From Praying the Names of God Week Four, Day One
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 are like a day. His plans stand firm forever, plans to give you a future full of hope. 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.
After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. (Genesis 21:32-33)
GOD REVEALS HIS NAME
At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, "God is with you in everything you do. Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you are living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to you."
Abraham said, "I swear it."
Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech's servants had seized. But Abimelech said, "I don't know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today."
So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a treaty. Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, and Abimelech asked Abraham, "What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?"
He replied, "Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well." So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there. After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time. (Genesis 21:22-34)
Lord, your love and faithfulness endure forever. Help me to live my daily life with the strength that comes from knowing that I am going to live with you forever.
Understanding the Name
Olam is a Hebrew word that occurs more than four hundred times in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is translated as "eternal," "everlasting," "forever," "lasting," "ever," or "ancient." It refers to the fullness of the experience of time or space. The title El Olam (EL o-LAM), meaning "Eternal God" or "Everlasting God," appears only four times. The word is applied to God and his laws, promises, covenant, and kingdom.
Studying the Name
Abimelech was the leader of the Philistines. What do his words say about the obvious nature of God's faithfulness to Abraham?
Beersheba means "well of the oath." Why do you think Abraham planted a tamarisk (a relatively long-lived tree requiring large amounts of water and producing as many as 500,000 seeds per plant) after the two men swore an oath about Abraham's well?
What images come to mind when you think of the "Eternal God" or the "Everlasting God"?
What might these names imply about the nature of God's promises?