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III. Other Biblical Evidence Regarding the Length of the Days


Our previous study has examined the Bible evidence for the definition of "day" as used in Creation accounts. We now consider other Bible evidence that confirms our conclusions.

A. Terms for Longer Time Periods

If creation lasted long periods of millions of years, why did God not say so?

Some claim that ancient people would not understand if God had been more specific. So He spoke allegorically or accommodatively.

Let us consider whether or not the concepts and language were available for God to express long ages to ancient people.

Words for time periods

Remember, the creation account was not written to Adam and Eve. It was written to people in Moses' time. Did people then not understand long time periods? In fact they often spoke of long time periods, but usually referring to the future, not the past.

Some words available were:

DOR ("generation") is used often as "throughout your generations" - a long time in the future. Also used are a thousand generations (Deut. 7:9; 1 Chron. 16:15; Psalms 105:8) or many generations (Deut. 32:7; Isaiah 58:12; 60:15; 61:4) or simply "age" (Job 8:8).

OLAM (MEOLAM) is generally defined as "age lasting." It is often used as "(for) ever" - a long time in the future. Used of the past it is translated "ancient" time or "old" time (Gen. 6:4; Deut. 32:7; Josh. 24:2; 1 Sam. 27:8; Psalms 77:5; 119:52; Ecc. 1:10; Isaiah 46:9; 51:9; 63:9,11; Jer. 2:20; 28:8; Ezek. 26:20; Micah 7:14; Mal. 3:4).

SHANAH ("year") may be used in the plural ("years") to express long time periods as a thousand years (Ecc. 6:6) or many years (Ezra 5:11; Neh. 9:30).

If each period of creation was a long age, why did God not use some of these terms, such as "many thousands of years"? Why would the people have misunderstood that?

Words for numbers

The Old Testament frequently uses words like "hundred" or "thousand." To express larger numbers, these words are combined as "thousands of thousands" (Psalms 68:17) and "a thousand thousands" and "ten thousand times ten thousand" (Dan. 7:10). In Genesis 24:60 Moses himself speaks of thousands of ten thousands.

Could Old Testament readers understand these concepts? Why couldn't God have simply said that each period of creation required many thousands of thousands of years?

What about the New Testament?

Were people in New Testament times still unable to understand the concept of huge time periods?

Greek had words for "year" (etos), "generation" (genea), and "age" (aion).

For large numbers, Rev. 5:11 refers to ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.

Yet the New Testament still says God rested from creation on "the seventh day" (Heb. 4:4). If the "days" were really long periods, why didn't God explain this to New Testament people?

Clearly the language and concepts were available for ancient people to understand if God had told them the periods of creation were long ages. Denying this amounts to elitist egotism.

The Bible does not refer to past ages lasting thousands of thousands of years, but that is not because the people were unable to understand. It is simply because such ages never occurred! God spoke instead of "six days" of creation, because that is how long it took!

B. Millions of Years of Evening?

Evening = night = darkness

As discussed earlier, each day of creation consisted of "evening and morning." Genesis 1:3-5,14-16 imply that "evening" is equivalent to "night" and "darkness," and "morning" is equivalent to "light" or "day."

But if the days of creation were many millions of years long, then the darkness must have lasted millions of years and the daylight must have lasted millions of years.

How could living things survive such periods of darkness?

Plants and animals both need sunlight for growth and health. Plants obtain energy from the light, and animals obtain energy in some form from plants. "Evenings" of millions of years of darkness would destroy the plants and the animals.

C. Interdependence of Plants and Animals

Plants for millions of years without animals?

Plants were made the third day, but fish, birds, and animals on the fifth and sixth days. This means the plants must have survived at least all of the fourth day without animals of any sort.

How could plants survive millions of years without animals? Many plants cannot even reproduce without bees, insects, or birds to pollinate them.

Long ages during or between the "days" would destroy all plant life before the animals were created.

Insects not made on the sixth day?

Some respond that insects were not made on the sixth day. However:

Note that plants need more animals than just insects. Some need birds or other symbiotic relationships.

If God did not make insects on the sixth day, when did He make them? Only plants were made on the third day and nothing living was made on the fourth day. Clearly plants must have existed through at least one day without insects.

On the sixth day God made "creeping things" including "everything that creeps on the earth" (vv 24,25). Leviticus 11:21-23 includes locusts and grasshoppers among "creeping things" that fly (see ASV, KJV). Reptiles were also among the creeping things (vv 29-31), but insects are definitely included. So on the sixth day God made insects among "everything that creeps."

The only way plants could have survived creation is if the days were literal.

D. Creation of Man/Purpose of Earth

People have existed since the beginning of creation, the foundation of the world.

Note some things that were made at "the beginning."

Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Matthew 19:4 - At the beginning God made male and female.

Mark 10:6 - From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.

Clearly, "the beginning" refers to the whole period of creation, including the sixth day when man was made. [Cf. Luke 11:49-51.]

This is reasonable if the "beginning of creation" was the first week and everything has existed a few thousand years since. However, if heaven and earth were made many billions of years ago but man did not exist until several thousand years ago, that hardly would place man at "the beginning."

Earth created to be inhabited

Isaiah 45:18 - God made the earth and formed it to be inhabited. The earth was made as a place for people to live. This fits the idea that, a few days after creating the earth, God placed man to live on it.

But if the earth was formed for men to inhabit, why wait till billions of years later to place men on it? Why leave it uninhabited for many billions of years?

The literal six-day creation fits these Bible passages much better than do the long-age theories.

E. Events of Creation Days Were "So" and Were "Good."

Some claim that creation days were literal days, but on those days God simply decreed what would be made. Then following each day of creation was a long period of millions of years in which the creation decree was carried out. Then another day of creation would occur followed by a long period to fulfill its decrees, etc. So, the "days" would be literal but not consecutive, and the whole process took billions of years.

This approach violates all the evidence we have given that the days were consecutive and that long ages in creation would be unscriptural. Note further:

Most days declare that what God had decreed was "so."

Note the "it was so" expressions on the following days:

Second day - v7
Third day - vv 9,11
Fourth day - v15
Sixth day - vv 24,30

"It was so" clearly means that God's decree was fulfilled or came to pass.

But each "it was so" statement occurs before the completion of the corresponding creation day.

The pattern is: "... and it was so ... and the evening and the morning were the second day," etc. Clearly the intended meaning is that God's creative decrees were actually fulfilled on the day named, not millions of years later.

To avoid this evidence, one writer inserts parentheses in the Bible text to separate the portion of each day's account that describes the actual occurrence of what God decreed. This leaves the impression that God made the decree on the day named, but that the fulfillment of the decree (the part in parenthesis) occurred later.

But such an approach simply does not fit the language. No reputable translation inserts such parentheses or otherwise implies that the decrees were fulfilled some time other than on the creation days.

The Bible text itself says that the things God decreed were "so" on each specific named day.

Most days state that God saw each day's creation to be "good."

Note the expressions for the following days:

Third day - vv 10,12,13
Fourth day - v18,19
Fifth day - v21
Sixth day - vv 25,31

So, at the end of each day, God saw what He had made and declared it to be good. He was pleased and satisfied with what He had made.

Note that He "saw" it first, then declared to be "good." Clearly in each case His creation decree was fulfilled, then He saw what He had made, then He declared it to be good.

But "it was good" statements occurred during the days of creation!

On several days God declared what He made to be good, then we are immediately told what day it was. Note the following:

"And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day" - vv 12,13. See vv18,19 for the fourth day.

The sixth day is even more specific: "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day" - v31.

So on the identified days of creation, God saw what He had made and declared it to be good. In fact, at the end of the sixth day He saw everything He had made and declared it all to be very good.

God did not make the decrees on each creation day and then, millions of years later, declare the result to be good. The text expressly says that He declared it to be good after He "had made" it but still during the creation day - v31. By the end of day six of creation, He saw "everything" and declared it all to be "good."

Arguments for long ages in creation, no matter how ingeniously and artificially contrived, invariably end up flatly contradicting the Bible text. The fact remains that God created everything "in six days," just as the Bible says.

F. By Man Came Death

Evolution claims that men evolved from lower animals over millions of years. If so, then death must have existed among animals for thousands of generations before man existed and sinned.

Proponents of long ages in creation generally agree that death existed long before man's existence. They claim, for example, that the days of creation generally agree with the fossil record in the "Geologic column." But fossils were formed by death, so death must have been part of the natural order on the earth long before man sinned. The consequence of sin, we are told, was spiritual death only, not physical death.

Consider the teaching of the Bible:

The consequence of sin did include physical death.

Genesis 2:16,17; 3:17-19 - The punishment for sin included that man, who had been formed from the dust, would return to the dust (cf. Psa. 104:29; Ecc. 12:7). Later he was cut off from the tree of life so he could not live forever (3:22-24).

1 Corinthians 15:21,22 - All men die because of what Adam did, but this death will be overcome by Jesus who will raise all men from the dead (v25,25). Clearly this is physical death.

Hebrews 2:14,15 - The devil has the power of death. Jesus died and arose to defeat the power of Satan, thereby delivering man from the fear of death. In heaven we will experience none of these problems brought on by the curse of sin (Rev. 21:4; 22:3).

Clearly physical death is one consequence of sin. Denial of this is flat denial of Scripture. But if physical death began as a consequence of sin, how could it be part of the natural order for millions of years before Adam and Eve were formed?

There is no record of animal death before man sinned.

Genesis 1:28,29; 2:16; 3:2 - Before sin, man had dominion over the animals, but nothing says he ate them. God told him to eat herbs and the fruit of the trees.

Genesis 1:30 - In creation God also ordained that animals eat herbs.

Genesis 3:21 - After the sin, God clothed people with animal skins. This is the first indication of animal death.

Genesis 9:3 - Only after sin occurred did God ordain for man to eat animals. If death was the natural order, why did God not authorize eating of animal flesh from the beginning?

Birds and fish were created on the fifth day and other animals on the sixth day. If death was the order of nature throughout these hundreds of millions of years, why is there no indication of any animal death prior to sin?

Everything about creation was very good - 1:31.

Death involves pain, suffering, shedding of blood, disease, accidents, and violence. If this were part of creation before sin, then it must have been "very good." Is all this death and suffering "very good"?

Creation was a constructive process, forming what was new and good. Death is a destructive, decay process. How can it be compatible with the process of creation?

The Bible presents death as an enemy, a curse, the power of the devil (Gen. 2:16,17: 3:17-19; 1 Cor. 15:26,51-57; Heb. 2:14,15; Rev. 21:4; 22:3). How can such a curse and an enemy be part of God's "very good" creation?

Death is part of the curse on the earth.

Death is a curse, not just on man, but upon the whole earth.

Genesis 3:17 - The ground was cursed after man sinned.

Romans 8:19-22 - The whole creation is subject to futility so it groans and labors. Through Jesus it will eventually be delivered from the bondage of corruption.

If death is a curse and all the world came under a curse as a result of sin, why would death exist before sin? If death was the order of nature in the "very good" creation before sin, then how can it be a curse?

God says: "by man came death" (1 Cor. 15:21). But long-agers claim that God created death as part of the "very good" creation. The effect is to blame God for the enemy of man, the power of Satan, and the curse of sin!

Once again long-age proponents have compromised another major truth of creation, making evolution appear more likely.

G. Creation with Apparent Age

Progressive creationists cite "scientific" evidence implying the earth is billions of years old like evolution claims. They say God would be deceitful if He made everything in six days and then left these apparent indications that creation is older.

Miracles can neither be explained nor understood by the processes studied by science.

Natural science studies the current, ongoing processes of nature. The "scientific method" is based on experiments capable of being repeated by scientists.

But the whole point of miracles is that they are impossible by natural law. And men cannot repeat them. It necessarily follows that miracles cannot possibly be explained by science.

This points out the whole problem of trying to use science to explain miracles. Miracles do not follow the laws of science! So why be surprised when "scientific" studies appear to contradict the results of a miracle? This is why those who seek scientific explanations often end up denying supernatural aspects of the miracle.

Specifically, miracles often quickly cause effects similar to what nature does gradually.

Many miracles are supernatural in that they produce results very quickly that nature cannot do quickly but might do (or seem to do) over long periods. If someone tried to explain the effect of the miracle by natural processes, he would be misled about how long it took. This is called "apparent age." But the mistake is in assuming the effect occurred by nature rather than by miracle.

Consider some examples:

John 2:1-11 - Jesus turned water to wine. This was miracle done instantaneously apart from nature. But one who viewed the wine might mistakenly assume that it resulted from months of natural processes (apparent age).

Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39 - From a few loaves and fishes, Jesus instantaneously produced food to feed thousands. Seeing the food, one might mistakenly have assumed it resulted from months of natural growth of grain and fish (apparent age).

The same point can be made regarding many other miracles, such as miraculous healings. A person might incorrectly assume these events occurred naturally over a long time. His error would be in failing to acknowledge that miracles can produce the same effect quickly.

This again is why we emphasize the miraculous time element. If one assumes long periods of time, he removes a major supernatural aspect of the miracle and is led to accept natural explanations. But if he recognizes an event to be a miracle, he learns not to expect natural explanations regarding apparent age.

Likewise, God miraculously created a mature, functioning universe (apparent age).

God created all things mature and fully functioning on the very day they were created.

Plants were mature enough to reproduce (1:11,12), so men and animals could eat their fruit (1:29; 3:2).

Heavenly bodies were created capable of immediately giving light on earth (1:14-18). Though they are "light years" away, God created them so their light that could be seen on earth from the day they were made.

Birds were mature enough to fly; both birds and fish were able reproduce on the day God made them (1:20-22).

People were capable of marrying and reproducing on the very day they were formed (1:28; 2:24).

So with all aspects of creation, each was formed mature and functioning. This is not deception; it is creation of a mature universe capable of accomplishing God's purpose.

But as with other miracles, the result would have apparent age. Had someone observed each thing immediately after it was made, it would be mature. He might mistakenly assume it was many years old, but his error would come from assuming that it resulted from natural processes rather than miracle!

This is exactly the error of those who use "scientific" evidence to argue for an old earth. Such evidence invariably assumes that the effects came from natural processes, ignoring the fact God miraculously created all things mature and functioning.

God cannot be accused of deceit, since He has plainly told us how long creation took.

God's word refers 17 times to the time element of creation. If He plainly and directly states the length of time, how can He be accused of deceit?

God used no deceit, nor has science disproved God's statements about the time element. The problem is that people refuse to believe what God plainly said about it! If people will not accept His stated word, what right have they to complain about deceit?

In short, the problem is that people believe human wisdom, ignore Divine revelation, and then criticize those who prefer to believe God!

H. The Testimony of Witnesses

Can "science" design some experiment to tell us whether George Washington was the first president of the United States? No, that is a matter of history. Natural science cannot establish the details of past events, because past events cannot be studied by repeatable experiments.

Likewise, details of creation cannot be studied by science, first because miracles do not follow the laws of science, and second because creation is a matter of history, not science. How then can we determine what did happen at creation?

Matters of history are established by the testimony of witnesses.

Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15 - Under the law plural witnesses were required to convict one of a capital crime. [Hebrews 10:28]

Matthew 18:16 - The gospel requires the same procedure to convict a Christian of sin. [2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19]

John 8:17 - Jesus endorsed this principle as evidence for His claims: the testimony of two men is true.

This is the same basis used in our courts today to establish the truth regarding past events.

This is how the Bible establishes the validity of miracles.

All miracles are matters of history, not "science." No experiment can repeat them, and they do not follow the principles of natural law. Yet we have conclusive evidence they happened.

John 20:29-31; 21:24 - We believe in miracles because of the testimony of witnesses. [2 Peter 1:13-18; 1 John 1:1-4]

Specifically, the miracle of Jesus' resurrection is established by witnesses - Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:20; 5:30-32; 10:40-42; 1 Cor. 15:1-8.

We believe in miracles, not because they can be proved scientifically, but because we have valid historical evidence that they occurred - the testimony of witnesses.

What witnesses were present at creation?

Events of creation cannot be established by human witnesses, since none were present.

Romans 1:20 - We can observe that which has been created - i.e., the universe. But this is observation, not of the events of creation, but of the effect of those events. (Psalms 19:1)

By observing what has been created, science can tell us the universe exists and how it works now. Such observations also tell us that no current law or power of nature is sufficient to cause the universe. This compels us to accept the only logical alternative, which is the existence of a supreme, living, intelligent Creator.

But since it cannot observe or duplicate the events of creation themselves, science cannot tell us the details of what happened then. Specifically, it cannot tell us how long it took. If God did it, then it was a supernatural act beyond the power of natural law and it is a fact of history. It follows that we cannot use natural law to determine how it happened or how long it took.

Genesis 1:1,2,26,27; John 1:1-3,14; Job 38:4,12 - The Bible records the testimony of the only witnesses who have testified about events at creation: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The witnesses say it happened "in six days," and we have learned that the language used by the witnesses means six literal, consecutive days.

So by eliminating natural explanations for the universe, science can lead us to accept the only sensible alternative, which is creation. But witnesses are needed to describe what happened or how long it took. The testimony of the only witnesses is found in the Bible, and we know it is their message because of the miracles it records, including fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection.

When people today contradict the Bible record about creation, they fly in the face of historic fact. They use "science," which can prove nothing about miracles or history, to contradict history. In so doing, they impugn the testimony of God about what happened, and they throw doubt on the Bible record of all miracles.

All attempts to place long ages into creation simply contradict the Bible record.

(c) Copyright 2/2002, David E. Pratte (click for our copyright guidelines)

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