in such passages of Scripture as Ex. 3: 14; Ps. 102: 26-28; Isa. 41: 4; 48: 12; Mal. 3: 6; Rom. 1: 23; Heb. 1: 11,12; Jas. 1: 17.
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 46). . Kindle Edition.

On face value, Berkhof is wrong. The first sentence is about God performing. What does God perform? Answer: calling generations from the beginning. This is in the context of “trampling kings”.

The next phrase is about being a “first” and the “last”, a phrase often used for “timelessness” prooftexts, but just doesn’t fit in the case for immutability. If someone is “first” and “last” they are claiming to be “devoid of all change, not only in being, but also in perfections”. This is not obvious, and would not make much sense in context. “I, God, trample nations, and I don’t change in any metaphysical sense”? The verse is better read that God says what He will do, then He does it, then it happens. In this respect, God is the first and the last.

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