5 Reasons to Believe Genesis Describes Creation in Seven, Literal 24-Hour Days

Moody Bible Commentary
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Few other interpretive issues in Genesis have received more attention or been more debated in modern times than the meaning of “day” in Gn 1 and its consequent bearing on the chronology and nature of the creative process described therein. Several facts need to be noted regarding the “days” of creation.

  • That the Bible is a literary and theological work does not preclude its being scientifically accurate.
  • The words of the biblical text in describing the creative process are to be understood in a manner consistent with the use of those words (both in meaning as well as syntax) attested elsewhere in the OT.
  • Where the meaning of the biblical text runs (or seems to run) contrary to the theories or conclusions of contemporary science, precedence should be given to the biblical text.

When considering the “days” of creation in a manner consistent with these principles, the inevitable conclusion is that these days are to be understood as “24-hour” days. While acknowledging that the term “day” (yom) may signify an indeterminate period of time, such as in the expression “day of the Lord,” or in Gn 2:4, where yom does indeed appear as a period of time (in that case, the six days of creation are called a “day”), it seems likely that yom in Gn 1 refers to a 24-hour day for the following five reasons:

Reason #1: Morning and Evening

Each of the six days of creation is specifically defined by the terms “evening” and “morning,” both of which are consistently employed throughout the OT to denote those two parts of a literal (“24-hour”) day (e.g. Ex 16:8; 18:13). The few exceptions are in poetic passages, which Gn 1 is not.

Reason #2: Immediate and Complete

The immediate and complete creation of the various parts of the world is consistent with the immediate and complete creation of man and woman. The creation of humans is not presented as a gradual process, nor were they created as children whose physical and intellectual capacities still needed to develop. Adam and Eve were created as physically and mentally mature individuals with a fully developed capacity to physically and intellectually enjoy the home into which they were placed. Given that the world was created specifically for humanity (cf. Gn 1:28), there would be no reason for God to draw out its creation over billions of years. The modern scientific consensus of what constitutes evidence of “age” is founded on a presuppositional analysis of the geologic data that precludes the testimony of Scripture. It is just as logically valid for Christians to view these geologic and other such data as evidence of maturity rather than of age. Just as God immediately created man with the full and mature capacity to enjoy his world, so too did He immediately create that world at a full and mature state to be enjoyed.

Reason #3: Day/Number Coupling

The coupling of the word “day” (yom) with an ordinal number (e.g., “second day,” “third day,” etc.) is consistently employed throughout the history of the Hebrew Bible as the conventional way to designate a literal day in a literal seven-day week (e.g. Gn 7:4; 17:12).

Reason #4: The Sabbath

The fourth of the Ten Commandments logically implies that all six days of creation, as well as the seventh (Sabbath) day of rest, were literal 24-hour days. In Ex 20:9-11 the Israelites were told to work for “six days” and rest on “the seventh day” in commemoration of God having done precisely the same thing. He worked for “six days” and rested on “the seventh day.” Also, the verbal expression “the Lord “rested” in Ex 20:11 is a completed action/past tense verb, which disallows the notion, sometimes put forth by “day-age” proponents, that the seventh day (and hence the previous six) was/is an “age,” and that in fact we are still in it (for then God would still be resting).

Reason #5: Genealogical Requirements

An “age” of time for each day is irreconcilable with the specific genealogy of Adam and his descendants presented in Gn 5. According to that genealogy Adam’s third son, Seth, was begotten when Adam was 130 years old. In other words, no more than 130 years (hardly an “age”!) had passed from Adam’s creation early on the sixth day to a point well after the seventh day when Seth was begotten. The genealogy in chap. 5 cannot be dismissed as “abridged,” since (a) this runs counter to the references to each person’s age when he “became the father of ” his son, and (b) the expression “he became the father of,” which is used throughout this genealogy, is always used in connection with one’s immediate children (i.e., the generation immediately following the father).

For Further Reading:

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