Essay on Genesis

This essay has a total of 5048 words and 17 pages.


Genesis






A matter that weighs heavily between the science world and the biblical world is the
meaning of the ?days? of creation in Genesis 1. Are God?s creative days to be taken as
long periods of time, eons, or short periods of time, i.e. 24 hours? We will examine the
biblical evidence for possibly applying a long-term definition to the word, ?day? in
English, yom in Hebrew, and see that in the Bible; it is all a matter of timing. Remember
the article by Pinnock; we must not let our long-standing presuppositions fog our
objective look at the issue.

After God divided the light from the darkness, ?God called the light Day, and the darkness
He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day? (Gen. 1:5). For
Moses, was it his intention to convey a day?s period of time in this and succeeding
passages in exactly the same measure as a man?s day? Or was a day of God?s time intended,
which could contrast as sharply from our measure, as man in the flesh contrasts against
God Himself? As we saw in class, the stages of God?s creation are written in sequence. The
first day began when the sun was created and the first bright light struck the planet
Earth. On the second day, the Lord divided the waters; vapor or mist was in the air, and
water covered the surface. Dry land and vegetation were created on the third day. The sun,
moon, and stars were designated created on the fourth day. Day five was devoted to
creating the world?s fish and fowl flying creatures. Land animals came on the scene, and
man was created on day six. The Lord rested on the seventh day, signaling his completeness
and his favor on His work. Next we come to the question of the hour, what were the actual
time constraints that happened during the entire creation process?

Defining ?day?
The Hebrew word yom has the same meaning as ?day? in English. It can mean the daylight
portion of a day, the entire 24-hour period, a time of undesignated length, or a day of
celebration. Which usage did Moses intend in the first passages of Genesis? Better yet,
what meaning did God intend to convey through Moses? Many have come to believe that
interpreting those creative days as long periods is a relatively modern phenomenon
dictated by the recent findings of science, i.e. sedimentation rates, radioactive decay
rates, a vast and expanding universe, and so forth, but such may not be the case. Some of
the early church fathers took their cues from Scripture alone without the benefit of all
the scientific information available today. Ross argues that Irenaeus, Origen, Basil,
Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas, to name a few, argued that the days of creation must have
been long periods of time solely from their understanding of the biblical text. (1) There
are some today, however, who advocate that the creation days in Genesis were strictly 24
hours in duration. Henry Morris in The Genesis Record states, ?... the Biblical record
itself makes it plain that the days of creation are literal days, not long indefinite
ages, If he (Moses) wished to convey the idea of long geological ages, he could surely
have done it far more clearly and effectively in other words than in those which he
selected.? (2) Perhaps in anticipation of future misunderstanding, God carefully defined
His terms. The very first time He used the word ?day? (Hebrew ?yom?), he (Moses) defined
it as the ?light?, to distinguish it from the ?darkness? called ?night.? Having separated
the day and night, God completed His first day's work. ?The evening and the morning were
the first day.? This same formula is used at the conclusion of each of the six days, so it
could seem obvious that the duration of each of the days, including the first, was the
same. Furthermore, the ?day? was the ?light? time, when God did His work; the darkness was
the ?night? time when God did no work--nothing new was created between the ?evening? and
?morning? of each day.

The Ryrie Study Bible follows the same line; and there was evening and there was morning,
one day. Better, ?day one.? Later Jewish reckoning began the day with eventide (Lev.
23:32). This may be the reason for the order here, or it may simply mean that one
day-night cycle was completed. Since daytime closes at evening and the night ends with the
morning, the phrase indicates that the first day and night had been completed. Evening and
morning cannot be construed to mean an age, but only a day; everywhere in the Pentateuch
the word ?day,? when used (as here) with a numerical adjective, means a solar day (now
calibrated as 24 hours). (3) The keys to interpretation are not found by scrutinizing
Scripture with the world's logic, which can be faulty, or with its knowledge, which is
incomplete, but by comparing Scripture with Scripture itself. Since Moses was God?s human
instrument, and he used yom for a creative day, what was he talking about? For the answer
we need look no further than to the Bible itself. I guess that we could take a look at
nature, it is like reading a mystery novel, we can skip to the last pages and find out who
did it, and then read the book knowing from the beginning that the culprit would be in the
end. The abundance of geological and astrophysical evidence underscoring only one answer -
an old earth - is a heavy persuader, but the Bible can be gauged on its own terms.

Can One Day Equal Six Days?
Following the six days of creation and God?s sanctification of the seventh day of rest, a
shift of focus begins at Genesis 2:4: ?These are the generations of the heavens and of the
earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the
heavens.? Here Moses used the word ?day? as a blanket to apply to the previous six days of
creation. But how can one 24-hour day equal six 24-hour days? This does not seem to be a
problem in semantics; this could be a mathematical issue.

If a day of creation is a time of indefinite length, then one large time of indefinite
length could equal six smaller times of indefinite length. What happens when we slice a
pizza into six pieces? The word ?pie? could apply to the whole, or to each piece. But one
24-hour day cannot equal six 24-hour days. To possibly use a ?24-hour period?
inappropriately as a definition for the word ?day? when that word has a variety of
meanings, puts Scripture at odds with Scripture when it is not unnecessary. Attempts to be
literal with some passages, while ignoring other passages, may make the Bible appear to be
contradictory when that is not the case at all. Archer says ?... it is abundantly clear
that ?yom? in Genesis 2:4 cannot possibly be meant as a twenty-four hour day--unless
perchance the Scripture contradicts itself! (4) As a matter of interest, the operative
Hebrew word in this passage is not the word ?day? (yom), but rather ?generation?
(toledah). According to Hebrew lexicons, the word toledah always pertains to a long time
period, never to such a short span as a mere week. And since the word is plural, we know
with certainty that ?generations? can refer to multiple periods of time, each of which is
longer than a calendar week. (5) If we take Genesis 2:4 literally, the entire creation
event from day one through six is defined by the author of Genesis as a sequence of long
periods of time, not a sequence of 24-hour days. Furthermore, those time periods need not
be equal in length. In everyday English usage, just as in Hebrew, the word ?day? is used
frequently for varying amounts of time. It is the context surrounding the word that
determines meaning, not the word taken in isolation. William Wilson?s Old Testament Word
Studies sums up the possible variations, A day; it is frequently put for time in general,
or for a long time; a whole period under consideration ... Day is also put for a
particular season or time when any extraordinary event happens ... (6) The ?days? of
creation certainly do appear to be periods of extraordinary happenings which fit ?a long
time? definition better than a 24-hour definition. What about Ryrie?s argument that the
word ?day? in conjunction with a numerical adjective means a solar day? The theologian J.
Oliver Buswell answered that question as he replied to another author trying to use a
similar line of reasoning, ?It may be true that this is the only case in which the word
day is used figuratively when preceded by any numeral, but the reason is that this is the
only case in Scripture in which any indefinitely long periods of time are enumerated. The
words ?aion? in Greek and ?olam? in Hebrew are literal words for ?age,? but we do not
happen to have any case in which God has said ?first age,? ?second age,? ?third age,? etc.
The attempt to make a grammatical rule to the effect that the numeral preceding the word
day makes it literal, breaks down on the simple fact that this is the only case in all the
Scriptures, and in all Hebrew language, I think, in which ages are enumerated one after
the other. There is no such rule in anybody?s Hebrew grammar anywhere. The author of this
objection, or the one from whom he has attempted to quote, has simply put forth with a
sound of authority a grammatical rule which does not exist?. (7)

Days Without Sun
And God said, ?Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from
the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years? And God
made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the
night; He made the stars also. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day (Gen.
1:14,16,19). On the first day God created light, yet the sun, moon, and stars were not
visible until the fourth day. Some liberal scholars might (I do not believe this at all)
say there is no problem to a creation taking roughly 12 billion years to unfold. It would
be some 7-10 billion years after the inception, commonly known as the hot big bang, or
simply the Big Bang, which brought not only light, but heat and noise as well, before the
sun would form and switch on eventually to become our energy and light source. Prior to
that, the earth was ?formless and void,? and darkness prevailed according to Genesis 1:2.
One might think that in the young-earth version, six 24-hour days punctuated by intervals
of daylight and darkness would be hard to come by, since they claim the sun was not
created until the fourth day. This is no deterrence if your mind is made up. Morris says,
The formula may be rendered literally: ?And there was evening, then morning --day one,?
and so on. It is clear that, beginning with the first day and continuing thereafter, there
was established a cyclical succession of days and nights--periods of light and periods of
darkness. Such a cyclical light-dark arrangement clearly means that the earth was now
rotating on its axis and that there was a source of light on one side of the earth
corresponding to the sun, even though the sun was not yet made (Genesis 1:16). It is
equally clear that the length of such days could only have been that of a normal solar
day. (8) ?Clear?? One could hardly make the case for this being clear. And what does
Morris mean by a ?source of light on one side of the earth corresponding to the sun,? but
which wasn't the sun? Are we to believe that God set up a giant spotlight or to light up
the earth for 72 hours before He energized the sun? Couldn?t this cast the Creator and His
creation in a somewhat artificial light? Here is another example of perfectly credible
Scripture being made to appear incredible through faulty inconsistencies. If the first
four days of creation are periods of time of indefinite length, as many theologians
maintain, and not 24-hour periods, as some would say, then the sequence of events becomes
possibly plausible. When the Lord created the heavens and the earth, the earth condensed
into a fiery, molten ball. Water was vaporized as steam surrounding the superheated globe.
Although the sun, moon, and stars were in place and functional, dense clouds would have
obscured their view. We have no way of knowing when the sun started giving off sunlight,
but certainly the sun?s energy was required to facilitate photosynthesis for the
vegetation that began on the third day. Finally, the earth cooled to where the water vapor
in the atmosphere condensed, whereupon the sun, moon, and stars shined through. An
alternate explanation is that sighted creatures began to use the luminaries to measure
time on the fourth day. An earth-bound observer who could have witnessed sunset and
sunrise did not exist through the first four days of creation.

Archer says, Genesis 1:14-19 reveals that in the fourth creative stage God parted the
cloud cover enough for direct sunlight to fall on the earth and for accurate observation
of the movements of the sun, moon, and stars to take place. Verse 16 should not be
understood as indicating the creation of the heavenly bodies for the first time on the
fourth creative day; rather it informs us that the sun, moon, and stars created on Day One
as the source of light had been placed in their appointed places by God with a view to
their eventually functioning as indicators of time (signs, seasons, days, years) to
terrestrial observers. The Hebrew verb ?wayya? ?as? in v. 16 could better be rendered ?Now
God had made the two great luminaries, etc., rather than as simple past tense, God made. 9
Instead of the word ?create? in the passage cited by Archer, a different verb was used
meaning, ?made? or ?had made.? This could make good sense. The Lord created heaven and
earth on day one, but on day four the celestial bodies were available for earthly
observers to use as measures of time. Not only is the word ?day? defined by usage in
Scripture, the words ?evening? and ?morning? are also resolved. In Psalm 90, humans are
Continues for 9 more pages >>




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