6

EVERLASTING GOD OR EL OLAM

THE next name of God in Holy Scripture is "El Olam," which in our Authorised Version is translated "Everlasting God," (Note: Heb. אל עולם, literally, "God of the age." In the Septuagint, Θεὸς αἰώνιος. In the Vulgate, "Deus aeternus.") a name but seldom repeated, and which as yet has been little noticed even by students of "the oracles of God" (Rom. 3:2), but which reveals a truth and fact, as to God's ways with fallen man, shewing Him patient and wise as well as righteous and all-loving. For this name tells us that God reveals Himself to men by varying dispensations, "at sundry times and in divers manners" (Heb. 1:1), as they can bear it; in all carrying out His one unchanging purpose, to bring us out of our fall and make us partakers of His own blessedness. We shall see, if God permit, how this name reveals this truth; though the wisdom of His ways is still hidden from not a few, who can yet bless Him that they are and shall be His for ever.

This name, "El Olam," first meets us in Abram's life, after his name is changed from Abram to Abraham, when the man of faith, long barren, has received the heir of promise, Isaac, and, as a consequence, the bondmaid and her son are cast out. "At that time" the Gentile comes to Abraham, and a covenant is made with him at Beersheba, the "Well of the Oath," and "there Abraham called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God" (Gen. 21:10, 22, 33). The truth which this name teaches therefore belongs to a certain stage in the life of faith, when the life of sonship, which Isaac figures, is brought forth by Sarah, that is the Gospel (Gal. 4:22, 30), and the carnal seed, the fruit of law, is judged and cast out. For, as St. Paul teaches, all these are shadows of spiritual truths; the birth of Isaac of the "free woman," and the rejection of the "son of the bondmaid," being appointed figures of the change from law to gospel. We do not know at first, that, in God's dealing with His elect, there may and will be diversities of operation and a change of dispensation; and that though for a season law is needed, it must give place to gospel, and that grace itself will be succeeded by a fuller revelation of God's glory; each varied stage being needed for man's perfecting. As we advance this opens to us, and we learn, that, precious as are the truths revealed under the names "Elohim," "Jehovah," "El Shaddai," or "Adonai," there is yet more to be revealed, full of instruction for us, if like Abraham we will still walk with God.

Now both the fact that in God's dealings with His creatures there are successive "times" or "ages" or dispensations, and that this is a "mystery," or "secret," which is only opened as we grow in grace, is involved and taught in the name "El Olam." For the word "Olam," which is rendered "Everlasting," contains in itself both the idea of a "secret," and also of "time," or of "an age." The "El," which we translate "God," here, as in the names "El Shaddai" and "El Elyon," expresses "Power," (Note: See what is said of "El" in chapter 3.) even the Power of Him, "who doeth as He will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth" (Dan. 4:35). The word "Olam" has two senses, though the connexion between the two is obvious. Its first and original sense is to "conceal," or "hide," or something "hidden." (Note: See Lev. 4:13; 5:2; 20:4; 1 Sam. 12:3; Psalm 90:8 and many other places. In Eccl. 3:11, it is still a question how the word should be translated. Our Authorised Version translates it "world," as it translates αἰών in Matt. 13:39, and elsewhere: the Revised Version translates it "world," or "eternity:" the Septuagint render it by αἰών: while Parkhurst (see his Lexicon, on the word,) translates it "obscurity," reading the whole verse as follows:—"He hath made everything beautiful in its season, but He hath even put such obscurity (olam) in the midst of them, that man cannot find out the work that God doeth from beginning to end.") Hence it came to mean "time hidden from man," or "time indefinite." In our Version it is often translated "for ever," and in certain places it may mean "time unmeasured," "for an age," or "for ages." But that strictly speaking it expresses a limited time is clear, not only from many passages where the time referred to can only be a life-time, or till the year of Jubilee, or for the period of the Jewish dispensation, but from other passages, where the word is redoubled or used in the plural, (which it could not be if it meant "for ever,") where its meaning is "for ages," or "from age to age." (Note: For instances of the plural use of the word, עלמים, see Psalm 77:7, 8; Isa. 45:17; Dan. 9:24; &c.) A few examples of the varied uses of the word may shew us its real force, and how it throws light upon the name of God which we are now considering.

The word "Olam" then is used of a limited time in the following places among many others, though our Authorised Version in some of them has rendered it "for ever;" as for example, where we read of the "Hebrew servant whose ear is bored," of whom it is said, that "he should serve his master for ever;" and again where we have the law respecting the heathen bondslaves, whom Israel shall possess, of whom it is written, that "they shall be your bondmen for ever:" in both which places the word can only mean "for life," or "until the year of Jubilee" (Exod. 21:6; and Lev. 25:46). (Note: In the former of these passages the word is explained by Josephus, (Antiqq. iv. 8. § 28,) and by the Rabbinists, (see the article on the word "Slave," in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, p. 1331,) to mean "until the year of Jubilee," partly from the universality of the freedom then proclaimed, and also because it was the duty of the servant, as a free-born Israelite, then to resume the cultivation of his recovered inheritance.) We find the word again in Hannah's utterance, where she says, "I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and abide there for ever;" words which she afterwards explains by saying, "As long as he liveth, he shall be lent unto the Lord" (1 Sam. 1:22, 28). So again Achish says of David, when he came to Gath, "He shall be my servant for ever" (1 Sam. 27:12). The same word is sometimes simply translated "time," as in the law of redemption of inheritances, where we read, that "the houses in their cities the Levites may redeem at any "time" (Lev. 25:32). It is also used in reference to the past, as in the words, "Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time" (Josh. 24:2); and again, "See, it hath been already of old time" (Eccl. 1:10); and again where the Lord by the prophet says to Tyre, "I will bring thee down to the pit with the people of old time" (Ezek. 26:20); and again, where the Psalmist says, "I remember the days of old" (Psalm 143:5; see too Gen. 6:4; Deut. 32:7). We find a kindred use of the word where Isaiah says, "I have a long time holden my peace" (Isa. 42:14); and again where the same prophet, speaking of the past, uses the plural form of the word, saying, "Awake, O arm of the Lord, as in the generations of old" (Isa. 51:9: Heb. עלמים). In one place the word is translated "world," as when the Psalmist says, "These are the ungodly who prosper in the world" (Psalm 73:12), meaning "in this present age," or "life-time." In all these places the word, "Olam," simply expresses "time." It has no reference whatever to what we call eternity.

Still more abundant proof of the meaning of the word is to be found in its constant use respecting the period and appointments of the Jewish dispensation. For it is used of the Aaronic priesthood (Exod. 40:15), and of the office of the Levites (1 Chron. 15:2), and of the Passover (Exod. 12:14, 17), and of the meat-offering (Lev. 6:18), and the Tabernacle service, and other ordinances of the old outward worship, which now is "done away" (2 Cor. 3:7), all of which in our Authorised Version are said to be "for ever." The same word is used of the inheritance given to Caleb (Josh. 14:9); of Ai being a desolation (Josh. 8:28); of the punishment of Eli's house (1 Sam. 3:13, 14); and of the leprosy of Gehazi, of which it is said that it "shall cleave to him and to his seed for ever" (2 Kings 5:27). So again, of the land of Canaan it is said, that "the seed of Abraham shall inherit it for ever" (Gen. 13:15; Exod. 32:13), while the self-same word is repeated in the curse threatened upon Israel for their disobedience, as when we read, "These curses shall come on thee, and pursue thee, till thou be destroyed, and they shall be upon thee for a sign, and upon thy children for ever" (Deut. 28:45, 46). In like manner of Ammon and Moab it is said, "Thou shalt not seek their peace for ever" (Deut. 23:6); and again, "They shall not come into the congregation of the Lord for ever" (Deut. 23:3). These and countless similar uses of the word, "Olam," shew that it expresses "time," a "life-time" or an "age," but always speaks of some passing period, which runs its course and fulfils its purpose in God's dealings with the creature.

The question is, What is the exact meaning of the word when it is applied to God, as in the passage where it first occurs in Abraham's life, and in the other places where it occurs in Holy Scripture (See Psalm 90:2; Isa. 40:28; 63:16; Jer. 10:10; Micah 5:2; Rom. 16:26; 1 Tim. 1:17, &c.). I answer, the name itself, if only literally translated, contains and gives the key to the mystery, which is revealed, yet hidden, in it. "El Olam" is the "Age-God," or "God of Ages," (Note: Dr. Robert Young, in his new translation of the Bible, renders the word "Olam," "age-during." See his version passim, e.g. Gen. 21:33; Exod. 12:14, 17; 40:15, &c. I should rather render it "age-working.") that is, the God who works His will, not all at once, but through successive times and varied dispensations. For in the restoration of His fallen creatures there are stages. As "Jehovah," He is ever "I AM," the witness, not of past or future, but of the truth itself, which cannot pass, but is eternal. "El Olam" shews Him rather as the God of "times and seasons," in which He works to meet a fall, which prove that they are not the true life by "waxing old and vanishing away" (Heb. 8:13). (Note: The following words of St. Augustine upon this point are so striking that I subjoin them. He says, "Anything whatever hath not true being, if it change. If that is not which was, a kind of death hath taken place. Something is made away with there, that was, and now is not. Something is changed, and is, that formerly was not. O Truth, Thou only art. For in all the movings of the creature I find two times, past and future. I seek the present. Nothing stayeth. ... Past and future I find in all the motion of things. In the Truth which abideth I find not past and future, but only present, and this without fear or possibility of change. Take point by point the mutations of things. Thou wilt find Hath been and Will be. Take God, and thou wilt find I am, where Hath been and Will be cannot be."—Tractat. in Johan. xxxviii. § 10.) Thus this name foretells exactly what the Apostle Paul calls the "purpose of the ages" (Eph. 3:10, 11), namely, that in His dealings with men for their salvation, while His purpose remains absolutely unchanged, God yet reveals Himself in varying degrees, according to man's capacity to receive the growing revelation; first in the flesh, then in the Spirit; now giving law, now gospel; at one time with an election, at another with a call to all people. In a word this name "El Olam" teaches, that in the restoration and redemption of mankind there is an appointed order, a first and a last, both component parts of one purpose, and that these "times" and "times of times," some past, some future, are the direct working of the "King of ages, the only wise God" (1 Tim. 1:17; Gr. τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων), who thus reveals the "manifold wisdom," and "unsearchable riches," of His only-begotten Son (Eph. 3:8, 10, 11). (Note: I may observe here that the title of our Lord, in Isaiah 9:6, אביעד, which our Authorised Version translates, "Everlasting Father," is literally, the "Father of the age," with direct reference to the "age" or "dispensation" spoken of. Bishop Louth's note here is as follows:—"The Septuagint render the words, Πατὴρ μὲλλοντος αἰῶνος, i.e., 'the Father of the world to come,' and the Vulgar Latin follow this translation." The Bishop adds, "I am persuaded it is from the authority of this text, that the Kingdom of the Messiah is called in the New Testament by the title of 'the age (or world) to come.")

Let us notice some of the illustrations which Holy Scripture gives us of this "purpose of the ages," first as it is set before us under the shadow of the law, and then as it is more clearly opened in the writings of the New Testament.

No one I think can have studied the complex appointments of the Mosaic law, without feeling, that, if all this ceremonial came from God, there must be some hidden wisdom, not only in what is commanded as to offerings and priesthood, but no less in the varied times and seasons, which are ordained for successive cleansings and redemptions, whether of persons or their lost inheritance, and in the law respecting the First-fruits and the First-born. Some of these are so remarkable that we can scarcely conceive that they can have been appointed without a purpose. But we are not left in doubt upon this point. The New Testament distinctly teaches that all these things are "shadows of good things to come" (Col. 2:17; and Heb. 10:1), and that in them God is revealing the way of man's return to Him, and the varied steps and times through which it is accomplished. I need not here speak of the "offerings" and "priesthood," for these only indirectly bear upon the name "El Olam." It will be enough to shew how the "times" and "seasons" of the law are the shadows of those "ages," through which God works, and in virtue of which He is the "God and King of ages."

I have spoken so fully on this point elsewhere, (Note: In my volume on the Restitution of All Things, pp. 30-68.) that I can hardly avoid some repetition here; but the subject is so important, and so little understood, that it will bear some repetition. Observe then how in the law both cleansing and redemption in differing cases take effect at different times. I refer to those mystic periods of "seven days" (Lev. 12:2; 13:5, 21, 26; 14:8, &c.), "seven weeks" (Lev. 23:15), "seven months" (Lev. 16:29; 23:24), "seven years" (Lev. 25:4; Deut. 15:9, 12), and the "seven times seven years" (Lev. 25:8, 9), which last complete the Jubilee, all which are differing times for cleansing and deliverance. In the case of the leper, and of him that was unclean by the dead, there were varied times and stages of purification (Lev. 13 and 14; and Numb. 19:12). In the purification of the woman, if a son was born, her cleansing was complete at the end of forty days: if she bore a female child, not till twice forty (Lev. 12:1-5). In some cases the debtor or bondman might go free at the return of the Sabbatic year (Exod. 21:2): in other cases not until the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:39, 40). So again, if the next of kin redeemed the lost inheritance, it might be regained at once (Lev. 25:25-27). If this was not done, and the inheritance had been sold, it was lost until the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:28). More striking still are the varied seasons, which are entitled "Feasts of the Lord" (Lev. 23:2, &c.), when the fruits which are brought forth out of the earth are gathered in due order: first, the sheaf or handful of unleavened ears, the first to spring up out of the dark earth, which lay the shortest time under its darkness, soonest ripe to be a sacrifice on God's altar, was offered at the first great Feast, which is the Passover (Lev. 23:10, 11; and Luke 22:1): then, fifty days later, the leavened cakes, offered at the Feast of Weeks, that is at Pentecost (Lev. 23:17): and lastly, in the seventh month, the Feast of Tabernacles, or of Ingathering, "in the end of the year, when all the field is gathered in" (Exod. 23:16; Lev. 23:39; Deut. 16:13). In all these Feasts the seed of nature figures the seed of grace, and the first-fruits of the one are but a shadow of the other; that "seed of the kingdom," which is "not quickened except it die," and which returns to Him who made it, "every man in his own order; Christ the first-fruits; then they that are Christ's; after which cometh the end," when it shall be seen, that, as "the first-fruit is holy, the lump is also holy" (1 Cor. 15:22-28; Rom. 11:16); according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself. I do not here attempt to explain all this. I have done so elsewhere. And this mystery of the "ages" is a "secret." I only say, these "times and seasons" all speak of better things, and are the divinely appointed witnesses of the great truth which is set before us in the name "El Olam," the "Everlasting God."

But even creation, in its varied stages, tells us the same story. In it "the Age-working God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth" (Isa. 40:28), works, not in one act, but by degrees, and through successive and appointed days or seasons. In creation each day has its own work, to bring back some part of the fallen creature, and one part before another, from emptiness and confusion, to light and form and order. Six days of labour precede the day of rest. All things do not appear at once. Much is unchanged after "light," and a "heaven," are formed upon the first and second days (Gen. 1:4-8). But these first works act on all the rest, for both the "light" and "heaven" are fellow-workers with God's word in all the change that follows, till "all is very good." The Patriarchal lives even more clearly foretell the same mystery. There is a time when God still bears with the old world, though "the earth is filled with violence" (Gen. 6:11), and a time when that world is judged by a flood, and a new earth emerges from the waters. There is a time when Hagar, the bondmaid, and a fleshly seed, have their permitted place in the elect house, and a time when "that which is born after the flesh" is cast out, to make way for that which is "born after the Spirit" (Gal. 4:22-30). There is a time for the "sons of Levi" to "take tithes of the people according to the law," and a time for the "priesthood after the order of Melchisedek" (Heb. 7:5, 9). There is a time when Joseph is rejected by his brethren, and sold into Egypt, and a time when he is exalted to be head over the kingdom, and his brethren are brought to know and worship him. The prophets are full of the same teaching; of an "old covenant, which decayeth and waxeth old," and of a "new one, which is established upon better promises" (Jer. 31:31-34; and Heb. 8:6-8); of the calling of Israel out of the nations, to be "as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time" (Hos. 9:10), and then of the "earth full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9); of the "time, times, and half a time" (Dan. 12:7; and Rev. 12:14), while God's elect are tried, and of the "seventy weeks," the decade of Jubilees, which "are determined to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to bring in everlasting righteousness" (Lev. 25:8; Dan. 9:24; and compare Matt. 18:22). All these are shadows of the "purpose of the ages," "which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God," all whose ways are wisdom, even if men discern it not.

But even if we were without these figures, the language of the New Testament, in its use of the words, which our translators have rendered "for ever" and "for ever and ever" (Gr. εἰς αἰῶνα, and εἰς αἰῶνας αἰώνων), but which are literally "for the age," or "for the ages of ages," points not uncertainly to the great truth taught by the name, "El Olam," or "Age-working God," though as yet the glad tidings of the "ages to come" have been little opened. The Epistles of St. Paul shew that the "ages" are periods in which God is gradually working out a purpose, which was ordained in Christ before the fall, and before those "age-times" (Gr. χρόνοι αἰώνιοι: 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 1:2), in and through which the fall is being remedied. So we read, that "God's wisdom was ordained before the ages to our glory" (1 Cor. 2:7; πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων); that is, that God had a purpose "before the ages," out of the very fall to bring greater glory both to Himself, and to His fallen creature. Then we are told distinctly of the "purpose of the ages" (Eph. 3:11: κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων); (Note: Translated in our Authorised Version, "the eternal purpose." The Revised Version gives the exact translation, in the margin.) shewing that the work of renewal would only be accomplished through successive ages. Then we read, that "by the Son, God made the ages" (Heb. 1:2; 11:3); for it was by what the Eternal Word uttered and revealed of God's mind in each successive age, that each such age became what it distinctly was; each age, like each day of creation, being different from another by the form and measure in which the Word of God was uttered in it, and therefore also by the work effected in it, the work in each successive age, as in the different days of creation, being wrought first in one part, then in another, of the lapsed creation. Then again we read of the "mystery which has been hidden from the ages" (Eph. 3:9), and again, that the "mystery," (for he repeats the words,) "which hath been hid from ages and generations, is now made manifest to the saints, to whom God hath willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:26-27). In another place the Apostle speaks of "glory to God in the Church by Christ Jesus, unto all generations of the age of ages" (Eph. 3:21: εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων). He further says, that Christ is set "far above all principality and power, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but in the coming one" (Eph. 1:21); and again, that "now once in the end of the ages He hath appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26: ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰωνων); and that "on us the ends of the ages are met" (1 Cor. 10:11: τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων κατήντησεν); words which plainly speak of some of the ages as past, and seem to imply that other ages are approaching their consummation. Lastly, he speaks of "the ages to come," in which God will "shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:4-17). (Note: I may add here that in all the following passages, αἰών, which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew עולם, is used for this present or some other limited age or dispensation:—Matt. 12:32; 13:39, 40; 24:3; Luke 16:8; 20:34, 35; Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 1:20; 2:6, 8; 3:18; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 1:21; 2:2; 6:12; 1 Tim. 6:17; 2 Tim. 4:10; Titus 2:12.)

It is of this "purpose of the ages," that the name "El Olam" is the witness, telling of those "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, when He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached" (Acts 3:19-20), and when, in due order, through righteous judgment, cleansing, liberty, and rest, will be obtained by those who are yet in bondage, and unclean, and without their rightful inheritance. In the "ages," and in no other mystery of the gospel, do we find those "good things to come," of which the legal "times and seasons" were the shadow. The "ages," like the days of creation, speak of a prior fall: they are the "times" through which God works, because there is evil, and His rest is broken by it, but which have an end when the work appointed to be done in them has been accomplished, when all again is "very good." God's perfect rest is not in the "ages," but beyond them, when the mediatorial kingdom, which is "for the ages of ages" (Rev. 11:15), is "delivered up" (1 Cor. 15:24), and Christ, by whom all things are wrought in the ages, goes back to the glory which He had "before the age times" (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2: Gr. πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων). (Note: Translated, in our Authorised Version, "before the world began." The Vulgate translation here is, "Ante saecularia tempora," which is as literal a rendering as possible.) And the well-known words, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to day, and for the ages," first spoken to Hebrews, who were passing out of one "age" into another, imply that through these "ages" a Saviour is needed, and will be found, as much as "yesterday," and "to day," that is in the past and in the present. The "God of ages" lives from age to age, or as our Version translates it "for ever and ever" (Rev. 15:7). "Because He lives, we shall live also" (John 14:19). All things are ours: death or life; things present or things to come (Rom. 8:38).

Now it will be found that in all the places where this name "El Olam," occurs, there is always a reference, sometimes more hidden, sometimes more open, to the distinct stages of God's dealings with His creatures. Thus the first occurrence of this name is when Abraham learns that the bondmaid must be cast out, and that the better covenant is with the son of the freewoman. So Moses, "the man of God," calls upon this name, saying, "From everlasting to everlasting thou art God," only after he has learnt that he himself must pass away, and not enter the promised land, and cries out, "Thou turnest man to destruction: again thou sayest, Return, ye children of men" (Psalm 90:2, 3). So again Isaiah, when he would comfort Israel under the hidings of God's face, asks, "Hast thou not known, that the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary" (Isa. 40:28), though His work, now as in creation, advances through successive evenings and mornings unto the perfect day. So again Jeremiah, when he calls the Lord the "King of ages," who "hath made the earth by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by His discretion," speaks at once of His varying operations; now bringing clouds, and now scattering them; at one time "causing the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth," and at another "bringing forth the wind out of His treasuries" (Jer. 10:10, 12, 13). So Micah, foreseeing the days when "many nations shall say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord," when "they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks," speaks of the same name, even of "Him, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting," who "shall now be great unto the ends of the earth" (Mic. 4:2; 5:2, 4). St. Paul speaks yet more clearly of the same name, and of the "revelation of the mystery, which has been kept secret from the age-times, but is now made manifest, according to the commandment of the Everlasting or Age-working God" (Rom. 16:25, 26: Gr. μυστήριον χρόνοις αἰωνίοις σεσιγημένον .. κατ' ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ αἰωνίου θεοῦ); and again of the "King of ages," the blessed God, by whose grace the "glorious gospel was committed to his charge," that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:11-17: Gr. βασιλεὺς αἰώνων). And, if I err not, the same title, "God who liveth for the ages of ages," where it meets us in the final Revelation, when some are seen "with harps of gold, standing on the sea of glass," while others are yet to suffer the "seven last plagues, for in them is filled up the wrath of God" (Rev. 15:1, 2, 7), assures us of the same truth, that long as the fall and its bitter fruits remain, with vials of wrath and judgment through "ages" and "ages of ages" (Rev. 14:4), One lives through all these ages, who is ever the same, and able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25). Thus every reference to this name is significant, though few yet know its significance; for even to this day the prophet's words are true, "Verily, Thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour" (Isa. 45:15).

Such is this name, and it is a witness, how, in words or names which are often unnoticed, Scripture may be teaching secrets of God's wise purpose, which are hidden even from the elect, till the time comes for their fuller revelation. My assured conviction is that the deepest things in Scripture, as in our common daily life,—things which lie at the very foundation of our being here,—are things which are not and cannot be openly spoken of to all, while yet they are assumed, and often indirectly alluded to. Certainly in the Patriarchal lives Divine secrets, which have taken ages for their revelation, were hidden under apparently unimportant acts or words, which few notice. God said to Abraham, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." "That is," says the Apostle Paul, "they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (Rom. 9:7, 8). Again it is written, "Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman." But in the history of this bondmaid and freewoman, and of their seeds, as the Apostle shews, we have the secret both of the law and gospel, and of the passing away of the one, and the abiding of the other (Gal. 4:22, 30). Just so the name "El Olam," rarely used, yet always in special connexions, opens a secret, ignorance of which may keep us unconscious of God's advancing revelation, and leave us, like the Jew, still clinging to that which is abolished, when something better has already been revealed. Blessed are they, who like Abraham and Moses in the days of old, and like Paul and John when the Jewish age was vanishing away, have learnt even a little of this secret of the "ages," for it is "as a light in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts" (2 Pet. 1:19).


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