How many times we say when we come to an unideal situation, something we may not like but cannot change, “It’s life.” We say it with a tone of resignation, almost acceptance. It isn’t just as we would like it, but—“it’s life.” And thank God for life!
When Scripture talks about life, often it is about FUTRE life. And here is no tone of resignation or acceptance. Rather, it is an outburst of praise, ultimate delight, indescribable joy. It is all focused on the King, Jesus Christ, who is coming to be earth’s Deliverer, the long awaited Messiah, and the reward of eternal life that He will be bringing.
Hear the Psalmist – let’s call him the singing Prophet David—foretelling the coming of the Messiah.. He was looking ahead with such surety that he spoke as though Christ had already come.
Psalm 21:1–4 1The king shall have joy in Your strength, O Lord; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! 2You have given him his heart’s desire, And have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah 3For You meet him with the blessings of goodness; You set a crown of pure gold upon his head. 4He asked life from You, and You gave it to him— Length of days forever and ever.
LIFE! “Length of days forever and ever.” It is what the Old Testament calls OLAM. Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah:
Isaiah 45:17 17But Israel [His people, His choice ones] shall be saved by the Lord With an everlasting [olam] salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced Forever and ever [olam].
It is about LIFE, Olam life, life that has NO END, NO LIMIT. It is life that is great beyond any definition.
The Hebrew word “olam” occurs over 400 times in the Old Testament, and still more in its Greek equivalent in the New Testament.
The principal definition of olam in the lexicon is:
everlasting, forever, eternity, i.e., pertaining to an unlimited duration of time, usually with a focus on the future – DBL
It’s all about unlimited TIME, and TIME is LIFE!
LIFE without limits.
Isaiah actually uses the word twice in this one verse. Let us highlight it:
Isaiah 45:17 17… Israel shall be saved by the Lord With an everlasting [olam] salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced forever and ever [olam again].
Olam is the longevity of the “tree of LIFE” in the allegory in Genesis, the tree symbolizing the LIFE that was kept from unfaithful Adam.
Genesis 3:24 24So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life [olam life].
The same tree of life is present in the book of Revelation. It is the LIFE to which those who keep Christ’s commandments will be given a right:
Revelation 22:14 14Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
Between Genesis and Revelation the olam is promised again and again.
Olam is the duration of the everlasting covenant. The angel promised it to Abraham when He came to tell him about the birth of Isaac:
Genesis 17:7 7And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting [olam] covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
According to the word of the angel, the promise would come through the child to be born to Sarah his wife:
Genesis 17:19 19Then God said: “…Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting [olam] covenant, and with his descendants after him.
It is the same covenant Isaiah promised, to include the “sure mercies of David”—all the eternal blessings of happiness and security and peace that God has promised His faithful ones.
Isaiah 55:3 3Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live;
It’s all about LIFE!
And I will make an everlasting [olam] covenant with you— The sure mercies of David.
Olam is the duration of the worldwide peace and security that will result from Christ’s righteous rule:
Isaiah 32:17–18 17The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever [olam]. 18My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,
Olam is the duration of the joy of the ransomed of the Lord as they come marching up the high road to Zion:
Isaiah 35:10 10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy [olam] on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Olam is the duration of the WORD of the Lord! It endures FOR EVER!
Isaiah 40:8 8The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever [olam].”
Olam is the duration of LIGHT in that new, glorious world. Isaiah speaks again:
Isaiah 60:19 19“The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the Lord will be to you an everlasting [olam] light, And your God your glory.
Olam is the duration of the inheritance of the people in that new world.
Isaiah 60:21 21Also your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever [olam], The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.
As we would expect, Olam is the duration of the God behind the promise! This is the word of God’s prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 10:10 10… the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting [olam] King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, And the nations will not be able to endure His indignation.
It is the love God has for His true and faithful ones: everlasting love. Again from God’s prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 31:3 3The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting [olam] love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Olam is the length of God’s mercy—how many times this is said, both in the Psalms and in the prophets. Let’s hear it from David. It is in every one of 26 verses in Psalm 136:
Psalm 136:1 1Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures [olam] forever .
This is why Solomon could speak of God’s work in such expansive terms. He knew the facts—how could he not be drawn to serve such an everlasting God!
Ecclesiastes 3:11, 14 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity [olam] in their hearts, … no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. 14I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever [olam]. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.
Especially is olam used to describe the God who is saving an ever expanding family of those who “keep his covenant and remember his commandments to do them.”
Psalm 103:17–18 17But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting [from olam to olam] On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
It’s all about LIFE! And its meaning only gets bigger and bigger, the further we look into His promises and realize what He is doing, and for HOW LONG He has been doing it? It is far, far beyond our comprehension!
No wonder the Psalmist exclaimed,
Psalm 145:13 13Your kingdom is an everlasting [olam] kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Can we think too much about the PLAN, the PURPOSE, the DESTINY of all this?
We have our choice: we can go our own way, and end as a bit of dust. Or we can choose God’s way and become part of His olam where it is all about LIFE!
I would like to conclude with another Psalm, which has in it the great Olam blessing. It is another song by the singing Prophet David:
Psalm 133 1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! 2It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. 3It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing— Life forevermore [life that is olam].
Let’s repeat that last line together.
For there the Lord commanded the blessing— Life forevermore.