There are several theological and scientific views concerning the creation of all things; cosmos, earth, animals and man. The two foundational stones in each of these theories centers on; (1) the time it took for creation; billions of years to six literal days, and (2) who or what was the force behind creation.
The point of the argument is this; “Does God really mean what He says?” A “face value” reading of Genesis chapter one, in context and without any preconceived external ideologies, would lead the reader to believe that God created all things, including the first two human beings in six literal days. Each day is defined with the phrase “and the evening and a morning were the (first, second, etc.) day”. Moses, the author of Genesis, was writing in the language of his day to be understood, most importantly through the inspiration of God, and concluded that each day of creation was an “evening and morning”. Six days of creating and then one day of resting. By accepting the six literal days of creation, the earth then is not billions of years old, but instead just thousands or a young earth compared to an old earth. There is no need to insert time gaps into the creation model unless it is to force another theory into Genesis chapter one.
The word “day” can have many meanings and uses. A day can mean “a period of time”, or “daylight hours”, or “a twenty-four hour period”. It is important to understand how the word is being used in Genesis One, in context, just as it would to be for someone today to understand when they said, “Back in my dad’s day” or “let’s meet one day next week” or “two days from now”. Each use of the word “day” has a specific meaning that can only be truly understood when used in the context of the sentence. The Hebrew word for day is “yom” and like the English word “day”, according to a typical concordance, has many different meanings including; a specific point of time, a period of light as contrasted to darkness (Genesis 1:5; 14-16, 18), a 24-hour period, a chronology, a year or an indefinite period of time (Psalms 90:10.
Considering the different uses of “yom”, the only way to correctly define what God meant when he signified “evening and morning were the (first, second, etc.) day” is to look at the context and structure of the sentence. In hermeneutics there is a statement that says; “A text without context is pretext.” In other words if we take the text out of the context in which it is written leads one to have a pretext of the meaning outside of the meaning of the writer.
In each instance of the days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), the phrase “evening and morning” are used with the number of the creation day. If we look at the other uses of “yom” outside of the creation of Genesis chapter one, there are over three hundred times where a number and “yom” are used that mean a literal twenty-four hour period. Looking at the phrase “evening and morning” with “yom”, there are over sixty times they are used together and each time is an ordinary day. Why would the usage of “yom” in Genesis chapter one be different than all these other verses?
Therefore on this one point, in the usage of the words of our language, in the context they were written and their definitions, without having outside influences, the word for “day” as used in Geneses One as used with a number, must mean an ordinary day of about twenty-four hours.
Theistic Evolution and the Day-Age Theory
Evolution and Theistic Evolution requires two crucial elements; long periods of time and life out of no life (materialism). Atheists and evolutionary theists generally agree on these two elements, but go about it differently. The atheists do not believe in God, so there is no special creation in six days but taking six billion years for creation. Theistic evolutionists profess a certain belief in the Scriptures and attempt to harmonize the biblical account of creation in Genesis, while inserting the evolutionary scenario into the mix. The theistic evolutionist therefore, does not believe in special creation in six days, but that through six periods of time, God moved on matter and the creation took place. Their definition of the term “day” is allegorical and represents the definition of “day” that is a period of time instead of a single solar day of twenty-four hours. The theistic evolutionist’s model is the “Day-Age” theory which says that each day of creation was an age (period of time). In this way they attempt to harmonize “Special Creation” and “Evolution” into one theory.
Theistic evolutionists will give one of their proof texts as 2 Peter 3:8 where Peter, referring to Psalms 90:4, says, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Of course this verse is taken out of context. Peter was trying to illustrate that in the last days there would be those who would say that since Jesus had not returned yet, He was not coming back at all. Peter focuses their attention to the flood and to those who scoffed at Noah. Peter then pens the words of the eighth verse which was never intended to be a mathematical formula, but that God is the creator of everything including the universe and time itself. Peter’s point was not that a day equals one thousand years as a standard of time for man to use in understanding God’s time, but that God is above time itself. The LORD defines time, not man (Hebrews 1:2)
There are many problems with this theory. One is that they take special creation of Genesis One out of the mix. Instead their premise is that God got everything started then let nature take over. They also work so hard on proving their point about the definition of “day”, that they totally disregard the use of “evening and morning”. The “Day Age” theory would be rendered “and ‘thousands/millions/billions’ of evenings and mornings” are the first day. To prescribe to this theory would be analogous to saying that when Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights that he was actually in the fish for three thousand years until he was vomited out on dry land. A greater miracle than the creation of the world in six days would be that Jonah and the fish would live for thousands of years. The word in Jonah 1:17 for the number of days in the belly of the fish is the same day as used in Genesis 1:5, 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31; “yom”.
There are those that say that a literal twenty-four hour day could not have been until day number four when the sun, moon and stars were created. Genesis 1:14 says; “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:” (emphasis mine). This point is not convincing one way or another. God could have created in the first three days of creation, by design, twenty four hour days into the solar system. When the “lights in the firmament of heaven” were made on the fourth day, they could have been in sync with the definition of “time” that God had originally intended.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?
4 thoughts on “Should we take the six days of creation literally as twenty-four hour days?”
Good article, and I agree with your perspective. I would like to see some clarification on Genesis 2: 4-“generations”, and-literal word meanings of “evening and morning”. Has it ever occurred to you that the first verse of Genesis is totally irrefutable, no matter what we believe-spiritually or even scientifically? It has me. Very interesting Sherlock! Also, I must add an emotional statement that, arrogant men, not being able to come to unanimous terms with one another on historical details related to 200 year old events, certainly can’t be trusted too terribly much when they begin to speak of things that happened billions of years ago!
I think someone is up to something subversive when they try to convince me I came from an ape. The corrupt “intellectual” elites of our day would love for us to believe we came from apes as they lead us into our cages…devolution!
Thanks, Bob. It always amazes me that we continually try to put God on our level and not take Him completely and literally at His Word and face value. Robert was saying the other day that when people tell him they can’t understand the Bible…of course, there are parts we will never be completely able to understand until we see Jesus but…the real problem is the Holy Spirit is our Interpreter. We try to discern with an unregenerate heart and eyes of no understanding before we come to Christ.
Thanks for all you do to share the Gospel.
Hi Bob, Very good presentation of what is failure of those who deny creation or try to appease the world. Context always will be the most important part of understanding the Bible. As Connie says the Holy Spirt must be in you to understand God’s Word otherwise it is all worldly reason and man’ foolishness. Keep em coming brother really enjoy reading your blog. Stay strong and uncompromising!
This blog is so excellent.Very nice comments.