As we learned last week from Genesis, God created the world in six “creation days.” That fact is indisputable because that is clearly what God’s Word says. We also learned that The Holy Bible is NOT a science book; nor is it a history book – It is God’s revelation of Himself to man. Ergo, God tells HIS story in a manner which was relevant to the original audience (Israelites in mid-second Millennium B.C.) and today, over three thousand years later, is STILL perfectly relevant and truthful. The point which is important to understand is that, as modern interpreters of an ancient document (The Bible) we must strive to understand precisely what it does say AND what it doesn’t say. Then, we must stand unwaveringly on its message and not get mired down in debates over what God chose not to include in HIS story.
With respect to the Creation account in Genesis 1, God told us that He created the world and the universe “in the beginning.” In other words, God is pre-existent (He was before the universe) and He created everything in the universe (including time). God is eternal and exists outside of our concept of “time.” Precisely dating the inception of our universe is something that He chose not to include in His story (remember: The Bible is not intended to be a science or history textbook). Therefore when Christians proclaim, for instance, that Scripture says the earth is only 5,000 years old, they are asserting an opinion based on their interpretation of various sections of Scripture and, perhaps, their interpretations of various scientific findings. It is perfectly ok for believers to hold opinions about the age of the earth, how long the six “creation days” really were, or the events leading up to the second coming of Jesus. We are instructed by Scripture to study it and become as knowledgeable as possible in its teachings. The danger lies in when we assert that our opinions are irrefutably grounded in actual Scripture passages. In other words, when we try to make Scripture say something it doesn’t actually say.
This past Sunday I remarked that a “day” in Genesis could have been a twenty-four hour period or a much longer span of time since the Hebrew word used there may be translated as either. I was very blessed by a question posed to me later this week because Scripture says “…and there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Gen. 1:5 NIV). The inclusion of “evening and morning” in describing the first day made the questioner wonder how “day” could be interpreted as anything but a twenty-four hour period in this context. A FABULOUS question (I am ALWAYS happy when people are being “Bereans” and verifying EVERYTHING against Scripture). The answer is quite simple since, like “day,” “evening” and “morning,” have a number of meanings in Hebrew. Essentially, they serve like “day,” and “night” as limiters of periods of daylight so they don’t necessarily equate to our modern English interpretation of “evening and morning.” Furthermore, our interpretation of “evening and morning” being sections of a twenty-four hour day, could not have applied in Genesis 1:5 BECAUSE our twenty-four hour day is based upon the earth’s solar cycle. Since Scripture TELLS US that God didn’t create the “lights in the vault of the sky to separate day from the night” (“lights” being what we presume to be the sun and the moon)(Gen. 1:14) until the FOURTH creation day, it would be faulty logic to apply a solar cycle methodology before there was a solar cycle.
As we continue to study God’s book of Beginnings (Genesis), we will uncover many questions which challenge our modern understanding. I ENCOURAGE you to dig into your Bibles, praying for The Holy Spirit to give you discernment and remembering to focus first on what Scripture SAYS as we discover together the AWESOME love of God as He revealed Himself to His Creation.
-Pastor Dave Jones