In my last post, Days of Creation, I addressed the contextual evidence for literal 24-hour days of Creation. In this post I want to address a theory about “Creation Time” rendering of the days of Creation in Genesis 1.
I thought to add this to my article on Days of Creation, but decided it would make it too lengthy. Part of me even thought that bringing this up in that last post would have been overkill. Then I received two different questions about it and you know me, any excuse to type out a theological discourse is good enough for me. I really appreciate the fact that we have some deep thinkers among us, and I certainly don’t mind a variety of non-salvific views among us.
When it comes to Genesis 1, we should all be on the same page as to who the Creator is but the time periods of days are not a test of fellowship. So let me begin by explaining Creation Time.
Creation Time is a theory that says each day of Creation is a 1000 year period and not a 24-hour day period, because a thousand years to God is as a day to us. It is claimed to be a concept found in Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, (Peter alludes to Psalm 90:4 in his second epistle).
First, let me explain the verses as I understand them in their intended meaning and application. Psalm 90:4 says “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” That’s true. God’s perspective of time is different than ours. Ours is more defined, in fact time defines our lives but not God. This Psalm is a prayer of Moses lamenting that God is immortally timeless and we humans are subject to ticks on a calendar that mark our existence by an aging slide to death. God, on the other hand, is not defined by time as we are.
Psalm 90:4 does not even compare a “day” to a “thousands years” but compares God’s thousand years to our yesterday and to an even shorter period of time – “a watch in the night.” The little word “as” means “like” and like does mean exact, it means “as it were” but not exactly. If I were to believe that this verse is a basis for Creation Time, the days of Creation would have to be either an undetermined amount of past time or a 4-hour period of time, because God’s “thousands years” are like our “yesterdays” and “a night watch.”
Let’s look at the New Testament reference of this verse in 2 Peter 3:8 which says, “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Now that is a little closer to what the theory presents with a day compared to a thousand years, except that Peter used the word “as” and just like Psalm 90:4, the little word “as” means “like” and like does mean exact, it means “as it were” but not exactly.
2 Peter 3:8 is in the context of the promise of our Lord’s return. Early in the passage, verse 4, Peter points that scoffers in the last days will ask “Where is the promise of his coming?” and he tries to assure his readers that God’s promises have always been in His perfect timing, and God’s timing is not subject to our timing when it comes to fulfilling a promise. The text simply means that God is not limited by time to fulfill His promises. Neither of these verses actually state that God literal renders our day as 1000 years or our 1000 years as His day.
Second, there is an interpretive problem in assuming that since God created, that the language of the text is only from God’s perspective. Why would we only interpret Genesis 1 in light of God’s different understanding of a word and not the entire Bible? Genesis 1 is a record for man not for God, so it is an assumption to think God would transpose His understanding for man’s understanding of the word, in order to meet His understanding of a day when we have language and examples in Scripture to communicate the difference between 1000 years and an “evening and morning” being a day.
This same Peter told us in 2 Peter 1:21 that Scripture was written as “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Put simply, God’s Word is authored by God’s Spirit through men who wrote in their own language through their own human capabilities. Which is why each of the 40+ writers have their own idiosyncrasy when it comes the words they use and style in which they constructed sentences.
Third, the theory of Creation Time goes even further by saying that the 6-days of Creation must be 1000 year periods of time to total up to the equivalent of 6000 years of history before Jesus’ return and the 7th day Sabbath of Creation week represents the 1000 years of Revelation’s millennium. If you remember I made a reference to this recently when we began our Genesis series. It is a neat theory, but I stop short of holding it out as proof for doctrinal surety.
Sometime back during a previous teaching series I remember getting into this topic of number theories, and shared my caution when it comes to discovering and applying numbers in the interpretive process of reading Scripture. I think it is fine and good to point them out, to discuss, and even to add as a consideration to a particular doctrine, because there are several prominent numbers in the whole of Scripture like 3, 7, 12, 24, 666, 1000, and 144,000.
My appeal of caution is against applying them as the basis of truth or the reason to believe. The number 3 has significance to the Trinity nature of the Godhead and in Revelation we have 3 evil spirits that work against the Godhead and 3 angels that work for the Godhead. It would be careless to put the number 3 before the word and as an example believe that the 3 crosses that stood on Golgotha must represent the Trinity and thereby conclude that a member of the Godhead did not accept Jesus as Savior.
It’s not a secret to you to my church that I am not a number person. You’ve heard my story of failing my college math class twice before the Professor taught me how to calculate backwards which allowed me to finally pass the third time around. But I don’t think my caution is purely about my own dislike. Satan has used God’s creation to distract and deceive people from seeking the written word of truth through the pagan practices of Numerology and Astrology.
Numerology is a pagan belief in divine relationships between numbers and the affairs of man. It is the study of numbers as a prophetic exposing of the mysterious of the universe and deciphering future events and coincidences. It, and Astrology has enticed generations from faith in God’s Word in exchange for the chase of uncovering the future an attempt to obtain success, prosperity, or happiness.
There was a time in my life before Christ when my day had to start with my Zodiac horoscope and lucky numbers for that day. I had to know what to expect and that expectancy determined how I would respond. My lucky Libra numbers set my sinful stupid mind on a pursuit of seeking how those numbers would emerge in my day.
I don’t want to equate the “Creation Time” theory with numerology, but I do want to caution against interpretation by number. Numerology and Astrology have nothing to do with biblical interpretation, so please know it is just one of my rants. Numbers are valuable and the very solid nature of numbers being exact and factual is a good necessary thing…(so I hope I was just able to dig myself out of this rant ditch).
As I see it, you have to read into the text to assume the days of Creation are 1000 year periods. One of these days I will compose an article on hermenuetics, which is the science of biblical interpretation. Until then, let me say that biblical interpretation is a process of allowing Scripture to interpret itself.
Look, I realize that not everyone sees eye to eye on the time period of the days of Creation in Genesis 1, but I am not responsible for how everyone believes when it comes to this teaching or any other in the Bible.
I am responsible for what I believe and I am responsible to the CrossHope Chapel church to take seriously the advice of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 which says “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
That is my intention.
If I speak with certainty on points of doctrine it is not because I want to be a nitpicker, or make those with different positions relent, it is because my approval is unto God and in such points of doctrine I am not ashamed of handling the word of truth.