Days In Genesis One And The Week
Author: Paul A. Bartz
Note: Creation Moments exists to provide Biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
While there is no scientific reason whatsoever to believe that the days of creation week had to be long ages, we want to concentrate on Scriptural reasons for that view. Our working principle for understanding the intended sense of the Scripture is: “Scripture interprets Scripture.” No human being is intelligent enough, no matter how much training he has, to interpret Scripture, so we will let the Holy Spirit, who has given Scripture, explain by His own writings just what He means. “All of Scripture is given to make us wise unto salvation,” so the heart of Scripture is Christ and His saving work. Now, if we misunderstand the creation account, what central teaching of Scripture will we misunderstand?
Read Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 2:3. How many references to specific time can you find in this section? Would you say that time periods and sequence is a major or a minor feature of detail in this section? How does Scripture itself lead us to believe that we have literal days here? How does the text’s frequent reference to “the evening and the morning” (verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31) strengthen this opinion? Would it have been necessary to mention days and time repeatedly if the text did not intend for us to understand these as literal days? How does the principle “Scripture interprets Scripture” answer the question of whether these are literal days or not? If someone were to disagree and say that the days in Genesis are not necessarily literal days, with Whom would they be disagreeing?
The Hebrew word for “day” which is used in these verses is yom. Those who want to understand these creation days as long ages suggest that this word could be understood to mean “long ages.” They often point to verses like Genesis 2:4 or Psalm 102:2 where yom could be understood to mean more than a 24-hour day. Look these passages up, remembering that the word yom is translated as “day.” Is it possible that yom could mean an indefinite long period of time like 100,000 or 1,000,000 years in either of these passages? What does it mean in these texts?
After comparing the usage of yom in Genesis 2:4 and Psalm 102:2 with Genesis 1, go on to compare the usage of yom in the following texts: Genesis 7:11; 27:45; Exodus 20:10; Levitcus 22:27; Numbers 7:24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60, 66, 72, 78; Psalm 88:1; 139:12; and Ecclesiastes 8:16. These verses illustrate an unfailing principle found in every use of the word yom. Whenever yom is modified by a number, or whenever yom is used in conjunction with the idea of day and night, or light and darkness, it always means a normal, 24-hour day. Now look back to Genesis One. Do either or both of these rules for the usage of yom apply to the places where “day” appears in the creation account? What can we conclude from this?
If those who believe that there were millions of years of history before Adam and Eve, must they also believe that there was death before Adam and Eve? What does this do to the biblical teaching that death entered the world on account of man’s sin? And as a result, what happens to Christ’s atonement on the cross for our sins? How does this consequence of rejecting the Genesis One days as literal show that Christ is the center of Scripture? So we conclude that if sin was not the cause of death, then the Gospel is nonsense!
Calendar of the Ancients
Until the New Testament era there was no universal standard for determining years. In Old Testament times they did not count their years as B.C., the way we do today. But they certainly did have a method for naming each year. In later Old Testament times most peoples kept track of the years by counting them in terms of the present rulership: “In the 20th year of King so-and-soâ€¦” This method of counting the years grew out of an earlier method in which years were counted in terms of an important person, not necessarily a ruler. Read Genesis 10:1-32. While this may not be very meaningful to us, was it meaningful to the generations immediately following the Flood? Read Genesis 11:10-32. Note the ages and events listed. This is very similar to saying, “Such and such happened 10 years after the death of John Kennedy” or “We moved here during the year of the last presidential elections.” Given this, do these verses provide enough information to serve as a general calendar to number years for people familiar with these events? Can it be honestly said, then, that we don’t have a calendar of sorts covering these early years of biblical history?
What this means is that we have, imbedded in the geneologies, the very chronology used since the beginning of time. The geneologies themselves may skip a generation or two now and again, but the dates (“in the 90th year of so-and- so”) are reported. By comparing the various dates which are given in the different geneologies we can set up cross references and determine when a generation or two has been skipped in a particular geneology.
In fact, many scholars have built remarkably similar chronologies by comparing the ancient geneologies. It certainly says something that working independently various scholars have often arrived at identical dates for various events like the creation or the birth of Abraham. And when they haven’t arrived at identical dates, they have usually varied by only a few years -and they have always arrived at the same pattern for events.
Another testimony for the creation is found in the seven-day week. If the Bible’s account of creation in six days, and God resting on the seventh day – and commending the arrangement to mankind as a pattern – was nothing more than an ancient cultural myth of one people, why is the seven-day week almost universally observed by mankind? How does this indicate that the days in Genesis One are literal days as we know today?
Read Exodus 20:8-11. Does this passage assume that the days of Genesis One are literal days like ours today? What meaning would this section of Scripture have if the creation days were figurative? Under what circumstances might nearly every culture in world history observe the seven-day week? But if evolution is true, is there any possible explanation for this? (Evolutionists admit that they have no good explanation for this!)
Close this Bible study with a prayerful reading of Psalm 19.
Copyright © 1988 Bible Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz. Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 839, Foley, MN 56329