In James 1:17 a curious title is given to God. God is called “the Father of lights.” Why does James call God “the Father of lights”?
James calls God “the Father of lights” because he wants to communicate that God is unchanging. But how does God as “the Father of lights” relate to him being unchanging?
Since God is the creator of the lights—the sun, moon, and stars, He does not change. The creation experiences constant change. Even in the lights. The sun and moon look one way at dawn, another way at noon, and a different way at dusk. Seasons of change, especially here in Minnesota, revolve around the sun—spring, summer, autumn, and winter solstice. Even the moon goes through changing phases: full moon, half moon, crescent moon, new moon, etc. A few nights ago, I witnessed my first “corn” moon.
In contrast to the creation, in God exists, “no variation or shifting shadows,” as James puts it. To use modern language: God never trends; God never goes viral. If he did, it would mean He changed. “All that God is He has always been,” writes Anselm, “and all that He has been and is He will ever be.”
Since God is the Creator of the creation, He does not change. Or, to put it in the language of James, since God is “the Father of lights” He does not change—there is “no variation or shifting shadow” in Him.
Right now, our world is changing, perhaps more than ever. Though the changes have seemed to slow down a bit, there was a period in March and April where there were daily changes all related to the unfolding of COVID-19.
Though our world is changing and will always do so, I am thankful for God, “the Father of lights,” who does not change. He is constant. He is dependable. His love never changes. And neither does His grace and mercy or His justice and righteousness. Truly then, “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”