Volume. XXVIII, No. 4
Sunday, 28 July 2013


How Long were the Days of Genesis One?


Introduction

Were the days of Creation week of twenty-four hour duration or were they long periods of time? For some this is a genuine question, and unfortunately for others, they have already come to the Genesis text with their minds made up and are looking for a way to fit in vast periods of geological and cosmological time. But does the Genesis text allow this? What does the Bible say and how was the Hebrew word 'day' (yom) used in the Scriptures? We shall examine this question in the light of contextual, historical-cultural, grammatical and lexical evidences.

The Contextual Argument

Firstly, it is important for any interpreter of the Word of God to interpret correctly without any presupposition and subjectivity in his approach. Though it is impossible for two interpreters to come up with exactly the same conclusion in all their interpretations and observations of any passage, the standard for sound biblical hermeneutics should always require him to take the plain sense as its best sense, unless the context requires otherwise. Dr. John Klotz, the author of, Genes, Genesis, and Evolution, wrote, "It is hardly conceivable that anyone would question the interpretation of these as ordinary days..." The correct and sound interpretation of the 'day' (yom), in other words, should  be achieved by giving 'honour' to the 'context' of the scripture in the interpretation. This is a very important fundamental for any interpreter interpreting any passage of the Bible.

Similarly, when it comes to drawing a conclusion to any theological finding or consolidating doctrinal teachings, this principle is indispensable, unless there is an exception in question. Now the term 'day' has been interpreted by theistic Evolutionists as a “long period of time,” but what does the context say? Is the 'days' in Genesis 1 really 'a long period of time' and not literal 24-hour days? Klotz also wrote, "It is a general principle of biblical interpretation that a word (yom) is to be taken in its everyday meaning unless there is compelling evidence that it must be taken in a different sense...Sound principles of Biblical interpretation require that we accept this 'day' as being an ordinary day". In other words, by using a little bit of common sense, any reader of Genesis 1 would normally be ready to understand it as a literal day.

However, some may still argue that the meaning of the day in Hebrew, like in the English language, can sometimes be used as a period of time rather than literal days. Nevertheless, again, the context determines the meaning. As J.D. Thomas in his book, Evolution and Faith, wrote, “While it is possible to consider the term “day” in the Hebrew language to mean “time” or “age,” this does not seem to strain the simplest interpretation of Genesis 1:3…Biblical theologians should have no difficulty with the “24-hour day” interpretation if the text is permitted to speak in its own literary context and within its own purpose…” Therefore, based on the contextual evidences, the simplest meaning according to the context is the simple meaning of no other than the literal twenty-four hour day. It cannot be referred to as a long period of time as theistic Evolutionists suggest.

Historical-Cultural Argument

Secondly, from the historical-cultural point of view, theistic Evolutionists will also have a problem explaining how the human race, Israelites in particular, were to understand the implication that the 'days' during the Creation week were in fact “a long period of time”? Would the term 'day' make sense to them if the 'days' were indeed a very long period of time when they had no knowledge of modern day geological concepts about the age of the earth? With this Arthur F Williams comments, "The word 'days' would have no meaning to Moses and to his contemporaries other than that which was limited by reference to the sun. It would be impossible to prove from Scripture that the Israelites in the days of Moses had any concept of a 'day' in term of millions or billions of years. The evidence arising from serious consideration of the cultural meaning of the word 'yom' as used by Moses and understood by the Israelites is wholly on the side of the 24-hour day in the Genesis account of Creation."

It is absurd to suggest that the 'days' in Genesis 1 are a long period of time for it would not have made any sense to Moses and the Israelites. There is no doubt that God wishes His people, Israel, and the present day believers in Christ to understand fully with clarity and simplicity what He wanted to convey to them regarding the revelation of His Creation work. Therefore, suggesting that days are a long period of time without considering the original historical and cultural settings is unscholarly and a deliberate twist of the Holy Word of God and His revelation.

Grammatical Argument

Thirdly, the human author, Moses, is very careful in his usage of the word. Obviously, he had no intention of causing confusion in the meaning of 'day' recorded in Genesis. According to the context, the repeated phrases occurring in Genesis chapter 1, such as “the first day...” or “the evening and the morning...” show that the day is being described and limited to first and second 'day' not first and second “long period of time.” It is evident that the latter phrase, “evening and morning” was simply the effort of the author of Genesis to convey to readers that the days were literal twenty-four hour days of evening and morning cycles, and not a long period of time exceeding more than twenty-four hours. Dr. Henry Morris in his book, Troubled Waters of Evolution, wrote, "...the writer (of Genesis) of the first chapter of Genesis has very carefully guarded against such a notion, both by modifying the noun by a numerical adjective ("first day," "second day," etc.), and also by indicating the boundaries of the time period in each case as "evening and morning." As we can see, Moses was very careful in the use of the numerical adjectives to designate to readers the definiteness of time and its duration, as a twenty-four hour day period; not first long period of time and second long period of time which does not make sense to either the original readers or even to Moses himself. In other words, the length of 'day' was carefully capped with the period “evening and morning” so as to designate the boundaries of time so that readers would know that it is a twenty-four hour day of evening and morning. Such a grammatical structure should be taken into consideration for interpretation of the day, for it is vital in determining the actual meaning of the Hebrew word for day, “yom.”

Therefore, anyone who forces the passage to be interpreted other than the simple meaning given in the context requires a little bit of imagination. Dr. Henry M Morris in his book which he co-authored with Dr. John Whitcomb, The Genesis Record, wrote "The writer not only defined the term ‘day,’ but emphasised that it was terminated by a literal evening and morning and that it was like every other day in the normal sequence of days."

Lexical Argument

Fourthly and finally, many theistic Evolutionists would like to argue on the 'day' issue based on the original language, Hebrew. They often argue by saying that the word 'day' in original Hebrew (yom) is not restricted to a twenty-four hour day, but can also refer to a very “long period of time.”  This is true only to a certain extent. Dr. Hugo McCord, the author of College Freshman and Evolution, wrote, "Nothing in the word 'yom' specifies its length. However, an exegesis (including grammar, syntax, and context) of 'yom' in its eleven occurrences in Genesis 1 shows the word has two meanings: about a 12 hour period in 1:5, where it is the opposite of darkness.... A 24-hour period in 1:5, where its length is defined as a combination of evening and morning...

Again, it is true that the word 'day' (yom) has some other meanings or denotations other than a literal twenty-four hour day, yet the word is rarely used in these ways other than a literal twenty-four hour day. Morris made an excellent observation and he said, "There is no doubt that 'yom' can be used to express time in a general sense. In fact, it is actually translated as "time" in the King James translations 65 times. On the other hand, it is translated as "day" almost 1200 times...Whenever the writer really intended to convey the idea of a very long duration of time, he normally used some such word as 'loam' (meaning "age" or "long time"), so that the two words together 'yom rab,' then meant "long time." In other words, the word 'day' (yom) whenever it refers to “a long time” will be clearly qualified by the author and will not be left for the reader to speculate on what it really meant. In the case of Genesis 1, the day is always written as 'yom' not 'yom rab'. Both the occurrences of the word and the proper usage of the word fail to support what theistic Evolutionists have suggested. Thus, concluding that the word yom in Genesis 1 as always referring to “a long period of time” is absolutely arbitrary and unscholarly.

To provide more lexical evidence that the word 'yom' is almost always used to refer to a literal twenty-four hour day, it is appropriate to check the usage of the word itself in lexicons. Weston W Fields, the author of Unformed and Unfilled has listed a complete summary of Brown, Driver, and Brigg's as well as Koehler and Baumgartner's listings. Out of all the meanings given, there is no evidence to indicate the days in Genesis 1 were long periods of time. Fields then concluded, "Far from supporting the notion that the creative days of Genesis 1 are vast ages, extending, perhaps, over millions of years, the lexicons suggested that 'day,' as used to refer to Creationism is of the normal 24-hours duration. This is the natural interpretation." Therefore, it is only natural for any reader or Hebrew scholar to infer  that the days in Genesis should be taken as literal twenty-hour days, and meanings other than this are rather 'illegal' and 'illogical' for a proper interpretation.

Conclusion

It is evident that day age theory cannot stand the test when it is examined in the light of contextual, historical-cultural, grammatical and lexical evidences from the Bible. For any Christian to accept the 'days' in Genesis as a long period time, therefore is dangerous. Professor Arthur F Williams, in his book, The Genesis Account of Creation, wrote, "Once the interpretation of the seven days of Creation which makes the extended periods... the door is opened for the entire Evolutionary philosophy." Therefore, it is vital for every Christian to know that once a bit of leaven of 'heresy' creeps into the orthodox and fundamental church, it will cause more and more such false teachings to 'leaven up' the whole lump. And, the interpretation of 'days' in Genesis, based on Day-Age Theory should never be taken as an option but rather, ought to be utterly rejected.

Pastor David Weng


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster: Today’s Team Leader: Dn Edwin D’Mello. Next Lord’s Day: Bro Phil Surman

*Deepest Sympathy to Sis Sooi Chin Gong & family on the home-going of her mother (KL).

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm

*Those who have completed their BBK & seek Baptism, Confirmation or Church Membership, please see Pastor Weng or Elder Lee ASAP.

*New Basic Bible Knowledge Class starts 25 Aug.

*Nominations for the 7th Session Election are now open. Forms available from Dn Colin Gan. Nominations close next Lord’s Day.

*ACM Reports: please submit your reports to Dn Colin Gan by Wed, 31 July (latest).

*Catered Fellowship Lunch: $5 per person, Free under 5 years old.

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Dn Tony & Sally Law (San Francisco); Dn Wai Kin & Sis Mavis Wong & family; Bro Simon & Sis Demelza Ting & family (Adl); Bros Raymond Ang (Adl/Pinnaroo), Eric Lai (Gold Coast), Houston Li (Adl/Barossa/Adl), Raphael Ng (Barossa/Adl), Pirun Pech (Adl), Lucas Yiew (Newcastle/Adl); Sisters Marion Chan (Adl), Daphne Lai, Megan Lim (Gold Coast) & Felicia Tan (S’pore); & others who are travelling.  

2. Church Activities, in the past week.

3. Working Bees who came yesterday.

4. Fellowship & contribution to Hope BPC - Sis Felicia Tan

5. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

6. Visitors & new worshippers.

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev & Mrs James White; Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (S’pore); Sisters Margaret Hooper, Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Lehia Paauwe, Margaret Pearson, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi (Nursing Home) & Audrey Yeo; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello; Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Special Prayer: Rev Edward Paauwe (surgery); Bro Len Pearson (Lobethal); Sisters Margaret Hooper (post-surgery) & Michelle Lee (Melb).

3. Comfort: Sis Sooi Chin Gong & family

4. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry & preparation for Ordination: Ps Hai Seng Lim.

5. Cambodia Missions - Rev Srun Chivan & Ministry, Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville).

6. IBPFM & PMU: Board & Missionaries serving the Lord round the world.

7. Ministry in New Life BPC (London) & God’s guidance for the future: Ps & Sis Ki.

8. Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Ps & Sis Weng. 

9. Journey mercies: Bros Houston Li & Raphael Ng (Barossa/Adl); Sis Emily Zheng (Adl); &  others who are travelling. 

10. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11. Full-time Job - Bros Timothy Ngoma & Jonathan Liao (Syd); Sisters Corinne Teng & Sharon Ying (Per); & others looking for  stable jobs.

12. Australian Visas - Sisters Clara Sim & Sharon Ying (Perth - for PR).

13. Hope BPC - for new Pastor; New Session candidates & Election.

14. God’s guidance & direction in S’pore: Sis Felicia Tan (for church & work).

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063