Lately, I’ve been meditating upon one of the names of God found in Scripture. In Genesis 21, Abraham engages in public worship and gives God a new name, El Olam, Hebrew for Everlasting God. This perception of God is not something unfamiliar to us. Many, including myself, have cried out in worship alongside thousands of others, “Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades…” But, the theological richness of this name is something I feel we should not miss.

First, the names of God in Scripture are imperative for increasing our understanding of Him. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes,

we cannot read the Scriptures without noticing that certain names are given by God to Himself and the purpose of these names is again to focus attention upon some aspect or another of the being of God, the character of God. So, we can regard these names of God as defining the attributes of God still more specifically.”[1]

Second, the Hebrew words employed here, El Olam, have a depth to them that is easy to lose in our English rendering of them. Olam is generally understood as “an undetermined duration of time without reference to other points of time, with a focus of no anticipated end,” which can apply to the future or past.[2]  It is very easy for us to simply say “everlasting,” but to conceive of its limitlessness, its endlessness, extending into antiquity and into perpetuity, is far more lush than we give it credit.

Third, the occurrences of this name in Scripture have incredible implications for believers today. God is identified as El Olam in two key passages, Genesis 21 and Isaiah 40. Both of these passages contain messages of hope, missional endeavors, and worshipful responses. Abraham calls out to El Olam after God’s favor in the birth of Isaac and through revealing the power of his God in his affairs with Abimelech. Isaiah demonstrates the authority of Elohim Olam through his powerful exhortation about the superiority of God in comparison to nations, creation, and other gods/idols.
This name encompasses God’s “eternal nature, His saving character from ancient times, His actual acts of salvation from eternity, and His coming king who will rule forever over His eternal Kingdom.”[3] We, as believers, should call upon the name of the Everlasting God, for “all of these things are the inheritance of the believer in Christ…Jesus carries with Himself all the ‘forever, eternal’ attributes of God.”[4]
Tonight, I was moved by the thought of Christ’s constancy as I studied Matthew 3:16-17. Here, Jesus receives the blessing from His Father following His baptism. Can you imagine how he must have swelled with emotion at hearing His Father’s voice? I am struck with thinking about how Jesus condescended to experience life as I do. He broke fellowship with the Love of his life in order that I might receive divine blessing. He continues to pursue me though my emotion and my passion for him often wanes.  It’s astounding.
Beloved Jesus, I can only imagine how delightful it must have been for you to hear your Father speak His delight and blessing over you. To know that you desired for us to experience that same delight and joy astounds and shames me. I so often stray from abiding in you. I often do not desire the passion and commitment you have shown in your love for me. May I become filled with your Holy Spirit in such a way that I may share your heart: to forsake myself in order that others might experience the blessing of my Abba.

[1] David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God the Father, God the Son.

[2] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old

Testament), electronic ed.

[3] Carpenter and Comfort, Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words.