Friday, March 20, 2015

Teach us to Pray, part 21: El Olam

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

El Olam
El Olam is one of the names of God and means The Everlasting God. It is used more than 400 times in the Old Testament, but is first used in Genesis 21:33. Abimelech's men had seized a well that Abraham's men had dug. It was vital for their flocks and Abraham complained to Abimelech (A Mesopotamian chieftain). Abraham and Abimelech made a covenant together about the well, then Abraham gave him seven ewe lambs as a witness that his men had, indeed, dug the well. The two men called the place where they had made their agreement Beersheba, which means "well of the seven-fold oath". Abraham planted a tamarisk tree there as a marker in the name of El Olam, the Everlasting God. 

The tamarisk tree has a long taproot and can survive in very arid conditions, and has a tendency toward being invasive. It provides shade, shelter, food, and fuel, and perhaps this is why Abraham chose it, as a reminder of the One who had provided so much for him.

The word translated as "everlasting" is`owlam, and can also be used to mean "perpetual" or "forever". It is this same word that is used in Exodus 21 to describe the service of a bondservant. In this case, a servant, purchased by his master for a specific period of time, was to be released at the end of six years of service. If the servant says that he loves his master and does not want to leave his service, the master shall "bring him to the door post and bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever (or`owlam). 

The Greek word doulos is also used to indicate a bondservant and both Paul and James used it to describe themselves as the bondservant of Christ. They, along with John, described the followers of Christ as His bondservants. What, then, does this mean for us today?

I, once a servant of sin, have been bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Although, by the rights of that blood, I should have been nothing more than a slave to Christ, He willingly used that blood purchase to set me free. As a disciple of Christ, then, I proclaim my love for Him and my desire to serve no other Master. I deny the freedom to go my own way and serve myself. I give myself to Christ as His bondservant, desiring to be His servant, His slave, forever. I relinquish my own desires, my own freedom, my own rights to my life, and present them all to Him.

Disciples of Christ are bondservants of the Most High God, the Everlasting God.

As a bondservant of Christ, I cannot have it both ways. I cannot be both a servant of self and a servant of Christ, bound to my own desires, my own "rights", my own flesh, and, at the same time, bound to Christ. When I become a disciple of Christ, I willingly choose to become a bondservant to Him. If I am to be a Christian, in the sense that the first-century believers were Christians, I will be a bondservant to our Lord. 

This is astoundingly simple, yet all too often we choose to neglect this important truth. If we are a "Christian", a disciple of Christ, then we are bondservants of Christ. Scripture is clear about this truth. If we are not bondservants of Christ, then we need to reconsider whether or not we are His disciple at all. 

There will be a day of reckoning and I will give an account of the life I have lived. I will give an account of my service to Christ. When that day comes, I want to stand before Him and say with truth, "I was the bondservant of Christ". I want to hear those precious, blessed words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter the rest prepared for you." He will only call me His good and faithful servant in that day if I have been His bondservant, a truly good and faithful servant, in this day.

How do we hallow the name of El Olam, The Everlasting God? We serve Him as bondservants, making an everlasting covenant to Him. We become the example Christ set for us, relinquishing all but Christ, bondservant of the Most High God.