May 09, 2014

El Olam: "the Everlasting God"

Genesis 21:22-34

Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Eternal God.
—Genesis 21:33


Abimelek, a local ruler, wanted to make a treaty with Abraham because, as he said, “God is with you in everything you do.” Abimelek played it safe and became an ally of Abraham rather than an enemy. At first glance, this may seem a minor incident in Abraham’s life, but at Beersheba we see that Abraham calls on the LORD as El Olam, “the Everlasting God” or “Eternal God.”

The Hebrew word olam means “for a long time, always, forever.” El Olam thus reveals God as “the Everlasting God,” without beginning or end.

Why would Abraham use the name El Olam here? Note that before encountering Abimelek, Sarah had given birth to Isaac, the son God had promised. Abraham saw that God was faithful to his promises from many years earlier. As a reminder that “the Everlasting God” keeps his promises, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree, an evergreen, at Beersheba.

The treaty that followed at Beersheba gives us an example of why Abraham and Sarah are praised in Hebrews 11. They stepped out in faith to obey El Olam, “the Everlasting God,” who keeps his promises.

God has eternity in view for you. What can you do today to demonstrate your trust in the Everlasting God?

O God, you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Help us to trust you in the big and small events of our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!