When Is a Day Not a Day? | The Institute for Creation Research
 
When Is a Day Not a Day?

Those Christians who hold to an extremely old Earth acknowledge that both Scripture and history teach Abraham lived just a few thousand years ago. Furthermore, chronologies in Scripture identify the time between Abraham and Noah, and the time between Noah and Adam as a total only of a few thousand years. Even using the maximum time spans given in various manuscripts yields a total of only a few thousand years between Adam and the present. But maybe the creation took billions of years, they say.

It seems obvious. The Bible specifies that God's work of creation took "six days," at the end of which He created Adam. He provides a record of His activities on Day One, Day Two, etc. He even brackets each day by the terms "evening and morning." Adding six days to the time since Adam still equals only a few thousand years, or so it seems. Those who advocate an Earth of billions of years in age do so by asserting that the days of creation were really of vast duration. Is there any Biblical and linguistic evidence that a "day" can be of great length?

As a matter of fact, the Hebrew word yom, here translated "day," can have a variety of meanings, just like in English.

In both languages, the term most often refers to a solar day, defined by one revolution of the earth on its axis. If I say "today" you know what I mean. Or when I say "the day of your birth" it's clear. Perhaps I could modify the word by a numerical adjective, like "first day" or "three days," and you would know what I meant. But I could say "in the day of George Washington" and you would know I was referring to a period of time around the Revolutionary War. It all depends on context. How the word is used specifies its meaning in any particular usage.

In Genesis chapter one, God apparently went out of His way to make sure we didn't misunderstand, for He defined yom the first time He used it. On Day One, after creating the heavens and the earth, God created light (v.3), and "God divided the light from the darkness" (v.4). This light/dark cycle was further identified when "God called the light Day [yom], and the darkness He called Night" (v.5). Throughout the rest of the passage He uses the term for the First Day through the Seventh Day.

The door to misinterpretation is closed in Exodus 20:11, where God wrote in stone some things He really didn't want us to misinterpret. The fourth of the Ten Commandments concerns our work week, where we are commanded to work six days and rest on the seventh, "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day." Same word, yom, same context, same modifiers, same tablet of stone, same Author, same finger which wrote it. If words have meaning, then God created in six days just like our days. His work of creation becomes the pattern for our work week.

"Day" can mean a period of time when the context demands, but in the creation account "day" means a real "day." Christians need to allow the unchangeable Scripture to define its own terms and not rely on the temporal musings of men.

Cite this article: John D. Morris, Ph.D. 2006. When Is a Day Not a Day?. Acts & Facts. 35 (5).

The Latest
NEWS
Should We Grouse About Not Seeing Grouse?
A recent report in Chesapeake Bay Journal laments the decline in ruffed grouse populations in the Chesapeake watershed region of its natural range. Ruffed...

NEWS
Meet Dr. G: Roller Skating, Evangelism, and a Changed Life
Have you heard the news? ICR’s Board of Trustees recently appointed Dr. Randy Guliuzza to be ICR’s new President & Chief Operating Officer....

NEWS
Honeybees: How Sweet It Is, Again
After some scary population downturns and scarier rumors of bee populations crashing, honeybees are making a comeback, populationally speaking.1,2...

NEWS
Dolphins Learn Tricks from Peers to Catch Fish
Dolphins—like other cetaceans such as whales, wholphins, and porpoises—are highly intelligent marine mammals, capable of astonishing feats....

NEWS
Liberty and the Word of God
“And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts” (Psalm 119:45). July 4th is called Independence Day here in our country because on...

NEWS
Wandering Albatross: Wide Wings on the Winds
Wandering albatrosses have the largest wingspan of any living bird, so they live much of life soaring above the oceans. With their wings—and a lot...

NEWS
Inside July 2020 Acts & Facts
Where can we find hope during times of waiting? How has ICR reached a new global audience? How does evolution conflict with the Bible's teaching...

NEWS
Soft Dinosaur Eggs Deflate Bird-Dinosaur Evolution
A pair of new studies found that some dinosaurs, and possibly some marine reptiles, laid squishy eggs. One study discovered that many dinosaurs, like turtles...

ACTS & FACTS
Encouraging Notes During the Storm
Without a doubt, the global spread of COVID-19 has forced most of us to make major adjustments to our daily routines. Whether the stay-at-home mandates...

APOLOGETICS
God's Grassroots Provision
In times of calamity and crisis, it’s easy to question whether life makes sense—or, more accurately, how God is making ultimate sense of...