Names of God – El Olam
John 3:16 says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” In order for God to give us this eternal life that He promised, He must first be an eternal God, and that is what this name is telling us. The name El Olam means, “God Eternal”.
An eternal God is one of those things that is very hard to comprehend. We can almost grasp the idea of a God with no end, but no beginning? That’s a lot harder. We are finite creatures, trying to explain an infinite God. We try to explain it with a circle, but the reason it’s impossible to grasp is that everything in this world is finite. You had a beginning, your parents and grandparents had a beginning, this nation had a beginning, even the world itself had a beginning. But, the Bible tells us that God is everlasting, He had no beginning and will have no end, and this is just one of those things that we have to accept on faith.
The Psalmist put it this way, Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.” One beautiful thing about God being eternal is that He never changes, Malachi 3:6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.” Could you imagine a God who is eternal, but keeps changing the rules? That would be chaos! I have worked for companies before, that were constantly trying to “reinvent” themselves. They would change things, just to change them. But, our God never changes. I’ve heard people say, “but what about salvation? Weren’t the Old Testament people saved by keeping the law? The answer to that question is, absolutely not! The Bible makes it infinitely clear that the law was never meant to save, read the book of Romans, particularly chapters 5-7. And, if you look at Hebrews chapter 11, what we call the faith chapter, the writer names many Old Testament people and says that they were made righteous by their faith.
Not only does our God not change, He is patient…very patient, Isaiah 42:4 “He will not falter or lose heart until justice prevails throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.” We often have a problem with God’s patience. We always want things to happen in our timing, but God does things in His timing. Remember, He knows the beginning from the end, and always has our best in mind. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” So let’s trust him and be patient.
And, He can be trusted, He is our eternal Rock, Isaiah 26:4 “Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Remember what Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
Jesus put it this way in John 8:58, “Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!” Notice He didn’t say, “I was before Abraham”, He said, “I Am!” Remember the name, Jehovah means, I Am? You see, God operates outside of time. Think of it this way. If time were a straight line, the beginning of the line being creation, and the end of the line, is the end of the earth. We are all somewhere on that line, but God is off to one side of the line. He can see both ends and everything in between. God can see the end from the beginning, Isaiah 46:10 “Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.”
Let’s circle back to John 3:16. What does eternal life mean? When does it actually begin? Here’s the thing, we all assume that this eternal life starts when we die. We figure that we accept Christ and then when we die we get this prize…everlasting life. But that’s not at all what it is saying. First of all, in order to accept Christ, you have to repent. Repentance means turning away. It means doing a 180 and going the opposite direction. Accepting Christ is not a “get out of Hell free card”, it is a change of heart, of attitude, and of direction. You must fall in love with Christ. Let’s face it, if you are married and only spend one hour a week with your spouse, how long do you think that marriage would last? And yet, we try to do that with Christ. If you are not completely in love with your Savior, then stop now and get to know Him. Here’s what I’m getting at. Eternal life does not start when you die, or when you get to Heaven, it starts when you fall in love with Christ. Eternal life can start right here, right now, it can start today. John 11:25 says, “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.’” See what I mean? He didn’t say “after death”, He said, “even after dying.”
We serve an eternal, unchanging, patient, loving Father. Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” For more about His patient, unchanging love, study 1 Corinthians 13, then go back to my blog entitled “A More Excellent Way”.