Forever: olam (Strong’s 5769)
Sounds like: o-LAM
How do you define forever… continually eternal… always everlasting… Hebrew has two main words that capture this concept of forever, ad/ed and olam. In fact, you often see these words together. Forever and ever is olam wa’ed. Today we will look specifically at how and when olam is used in Hebrew scriptures.
There are certain things that have olam attached to them, things that Biblical authors really want to hit home. The following are scriptural definites… forever, eternal, sureties. They are:
- YHWH’s Name is forever
- And He exists forever as our eternal King
- YHWH’s Word is forever
- YHWH’s Covenant promises are forever
- Including: the line of David’s throne is forever
- YHWH’s Salvation is forever
- YHWH’s LOVE is forever
YHWH’s name is forever
Moses asks God what His name is, because the people want to know. Here is God’s response:
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
God also told Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘YHWH, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever (l’olam), and this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.”
The Psalmist puts it this way:
His name endures forever (l’olam). His name continues as long as the sun. Men shall be blessed by Him. All nations will call Him blessed.
And if His name is forever then He exists forever as our eternal King.
But you, O YHWH, are enthroned forever (l’olam); your remembrance to generation and generation.
God’s word is forever…
God’s word is sacred and every word He utters stands on its own accord. It is true and deliberate, and it is always connected with the word olam:
Your word, O YHWH, is everlasting (l’olam);
it is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
You established the earth, and it endures.
Our existence is here and gone in a flash and our words last not much longer than we do, but God’s word is eternally in existence:
The grass withers, the flowers fall when the breath of YHWH blows on them; indeed, the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever (l’olam).”
God’s Word also stands metaphorically for the Messiah, the one God sends to dwell and speak amongst the people:
John 1:1-5, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
God’s Word dwelling among us, in the form of Yeshua (Jesus), is highlighted in the Covenant’s that YHWH makes with His people.
YHWH’s Covenant is forever…
YHWH created relationship covenants between Himself and humanity. He tells Abraham:
“I will establish My covenant as an everlasting (olam) covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
And to you and your descendants I will give the land of your sojourn—all the land of Canaan—as an eternal (olam) possession; and I will be their God.”
The line of David’s throne is forever is forever…
One of the promised Covenants between God and His people is known as the Davidic Covenant:
2 Samuel 7:12-16
YHWH to David: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for My Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever (ad olam). I will be his Father, and he will be my Son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever (ad olam) before Me ; your throne will be established forever (ad olam).’ ”
This is great news for David. His line of Kingship has no end, or at least that must be what it sounded like. But YHWH actually says that “your kingdom will endure before Me”. The kingdom eventually falls at the hands of the Babylonians, but God holds onto it and introduces His idea of kingship- a servant king! This King will come out of the line of David, but not David as a king, rather David as a shepherd. Before David became King of all Israel he was a simple shepherd that cared for his flock of sheep.
David is seen as the eternal Prince, because from his line of descendants will be God’s Anointed One, the Messiah… the one who will bring true peace (wholeness) to the earth. He will be a humble King who cares deeply for his flock. And David recognizes this and praises YHWH in song:
2 Samuel 22:29,50-51
For You, O YHWH, are my lamp; YHWH enlightens my darkness….
…I will praise You, O YHWH, among the nations; I will sing praises to Your name.
Great salvation He brings to His king.
He shows loving devotion to His anointed, to David and his descendants forever (olam).”
The author of Psalm 89, Ethan the Ezrahite, says that YHWH calls David,“My Firstborn”:
I will indeed appoint him as My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. I will forever (l’olam) preserve My loving devotion for him, and My covenant with him will stand fast. I will establish his line always, his throne as long as the heavens endure (Psalm 89:29).
Hundreds of years after King David dies, Ezekiel records YHWH’s words:
YHWH: “They will live in the land that I gave to My servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They will live there forever (ad olam) with their children and grandchildren, and My servant David will be their prince forever (l’olam). And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant (olam). I will establish and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary among them forever (l’olam). My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be My people. Then the nations will know that I YHWH sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is among them forever (l’olam).’”
“My servant David” is not referring to King David; he died years ago! This is the servant from David’s line, the servant who will re-establish what God’s kingdom is meant to be.
In the first chapter of Luke, the angel Gabriel is sent by God to visit young Mary, living in Nazareth:
The angel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. So the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you shall give Him the name Yeshua. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end!”
YHWH’s Salvation is forever…
Yeshua, whose name literally means Salvation, and who is born from the line of David is the YHWH’s Messiah. He is the salvation that is on the way, promised by YHWH in the Book of Isaiah:
My righteousness draws near, My salvation is on the way,
and My arms will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look for Me and wait in hope for My arm.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth below;
for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment,
and its people will die like gnats.
But My salvation will last forever (l’olam), and My righteousness will never fail.
God’s LOVE is forever…
God’s salvation will last forever and so does His love. Jeremiah tells us to, ‘Give thanks to YWHH of Hosts, for YHWH is good; His loving devotion endures forever (l’olam).’ (Jeremiah 33:11b)
Not only is his love forever, but He also will be physically there for us. There’s nothing more comforting than a genuine hug. God offers that kind of comfort, eternally:
The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are arms everlasting (tzro’ot olam).
God offers an eternal hug and a promise that someday we will come to Him, face to face!
At the very beginning of the Bible God creates human to be in His image, as a reflection of God’s good leadership for this earth. But they ate of the tree of knowledge and they became aware of good and evil and that awareness made them feel like they could define good and evil for themselves. And, my oh my, did they make a mess of it! Because of their disobedience to God, a curse was laid upon them, and from Genesis all the way through to the Revelation we get a glimpse of how humans live their lives as they try to define good and evil from their own understanding. Sometimes they do great and faithful things, but more frequently they fail miserably.
Thankfully, YHWH is eternally consistent! His Name, His Word, His Covenant promises, His Salvation and His Love is FOREVER!
At the very end of the Bible this is what we read:
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
Next week: Covenant