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Joined: 2007/1/21
Posts: 797

 When is a Day not a Day?

Here's a good article!

When Is a Day Not a Day?
by John Morris, Ph.D.
Those Christians who hold to an extremely old Earth acknowledge that both Scripture and history teach Abraham lived just a few thousand years ago. Furthermore, chronologies in Scripture identify the time between Abraham and Noah, and the time between Noah and Adam as a total only of a few thousand years. Even using the maximum time spans given in various manuscripts yields a total of only a few thousand years between Adam and the present. But maybe the creation took billions of years, they say.

It seems obvious. The Bible specifies that God's work of creation took "six days," at the end of which He created Adam. He provides a record of His activities on Day One, Day Two, etc. He even brackets each day by the terms "evening and morning." Adding six days to the time since Adam still equals only a few thousand years, or so it seems. Those who advocate an Earth of billions of years in age do so by asserting that the days of creation were really of vast duration. Is there any Biblical and linguistic evidence that a "day" can be of great length?

As a matter of fact, the Hebrew word yom, here translated "day," can have a variety of meanings, just like in English.

In both languages, the term most often refers to a solar day, defined by one revolution of the earth on its axis. If I say "today" you know what I mean. Or when I say "the day of your birth" it's clear. Perhaps I could modify the word by a numerical adjective, like "first day" or "three days," and you would know what I meant. But I could say "in the day of George Washington" and you would know I was referring to a period of time around the Revolutionary War. It all depends on context. How the word is used specifies its meaning in any particular usage.

In Genesis chapter one, God apparently went out of His way to make sure we didn't misunderstand, for He defined yom the first time He used it. On Day One, after creating the heavens and the earth, God created light (v.3), and "God divided the light from the darkness" (v.4). This light/dark cycle was further identified when "God called the light Day [yom], and the darkness He called Night" (v.5). Throughout the rest of the passage He uses the term for the First Day through the Seventh Day.

The door to misinterpretation is closed in Exodus 20:11, where God wrote in stone some things He really didn't want us to misinterpret. The fourth of the Ten Commandments concerns our work week, where we are commanded to work six days and rest on the seventh, "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day." Same word, yom, same context, same modifiers, same tablet of stone, same Author, same finger which wrote it. If words have meaning, then God created in six days just like our days. His work of creation becomes the pattern for our work week.

"Day" can mean a period of time when the context demands, but in the creation account "day" means a real "day." Christians need to allow the unchangeable Scripture to define its own terms and not rely on the temporal musings of men.


 2007/3/25 15:02Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: When is a Day not a Day?

the Day 1:
Gen. 1:3 (KJVS) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Day 2:
Gen. 1:6 (KJVS) And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

Day 3:
Gen. 1:9 (KJVS) And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
Gen. 1:11 (KJVS) And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

Day 4:
Gen. 1:14 (KJVS) And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

Day 5:
Gen. 1:20 (KJVS) And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

Day 6:
Gen. 1:24 (KJVS) And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
Gen. 1:26 (KJVS) And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. Each of these ‘days’ is the consequence of a creative word spoken by God. This fits in with the idea that it was the ‘Word’ who executed this creative work. I want to draw attention to the fact that verses 1 and 2 [b]precede[/b] any creative word having been spoken.

The phrase ‘the evening and the morning, one day’ follows each creative act and finishes it. A new creative act begins with a new creative word. This seems to be the pattern of Genesis 1. However the first two verses do not fit into this pattern so how are we to understand them?

Most of the ‘Days’ are subjected to God’s assessment and consequent approval.Day 1:
Gen. 1:4 (KJVS) And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
In this instance the creative act which is assessed and approved is the creation of the Light. There is no approving comment attached to the first two verses. At the end of Day 1 it is ‘the Light’ and its separation from ‘the Darkness’ which is assessed and approved.

Day 2: no comment

Day 3:
Gen. 1:10 (KJVS) And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
Gen. 1:12 (KJVS) And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

It is the separation of land and sea and the creation of plant life was assessed and approved at the end of the Day 3.

Day 4:
Gen. 1:18 (KJVS) And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

The provision of sun, moon and stars is assessed and approved at the end of Day 4.

Day 5:
Gen. 1:21 (KJVS) And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Gen. 1:25 (KJVS) And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

The creation of Sea and air creatures is assessed and approved at the end of Day 5.

Day 6:
Gen. 1:31 (KJVS) And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

The creation of land based life and mankind is assessed and approved on Day 6

The actual ‘creation’ of ‘the heavens the earth’ is not fitted into the pattern of the 6 days. How are we to understand this?

In addition the creation of the heavens and the earth and the description of the earth in Gen 1:2 has no creative word and no word of approval. I can only think of two reasons for this omission.

1. The First Day began with the creation of the heavens and the earth but without a creative word.
2. The creation of the heavens and the earth were not part of the 6 Day Creation theme.

My preference is No 2. The rhythm of the creative words and subsequent approval is broken completely if Gen 1:1,2 is part of Day 1. I suggest that the setting apart of these first two verses is a conspicuous act on God’s part to distinguish between the actual creation of the heavens and the earth, for which no details are given AND the ‘re-ordering/creation of an existing ‘heavens and earth’ which is detailed ‘day by day’.

We will need to examine the nature of the ‘6 days’ subsequently, but as a starter I would put Gen 1:1,2 firmly outside the timetable of the 6 days.

Ron Bailey

 2007/3/26 9:58Profile

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