PLEASE NOTE: While studying this week I had to look up the terms perpetuity and vicissitudes for meaning. I highlighted them in different colors and included their definitions in brackets with wording in the same color as the word defined. I hope it helps those of you who will be broadening their vocabulary with me this week!
Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. So Abimelech rose with Phichol, the commander of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines. Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God
Gen 21:32-33 (NKJV)
(From Strong’s Hebrew Concordance, Bible Explorer 4 – Deluxe Edition Bible Software, WORDsearch Corp.)
Hebrew Strong’s Number: 5769
Hebrew Word: עוֹלָם
Phonetic Pronunciation:/ o-lawm’ /
Cross Reference: TWOT
Part of Speech: n m
Vine’s Words: Ever
English Words used in KJV:
ever 272, everlasting 63, old 22, perpetual 22, evermore 15, never 13, time 6, ancient 5, world 4, always 3, alway 2, long 2 more 2 never + 2 misc 6 [Total Count: 439]
or olam, o-lawm’; from (`alam); properly concealed, i.e. the vanishing point; generally time out of mind (past or future), i.e. (practical) eternity; frequent adverb (especially with prepositional prefix) always :- alway (-s), ancient (time), any more, continuance, eternal, (for, [n-]) ever (-lasting, -more, of old), lasting, long (time), (of) old (time), perpetual, at any time, (beginning of the) world (+ without end). Compare (netsach), (`ad).
—Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
From the Lexical Aids – Complete Word Study Old Testament – AMG Publishers
**Commentator’s Note: El Olam is the combmination of 410 (el) and 5769 (olam).**
First the lexical aids note that this noun comes from ʿālam (Strong’s # 5966 – to conceal or hide to the vanishing point): ʿôlām can be translated “time immemorial, time past, antiquity, from the most ancient times, eternity, the distant future, duration, perpetual, without end, always, everlasting time, lifetime. In the plural form it means ages or endless times. The KJV translates the word ‘the beginning of the world’ in Isaiah 64:4 and as world in Psalm 73:12 and Ecclesiastes 3:11. The basic meaning of ʿôlām is ‘most distant times,’ whether the remote past or the future depending upon accompanying prepositions…[it is therefore,] a broad range between the remotest time and perpetuity[:ETERNITY, the quality or state of being perpetual] (from the viewpoint of the speaker)… [It] can describe a short period of only three days (thought it must have seemed like an eternity to Jonah, see Jonah 2:6) or it can be used in connection with God , the God of eternity, the everlasting God, God forever. Temporal categories are inadequate to describe the nature of God’s existence. The Creator has been “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). Even then, it still expresses the idea of a continued, measurable existence, rather than a state of being independent of time considerations. ʿĒl ʿôlām, ‘The Everlasting God’ was predominately associated with Beersheba (Genesis 21:33). The God of Abraham was not touched by the vicissitudes [: MUTABILITY, the quality or state of being changeable; natural change, or mutation, visible in nature or in human affairs: 2) a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance; a flucuation of state or condition; a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life, a career, or a course of actio and usually beyond one’s control; alternating change, SUCCESSION.] of time… The Septuagint generally translates ʿôlām by aiōn (165, NT), referring to a long age or period of time, often translated world.”
Ann Spangler notes in her book “Praying the Names of God” that “El Olam is the Hebrew name for the God who has no beginning and no end, the God for whom a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. His plans stand firm forever, plans to give you a future full of hope [Jeremiah 29:11]. When you pray to the Everlasting God, you are praying to the God whose Son is called the Alpha and the Omega. He is the God whose love endures forever.”
Several things jumped off the page at me as I read the definitions for the word olam not the least of which is that even though the term identifies God as existing from “everlasting to everlasting,” it still also expresses the idea of a “continued, measurable existence.” Is He not only infinite, but finite? The question begs me to answer it. And, as I sat here mulling it over I had a revelation – God is both infinite and finite. He is the Everlasting Father and the Word made flesh. He is timeless and timely… He is both universal and personal… He is a mystery and a revelation. Think it over. Consider it yourselves. He is not limited by time, a day to Him is like a thousand years as Ann noted in her book and a thousand years seems to pass for God in a day, but His existence is an expression of a continued – perpetual – but also measurable existence. WHEW! I feel like I fell into the middle of the ocean today. Hope you hang with me to the end, because I have a feeling today is going to be good. Hopefully it was worth the weight.
In order to better understand this I decided to look up some other references to this word:
Isaiah 64:4 (NKJV) “For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” This expresses a measurable amount of time, taking us back to creation.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV) “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. ” This expresses a timeless but measurable yearning within each of us – a part of how we are created in His image. In the KJV it is translated “world.” Our God is not limited to the present or the past, He is also the future – He sees it, He urges us toward it and He encompasses everything about it.
Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV) “28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 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.” Oh Glory! Do you hear it? The voice of El Olam is calling us, Beloved. He is saying that He sees the end from the beginning and He is pushes us in the direction of victory. This verse gives Him several identities – the eternal, infinite God who is timeless but timely, the LORD – Jehovah which we will in two weeks, The Creator of the ends of the earth – He is Elohim, haven’t we learned. He is El Olam – our timeless God who sees the end from His vantage point, we can trust Him because His supply of energy never runs out, His vision never ceases, His understanding is beyond our comprehension and even when those around us tell us it is hopeless, it is endless our suffering… God knows the reality of the future and will carry us to it if we will follow His lead and His direction and lean into Him – waiting for His measured responses and direction will renew us, empower us and perptuate our purspose into Eternity… El Olam, the EVERLASTING God.
As we conclude today’s consideration, please read Psalm 90 and note any insights it gives you into El Olam, the Eternal and Everlasting God.
Psalm 90 (NKJV)
1 A Prayer of Moses the man of God. Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
3 You turn man to destruction, And say, “Return, O children of men.”
4 For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.
5 You carry them away like a flood; They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up:
6 In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers.
7 For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified.
8 You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.
9 For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh.
10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long? And have compassion on Your servants.
14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!
15 Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, The years in which we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children.
17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalms 90:1-17 (NKJV)
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