For Ever or Age Abiding?

Let us take a look at a great fish tale where we find something that is really fishy!  We can find the reference to this event in Jonah 1:17 (KJV):

“Now Yahweh had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”   

Now, let’s read about Jonah’s perspective of that experience in Jonah 2:5-6 (KJV): 

“The waters compassed me about even to the soul:  the depths closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars about me for ever:  yet hast now brought up my life from corruption, oh Yahweh my Elohim.” 

Now wait a minute!  There is a discrepancy here. In Jonah 1:17 we are told Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. Then in the citation from Jonah 2, Jonah says he was in this predicament “for ever”!  How did this difference occur? 

The translators of the King James Version (KJV) used for ever here to translate the Hebrew word olam.  Olam can be found in Strong’s Concordance as H5769. Olam is found nearly 450 times in the Old Testament Hebrew. Olam is often translated as for ever, perpetual, everlasting and at least 20 other ways. However, it is really not equivalent to any of these English words. 

I selected this passage in the book of Jonah because for ever is used only once and they really got it wrong. We are told Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. This reveals that in this context olam is not forever but time-limited to just those three days and nights.  This tells us that the context can be an important clue to the duration of the event. We must evaluate each and every passage where olam is translated to determine its true meaning. 

It is also of interest that the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Septuagint, uses the Greek words, aion, (G165) and aionios (G166) to translate olam. These words are best translated as age abiding or age-lasting.  The Rotherham translation of the Old and New Testaments does not use for ever but age abiding to translate olam. These Greek and Hebrew equivalent terms are usually time-limited not eternal or perpetual. 

For instance in Jude 7 we find this:  “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”  The Greek word translated as eternal is aionios. (G166) The correct translation is age abiding, not eternal.  There is a time limitation associated with this event. How do we know this?  

The prophet Ezekiel provides us with the understanding that we need to properly interpret aionios.  This is found in the book of Ezekiel 16: 53-55: 

“When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then will I bring again the captivity of thy the captives in the midst of them. [The Companion Bible offers this clarification of the phrase, “bring again their captivity”.  This source offers an enhanced meaning of restore them.]  That thou mayest bear thine own shame, and mayest be confounded in all that thou hast done, and that thou art a comfort unto them.  When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estates, and Samaria and her daughter shall return to their former estate then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former state. (The American Translation Bible has this explanation for former estate:  as they will return to their former life.) 

The book of Jude says they will burn with eternal fire while Ezekiel says they will live again. The difference is the translation of aionios.  If we use age abiding both passages from Jude and Ezekiel are complementary. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah will not have perished for ever but for a time-limited period, after which they will live again. This is an important distinction. 

The people of Sodom are not gone for ever but only until another age. The next age for them is the Last Great Day or White Throne Judgment.

(Revelation 20: 11)  We are told in Genesis 13:10 that Yahweh “destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.”  Yes, it was destroyed, but the inhabitants did not perish forever. All those who died at that time will be resurrected with ALL the rest of mankind after the thousand-year reign of Messiah is completed. (Revelation 20:5)  Yes, it is vitally important to make sure the words you are reading from a bible translation are accurate. There is a significant difference between eternal or for ever and a time-limited age.  

Another example (and there are are many) is the phrase, “everlasting hills” found in Genesis 49:26. This expression is contradicted by Isaiah 40:4 which says:  “every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:” This is a relatively minor example, but is one that if we understand it correctly enhances our knowledge of Yahweh’s plan and his intentions. 

The book of Acts, chapter 15, is about a very important meeting the apostles and elders convened in Jerusalem.  In verse one we learn why this meeting was called:  “Certain men came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved.”  The apostles and elders discussed this matter and their decision was that the Pharisees who supported this teaching were wrong.  Circumcision of the flesh is no longer necessary for salvation. 

Paul confirms this understanding in 1 Corinthians 7:19:  “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the Commandments of Elohim.”

 Paul continues to add support to his teaching in Colossians 2:11: “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.”  This indicates a change from the old covenant method of circumcision to the new covenant method of the circumcision of the heart. What was formerly by the flesh is now through water baptism in YahwehShua.

 This new understanding contradicts what we are told in Genesis 17:13:

“He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting [olam] covenant.”  According to the King James translation, circumcision of the flesh was to be everlasting, or perpetual. But a change was announced by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. Therefore the teaching in Genesis could not be in effect forever. It was, in fact, age-abiding.  Circumcision was begun in the age of Abraham and terminated in the age of Messiah. This was not an everlasting covenant but one that was to be age-abiding. 

Is there another example of a “for ever” statement in the Old Testament that is later revealed as being time-limited?  Yes, let’s consider the Day of Coverings, Yom Kippurim.  The King James Version of Leviticus 16:29 says this:  “and this shall be a statute for ever [olam] unto you: that in the seventh month, on the 10th day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own or a stranger that sojourneth among you.“  This translation suggests that this requirement is perpetual and unchangeable, but is it?   

Based on what we have learned about the Hebrew word olam, this statute cannot be forever. It must be age-abiding and therefore time-limited.  Just as circumcision was age abiding, so is Yom Kippurim.  Paul reveals this change in Hebrews 6:1-2: 

1       Passover: “repentance from dead works”

2       Unleavened bread, First High Sabbath, “faith towards Yahweh”

3       Unleavened bread, Second high Sabbath, “the doctrine of [water]  baptisms”

4       Pentecost, “laying on of hands“

5      Yom Teruah, “resurrection of the dead“

6      Yom Gadol, the Last Great Day, “eternal judgment“


You will notice the absence of Yom Kippurim and the Feast of Booths.  This represents a significant change. For the purpose of this discussion I will focus only on the Day of Coverings. 

During Yom Kippurim, under the old covenant, the Israelite high priest enters the Holy of Holies once a year to sprinkle animal blood on the mercy seat for the reconciliation of the people of Israel for one year. This was required until the covenant was terminated. This happened with the death of Messiah on the tree. He was the husband of Israel. Israel was bound to her husband until his death, and then she was free.

Messiah died under the name of Yahshua.  He poured out his blood after death. Upon his resurrection the Messiah inherited a new name because his human name was defiled by ALL the sin of mankind. Unlike the high priest of the old covenant who offered blood from year-to-year, Messiah shed his blood only once.  Paul confirms that all sin is reconciled with the one time shedding of his blood. This is what Paul tells us in Romans 5:11: “We have now received the atonement” (reconciliation).  It is not repeated year to year. It was done once and fulfilled all requirements. That is why Paul did not list the continued observance of the Day of Coverings in Hebrews 6. 

Yom Kippurim is for physical Israel and for the world. It is not for the firstfruits of this age. The firstfruits are those resurrected when Messiah returns. Remember, the Messiah died in sin for all mankind. His blood covers all mankind.  

During the 1000-year reign of Messiah, animal sacrifices will be reinstituted. But this time the blood is sprinkled by the priests upon and around the altar. Unlike under the old covenant, there is no high priest to sprinkle blood in the Holy of Holies. No blood is taken into the temple part of the sanctuary as described in the book of Ezekiel.  In Ezekiel 45:17 we are told that the offerings (sin, meat, burnt and peace) are “to make reconciliation for the House of Israel“.  

Ezekiel reveals a major change with the required sacrifices reinstituted during the 1000 years. He indicates that Passover, Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Booths are also observed (Chapter 45.)  There is no mention of Yom Kippurim.  The Yom Kippurim taught in Leviticus is not everlasting but time-limited, or age abiding.  Circumcision and Yom Kippurim were both changed. Paul reveals the change of circumcision as well as in the Day of Coverings. 

Yom Kippurim is of the old covenant. We, the firstfruits of the age of Messiah, are to embrace the new covenant. Therefore we must embrace the doctrine of Messiah.  John gave us this warning in 2 John 9: “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Messiah, hath not Elohim.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Messiah hath both the Father and Son.”  We must not allow ourselves to become anti-messiah.  We must not be lukewarm, but hot and zealous in keeping the new covenant. 

Do you wish to learn more about the key of knowledge? (Luke 11:52)

This is knowledge that can lead you to the better resurrection. (Hebrews 11: 35)  Pray to Yahweh for truth, study the information on our website and contact our elders for assistance. We are looking for those who are being called by the Father during this age. (John 6:44, 65)