NINE REASONS WHY THE “DAYS” IN GENESIS 1 MUST BE UNDERSTOOD AS NORMAL (24-HOUR) DAYS

Posted by Chris Parker
Jan 04 2007

The Hebrew word yom, translated “day,” is used more than 2,000 times in the Old Testament. In 95% of these cases, the word clearly means a 24-hour day, or the daylight portion of a 24-hour day. Since this is the way the word is most often used in the Old Testament, it should be understood in this way in Genesis 1 unless there are compelling reasons to prefer some other meaning. 

God defines what he means by “day” in Genesis 1: “God called the light ‘day’ and the darkness he called ‘night’ ” (Genesis 1:5).

The terms “evening” and “morning” make it clear that normal days are being referred to in Genesis 1. These terms are used in Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31.

The numerical qualifier (e.g., “second day,” “third day”) demands a 24-hour day. This usage is found in Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31; 2:2,3. The word “day” appears with a number over 200 times in the Old Testament, and in every case the reference is to a literal day.

God established the sun and moon “to separate the day from the night,” “to mark seasons and days and years,” and “to govern the day and the night” (Genesis 1:14-18). These passages clearly refer to normal days.

The Ten Commandments given to Israel were spoken by God himself, and were also written directly by God in stone (Exodus 20:1; 31:18; 32:16). Within these Ten Commandments, God described his work of creating the universe: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:11). Since the Sabbath command is linked in this way to the creation week, the “days” of the creation week must be of the same kind as the “day” Israel was expected to rest.

The primary reason some people want to lengthen the “days” of Genesis 1 is to make room for the evolutionary scenario, which requires billions of years. But evolution is simply incompatible with Genesis 1, and stretching the meaning of the word “day” will not accomplish the reconciliation of the creation and evolution worldviews. They are just too different. Consider the following admission by Pattle P. Pun, professor of biology at Wheaton College. (Note: Dr. Pun writes as a theistic evolutionist.)

It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of the Genesis record, without regard to all the hermeneutical considerations suggested by [evolutionary] science, is that God created heaven and earth in six solar days, that man was created in the sixth day, that death and chaos entered the world after the Fall of Adam and Eve, that all of the fossils were the result of the catastrophic universal deluge which spared only Noah’s family and the animals therewith. (Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, March 1987, p. 14)

In the New American Standard Bible, Genesis 2:4 says: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.” Here is an instance where the word “day” does not refer to a 24-hour day. The phrase “in the day that” is a Hebrew idiom meaning “at the time that” or simply “when” (as the phrase is rendered in the New International Version). But this usage does not invalidate our understanding of “day” meaning a 24-hour day (or the light portion thereof) in Genesis 1. In fact, a similar occurrence of this idiom appears in Numbers 7:84 (see NASB margin), which follows twelve literal days of offerings (Numbers 7:12-83).

II Peter 3:8 says, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” But this is a simile (a literary device used for comparison) given to help us understand the Lord’s patience, not a hint as to how we should interpret Genesis 1. The word “like” is not the same as an equal sign! Also: the word “day” is unlikely to carry a figurative meaning in Genesis 1 since it appears for the very first time there. Words are used figuratively only after their literal meaning is well established.

(Reference: Impact # 81, “Theistic Evolution and the Day-Age Theory,” by Richard Niessen)

8 Responses

  1. Ron says:

    Here’s a few things to think about. It’s foolish to even reason with someone who beleives the “Gap Theory”, because you are dealing with an individual who will say “Yom” means diffrent things at diffrent times. An Isreali born Jew once told me that the term best translates as, “Between the evenings”. Why should the 1st day be diffrent than the 6th, or the 7th for that matter. Its all the same Hebrew word. Just look at Gen. 1 logically for a moment.
    1. Time and space was created the first day. The sun, moon and stars on the the 4th day. YHWH measured time before in days and after in days. TIME MUST BE A CONSTANT.
    2. Adam was created the 6th day. If days ment 1,000 years or more, the fall of man happened and death entered the world on a day that “WAS VERY GOOD” (Gen 1: 31) and before YHWH rested the 7th.
    3.If “Yom” is left up to the imagination, then just how long did YHWH rest any how?

    If you look at the 10 comandments most christians beileve that keeping the seventh day set-a-part (holy) was changed to Sunday when scripture clearly says its a covenant “FOR EVER” between YHWH and his people(Ex 31:16-17). Plus we have put off the the name of YHWH, for the “LORD”, a very long time ago. When EX 3:15 said YHWH is His “NAME FOR EVER”. Look up, “LORD”, in the Strongs Condorance and see what you get.

    So don’t point your fingers at people who beleive the Day-Age Theory or Gap Theory, and call them ignorant. It’s time we get our heads in the game look at what really matters. I believe in 24hr days. I also beleive the 10 comandments too.

  2. Administrator says:

    Ron,

    You’ve confused me. The first part of your post seems to be confirming that the days in Genesis represent actual days. I agree with that-very well argued.

    Then you say not to point fingers at those who believe in the Gap theory and call them “ignorant”. What I’ve done is to call them out. If not for some acceptance of evolutionary theory, there would not be a percieved need for Gap theories or other theories in order to “fix” Genesis.

    I don’t believe that accepting actual days in Genesis is a matter of savation, but I do think it dangerous to start doubting the veracity of scripture from the first book.

    If you can’ t accept that God could create the universe within a week; why believe he rose rom the dead?

    s8intcom

  3. Ron says:

    Administrator,

    I’ve trying to post a clarification and I’m wounder why it won’t show. Is there a limit as to how much someone can post?

    Regards

  4. Administrator says:

    Ron Says:

    Administrator,

    I agree with your premise for a normal 24hr day. Your intent with the article posted is not in question. Sometimes I tend to use a poor choice of words. Your connection to Ex. 20:8-11 is exactly correct. However, I believe what stops a person from accepting 24hr days in Gen.1 also prevents most Christians from keeping the Sabbath. People try to reconcile the scripture with what they’ve been taught and assume, then, to be true. Weather it is the philosophy of man or tradition of the “church”, it influences the way see and understand scripture.

    You see that the commandment to keep the Sabbath is tied to the week of creation. It specifies the 7th day as the Sabbath. We are to rest because He rested. You aptly used it to verify 24hr days in Gen.1. I say it also establishes validity and importance of keeping the Sabbath on the 7th day. Scripture says it is to be a covenant “FOREVER”, and is never rescinded or “changed” anywhere. The 10 commandments are not subject to change, just as the One who declared them is not subject to change. He also prescribes the mannner to keep it properly. Do you keep it? If not, ask your self, “Why not?”

    I know that this site is dedicated to breaking down the false religion of evolution, and that this is somewhat out of your usual discussion. However I couldn’t let this opportunity by, to show that we’ve been neglecting one of the 10 basic commandments. As I’ve alluded to in my first post, I believe that there are more, basic things that have been neglected. The fact that someone doesn’t accept normal 24hr days in Gen.1 is a symptom of a greater issue, and they have my sympathy, to some extent. Please take this for what it’s worth.

    Shalom

  5. Administrator says:

    Dear Ron,

    I agree that separating the actual meaning of scripture from what you’ve been taught is often very difficult. No one is immune. If one has grown up “in the church” at some point your parents faith or your “church’s” faith should be replaced with your own. That comes with study and maturity.

    The Apostle Paul said:
    Pressing on Toward the Goal

    Phil 3 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

    All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”

     

     

    So Ron, it may little actual difference, but I’m much more wary of one who doubts the scripture because of the views of forces clearly arrayed against God (like evolutionary theory) than I am wary of those who currently have a disagreement about scripture itself.
    I take it because of your comments re the ten commandments that you must have read or at least seen my article on the commandments at http://s8int.com/tencommandments.html ?

    There is no need then for me to cover all that-let me focus on the issue you raised. First of all, it is absolutely true that God tied the observance of the Sabbath to the 24 hour day creation. On the other hand, I’ve never found any evidence of anyone keeping the Sabbath until after it was commanded of the Jews at Mount Horeb.

    There was law even for Adam and Eve, but it wasn’t Mosaic Law. My point is that the covenant between the Jews and God took place thousands of years after creation and that there were certainly elements of the covenant that were new. In point of fact, the first time “the sabbath” is mentioned in scripture is in Exodus 16, as the Jews leave Egypt.

    As you know, day age theorists might very well use “with the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day” to support that theory. If they are honest though, there going to have to deal with the context of a particular scripture as well as what all scripture on the topic says. Properly understood, scripture doesn’t conflict with itself.

    Re: Forever–You’re talking about the word OLAM. This next part comes from http://www.bible.ca/7-perpetual.htm
    The meaning of forever and throughout their generations:
    1. Hebrew: “olam” translated: forever, perpetual, everlasting, eternal, permanent. Forever does not mean never ending in scripture but age lasting:
    2. Jonah was in the fish forever? No! 3 Days! Jonah 2:6
    3. Righteous earthly kings will have throne established forever? No only till they die. Prov 29:14
    4. Throughout their generations is limited to the Jewish age.
    5. The Jewish age stopped at Jesus. That is the end of their generation by genealogy: Mt 1
    6. The Sabbath, like all other Jewish institutions were only to last throughout their generations:
    • Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. ‘It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ Exodus 31:16-17

    So, no I do not keep the Sabbath. Do you keep the feast of Atonement, burnt offerings, grain offerings or animal sacrifices? Those were also lasting ordinances-too last not forever but throughout the Mosaic age and covenant.

    By the way, I do not believe that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. The early Christians worshipped Every day. One can certainly worship every day today as well. Rather than keeping one day Holy, Christians are to keep every day Holy. The Catholics may very well believe that they changed the day. If so, it merely highlights their misunderstanding on many levels. The church existed prior to the establishment of the RC church. The Sabbath didn’t move, it is no longer enjoined.

    Hebrews 4:9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

    It became the custom of the Apostles to come together on the first day of the week to break bread (Lord’s Supper) and that in turn it became the focus day of worship.

    Respectfully,
    s8intcom

  6. Shard Obsidia says:

    Reiterating the above question:

    Is there any limit to how much you can post?
    Can’t seem to make it happy by editing or changing length.

  7. Tras says:

    I tend to agree, day is 24*3600 seconds in length. But it might change during history, as year changed. Year was 360 days, and then 365,25 days. The important thing is that there were days, evenings and mornings. It means that our world was created in space with evenings and mornings, and that evenings and mornings were before our universe was stretched in space.

  8. Administrator says:

    Shard,

    I’m not aware of a limit. Copy all posts before pressing enter and if it will not post, send to me @ s8intcom@comcast.net and I will post.

    s8int.com

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