An image of a sunset at the shore, with the sun hidden by a spit of land, but bright colors are reflected in both sky and water.

God is the only Being in the universe who is entirely independent, needing nothing and no one to sustain him. Unfettered by time, he exists in eternity. Able to see past, present, and future at once, he is never surprised or taken off guard by anything that has ever happened or will happen. Though his eternal, self-sufficient nature may make him seem remote, these qualities offer us reasons for hope and courage because we are connected to a God who not only exists eternally but who loves eternally. Out of his own self-sufficiency, he can nourish and sustain us.

To say that God is eternal is to say that he exists apart from time. Though God is present in our world, he is not confined in time as we are. Existing in eternity, he sees everything that has ever happened, is happening, and will happen. God never has to wait for anything, never has to wonder what will happen. He can’t grow and he doesn’t have potential because he is already everything he will ever be. Existing in perfect completeness before the world began, he will continue to exist in perfect completeness when the world ends.

One of his titles in the Hebrew Scriptures is El Olam, which can be translated “Everlasting God” or “Eternal God.” The word ‘ôlām occurs more than four hundred times in the Old Testament. Translated as “eternal, everlasting, forever, lasting, ever, ancient,” the word is applied to God and to his word, laws, covenant, name, reign, love, salvation, and light.

As creatures, we are dependent. We cannot survive unless someone outside of ourselves nourishes and sustains us. God is the giver of everything we need to survive—food, water, air to breathe. But God himself needs no one and nothing. Living in eternity, God is self-sufficient.

Though human beings are mortal, God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11), designing us to live with him forever. Through Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, death’s power is defeated and we are redeemed.





Originally published September 13, 2018.