Sunday, 16 September 2007

Reasons that Genesis 1 means a literal 6 days

Firstly I have a question for those who deny the days are literal: "If God decided to make the world in 6 days, how would he convey this so we would not misunderstand him?" I mean, if God did take 6 days, there is nothing he could say more than what already is in Genesis 1 to convince us. Whatever further details that could be written would be explained away by those who disagree just like they do now. If the days were not intended to be read as literal the wording used in Genesis seems an unusual choice, and there are plenty of ways in Hebrew to say otherwise.

Several reasons why I think the days in Genesis 1 are of 24 hour duration:
  1. Style is narrative. This is clear from just reading it, but technical analysis concurs.


  2. The word "day" is prefixed by a number. This always means a literal day elsewhere in Scripture. Some questions of interpretation of day with a number is raised when the passage is prophetic.

  3. The word "day" is prefixed by the phrase "there was evening and there was morning," a phrase that is also used for a literal day. Again, some dispute around prophetic usage.

  4. The first day also mentions the day was divided into daytime and nighttime according to whether it was light or dark.
    And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day(time)," and the darkness he called "night(time)." And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5)
  5. Comparison is made to creation when God commanded the Israelites to rest on the Sabbath. God said,
    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 6 days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the 7th day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in 6 days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the 7th day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20)
    The reason this parallel is exact is because the word day is used. One can have a Sabbath of other time periods, usually years (Exodus 23, 2 Chronicles 36), but no comment is made about those periods being the same as the creation periods, ie. days.

    In fact the existence of the week is a strong pointer to the literalism of Genesis 1. Day, month and year all have astronomical events that define them. Other time divisions are clearly a division or multiplication of these 3 fundamental periods. Decade and century from the decimal numerical scheme; seconds, minutes and hours from the sexagesimal scheme. The week is clearly a period based on days that has no logical explanation other than divine decree.
The first day is particularly instructive because, in a way, it is acting as a definition. Not only is it literal because of the mention of a number and evening and morning, the day is defined based on a period of daylight followed by darkness.

For those who deny the days are 24 hours this needs explaining. And it is likely the proposed hermeneutic will be invoked because of a prior, extra-biblical commitment to an ancient earth.

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