A Day Is a Day Is a Day of Course: Unless That Day Challenges Darwinism! Part IV

Ronnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK

This is the last article in this series, which looks at the strengths of interpreting the word “day” in Genesis chapter 1 as a normal lunar day and answers objections to this normal reading of the text. The first three considered strengths of such a reading and this final article considers some problem verses. See my previous posts under the same title, Part I posted HERE, Part II posted HERE, and Part III posted HERE.

Some supposed problem verses:

#1 In Genesis 2:2, some like Hugh Ross argue that the first six days had a beginning and ending, but the seventh does not; hence, he believes that this strongly suggests that the seventh day continues, which he believes gives weight to the day-age argument.
-However, by Ross’s logic, the seventh day did not have a beginning either. M. Maniguet notes, “If Ross thinks the absence of both means the seventh day has not ended, then to be consistent, it would follow that the seventh day had not begun either.”[1]

-Additionally, both verses 1 and 2a say creation was “completed” by the seventh day. This is followed by the words in verse 2b “He rested…from all His work He had done” and 3b “He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Verse 4 also speaks of the completion of creation, “This is the account of the heavens and earth when they were created in the day the Lord God made earth and heaven.” (Italics added) Five times in four verses God speaks of His creative work as complete. To wit, He was through bringing new things into being. Therefore, the seventh day was designated as a “blessed” “sanctified” day of “rest.” To interpret such language as somehow reflective of eons of time necessary for God to be working out His plan through evolution or some other theory requiring indefinite periods of time seems to place one’s conclusion before reading the passage.

 

#2 Genesis 2:4 means more than one lunar day and therefore the use of yôm in Genesis 1 means more than one day.
-This is actually a different grammatical construction of beyôm,[2] (day preceded by a preposition) signifying “in the day” or an idiom for “when.”[3] Further, there is not a number in front of the word day; therefore, it tells us nothing about the meaning of day in Genesis 1.

#3 How could Adam have named all of the animals in a 24-hour period, Genesis 2:19?
-First he did not name every species but rather it says every kind; second, even if there were as many as 2,500 kinds of animals, Adam could have completed his task of naming them in less than four hours.[4] Consequently, Adam could easily have named them all.

-Keil and Delitzsch comment, “Moreover, the allusion is not to the creation of all the beasts, but simply to that of the beasts living in the field (game and tame cattle), and of the fowls of the air,—to beasts, therefore, which had been formed like man from the earth, and thus stood in a closer relation to him than water animals or reptiles. For God brought the animals to Adam, to show him the creatures which were formed to serve him, that He might see what he would call them.”[5]

 

#4 Concerning the use of “day” in verse 17 as an exception to the rule that day with a number always means lunar day in the Old Testament, thereby demonstrating that one should not interpret “day” preceded by a number as a normal day.
-However, day in 2:17 is the same form of the word in 2:4, beyôm (see objection 2). Commenting on this word in this verse, Walter Kaiser notes, “It is just as naïve to insist that the phrase ‘in the day’ means that on that very day death would occur. A little knowledge of the Hebrew idiom will relieve the tension here as well….Neither…nor the Genesis text implies immediacy of action on that very same day; instead they point to the certainty of the predicted consequence that would be set in action that very day. Alternate wordings include at that same time, at that time, now when, and the day [when].”[6] (Emphasis and bracketing in the original.)

Consequently, it is invalid to offer this use of the word day to demonstrate that the creation days were anything but lunar days; further, since immortality for man was dependent upon partaking of the tree of life, the use of day here does not mean a 24-hour period since, in order for man to die as opposed to being immediately executed, he would have to be cut off from access to the tree of life, which God in fact did, Genesis 3:22-24, because that tree could perpetuate temporal life. In addition, some take this to mean that man did die an immediate spiritual death, and it is to this that God is referring.[7] Many translate this as “when” as does the NIV, which signifies certainty rather than a specific time.

#5 Some critics of a normal reading of Genesis 1 offer Genesis 2:29 as a contradiction of such a reading since this verse appears to place the creation of man before animals.
-As poignantly noted by Keil and Delitsch, “The circumstance that in v. 19 the formation of the beasts and birds is connected with the creation of Adam by the imperf. c. ? consec., constitutes no objection to the plan of creation given in Gen. 1. The arrangement may be explained on the supposition that the writer, who was about to describe the relation of man to the beasts, went back to their creation, in the simple method of the early Semitic historians, and placed this first instead of making it subordinate; so that our modern style of expressing the same thought would be simply this: ‘God brought to Adam the beasts which He had formed.’”[8]

-The NIV renders “formed” and “had formed” to indicate that the animals were created prior to man, which is based upon the biblical use of this grammatical construction equivalent to the English pluperfect.[9]

-Others resolve the issue of how verse 19 relates to chapter 1 by arguing that the animals of verse 19 were “particular specimens” of the general creation. “Lev. 17:13 distinguishes two kinds of animals, ‘beasts of the field’ and ‘birds of the air,’ from a third, ‘the livestock,’ since the former must be hunted. This distinction occurs in vv. 19–20: the ‘livestock’ presumably were already available with the man in Eden, but the wild beasts and birds required God to bring them to the man for naming.[10]

-Ken Matthews states, “We explained earlier, however, that chap. 2 has a topical order; the intent of the passage is to highlight the man’s dominion and the uniqueness of the woman’s creation, as opposed to the animals.”[11]

#6 Critics of taking the days in Genesis 1 as normal days use Zechariah 14:1-7 to illustrate that day here means more than a normal day; thus, Genesis does as well.
-Keil says, “In v. 7 this day is still more clearly described…as solitary in its kind….[it]…is not equivalent to…‘only one day, not two or more’…, but solitary in its kind, unparalleled by any other, because no second of the kind ever occurs….It is necessary to take the words in this manner on account of the following clause, ‘it will be known to the Lord;’ i.e., not ‘it will be singled out by Jehovah in the series of days as the appropriate one’…, nor ‘it stands under the supervision and guidance of the Lord, so that it does not come unexpectedly, or interfere with His plans’… it is known to the Lord according to its true nature, and therefore is distinguished above all other days.”[12]

Consequently, the use of the number one with day here signifies a “unique” day (vs. 7) rather than “one” day in numbering or sequencing days, which is contrary to its usage in Genesis 1, where both numbering and sequencing are apparent and undeniable. Further, the very meaning of “unique” is one of a kind, which, while it may be more than a twenty-four hour day, it is also a unique day and therefore incomparable to any other day; moreover, it seems quite reasonable to conclude that since this day is described by the Scripture as “unique” it should therefore not be used to evaluate the meaning of the word day used elsewhere in Scripture. If fact, not only is the context different here than the creation account, and the day in question described uniquely, it should have no bearing on the meaning of the word day in the creation account since Genesis 1 gives every indication of not being unique but normal days.

#7 Hosea 6:2 is also used to argue against a normal day in Genesis 1.
-There are two basic reasons why this passage fails to be a plausible argument against Genesis 1 referring to lunar days; first, the point of the passage is what would take place soon or quickly. Therefore, it is easy to read this as referring to twenty-four hour days or parts of normal days, which is common in the use of the word days in both the Old Testament (Genesis 42:17-18; 1 Samuel 30:12-13; 1 Kings 20:29 & Esther 4:15-5:1), and in the New Testament referring to the resurrection of Christ (Matthew 12:40 & Mark 16:9; Matthew 27:63-64; 1 Corinthians 15:4 & Luke 24:7). However, if it is understood to refer to long periods of time, this would contradict the very intent of the passage. Consider The Bible Knowledge Commentary, which says, “The equivalent expressions, after two days and on the third day, refer to a short period of time, indicating they expected the revival to occur soon.”[13] Or Keil and Delitzsch’s comment, “By definition ‘after two days,’ and ‘on the third day,’ the speedy and certain revival of Israel is set before them. Two and three days are very short periods of time.”[14]

Consequently, it seems better to understand the days as short periods or normal days and not indefinite eons of time. Second, they go on to note, “Linking together of two numbers following one upon the other, expresses the certainty of what is to take place within this space of time, just as in the so-called numerical sayings in Amos 1:3, Job 5:19, Prov. 6:16; 30:15, 18, in which the last and greater number expresses the highest or utmost that is generally met with.”[15]

As a result of what I have presented in these four articles, it seems to me that the most consistent interpretation of the Genesis creation is that the days are best understood as normal days.

[1] M. Maniguet, as quoted by Jonathan Sarfati in Refuting Compromise, (Creation Book Publishers), 83.

[2] This same form appears in 2:17, see comments.

[3]J.F. Walvoord, R.B. Zuck, & Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 1:30. See also explanation and confirmation of this by Dr. McCabe, professor of Old Testament, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, in Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 70-71.

 

[4] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 89. He also deals with other problems associated with the not enough time conjecture.

[5]C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), 1:54-55.

[6] W.L. Kaiser, P. Davids, F.F Bruce, and Manfred Brauch, Hard Sayings of the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1966), 92, as quoted in Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 72.

[7] Gregory A. Lint, M.Div., Exec. Ed., The Complete Biblical Library: The Old Testament, Vol. 1: STUDY BIBLE, GENESIS (Springfield, MO: World Library Press, Inc., 1994), 31, articulates this position.

[8]Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 1:54. (Genesis 2:19 comments)

[9]The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984), Gen. 2:19. See the arguments for this in Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 92, and K. A. Mathews, The New American Commentary, Vol. 1A, electronic ed., Logos Library System (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1995), 215, footnote 114.

[10] Mathews, The New American Commentary, Vol. 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, footnote 3

[11]Mathews, New American Commentary, Vol. 1A, Genesis 1-11:26.

[12]Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, 10:621. See also The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, (Grand Rapids, MI.: Regency Reference Library, 1985) where it defines ‘one’ as unique, 692.

[13] Walvoord, Zuck, & Dallas Theological Seminary, Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1:1393.

[14]Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 10:63.

[15]Ibid.