Learn More of God’s Attributes!
Eternal God – From Everlasting to Everlasting
The Eternal God of the Bible has always existed and will continue to exist in the future. As El Olam, He is known as the Everlasting God. The Hebrew name Olam means “forever, perpetual, old, ancient” implying that there is an infinite future and past. “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). The principles of the laws of nature, the beginning of time, and the first existence of this world—all are the result of God, the Creator who possesses never-ending wisdom and power. He was before all time and all worlds.
People have sometimes thought that the Eternal God is completely independent or distant from any events or actions that occur in our lives. God’s eternity may be explained as: “God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.”1 This doctrine is frequently referred to as the doctrine of God’s infinity with respect to time. To be “infinite” means to be unlimited. This doctrine teaches that time does not limit God or change Him in any way.
God is timeless in His own being. Psalm 90, believed to be a prayer of Moses, instructs the Israelites to honor God’s eternal nature through their prayers. The psalm contrasts God’s eternity with man’s frail and brief life. Man must come to terms with the small number of his days in comparison to a holy, everlasting God. Similarly, in Job 36:26, Elihu says of God, “How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.” God’s years are innumerable and unending in contrast to man’s few years. Even Job laments that his days and months are determined by God, with time limits beyond which he cannot go (Job 14:5).
Eternal God – Before All Time
As the Eternal God, we must acknowledge the fact that God created all things and that He himself is an immortal spirit. Before the creation of the universe, there was no matter, but then God created all things (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). The study of physics tells us that matter, time, and space must all occur together. Without matter, there can be neither space nor time. Therefore, “time”—the succession of moments one after another—did not exist before God created the universe. But, before there was a universe or time, God always existed, without being influenced by time.
There are places in the Bible that refer to God existing or acting “before” there was any creation or any time. “For he [God the Father] chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight...” (Ephesians 1:4). In Jesus’ own words, His eternal splendor is expressed as He speaks of “the glory you [God] have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (John 17:24). More noteworthy, Jude 25 proclaims glory, majesty, dominion, and authority to God “before all ages, now and forevermore.” Remarkably Jude’s three-part sequence indicates past-present-future, signifying that this phrase in the original Greek text, pro panto tou aiwnos, is accurately translated “before all time.”
In referring to an Eternal God, the previous Scripture passages and the fact that God always existed, even prior to time, combine to indicate that God’s own being does not consist of a succession of moments. His glorious presence does not progress from one state of existence to another. While it is difficult for us to understand, God is omnipresent, completely existent in His fullness. Therefore, God is able to see all time equally vividly as well as instantaneously.
In Psalm 90:4, we read, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” A night watch was approximately four hours, the brief portion of the night when a man sleeps. Between a minute and a million years we can establish some proportion, but between time and eternity no such proportion can be fathomed. In the New Testament, Peter speaks of God viewing “a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). God looks upon a thousand years as if it were “yesterday.”
The Eternal God does not forget things after one or two millenniums, but also views any one day as a thousand years. It is as if that day never ends, but is always being experienced by Him. God is able to see the whole span of history as intensely as if it were a brief event that occurred in any one moment, but any brief event as if it continues forever! No event that takes place in our lives fades from God’s consciousness. He is omniscient, fully knowing Himself and all things in one eternal act.
Eternal God – Our Personal Response
In reflecting upon the attributes of the Eternal God, every response becomes very personal. The gifted Christian vocal artist, Chris Tomlin, stated, “God is a mystery, beyond our comprehension.” The lyrics of this song reflect his personal relationship with the God of Eternity:
You are the everlasting God.
The everlasting God.
You do not faint.
You won't grow weary.2
Humans measure nearly everything according to a specified time. Yet we yearn for our lives and our relationships to last forever. When we choose to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, God gives us an eternal promise that extends beyond the boundaries of time . . . an everlasting life (John 3:16).
1 Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press and Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.
2 Tomlin, Chris. “Everlasting God.” See the Morning. Six Step Records, 2006.
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