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Posts Tagged ‘Genesis’

I am finally getting the time to go back to the “creation days” topic that I started sometime last year. I know everyone has been waiting with baited breath for the next part so I apologize up front for keeping everyone in suspense.

Day three is a very interesting one and a day in the creation account that to me goes against the idea that I hear often which is “It’s plainly obvious to everyone that reads Genesis that the world was created in 6 literal days”. In fact I was just listening to something recently by Kent Hovind where he said this repeatedly over and over again. Things like “If you gave the Bible to people that had no education in science or anything else for that matter they would all come back and say the world was created by God in 6 literal days”.
Well this just isn’t true and day three is a good example.
Genesis 1:9-13
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place,
and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry
ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.”
And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees
on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”
And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed
according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with
seed in it according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.
And there was evening, and there was morning—
the third day.
Now of course if someone just goes to the very end and says “Look, there was evening and there was morning the third day, this means all of this was done in 1 literal 24 hour day” then I can see where Kent and others are coming from when he says things like that. However they are also leaving behind the rest of the text and potentially even not interpreting these words accurately. Now I am also on record to say that I am not attempting to disprove YEC, if you want to believe that this text says a literal 24 hour day then that is fine with me. I am not going to say that God could not have done it. However, what I am going to say is that the door is open to a much different interpretation and it happens to be one that I currently hold. It also happens to line up with science which I don’t think is a bad thing.
Notice first that this passage does not say that God created land on day 3. It says God said let it “appear” and he called it “land”. So God spoke the “word” which we know thanks to John’s Gospel is God the Son acting in creation and the land masses appeared. God creates “ex nihilo” and has already done so in respect to the earth. There isn’t anything here that necessitates creation so the movement of the waters could happen by natural causes over a period of time which God the Son directs. What time passes between “God Said” and “It was so”? The case could be made that it happened instantaneously or in the same manner as when Christ dealt with the raging storm, but what about the next part of that day?
God said “Let the land produce vegetation seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds”. Directly after this it again says “And it was so”. Once again, could God have immediately created all plants immediately and in a mature state? Of course he could have, the question would be is that what the text says? To the reader it would sound like much time would have passed between “God said” and “It was so” because of his command for the vegetation to produce seed bearing plants after their kind. This doesn’t happen in a 24 hour day as we know it so we can also say that the dry land doesn’t appear in 24 hours either because there is precedent set here for it. God is not “creating from nothing” on day 3 but instead he is crafting together what has already been created “ex nihilo”.

Also, the words “And it was so” are better translated “And it came to pass” in Hebrew. I am no Hebrew scholar, nor do I play one on TV, but that is what I have taken from those who are and looking at Lexicons and such. That being said I am always cautioned on that because I have to rely on others for this kind of study and they are fallible men with potential agendas and bias, but it’s the best I can do. Now that I have said that as a means of covering myself I will also say that the word “produce” or “shall bring forth” scholars say is the verb “dasha” which represents an incomplete action. Therefore even if one wants to hold to these things taking place in a 24 hour day, by this interpretation it didn’t have to end in that time frame.

So, to wrap up, God saw all this and declared it good and the evening and the morning were the third day. This is the line where folks like Ken Ham and Kent Hovind say “See, anyone who reads this would say everything took place in a 24 hour day”. However, nothing that I read before this would make sense to me practically in a 24 hour period of time. To that the reply would be “Well you don’t believe the simple words of the text”, in fact Hovind went as far as to call Hugh Ross a heretic and someone who must believe in a different God in a recent debate. But this just isn’t true at all. It seems to me that with current scientific evidence and common sense thinking we would have to approach this last part and ask how does this line up with the rest of the text and the rest of scripture for that matter.

There is another way to look at evening, morning, and day in this passage given the context of day 3, and every other day that is concluded for that matter (every day except for day 7). Hugh Ross of reasons to believe says it pretty well.

The Hebrew word ‘ereb, translated “evening”, also means “sunset”, “night”, or “ending of the day”. And the word boqer, translated “morning”, also means “sunrise”, “coming of light”, “beginning of day”, “break of day”, or “dawning”, with possible metaphoric usage. In other words, evening and morning refer to the beginning and ending components of “day”, however it is used.

So what we can take from this interpretation of the Hebrew is that God is simply telling us that this phase is complete. This lines up with the rest of day 3 quite nicely.

So in summary, could God have formed the dry land and brought forth completely mature plants and seeds on that land in a literal 24 hour time frame? Sure he could have, He is God, but is that what He is telling us he did and does it square with what we know now? Sure what we know now scientifically is of secondary importance but it is important. We know that plants don’t grow without the sun so if the sun was created on day 4 and plants grew on day 3 we have a problem unless God supernaturally intervenes in a special way. That’s not impossible, but if we look at the text and in light of knowledge understand how we have misinterpreted what is wrong with that? Biblical text trumps the fallen world but we can sometimes understand how we have incorrectly interpreted the text based on what we know to be fact.

Given that, I think it is a very plain reading of day 3 that says the land appeared as God planned it to in order for plants to be able to grow. After this the plants began to grow because the air, water, sun, and land had been positioned by God’s order to create the conditions necessary to do so. Science shows us this in a very similar way and can tell us the time frames they think it took, but regardless if it took that long or not, it didn’t have to happen in 24 hours just by reading the text. In addition, regardless of what Hovind says, it is a plain reading all of the way up to the final sentence that these events wouldn’t take 24 hours. However at that point we don’t throw all of this away and say evening and morning was the third day must mean 24 hours. Instead we understand that the land and the plants were phase 3 of God’s creation plan and it had a beginning and an end and now was complete and “good”.

Finally keep in mind that the entire creation account is summed up nicely in Genesis chapter 2:4 right after Day 7 (which by the way has no mention of evening and morning).

“These are the generations of the Heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the Heavens and the earth.”

The word “day” here is the same Hebrew word used in the days of creation in chapter 1 and I don’t hear anyone offering the argument that this is a literal 24 hour day. So from the young earth point of view the same Hebrew word in chapter 2 would need a different interpretation than chapter 1. On an old earth view this isn’t necessary and is much more consistent in that when you use the interpretation in both cases as “A space of time defined by an associated term”, the word “yom” in both cases means something longer than 24 hours.

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