Why Is It Important?
If the days of creation are really geologic ages of millions of years, then the gospel message is undermined at its foundation because it puts death, disease,
thorns, and suffering before the Fall. The effort to define “days” as “geologic
ages” results from an erroneous approach to Scripture—reinterpreting
the Word of God on the basis of the fallible theories of sinful people.
It is a good exercise to read Genesis 1 and try to put aside outside influences
that may cause you to have a predetermined idea of what the word
“day” may mean. Just let the words of the passage speak to you.
Taking Genesis 1 in this way, at face value, without doubt it says that
God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon and stars, plants and animals,
and the first two people within six ordinary (approximately 24-hour)
days. Being really honest, you would have to admit that you could never get
the idea of millions of years from reading this passage.
The majority of Christians (including many Christian leaders) in the
Western world, however, do not insist that these days of creation were ordinary-length days, and many of them accept and teach, based on outside
influences, that they must have been long periods of time—even millions or
billions of years.
How Does God Communicate to Us?
God communicates through language. When He made the first man,
Adam, He had already “programmed” him with a language, so there could be
communication. Human language consists of words used in a specific context
that relates to the entire reality around us.
Thus, God can reveal things to man, and man can communicate with God,
because words have meaning and convey an understandable message. If this
were not so, how could any of us communicate with each other or with God?
Why “Long Days”?
Romans 3:4 declares:
“Let God be true, and every man a liar.”
In every instance where someone has not accepted the “days” of creation
to be ordinary days, they have not allowed the words of Scripture to speak to
them in context, as the language requires for communication. They have been
influenced by ideas from outside of Scripture. Thus, they have set a precedent
that could allow any word to be reinterpreted by the preconceived ideas of
the person reading the words. Ultimately, this will lead to a communication
breakdown, as the same words in the same context could mean different
things to different people.
The Church Fathers
Most church fathers accepted the days of creation as ordinary days.1 It is
true that some of the early church fathers did not teach the days of creation as ordinary days—but many of them had been influenced by Greek philosophy,
which caused them to interpret the days as allegorical. They reasoned that the
creation days were related to God’s activities, and God being timeless meant
that the days could not be related to human time.2 In contrast to today’s allegorizers, they could not accept that God took as long as six days.
Thus, the non-literal days resulted from extrabiblical influences (i.e., influences
from outside the Bible), not from the words of the Bible.
This approach has affected the way people interpret Scripture to this day.
As the man who started the Reformation said,
The days of creation were ordinary days in length. We must understand
that these days were actual days (veros dies), contrary to the opinion of
the Holy Fathers. Whenever we observe that the opinions of the Fathers
disagree with Scripture, we reverently bear with them and acknowledge
them to be our elders. Nevertheless, we do not depart from the authority
of Scripture for their sake.3
Again and again, such leaders admit that Genesis 1, taken in a straightforward
way, seems to teach six ordinary
days. But they then say that this cannot
be because of the age of the universe or some other extrabiblical reason.
Consider the following representative quotes from Bible scholars who are
considered to be conservative yet who do not accept the days of creation as
From a superficial reading of Genesis 1, the impression would seem to
be that the entire creative process took place in six twenty-four-hour
days. … This seems to run counter to modern scientific research, which
indicates that the planet Earth was created several billion years ago.4
We have shown the possibility of God’s having formed the Earth and its
life in a series of creative days representing long periods. In view of the
apparent age of the Earth, this is not only possible—it is probable.5
It is as if these theologians view “nature” as a “67th book of the Bible,”
albeit with more authority than the 66 written books. Rather, we should
consider the words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the renowned “prince of
preachers,” in 1877:
We are invited, brethren, most earnestly to go away from the old-fashioned
belief of our forefathers because of the supposed discoveries of
science. What is science? The method by which man tries to conceal his
ignorance. It should not be so, but so it is. You are not to be dogmatical
in theology, my brethren, it is wicked; but for scientific men it is
the correct thing. You are never to assert anything very strongly; but
scientists may boldly assert what they cannot prove, and may demand a
faith far more credulous than any we possess. Forsooth, you and I are to
take our Bibles and shape and mould our belief according to the evershifting
teachings of so-called scientific men. What folly is this! Why,
the march of science, falsely so called, through the world may be traced
by exploded fallacies and abandoned theories. Former explorers once
adored are now ridiculed; the continual wreckings of false hypotheses
is a matter of universal notoriety. You may tell where the learned have
encamped by the debris left behind of suppositions and theories as
plentiful as broken bottles.6
Those who would use historical science (as propounded by people who,
by and large, ignore God’s written revelation) to interpret the Bible, to teach
us things about God, have matters front to back. Because we are fallen, fallible
creatures, we need God’s written Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit,
to properly understand natural history. The respected systematic theologian
Since the entrance of sin into the world, man can gather true knowledge
about God from His general revelation only if he studies it in the light of
Scripture, in which the elements of God’s original self-revelation, which
were obscured and perverted by the blight of sin, are republished, corrected,
and interpreted. … Some are inclined to speak of God’s general
revelation as a second source; but this is hardly correct in view of the
fact that nature can come into consideration here only as interpreted in
the light of Scripture.7
In other words, Christians should build their thinking on the Bible, not
The “Days” of Genesis 1
What does the Bible tell us about the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1? A
word can have more than one meaning, depending on the context. For instance,
the English word “day” can have perhaps 14 different meanings. For
example, consider the following sentence: “Back in my grandfather’s day, it
took 12 days to drive across the country during the day.”
Here the first occurrence of “day” means “time” in a general sense. The
second “day,” where a number
is used, refers to an ordinary
day, and the third refers to the
daylight portion of the 24-hour period. The point is that
words can have more than one
meaning, depending on the
To understand the meaning
of “day” in Genesis 1, we need to determine how the Hebrew word for “day,” yom, is used in the context
of Scripture. Consider the following:
- A typical concordance will illustrate that yom can have a range of meanings:
a period of light as contrasted to night, a 24-hour period, time, a
specific point of time, or a year.
- A classic, well-respected Hebrew-English lexicon8 (a dictionary) has seven
headings and many subheadings for the meaning of yom—but it defines
the creation days of Genesis 1 as ordinary days under the heading “day as
defined by evening and morning.”
- A number and the phrase “evening and morning” are used with each of
the six days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
- Outside Genesis 1, yom is used with a number 359 times, and each time
it means an ordinary day.9 Why would Genesis 1 be the exception?10
- Outside Genesis 1, yom is used with the word “evening” or “morning”11
23 times. “Evening” and “morning” appear in association, but without
yom, 38 times. All 61 times the text refers to an ordinary day. Why would
Genesis 1 be the exception?12
- In Genesis 1:5, yom occurs in context with the word “night.” Outside of
Genesis 1, “night” is used with yom 53 times, and each time it means an
ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception? Even the usage
of the word “light” with yom in this passage determines the meaning as
- The plural of yom, which does not appear in Genesis 1, can be used to
communicate a longer time period, such as “in those days.”14 Adding a number here would be nonsensical. Clearly, in Exodus 20:11, where a
number is used with “days,” it unambiguously refers to six earth-rotation
- There are words in biblical Hebrew (such as olam or qedem) that are very
suitable for communicating long periods of time, or indefinite time, but
none of these words are used in Genesis 1.15 Alternatively, the days or
years could have been compared with grains of sand if long periods were meant.
Dr. James Barr (Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University), who
himself does not believe Genesis is true history, nonetheless admitted as far as
the language of Genesis 1 is concerned that
So far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at
any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of
Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation
took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24
hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies
provided by simple
addition a chronology from the beginning
of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s Flood was
understood to be worldwide and extinguish
all human and animal life
except for those in the ark.16
In like manner, nineteenth century liberal Professor Marcus Dods, New
College, Edinburgh, said,
If, for example, the word “day” in these chapters does not mean a period
of twenty-four hours, the interpretation of Scripture is hopeless.17
Conclusion About “Day” in Genesis 1
If we are prepared to let the words of the language speak to us in accord
with the context and normal definitions, without being influenced
ideas, then the word for “day” found in Genesis 1—which is qualified by a
number, the phrase “evening and morning” and for Day 1 the words “light
and darkness”—obviously means an ordinary day (about 24 hours).
In Martin Luther’s day, some of the church fathers were saying that God
created everything in only one day or in an instant. Martin Luther wrote,
When Moses writes that God created Heaven and Earth and whatever is
in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days,
and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days
were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been
done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more
learned than you are. For you are to deal with Scripture in such a way
that you bear in mind that God Himself says what is written. But since
God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His Word in
the direction you wish to go.18
Similarly, John Calvin stated, “Albeit the duration of the world, now declining
to its ultimate end, has not yet attained six thousand years. … God’s
work was completed not in a moment but in six days.”19
Luther and Calvin were the backbone of the Protestant Reformation
that called the church back to Scripture—Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). Both
of these men were adamant that Genesis 1 taught six ordinary days of creation—only thousands of years ago.
Why Six Days?
Exodus 31:12 says that God commanded Moses to say to the children
Six days may work be done, but on the seventh is the sabbath of rest,
holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall
surely be put to death. Therefore
the sons of Israel shall keep the Sabbath,
to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for an everlasting
covenant. It is a sign between me and the sons of Israel forever.
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the
seventh day He rested, and was refreshed (Exodus 31:15–17).
Then God gave Moses two tablets of stone upon which were written the
commandments of God, written by the finger of God (Exodus 31:18).
Because God is infinite in power and wisdom, there’s no doubt He could have
created the universe and its contents in no time at all, or six seconds, or six minutes,
or six hours—after all, with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).
However, the question to ask is, “Why did God take so long? Why as
long as six days?” The answer is also given in Exodus 20:11, and that answer
is the basis of the Fourth Commandment:
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all
that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed
the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
The seven-day week has no basis outside of Scripture. In this Old
Testament passage, God commands His people, Israel, to work for six days and rest for one—thus giving us
a reason why He deliberately
took as long as six days to
create everything. He set the
example for man. Our week is
patterned after this principle.
Now if He created everything
in six thousand (or six million)
years, followed by a rest of one
thousand or one million years,
then we would have a very
interesting week indeed.
Some say that Exodus
20:11 is only an analogy in
the sense that man is to work
and rest—not that it was to mean six literal ordinary days followed by one
literal ordinary day. However, Bible scholars have shown that this commandment
“does not use analogy or archetypal thinking but that its emphasis is
‘stated in terms of the imitation of God or a divine precedent that is to be followed.’”20 In other words, it was to be six literal days of work, followed by one
literal day of rest, just as God worked for six literal days and rested for one.
Some have argued that “the heavens and the earth” is just earth and
perhaps the solar system, not the whole universe. However, this verse clearly
says that God made everything in six days—six consecutive ordinary days,
just like the commandment in the previous verse to work for six consecutive
The phrase “heaven(s) and earth” in Scripture is an example of a figure
of speech called a merism, where two opposites are combined into an all-encompassing
single concept, in this case the totality of creation. A linguistic
analysis of the words “heaven(s) and earth” in Scripture shows that they refer
to the totality of all creation (the Hebrews did not have a word for “universe”).
For example, in Genesis 14:19 God is called “Creator of heaven and earth.”
In Jeremiah 23:24 God speaks of Himself as filling “heaven and earth.” See
also Genesis 14:22; 2 Kings 19:15; 2 Chronicles 2:12; Psalms 115:15, 121:2, 124:8, 134:3, 146:6; and Isaiah 37:16.
Thus, there is no scriptural warrant for restricting Exodus 20:11 to earth
and its atmosphere or the solar system alone. So Exodus 20:11 does show that
the whole universe was created in six ordinary days.
Refuting Common Objections to Six Literal Days
“Science” has shown the earth and universe are billions of years old; therefore
the “days” of creation must be long periods (or indefinite periods) of time.
- The age of the earth, as determined by man’s fallible methods, is based
on unproven assumptions, so it is not proven that the earth is billions of
- This unproven age is being used to force an interpretation on the language
of the Bible. Thus, man’s fallible theories are allowed to interpret the Bible.
This ultimately undermines the use of language to communicate.
- Evolutionary scientists claim the fossil layers over the earth’s surface date back hundreds of millions of years. As soon as one allows millions of
years for the fossil layers, then one has accepted death, bloodshed, disease,
thorns, and suffering before Adam’s sin.
Human beings and higher animals are described in Genesis 1 as having a nephesh, or life principle.
The Bible makes it clear24 that death, bloodshed, disease, thorns, and suffering
are a consequence of sin.25 In Genesis 1:29–30, God gave Adam and Eve and the animals plants to eat (this is reading Genesis at face value, as literal
history, as Jesus did in Matthew 19:3–6). In fact, there is a theological distinction
made between animals and plants. Human beings and higher animals
are described in Genesis 1 as having a nephesh, or life principle. (This is true
of at least the vertebrate land animals as well as the birds and fish: Genesis 1:20, 24.) Plants do not have this nephesh—they are not “alive” in the same
sense animals are. They were given for food.
Man was permitted to eat meat only after the Flood (Genesis 9:3). This
makes it obvious that the statements in Genesis 1:29–30 were meant to inform
us that man and the animals were vegetarian to start with. Also, in Genesis 9:2, we are told of a change God apparently made in the way animals react to man.
God warned Adam in Genesis 2:17 that if he ate of the “tree of the knowledge
of good and evil” he would “die.” The Hebrew grammar actually means,
“dying, you will die.” In other words, it would be the commencement of a
process of physical dying (see Genesis 3:19). It also clearly involved spiritual
death (separation from God).
After Adam disobeyed God, the Lord clothed Adam and Eve with “coats of
skins” (Genesis 3:21).26 To do this He must have killed and shed the blood of at least one animal. The reason for this can be summed up by Hebrews 9:22:
And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and
without shedding of blood there is no remission.
God requires the shedding of blood for the remission of sins. What happened
in the garden was a picture of what was to come in Jesus, who
shed His blood on the Cross as the Lamb of God who took away the sin of
the world (John 1:29).
Now if the Garden of
Eden were sitting on a fossil
record of dead things
millions of years old, then
blood was shed before sin.
This would destroy the
foundation of the Atonement.
The Bible is clear: the
sin of Adam brought death
and suffering into the world.
As Romans 8:19–22 tells
us, the whole of creation
“groans” because of the effects
of the fall of Adam,
and the creation will be liberated
from the bondage of” (Rom. 8:21). Also, bear in mind that thorns came into existence after
corruption into the glorious
liberty of the children of
the Curse. Because there are thorns in the fossil record, it had to be formed
after Adam and Eve sinned.
The pronouncement of the death penalty on Adam was both a curse and
a blessing. A curse because death is horrible and continually reminds us of the
ugliness of sin; a blessing because it meant the consequences of sin—separation
from fellowship with God—need not be eternal. Death stopped Adam and his
descendants from living in a state of sin, with all its consequences, forever. And
because death was the just penalty for sin, Jesus Christ suffered physical death,
shedding His blood, to release Adam’s descendants from the consequences of sin.
The Apostle Paul discusses this in depth in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.
Revelation 21–22 makes it clear that there will be a “new heavens and
a new earth” one day, where there will be “no more death” and “no more curse”—just like it was before sin changed everything. If there are to be
animals as part of the new earth, obviously they will not be dying or eating
each other, nor eating the redeemed people!
Thus, adding the supposed millions of years to Scripture destroys the
foundations of the message of the Cross.
According to Genesis 1, the sun was not created until Day 4. How could
there be day and night (ordinary days) without the sun for the first three
- Again, it is important for us to let the language of God’s Word speak to
us. If we come to Genesis 1 without any outside influences, as has been
shown, each of the six days of creation appears with the Hebrew word
yom qualified by a number and the phrase “evening and morning.” The
first three days are written the same way as the next three. So if we let the
language speak to us, all six days were ordinary earth days.
- The sun is not needed for day and night. What is needed is light and a rotating
earth. On the first day of creation, God made light (Genesis 1:3).
The phrase “evening and morning” certainly implies a rotating earth.
Thus, if we have light from one direction, and a spinning earth, there can
be day and night.
Where did the light come from? We are not told,27 but Genesis 1:3 certainly indicates it was a created light to provide day and night until God made
the sun on Day 4 to rule the day. Revelation 21:23 tells us that one day the
sun will not be needed because the glory of God will light the heavenly city.
Perhaps one reason God did it this way was to illustrate that the sun did
not have the priority in the creation that people have tended to give it. The
sun did not give birth to the earth as evolutionary theories postulate; the sun
was God’s created tool to rule the day that God had made (Genesis 1:16).
Down through the ages, people such as the Egyptians have worshiped the
sun. God warned the Israelites, in Deuteronomy 4:19, not to worship the sun
as the pagan cultures around them did. They were commanded to worship
the God who made the sun—not the sun that was made by God.
Evolutionary theories (the “big bang” hypothesis for instance) state that
the sun came before the earth and that the sun’s energy on the earth eventually
gave rise to life. Just as in pagan beliefs, the sun is, in a sense, given credit
for the wonder of creation.
It is interesting to contrast the speculations of modern cosmology with
the writings of the early church father Theophilus:
On the fourth day the luminaries came into existence. Since God has
foreknowledge, he understood the nonsense of the foolish philosophers who were going to say that the things produced on Earth came from
the stars, so that they might set God aside. In order therefore that the
truth might be demonstrated, plants and seeds came into existence before
stars. For what comes into existence later cannot cause what is prior
2 Peter 3:8 states that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,” therefore
the days of creation could be long periods of time.
- This passage has no creation context—it is not referring to Genesis or the
six days of creation.
- This verse has what is called a “comparative article”—“as” or “like”—
which is not found in Genesis 1. In other words, it is not saying a day is a
thousand years; it is comparing a real, literal day to a real, literal thousand
years. The context of this passage is the Second Coming of Christ. It is
saying that, to God, a day is like a thousand years, because God is outside
of time. God is not limited by natural processes and time as humans are.
What may seem like a long time to us (e.g., waiting for the Second Coming),
or a short time, is nothing to God, either way.
- The second part of the verse reads “and a thousand years as one day,”
which, in essence, cancels out the first part of the verse for those who want to equate a day with a thousand years. Thus, it cannot be saying a
day is a thousand years or vice versa.
- Psalm 90:4 states, “For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” Here a thousand years is
being compared with a “watch in the night” (four hours29). Because the
phrase “watch in the night” is joined in a particular way to “yesterday,” it
is saying that a thousand years is being compared with a short period of
time—not simply to a day.
- If one used this passage to claim that “day” in the Bible means a thousand
years, then, to be consistent, one would have to say that Jonah was in the
belly of the fish three thousand years, or that Jesus has not yet risen from
the dead after two thousand years in the grave.
Insisting on six solar days for creation limits God, whereas allowing God
billions of years does not limit Him.
Actually, insisting on six ordinary earth-rotation days of creation is not
limiting God, but limiting us to believing that God actually did what He tells
us in His Word. Also, if God created everything in six days, as the Bible says,
then surely this reveals the power and wisdom of God in a profound way—
Almighty God did not need eons of time. However, the billions-of-years scenarios
diminish God by suggesting that mere chance could create things or
that God needed huge amounts of time to create things—this would be limiting
God’s power by reducing it to naturalistic explanations.
Adam could not have accomplished all that the Bible states in one day (Day
6). He could not have named all the animals, for instance; there was not
Adam did not have to name all the animals—only those God brought to
him. For instance, Adam was commanded to name “every beast of the field”
(Genesis 2:20), not “beast of the earth” (Genesis 1:25). The phrase “beast of the field” is most likely a subset of the larger group “beast of the earth.” He
did not have to name “everything that creeps upon the earth” (Genesis 1:25)
or any of the sea creatures. Also, the number of “kinds” would be much less
than the number of species in today’s classification.
When critics say that Adam could not name the animals in less than one
day, what they really mean is they do not understand how they could do it,
so Adam could not. However, our brain has suffered from 6,000 years of the
Curse—it has been greatly affected by the Fall. Before sin, Adam’s brain was
When God made Adam,
He must have programmed him
with a perfect language. Today
we program computers to “speak”
and “remember.” How much
more could our Creator God
have created Adam as a mature
human (he was not born as a baby
needing to learn to speak), having
in his memory a perfect language
with a perfect understanding of
each word. (That is why Adam
understood what God meant
when he said he would “die” if he
disobeyed, even though he had
not seen any death.) Adam may
also have had a “perfect” memory
(something like a photographic memory, perhaps).
It would have been no problem for this first perfect man to make up words
and name the animals God brought to him and remember the names—in far
less than one day.30
Genesis 2 is a different account of creation, with a different order, so how can
the first chapter be accepted as teaching six literal days?
Actually, Genesis 2 is not a different account of creation. It is a more detailed
account of Day 6 of creation. Chapter 1 is an overview of the whole of
creation; chapter 2 gives details surrounding the creation of the garden, the
first man, and his activities on Day 6.31
Between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve, the King James
Version says, “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the
field and every fowl of the air” (Genesis 2:19). This seems to say that the land
beasts and birds were created between the creation of Adam and Eve. However,
Jewish scholars did not recognize any such conflict with the account in
chapter 1, where Adam and Eve were both created after the beasts and birds
(Genesis 1:23–25). There is no contradiction, because in Hebrew the precise
tense of a verb is determined by the context. It is clear from chapter 1 that
the beasts and birds were created before Adam, so Jewish scholars would have
understood the verb “formed” to mean “had formed” or “having formed” in
Genesis 2:19 If we translate verse 19, “
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field,” the apparent disagreement with Genesis
1 disappears completely.
Regarding the plants and herbs in Genesis 2:5 and the trees in Genesis 2:9 (compare with Genesis 1:12), the plants and herbs are described as “of
the field” and they needed a man to tend them. These are clearly cultivated
plants, not just plants in general (Genesis 1). Also, the trees (Genesis 2:9) are only the trees planted in the garden, not trees in general.
In Matthew 19:3–6 Jesus Christ quotes from both Genesis 1:27 and
Genesis 2:24 when referring to the same man and woman in teaching the
doctrine of marriage. Clearly, Jesus saw them as complementary accounts, not
There is no “evening and morning” for the seventh day of the Creation Week
(Genesis 2:2). Thus, we must still be in the “seventh day,” so none of the days
can be ordinary days.
Look again at the section entitled “Why Six Days?” above. Exodus 20:11 is clearly referring to seven literal days—six for work and one for rest.
Also, God stated that He “rested” from His work of creation (not that
He is resting!). The fact that He rested from His work of creation does not
preclude Him from continuing to rest from this activity. God’s work now is
different—it is a work of sustaining His creation and of reconciliation and
redemption because of man’s sin.
The word yom is qualified by a number (Genesis 2:2–3), so the context
still determines that it is an ordinary solar day. Also, God blessed this seventh
day and made it holy. In Genesis 3:17–19 we read of the Curse on the earth
because of sin. Paul refers to this in Romans 8:22. It does not make sense that
God would call this day holy and blessed if He cursed the ground on this
“day.” We live in a sin-cursed earth—we are not in the seventh blessed holy
Note that in arguing that the seventh day is not an ordinary day because
it is not associated with “evening and morning,” proponents are tacitly agreeing
that the other six days are ordinary days because they are defined by an
evening and a morning.
Some have argued that Hebrews 4:3–4 implies that the seventh day is
For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore
in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” although the works were
finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain
place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh
day from all His works. . . .”
However, verse 4 reiterates that God rested (past tense) on the seventh
day. If someone says on Monday that he rested on Friday and is still resting,
this would not suggest that Friday continued through to Monday! Also, only
those who have believed in Christ will enter that rest, showing
that it is a
spiritual rest, which is compared
with God’s rest since the Creation Week. It
is not some sort of continuation of the seventh day (otherwise everyone would
be “in” this rest).32
Hebrews does not say that the seventh day of Creation Week is continuing
today, merely that the rest He instituted is continuing.
Genesis 2:4 states, “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the
heavens.” As this refers to all six days of creation, it shows that the word “day”
does not mean an ordinary day.
The Hebrew word yom as used here is not qualified by a number, the
phrase “evening and morning,” or light or darkness. In this context, the verse
really means “in the time God created” (referring to the Creation Week) or
“when God created.”
Other Problems with Long Days and Similar Interpretations
- If the plants made on Day 3 were separated
by millions of years from the
birds and nectar bats (created Day 5) and insects (created Day 6) necessary
for their pollination, then such plants could not have survived. This
problem would be especially acute for species with complex symbiotic
relationships (each depending on the other; e.g., the yucca plant and the
- Adam was created on Day 6, lived through Day 7, and then died when
he was 930 years old (Genesis 5:5). If each day were a thousand years or
millions of years, this would make no sense of Adam’s age at death.
- Some have claimed that the word for “made” (asah) in Exodus 20:11
actually means “show.” They propose that God showed or revealed the
information about creation to Moses during a six-day period. This
allows for the creation itself to have occurred over millions of years.
However, “showed” is not a valid translation for asah. Its meaning covers
“to make, manufacture, produce, do,” etc., but not “to show” in
the sense of reveal.34 Where asah is translated as “show”—for example,
“show kindness” (Genesis 24:12)—it is in the sense of “to do” or
- Some have claimed that because the word asah is used for the creation
of the sun, moon, and stars on Day 4, and not the word bara, which is
used in Genesis 1:1 for “create,” this means God only revealed the sun,
moon, and stars at this stage. They insist the word asah has the meaning
of “revealed.” In other words, the luminaries were supposedly already in
existence and were only revealed at this stage. However, bara and asah are
used in Scripture to describe the same event. For example, asah is used in
Exodus 20:11 to refer to the creation of the heavens and the earth, but
bara is used to refer to the creation of the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1. The word asah is used concerning the creation of the first people
in Genesis 1:26—they did not previously
exist. And then they are said to
have been created (bara) in Genesis 1:27. There are many other similar
examples. asah has a broad range of meanings involving “to do” or “to
make,” which includes bara creation.
- Some accept that the days of creation are ordinary days as far as the
language of Genesis is concerned but not as literal days of history as far
as man is concerned. This is basically the view called the “framework
hypothesis.”35 This is a very complex and contrived view which has been
thoroughly refuted by scholars.36
The real purpose of the framework hypothesis can be seen in the following
quote from an article by one of its proponents:
To rebut the literalist interpretation of the Genesis creation “week” propounded
by the young-earth theorists is a central concern of this article.37
- Some people want the days of creation to be long periods in an attempt
to harmonize evolution or billions of years with the Bible’s account of
origins. However, the order of events according to long-age beliefs does
not agree with that of Genesis. Consider the following table:
Contradictions between the order of creation in the Bible and evolution/long-ages
|Biblical account of creation||Evolutionary/long-age speculation|
|Earth before the sun and stars||Stars and sun before earth|
|Earth covered in water initially||Earth a molten blob initially|
|Oceans first, then dry land||Dry land, then the oceans|
|Life first created on the land||Life started in the oceans|
|Plants created before the sun||Plants came long after the sun|
|Land animals created after birds||Land animals existed before birds|
|Whales before land animals||Land animals before whales|
Clearly, those who do not accept the six literal days are the ones reading
their own preconceived ideas into the passage.
Other than the “gap theory” (the belief that there is a gap of indeterminate
time between the first two verses of Genesis 1), the major compromise
positions that try to harmonize long ages and/or evolution with Genesis fall
into two categories:
- “theistic evolution” wherein God supposedly directed the evolutionary process of millions of years, or even just set it up and let it run, and
- “progressive creation” where God supposedly intervened in the processes of death and struggle to create millions of species at various times over
millions of years.
All long-age compromises reject Noah’s Flood as global—it could only be
a local event because the fossil layers are accepted as evidence for millions of
years. A global Flood would have destroyed this record and produced another.
Therefore, these positions cannot allow a catastrophic global Flood that would
form layers of fossil-bearing rocks over the earth. This, of course, goes against
Scripture, which obviously teaches a global Flood (Genesis 6–9).38 Sadly,
most theologians years ago simply tried to add this belief to the Bible instead
of realizing that these layers were laid down by Noah’s Flood.
Does It Really Matter?
Yes, it does matter what a Christian believes concerning the days of creation
in Genesis 1. Most importantly, all schemes which insert eons of time
into, or before, creation undermine the gospel by putting death, bloodshed,
disease, thorns, and suffering before sin and the Fall, as explained above (see
answer to Objection 1). Here are two more reasons:
- It is really a matter of how one approaches the Bible, in principle. If we
do not allow the language to speak to us in context, but try to make the
text fit ideas outside of Scripture, then ultimately the meaning of any
word in any part of the Bible depends on man’s interpretation, which can
change according to whatever outside ideas are in vogue.
- If one allows science (which has wrongly become synonymous with evolution and materialism) to determine our understanding of Scripture,
then this can lead to a slippery slope of unbelief through the rest of Scripture.
For instance, science would proclaim that a person cannot be raised
from the dead. Does this mean we should interpret the Resurrection of
Christ to reflect this? Sadly, some do just this, saying that the Resurrection
simply means that Jesus’ teachings live on in His followers.
When people accept at face value what Genesis is teaching and accept the
days as ordinary days, they will have no problem accepting and making sense
of the rest of the Bible.
Martin Luther once said:
I have often said that whoever would study Holy Scripture should be
sure to see to it that he stays with the simple words as long as he can and
by no means departs from them unless an article of faith compels him
to understand them differently. For of this we must be certain: no clearer
speech has been heard on Earth than what God has spoken.39
God’s people need to realize that the Word of God is something very
special. It is not just the words of men. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:13,
“You received it not as the word of men, but as it is, truly the word of God.”
Proverbs 30:5–6 states that
“every word of God is pure . . . . Do not add to His words, lest He reprove you and you be found a liar.” The Bible cannot be treated as just some great literary work. We need to “tremble at his word” (Isaiah 6:5) and not forget:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that
the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good
work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
In the original autographs, every word and letter in the Bible is there because
God put it there. Let us listen to God speaking to us through His Word
and not arrogantly think we can tell God what He really means!