Summary: This is the 8th sermon in the "Knowing God" series.

Series: Knowing God [#8]


Genesis 21:33


We now come to the 7th name through which we can get to know God more intimately- El Olam. The Hebrew word Olam means eternal. When you combine Olam with El, God Eternal or God of Eternity. Abraham did not really get to know God as El Olam until later in Genesis 21 when he planted a tree as a token of his agreement with Abimelech. Abimelech’s servants had seized some of Abraham’s land, including a very important well that Abraham had dug. When confronted by Abraham, Abimelech swore he knew nothing about it, and Abraham believed him. As proof that there wasn’t any “hard feelings” between them, Abimelech proposed a treaty to which Abraham agreed. Abraham gave Abimelech sheep and cattle. Basically, Abraham bought back his land and well.

Genesis 21:33 (NIV)

“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God.”

The name El Olam tells us…

1. That God does not change.

Although everything seems to be changing, and not for good; the name Olam helps us to know God as the Eternal God who does not change. We are living in a day when morals are declining, and standards of integrity are at an all-time low; but this name tell us that neither God, nor His standards ever change. Now, don’t think that this is implying that God is dormant or inactive. God can work in many different ways in your life. Sometimes God works in my life through the Bible, sometimes through my wife, sometimes through my children, and other times through friends or circumstances. God never changes and the endless ways He works in my life never stops.

The name El Olam tells us…

2. That God is the God of the past, present, and future.

The name El Olam is used to sum up what Abraham learned about God in Genesis 21. 1st, Sarah asked Abraham to get rid of the slave woman Hagar and their son Ishmael. Abraham was probably shocked when God told him to send Hagar and Ishmael away. It seems cruel and unfair for God to command Abraham to do such a thing. The birth of Ishmael was the result of a lapse in faith on the part of Sarah and Abraham, not Hagar or Ishmael.

Why then did God tell Abraham to send them away? In Genesis 22, Abraham is going to be tested in his willingness to sacrifice Isaac- His only son of promise. The sending away of Ishmael was in preparation for this test of Abraham’s faith. If Abraham still had Ishmael when it came time to offer Isaac, in his mind he might have thought that even if he lost Isaac, he would still have Ishmael. The offering of Isaac would have required much less faith and would have had far less meaning. From Abraham’s vantage point, God certainly seemed unfair; but if Abraham was to be obedient, he had to come to know God as El Olam, the God of not only the past and present, but also of the future.

When we look at things that happen to us in life only from the vantage point of the past and present, often God seems unfair. However, if we know Him as El Olam, we can know that He has an important and loving purpose for everything He allows to happen to us. When we are getting to know God as El Olam, it is very important for us to remember that we are to walk by faith, not by sight.

Galatians 4:21-31 (NIV)

“Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: "Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband." Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son." Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.”

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