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Thursday, July 23, 2009

El Olam / Everlasting God, Rock of Ages

For July, each post examines an Old Testament name of God.

El Olam / Everlasting God

Tsur Olam / Rock of Ages

You will keep in perfect peace
The one stayed upon You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the LORD forever,
For Yah, the LORD,
Is the Rock of Ages.
Isaiah 26:3-4 (author)

Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.
~ Genesis 21:33 (NKJV)

The word olam is generally translated "Everlasting" in the Bible.

It is translated "universe" in a most common Jewish prayer: "Baruch ata Adonai, Elohey-nu Melech ha-Olam." Or: "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe."

Olam is sometimes translated "unchanging." Although God's everlasting quality does not change, olam doesn't literally mean unchanging. It is a masculine noun for something which extends so far ahead or behind, in time or in distance, that neither its beginning nor end is within sight.

We might think, "ah—infinity." Infinity does not exist in the Hebrew mind, but only the concept that our finite minds cannot grasp the beginning and the end. It is a subtle but important distinction for a God Who three times declares in the book of Revelation that He is the Beginning and the End. Even the universe for which we have yet to determine limits certainly has them, for Scripture declares that God has marked out its boundaries.

Thus olam might be most literally defined as "out of sight." Does that bring an amused smile to your face? It is certainly not inappropriate. Olam is large and enduring and fixed, its beginning and end beyond our comprehension. Yet the passage from Isaiah says that if we keep Olam within sight, our mind and heart stayed upon Him, He will keep us in perfect peace.

Olam is combined by Isaiah with the word tsur, which means rock. Tsur is neither a stone for a sling nor a larger building stone. This is a boulder or cliff such as the Rock of Gibraltar. If anything captures the essence of fixed and enduring, it would be such a rock.

Thus the poetic translation "Rock of Ages." Tsur Olam has proven Himself worthy of everlasting trust. In relying upon Him, we need worry about neither the beginning nor the end which are outside our view. He is already in both places.

Stayed upon the Rock of Ages, we are secure. We are at perfect peace.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. I will run to the Rock of ages.

  2. Great post! Our rock indeed!

  3. I learn here and for that I thank you.

    This post reminded me a little of the book I'm reading (and loving), Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl. It has been stretching my mind about All God is & where God lives.
    ~ Wendy

  4. I am so enjoying these posts, Annie. They teach me much.

  5. "Everlasting" a powerful word and a word to hang on to. Thank you for sharing this post Anne. Blessings.

  6. Infinity does not exist in the Hebrew mind, but only the concept that our finite minds cannot grasp the beginning and the end.

    Wonderful. It's a profound difference, and an attitude we need in our scientific age.

  7. Denise, you go girl!

    Thanks T. Anne. Solid when life is not, no?

    Wendy, I got in on Thomas Nelson's offer of free copies of that book. We'll have to compare notes when we've both read it.

    Billy, nice to know. I learn plenty from you, too.

    JBR, blessings to you. You remain in my prayers.

    Rosslyn, a Christian author asserted that science doesn't technically support creation since it can't be duplicated. (duh! *eye roll*) More important is that the Bible and true science (not scientific therory) agree on every point. The good scientist can learn a great deal from Scripture.

  8. Love Isaiah 26! Please tell me you are publishing your insights in a book? :-) Have a blessed weekend! - Amy

  9. Amy Jo, I do have a book full of insights, under the genre "biblical fiction" (and I also have an agent). I've done some non-fiction, but lack the platform to publish it outside this blog.

    Everything is in God's hands, and I trust His plan and timing.

    BTW, I think you'll see this passage from Isaiah again, on the last day of this series.


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