(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
El Olam means Everlasting God. We are first introduced to this name of God in Genesis 21:32 . The incident when this occured was when the Philistine, “…Abimelech king of Gerar…and Phichol, the commander of his army…” (Genesis 20:2, 21:22), met with Abraham at Beersheba, so named “…because the two of them [Abraham and Abimelech] swore an oath there…” (Genesis 21:31 – see Genesis 21:22-24). (Beersheba means “…well of an oath…” – Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). After these Philistine leaders left, it says in Genesis 21:33 and 34, “Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.”
- There are several names of God that incorporate El into it. We won’t redefine El in each future case, since we have already done that in last two Gems.
- Let’s consider Olam. Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions has quite a bit of information concerning the meaning of this word, written in Hebrew as עֹלָם or עוֹלָם (pronounced o-lawm’) and meaning:
...long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, ever- lasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world, ancient time, long time (of past), (of future) forever, always, con- tinual existence, perpetual, everlasting, indefinite or un- ending future, eternity.
So ‘Everlasting’ is a good choice to describe God (from all the possibilities above)!
While there are many descriptions concerning God being everlasting, a few stand out:
- Psalm 90:1 and 2 – “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
- Malachi 3:6 – “…I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” By the time Malachi was written, the Jews were bogged down in formality and outward (but not inward heart) piety. The LORD had put up with much sin and rebellion of His chosen people Israel, after calling them out of Egypt about a thousand years before. And though He had let them experience severe punishment to correct them, and even though they had rarely responded positively, yet He had not forsaken them!
- Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Since Jesus is “…the express image of His person [God the Father]…” (Hebrews 1:3), the Son shows us the Father does not change!
- James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning.” God’s constant shadow proves He does not turn and/or capriciously change!
One of my favorite passages that deal with the everlasting God is Isaiah 3:28 through 31:
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God [the same Hebrew word Olam as in Genesis 21:33], the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
- Why would Abraham “…plant…a tamarisk tree in Beersheba…”? By the way, it may have not been a single tree, but a grove of trees, as translated in the King James Version. Some commentators think it was a grove of Oak trees. But the Hebrew word generally means a tamarisk tree. Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament tells us:
The planting of this long-lived tree, with its hard wood, and its long, narrow, thickly clustered, evergreen leaves, was to be a type of the ever-enduring grace of the faithful covenant God.
So God is everlasting, eternal, never-changing,
totally dependable – as we find Him
throughout the Bible!
Praise His holy name – El Olam!