I’ve recently been posed a very cogent question, one that I get a lot actually:
“How can you say that God created in six solar days when the sun is clearly created on the 4th day???”
I do often use the term “solar day” when I’m refering to Genesis. When some people read Genesis, they impose man’s fallible ideas about millions of years upon the Text and try to fit those long aeons into the days of Genesis. I recognize of course that the sun and the heavenly bodies weren’t formed until Day 4, but I use the term solar day because everyone generally understands that it means a regular 24-hour day.
But where did I get that idea from?
Well, from the context of the passage. Context is very important. I often get commentators who object that a word, usually the word “day” actually, can have many different meanings, so the Genesis days could have been any amount of time – except 6 actual days of course!
In the case of the word “day” we cheerfully admit that it has several meaning depending upon the context. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis uses the phrase “In my father’s day, it took 10 days to drive across the Australian outback during the day” to illustrate the point that it can mean a period of time, a 24-hour day or even just the daylight portion of the day/night cycle.
But it’s meaning is derived from context. It’s meaning is not determined by all possible meanings or the wishes of the audience, but by the intended meaning of the author.
Interestingly, “yom” the Hebrew word for “day” is used 2301 times throughout the Old Testament. It’s only in Genesis 1 that we question what it really means. Outside of Genesis, it’s meaning is consistent and the rules of context are well-established: Anytime we see the word “day” and a number [410 times], it means a regular 24-hour [aka solar] day. Anytime we see the words “morning” and “evening” together withOUT the word “day” [38 times], it means a regular solar day. Any time we see either the word “morning” or “evening” with the word “day” [23 times], again, a normal solar day. And whenever we see the word “night” with “day” anywhere else in the Olt Testament [52 times], you guessed it — a 24-hour solar day. But people seem to have trouble applying a consistent rule of application to Genesis because of they suppose science has proven millions of years.
I’ll not address old earth dating methods, except to note that when radiometric dating methods date rocks [formed in volcanic eruptions] we know to be less than a hundred years old at rediculously old age, how can we trust these methods on rocks of unknown ages?
In any case, if you look at Genesis 1, you note almost instantly that it contains an overkill of numbers and the words “evening,” “morning” and “night,” as if God didn’t want us to miss the point that, yes, He meant six solar days, even if He didn’t create the sun for man to measure such a day by until Day 4 [and didn’t make the man who would measure said solar day by the sun until Day 6!]
Now if we’re consistent with our application, we should take the Genesis days as regular solar days, according to the context and to the rules of application we’ve just discussed. So it matters not that the actualsun wasn’t created until Day 4, since we’re speaking of a period of time only. A period of time we now associate with the sun as a light source and the earth’s rotation.
It would be a fair question to ask what was the source of light causing the Day/Night of the first 3 Genesis days. The answer is, well, I don’t know, but I can make a guess. So far as I know, no one else has bothered to speculate on this, but I think the Bible gives us a clue in Revelation. [btw, I know a fellow Creation speaker, Hamilton Duncan, who gives an excellent presentation on Genesis and Revelation: Bookends of the Bible].
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
I realize of course that the context of the verse is the City of New Jerusalem of which God is the Light, but the idea of God as Lightsource, alluded to in several Scriptures, made me wonder if God Himself was not the Lightsource for the Day/Night cycles of the first 3 Genesis days. It’s certainly not farfetched from the Biblical Christian POV.
Irregardless of the source of the light for the Day/Night cycle, the absence of the Sun does not negate the probability that the time span for the Genesis days were that which we now acknowledge the time span of a day to be now that the sun is in existence. The word, context and rule of application is consistent both with the rest of Old Testament usage, as noted; the context, word [“yom”] and rule of application is also consistent for the days before the sun’s creation and the Genesis days which enjoyed the sun’s light. Are we to admit Days 4 through 6 as literal solar days but quibble on the timespan of the three previous Day/night cycles that the Bible identifies as days?
I’ve given our patient readers as much overkill on this subject, I daresay, as God put into Genesis 1 itself on this day issue, but I’d like to add one further thought:
The fact that the Genesis days are literal 24-hour solar days is also backed up by the 4th Commandment:
“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
Rather than letting 21st century science intepret Scripture, it’s usually best to let Scripture interpret Scripture. And as Martin Luther noted:
“When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are.“
The question that most interests me here is not whether God created in 6 days, for the Text lends itself naturally to no other interpretation. All other interpretations of the length of the Genesis days are impositions upon the Text – attempts to show how it could be made to say something other than what it obviously says if we weren’t looking for it to say what we want it to say. ;]
Having established the intended meaning of the Author on this matter, a more interesting question becomes: Well, why did God take 6 days? In Martin Luther’s time, some theologians thought 6 days was entirely too long. They thought such an amount of time seemed to put limits on God’s omnipotence. Why should it take God any time to do anything at all? It was to this outcry that Luther addressed his admonition. But they have a point; why did God take so long? All orthodox Christains are, after all, of a mind that God could create instantly, at a thought, at a word, by fiat.
Ah, theologians are ever thinking and philosophizing too much!
“Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12.
They ought to paint, sculpt and draw more! To the point, if these theologians [professional or armchair, respectively] wish to consider the Creator, they need to spend a bit of time creating something. I know. What a novel thought, eh? When I paint or draw, it’s a process. To wit, it’s an enjoyably rewarding, dare I say fulfilling process. God didn’t create because He had to. He’s completely self-sufficient. Perfect. No, I suspect He did so because He likes to.
Now things we have to do, we hurry through – and this is what separates work from play, craftsmanship or hobby really. We take our time when we enjoy something. And a true craftsman takes the time to do a thing right. And to admire his handiwork afterwards. And the Bible does note that He, as it were, sat back apace on the porch of Heaven and declared, “It is good” six times and then “Very good” upon completion of the whole. Many folks think of this declaration as something of a seal of approval, as if the Creation had passed the Creator’s inspection, but I think it was simple pleasure in His craft. An acknowledgement of His matchless craftmanship. If God does a thing, it is always good, even if it is sometimes terrible and awesome.
I suspect there’s something about God that compells Him to create. The late songwriter Rich Mullins once wrote, “It is the sea that shapes the sailor, and the land that shapes the sea/And I do not know yet what I am made of or all I may one day be/ It is the wood that shapes the carpenter. It’s the very tools of his trade/ It is love that makes a lover, and the cross that makes us saved.” There’s a lot of truth in his lyrical ruminations, but I want to look at one particular thought:
“It is love that makes a lover.” The Bible says that God is love. And also that He loves us so much that He died for us while we were yet sinners. I suspect that He had man in mind all along as He created. The strong anthropic principle is obviously imprinted upon the cosmos as if God had signed His Name. And that means that man was not an afterthought, though he was the last to be made. God made everything else by fiat, by spoken command. And I believe that it joyfully sprang into existence in but a moment, impatient to have God look upon it with approval and pride. But He took the time to form man from the very dust of the earth, and woman from man’s side. And the moment that man appeared upon the canvas, everything else God had painted, though anyone would have said each individual detail was a magnum opus in its own right, became a mere backdrop for the focal point God had in mind all along. Like any artist, God put a little of Himself into everything he wrought, but so much the more into His truest masterpiece, a thing made in the image of Perfection itself. This is art that the masters have all sought to capture, to imitate, but never with the skill of the Master Himself; the secret is that they try to make images of Man, but Man was made in the image of God: they all have a poorer model than God Himself in Heaven’s studio!
And before he fell, what an unparralleled example of craftsmanship Adam must have been! Even tarnished and soiled by the Curse, we see glimpses of man’s former glory. God’s craft is simply that great, that even marred His magnum opus is still undeniably the pinnacle of artistic achievement and craftsmanship. Leonardo and all the rest have simply explored the depths of nuance God put into His imagebearer.
And God is not content to let His masterpiece rust and languish. He sent His Son to redeem us.
And as for the Christian, we have this promise from the Author and Finisher of our faith [Heb. 12:2], that we, as though beholding His face in a mirror, are being changed from glory to glory into the same image [2 Cor 3:18], so that one day, we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is [1 John 3:2]. And I believe that will be a greater masterpiece than the first.
I digress, but I can excuse myself this time. We are, after all, commanded to meditate on God’s Word.
So that’s why the Text says 6 solar days, whether 21st century science would have it so or not, and why I believe God took His time to create everything when He could have done so in the blink of an eye. I may write further on modern dating methods at some later date, but I believe this covers the subject from the Biblical exegetical angle.
How beautiful Heaven must be if such a Creator has truly saved the best for last!