Yesterday morning I met friends for coffee to talk about a ministry close to our hearts; we met in an historical building turned coffee shop, perched on a sidewalk lining a brick street that has witnessed centuries of change. I love the sound of the old wooden floors, the aged bricks like faces who once filled the rooms, and the high ceilings that have echoed generations of voices. Sitting in the soft leather chair, I reflected on how much time has passed in the seasoned structure … and yet how little.
When we attempt to reach out to the past, the time we can touch is so recent. Time is only familiar in our own lifetime. Even when I’ve had the privilege of walking on streets that are thousands of years old, I notice they still crumble and decay; they are not everlasting.
God is not simply “historical” or aged or seasoned; He is the Ancient of Days. The God of the universe is eternal and without end. While a name in our day makes us distinct from another person, a name in Biblical times revealed identity and carried the weight of authority and power. As God shared His names in the story of scripture, He unveiled who He is and what He’s like. Like a person’s portrait, God’s names illustrate His character. To know His names is to know Him.
As a result of God’s blessing in his life, Abraham was recognized as prosperous; King Abimelech made a covenant with him to insure peace, since it was obvious that God was with Abraham. After the agreement was forged, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba and called out to God, using the name “El Olam” for the first time. (Gen. 21:22-34) He acknowledged “The Everlasting God,” the God who is eternal. “Olam” is the quality of being everlasting and unable to deteriorate, change, or crumble.
After Abraham recognized God’s “everlastingness,” God tested him with the call to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Abraham’s greatest test followed his understanding of God’s timelessness. To “get this” about God results in the ability to trust Him in the hardest places, even at an altar where we lay down our treasure. To know that God is eternal and everlasting is to know that He exists before the hardships of our past, beneath the trouble of today, and beyond the possibilities of our future.
Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. ~ Isaiah 26:4
In other words, be confident and believe in Jehovah the Self-Existent One, because Jehovah is the Olam rock, the Rock who is perpetual, indefinite, eternal, forever.
Someday the old walls of my historic coffee shop will buckle, the aged bricks will crumble, the preserved glass will cease to be preserved, and my body own will wear out and run down. But our God, El Olam, has and will live unchanged forever. We can trust the God with a name like that!
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, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. ~ Psalm 90:1-2
How would you finish this sentence?
I can trust El Olam with my __________________, because He is everlasting before, beneath, and beyond where I am living today.