Sunday as we wrapped up Genesis 1, I found myself out of time to talk more about the literal days of Creation, but below I have listed out 7 things that I believe need to be considered about the literal days of Creation.
• During the 6 days of Creation, God specifically concludes “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5) and so forth with “the second day” and “the third day” etc. (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Evening and morning kind of qualifies the six periods of Creation as having two halves, one of darkness and one of light. Just like our current 12 hour periods of night and 12 hour periods of daylight, qualifies it as what we call, a day. In Deuteronomy 4:32 Moses hearkens back to the Creation citing a literal day when he wrote “since the day that God created man upon the earth.”
• Each of the six days of Creation are given numeric qualifiers like the first day, the second day, the third day, etc. (Genesis 1:4, 8, 13, 19, 24, 31) so as not to be ambiguous with the period of times involved.
• The Hebrew word used here for “day” is “yom” (sometimes transliterated as “yowm”) and the word is never used to represent an extended period of time more than a 24-hour period of time understood as a common day. It is used 2,225 times in its singular form and 608 time in its plural form. It can be used as we use our English word for day, to mean a part of a day like when we say I have been working at this all day. Or, It can be used as we use our English word for day, like referring to the days when a certain President was in the White House. That use is an expression of idiomatic speech, that is defined by the context making clear the author’s intent.
• This may be a good place to explain why some hold to an idea that the Creation days are of some type of non-specified length of time… Some very early theologians in the Christian church, as in Origen (185-254) and Augustine of Hippo (354-430) held views that the either the days cannot be numbered in quantities of time or were of such an instantaneous nature that the six days may have been more like 6 seconds. The idea of an undeterminant time represented by the word “yom” as held by ministers today has been popular because of the well-respected American theologian Wayne Grudem (1948-2019), who pointed to Genesis 2:4 as his reason for not accepting “yom” as a 24-hour period, which states, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (ESV). I don’t pretend to be smarter than Wayne Grudem, but I do wonder why he ignored the other overwhelming evidence within Genesis 1 for a literal 24-hour day.
• The Creation record for each of the six days says that “God said” and it happened. The example in Genesis 1 and throughout other Scripture is that when God speaks and an instantaneous fulfillment occurs. We see that in the life of Jesus, like the resurrection of Lazuras in John 11. I addressed this concept in my earlier post titled “God Said,” too. The evidence with this point would be that we don’t see Creation respond to God by an undeterminant time frame, except as we see it in His promises and their conditional fulfillment or as the time of fulfillment is unknown to us, like the date of our Lord’s return. Plainly put, as in Isaiah 55:11, God means what He says.
• The sequence of the Creation week makes most sense when understood as literal 24-hour days. If the days were of long periods of time, that would mean that the darkness would shadow the vegetation created and deprive it of sunlight necessary to exist. Plants created on the 3rd day would also have to go for long periods of time without the necessary insects required for pollination, because insects were created on the 6th day.
• The sun, the moon, and the stars including earth, were set in their orbits on the 4th day according to Genesis 1:14-19. If the days were long period of times and not a 24-hour day, that would mean that at some point in our post-Creation earthly existence God would have had to tweak the rotation of the sun and moon and the earth to slow it down to the 24-hour period of a day that we have now. To me, it makes sense that God would define the Creation week in the exact sequence of time that He intended it to govern our earthly lives all through out humanity, and remain in sync with its orbits from its first day to its last. Besides, Genesis 2:1-2 and following states that at the end of that week God had “finished” Creation, so it had to set the 24-hour period of time in the original Creation pattern for us to have it now.