There is No Shadow of Turning.

Written by on June 3, 2024

There is no shadowing of turning a phrase I keep repeating commonly found in the hymn Great is thy faithfulness. I keep wondering what it means that there is no shadow of turning God and how that relates to me as a believer. It led me to read James 1:17; “Every good and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down for the father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

To understand the concept of shadow turning, look at the sun. The sun does not shine on all the parts of the earth at the same time nor in the same manner all the year. In the past, our ancestors used to tell the time using the position of the sun and the shadow it would cast on the ground. It also applies to the season as the sun moves to each hemisphere. The sun’s obit produces the changes of the season and makes a constant variety on the earth in presenting different backdrops. The shadow of turning then is a casting made by the heavenly bodies as the planet moves.

“Every good and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down for the father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.James 1:17

Having this understanding, why is James saying there is no shadow of turning with God? In James’ writing, he first tells us about the good and perfect gift that comes from God. James ensures we know they come from above from the Father of Light. The word “gift” denotes the act of giving. The emphasis is on the giver, who is God. God gives to us based on his character and not ours. God does not bless us because we tithe, witness, or pray. We can never earn or deserve anything from God. The word “every” emphasizes the all-inclusive nature of God’s propensity to give to us. Being good and perfect gifts means they fit in our lives; since they come from God, they are his will for us. James ensures we know where they come from above as an act of God’s grace to us. The father of lights refers to God, the creator of all.

James continues to show us why the gifts are from God, for they don’t change, hence no variables to him, and what he says he will do, he undertakes. It is a big contrast to the man who is ever failing, and even when he awards, there are conditions to it. No shadow of turning with him means there is no darkness in him. God is light and doesn’t change. As we move in and out of the light, our shadows shift. God is the source of light. There is no shadow because there is no darkness in him. Therefore, if all is flooded in light rather than a single point source giving illumination, there will be no shadow.

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

God is unchangeable and entirely trustworthy. Ordinary heavy lights produce shadows, but God’s light is shadowless. Ordinary light waxes and wanes, shifts, moves around, goes through phases, and fades. God’s light is unchanging, not subject to variation or overshadowed. God is light. Many times, we question our purpose and God. Asking if he is what he says he is. When things don’t happen our way, we question his faithfulness. Is his word still working for us? James 1:17 assures us that. Jeremiah 29:11 shows true to his word that God knows the plan for our lives. He plans to prosper us and not harm us. His plans give us hope and a future.

God is steadfast. God is faithful.

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