It is widely recognized that the Hebrew word יוֹם (yôwm
, Strong's H3117, TWOT 852) has various meanings. As used in the KJV, yom
was translated day
2,008 times, time
64 times, daily
44 times, ever
17 times, year
14 times, continually
10 times, alway
8 times, and in another 84 miscellaneous ways, such as when
, and more
. By far, the most frequent translation of the word in the English language is day
. The contention between persons who believe the days in Genesis 1 represent undetermined expanses of time and those who believe they represent ordinary days rests on exactly how the word day
should be understood in the Creation Week.
hermeneutics demands that the usage of day
must be determined by the context of the passage it is found in. Some would have us believe that we must blindly take yom
in Genesis 1 to mean million or even billion of years because the general scientific consensus declares the Earth to be 4.6 billion years old, but is this really what the context of Genesis 1 allows? Some would also have us believe that the evenings and mornings of Genesis cannot be taken literally since evenings and mornings would require a sunrise and sunset. Attempting to support their position, they propose that as Psalms 30:5, 49:14, and 90:6 uses morning
figuratively, Genesis 1 is likewise figurative. But is this truly accurate?
In Genesis 1, עֶרֶב (`ereb
, Strong's H6153, TWOT 1689a, BDB 787d) and בֹּקֶר (bôker
, Strong's 1242, TWOT 274c, BDB 133c) are the Hebrew words for evening
means, quite simply, "evening" and "night." It is derived from Hebrew expressions meaning "to set, as the sun." W. E. Vine comments, "This word represents the time of the day immediately preceding and following the setting of the sun." Similarly, bôker
literally means "dawn" and "morning," as in the breaking of the day when light first appears. While it is true that these words, like any word, can be used poetically, it is very doubtful that these words can be wrested from their proper usage to mean an end and/or beginning of an age, forcing them to agree with Day-Age and Ruin-Reconstruction theorists. Therefore, if their proper meanings are understood and accepted, the use of the phrase "and the evening and the morning" requires day to be understood as a literal, ordinary day.
Yet, Theistic Evolutionists (such as Dr. Francis Collins, former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute) and Progressive Creationists (such as Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe) typically argue that these words cannot be accepted by their literal meaning because the sun was not created until Day Four. However, they apparently forget that Light was already present on Day One. The phrase "the evening and the morning were the first day" implies that the Earth was already spinning on its axis by the first day. The Light that God spoke into existence, instead of the sun, was that source which determined the division between the evening and the morning (Gen. 1:4-5a). Old Age advocates are incorrect when they assert the phrase cannot be understood in its literal context because it requires a sunset. On the contrary, to have an evening and morning, we only need a source of light external to the planet. The reason `ereb
are associated with the sun is simply because our present source of light is the sun. But let us not forget that in the New Jerusalem, we will again have "no need for the sun, neither of the moon, for the Lamb is the light thereof ... for there shall be no night there" (Rev. 21:23, 25).
The literal translation of Genesis 1:5 ends with אֶחָד יוֹם (`echâd yôwm
), "day one." [Please remember that Hebrew is read backwards, i.e.
, from right to left.] Unlike the English translation, there is no definite article the
or ordinal numeral first
in the original text. At first glance, this would seem to support the notion that Genesis 1 can be viewed as eons of time. However, the remaining text does include the usage of ordinal numbers: v. 8, שֵׁנִי יוֹם (shênîy yôwm
), "day second;" v. 13, שְׁלִישִׁי יוֹם (shelîyshîy yôwm
), "day third;" v. 19, רְבִיעִי יוֹם (rebî‘î yôwm
), "day fourth;" and v. 23, חֲמִישִׁי יוֹם (ḥamîyshîy yôwm
), "fifth day." Verse 31 changes the repetition slightly by adding the definite article the
before שִׁשִּׁי "sixth:" יום הַשִׁשִּׁי (hashishshîy yôwm
), "day the sixth." Discounting Genesis 1, I have personally reviewed every single passage of Scripture containing the use of an ordinal number (first, second, third, etc.) as an adjective to describe yom
. In each case the context always signified an ordinary day (including Hosea 6:1-2, which some try to argue requires long periods of time, such as Dr. Norman L. Geisler. Commentators Adam Clarke, Barnes, Jamieson-Faussett-Brown, Keil & Delitzsch, Nelson, Ryrie, et al.
, all agree that Hosea 6:1-2 refers to a very short period of time, i.e.
, God can revive Israel in as quick as three literal days. In fact, Barnes' Notes on the Old Testament
sees in the passage the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ - in three ordinary days, not three "thousands" of years). When this contextual understanding is then reapplied back to Genesis 1, the plain, straightforward reading of the text should become obvious.
Dr. Rodney Whitefield, author of Reading Genesis One
, wrote a stern critique
of literal Creationists' insistence on using yom
to mean ordinary days in Genesis 1. In it, Whitefield persuasively writes that the usage of yom
in Genesis 1 is unique throughout all of Scripture. In almost all the other references of Scripture where an ordinal number is used as an adjective before yom
, the Hebrew text includes the definite article before the ordinal number and some modifier before yom
. As an example, Genesis 22:4 begins, השְׁלִישִׁי בֵיום, "On day the third." The on
, and the
. Whitefield then argues that because of these differences, the text in Genesis 1 cannot be forced to mean ordinary days.
However, Whitefield ignores the passages of Genesis 2:2 and Exodus 20:11 which gives us the final seventh day, and does include both the definite article and modified ordinal: שְׁבִיעִי בֵּיום , "on day the seventh." It is unfortunate that we have chapter and verse separations in Scripture; although they provide an ability for referencing, they also cause confusion when those separations are inappropriately placed. Genesis 2:1-3 should be retained with Genesis 1. As such, the transition moves smoothly from Day 1 of creation to the seventh day of rest. Using Dr. Whitefield's own argument that ordinary days require the definite article and modified ordinal, he must, therefore, agree that the seventh day was a regular, ordinary day. As such, when we understand the seventh day as an ordinary day, the rest of Creation Week's days are easily understood to agree with the seventh day (esp. in light of Ex. 20:11).
Therefore, the usage of evening and morning, in conjunction with the ordinal numbers, strongly illustrates that each of the days of Creation Week are to be regarded as literal, ordinary days. The intent of the author of Genesis was not for the reader to understand indeterminable long ages, but six literal days.
In fact, Exodus 20:9-11 completely removes all attempts to fit millions/billions of years into Genesis 1. "Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work ... For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Instead of just commanding Israel to work six days and rest on the seventh, the Lord God gave them the reason for doing so. Yom
is used in both the commandment and the reason. Consider how odd the context would be if God's intention was for the Israelites to work six, literal days because He had taken an indeterminable amount of time to create the world: "Six days you shall labor and do all your work ... for you have no concept of the time that it took Me to create everything." If that was God's intention, then He could just as easily used one of three Hebrew words describing indefinite, long period of time (e.g.
, עוֹלָם `ôwlam
means "the beginning or end of which is either uncertain or not defined" and was translated as such in Amos 9:11, Micah 7:14, Deut. 32:7. See especially its comparative usage with yom
in Genesis 6:4; another example is דּוֹר, dôr
, which means "an age, or a revolution of time" and was usually translated as generation
). Instead of these indefinite-time words, God chose the only word that can mean a literal, ordinary day. And remember, God Himself wrote these very words (cf. Ex. 31:18).
But what about the theological ramifications with the "millions of years" interpretation? First of all, Jesus clearly stated that Adam and Eve were created at the "beginning of the creation" (Mark 10:6), not billions of years after the Big Bang. If Big Bang cosmology is correct, then He that proclaimed, "I am the truth," was obviously wrong. Are we prepared to accept that? If Big Bang cosmology is correct, then the fossil record [a result of the Flood] is a product of billions of years of struggle, disease, and death. Yet the Bible declares that Adam's sin brought death into the world (Rom. 5:12, 1 Cor. 15:21). Christ died to save us all from our sin in order to escape the finality of death. Indeed, the last enemy to be put under the foot of Christ is Death itself (1 Cor. 15:25-26). If Big Bang Cosmology is correct, then the death and resurrection of Jesus were completely in vain, and our sin remains upon us all. Theistic Evolutionists, Progressive Creationists, Gap, and Day-Age theorists would have us believe that only in the Garden of Eden was it blissful - that outside the Garden, death and suffering already existed for millennia. This, however, does not agree with the "good" that God saw in His creation on Days 5 (flying and swimming creatures) and 6 (land dwelling creatures). Indeed, the entirety of Creation was "very good" in God's eyes (Gen. 1:31). If death is considered an enemy, how then can God call it very good? Old-Earth proponents will argue that the Bible does not claim the original creation was perfect, but I contend that God cannot call death, "very good," regardless if the original creation was perfect or not. Death, disease, suffering, and savage bloodshed are not good by any Biblical standard. These concepts are completely foreign to the very nature and character of a wise God. Some have attempted to beg the question, "Couldn't God have used evolution or millions of years?" The integrity of God's nature and character requires the answer must be an emphatic and resounding, "No!"
Consider the Creation itself. The climax of the Creation was not the universe; it was not the Earth; nor was it the abundant life which can be found on this planet. The climax of Creation was man - you and me - all of us! The reason God created was You! And since that is true, why would God even bother with billions of years when He didn't need to? God is infinite. Time means nothing to Him. He could simply "snap the whole creation into existence." The reason God took six days is clearly explained in Exodus 20:9-11. We work six days, and then we need rest. Science is just now figuring that out what God knew from the beginning. God, in His infinite love and wisdom, was already laying out a plan for humanity to follow from the very first day of His creative work. Indeed, what a mighty God we serve.
Why am I so passionate about defending the truth of the literal creation? Because I know of no one's faith being compromised due to a belief in six literal days. Yet there are countless thousands whose faith has been utterly destroyed because they were willing to believe in millions of years (e.g.
, see Dr. Arlo Moehlenpah's debate
with James Young, a former preacher turned atheist). I want God's People to be able to stand firm in their convictions of Biblical Truth. I want the Church to be able to properly "give an answer [ἀπολογία, apologia
, defense] to every man."
Progressive Creationism is just a step away from Theistic Evolutionism, which is only one step away from complete Atheism. The contention is not between Old-Earth vs. Young-Earth; it is not between billions of years vs. a few thousand years. The contention is between the Authority of God's Word and man's fallible opinions. Satan knows quite well that all he has to do to destroy a person's faith in the Word of God is to destroy the foundation of Genesis 1-11. The Bible is the Truth - not science. If science does not measure up to the plain and simple Truth, which one should we question? By which one shall all humanity be judged?