Q: When promises, such as those in Genesis 17:7-8, are said to be everlasting, does that mean never-ending or ending with the millennium? It cannot mean they end and/or are fulfilled in Christ, can it?
A: This is an excellent question, and one about which people frequently become confused. Old Testament Hebrew lacks a word that can convey the concept of “eternity” or “everlasting” or “forever” in an absolute sense. The word in question, olam, simply means “an indeterminately long duration,” as determined by context as when used of the duration of a man's lifetime (Exodus 14:13; 21:6; Leviticus 25:46; Deuteronomy 15:17) or that of ten generations (Deuteronomy 23:3). For example, the Mosaic legislation was not designed for eternity, but only for a fifteen hundred year preparatory period for Israel prior to the arrival of their Messiah (Galatians 3:19-25). Context is key. Where there is no obvious terminus point, such as a man's lifetime or a clearly demarcated beginning of a new/fresh age, and where there is no specifically provided terminus point, such as the New Testament teaching of the Torah's abrogation, it can be assumed that olam means everlasting.