Gen. 6:4, "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, (aionos), men of renown." Gen. 9:12; God's covenant with Noah was "for perpetual (aionious) generations." Gen. 9:16; The rainbow is the token of "the everlasting (aionion) covenant" between God and "all flesh that is upon the earth" Gen. 13:15; God gave the land to Abram and his seed "forever," (aionos). Dr. T. Clowes says of this passage that it signifies the duration of human life, and he adds, "Let no one be surprised that we use the word Olam (Aion) in this limited sense. This is one of the most usual significations of the Hebrew Olam and the Greek Aion." In Isa. 58:12; it is rendered "old" and "foundations," (aionioi and aionia). "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach." In Jer. 18:15, 16, ancient and perpetual, (aionious and aionion). "Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up; to make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and wag his head." Such instances may be cited to an indefinite extent. Ex. 15:18, "forever and ever and further" (ton aiona, kai ep aiona, kai eti.) Ex. 12:17, "And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt, therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever," (aionion). Numb. 10:8, "And the sons of Aaron the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever (aionion) THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS." "Your generations," is here idiomatically given as the precise equivalent of "forever." Canaan was given as an "everlasting (aionion) possession;" (Gen. 17:8, 48:4; Lev. 24:8,9;) the hills are everlasting (aionioi;) (Hab. 3:6;) the priesthood of Aaron (Ex. 40:15; Numb. 25:13; Lev. 16:34;) was to exist forever, and continue through everlasting duration; Solomon's temple was to last forever, (1 Chron. 17:12;) though it was long since ceased to be; slaves were to remain in bondage forever, (Lev. 25:46;) though every fiftieth year all Hebrew servants were to be set at liberty, (Lev. 25:10;) Jonah suffered an imprisonment behind the everlasting bars of earth, (Jon. 2:6;) the smoke of Idumea was to ascend forever, (Isa. 34:10;) though it no longer rises, to the Jews God says (Jer. 32:40;) "and I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten," and yet, after the fullness of the Gentiles shall come in, Israel will be restored. Rom. 11:25-6.
Not only in all these and multitudes of other cases does the word mean limited duration, but it is also used in the plural, thus debarring it from the sense of endless, as there can be but one eternity. In Dan. 12:3; the literal reading, if we allow the word to mean eternity, is "to eternities and farther," (eis tous aionas kai eti.) Micah 4:5, "We will walk in the name of the Lord our God to eternity, and beyond'' eis ton aiona kai epekeina. Ps. 119:43, "And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually forever and ever!' This is the strongest combination of the aionian phraseology: eis ton aiona kai eis ton aiona tou aionos, and yet it is David's promise of fidelity as long as he lives among them that "reproach" him, in "the house of his pilgrimage." Ps. 148:4-6, "Praise him, ye heaven of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded and they were created. He hath also established them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass. The sun and moon, the stars of light, and even the waters above the heavens are established forever,"eis ton aiona tou aionos, and yet the firmament is one day to become as a folded garment, and the orbs of heaven are to be no more. Endless duration is out of the question in these and many similar instances.
In Lam. 5:19, "forever and ever" is used as the equivalent of "from generation to generation." Joel 2:26-27, "And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed." This is spoken of the Jewish nation. Isa. 60:15, "Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal (aionion) excellency, a joy of many generations." Here many generations and eternal are exact equivalents. 1 Sam. 1:22, "But Hannah went not up: for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide forever." The remaining of Samuel in the temple was to be "forever" (aionos) 2 Kings, 5:27, "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed forever!" (ton aiona). Undoubtedly the seed of Gehazi is still on earth: but whether so or not the leprosy has departed. Daniel 2:4, "Then spake the Chaldeans to the king in Syriac, O king, live forever: eis tous aiona!" The Chaldean's live forever meant precisely what the French Vive, and the English "Long live the King" mean. Eternal duration never entered the thought. Jerem. 17:25, "Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their city shall remain forever," eis ton aiona. Eternity was not promised here. Long duration is the extent of the promise. Josh. 4:7, "Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD: when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off; and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever," tou aionos. These stones are no longer a memorial. This forever has ended.
Forever and ever is applied to the hosts of heaven, or the sun, moon, and stars: to a writing contained in a book; to the smoke that went up from the burning land of Idumea; and to the time the Jews were to dwell in Judea.(39) The word never is applied to the time the sword was to remain in the house of David, to the time the Jews should experience shame.(40)
"Everlasting"(41) is applied to God's covenant with the Jews; to the priesthood of Aaron; to the statutes of Moses; to the time the Jews were to possess the land of Canaan; to the mountains and hills; and to the doors of the Jewish temple.(42) The word forever is applied to the duration of man's earthly existence; to the time a child was to abide in the temple; to the continuance of Gehazi's leprosy; to the duration of the life of David; to the duration of a king's life; to the duration of the earth; to the time the Jews were to possess the land of Canaan; to the time they were to dwell in Jerusalem; to the time a servant was to abide with his master; to the time Jerusalem was to remain a city; to the duration of the Jewish temple; to the laws and ordinances of Moses; to the time David was to be king over Israel; to the throne of Solomon; to the stones that were set up at Jordan; to the time the righteous were to inhabit the earth; and to the time Jonah was in the fish's belly.(43)
And yet, the land of Cannan, the Jews' "everlasting possession," has passed from their hand; the convenant of circumcision, an "everlasting covenant" was abolished almost two thousand years ago; the Jewish atonement (Lev. 16,) an everlasting statute, is abrogated by the atonement of Christ; David was never to want a man to sit on Israel's throne. This aionian line of succession was long ago broken.
We have found the noun Aion three hundred and ninety-four times in the Old Testament, and the adjective Aionion one hundred and ten times, and in all but four times it is the translation of Olam.
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