I have to write something about the Genesis account of creation and some thoughts and assertions that I have heard or read in books. There are a lot of theories about the meaning or how to interpret the text. I believe it is important to the message of the gospel that the interpretation of the creation account in Genesis be understood as a literal, six 24-hour day timeframe for the creation of the heavens and the earth, and a seventh day of Sabbath rest. I cannot understand why one’s belief of the creation account is not deemed a primary and essential doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The best way I could think of is to do bullet points of what I have heard and read.
1. “Genesis chapter 1 is written in poetic language which is not meant to be understood as literal.” This bothers me. It seems to me to be a cop out, a way of trying to meld science with scripture, a way of avoiding having to do any biblical thinking. If you hold that it is a poetic discourse then it seems you give yourself an excuse to not make a definitive statement about it. But chapter 1 cannot be separated from chapter 2 or 3. In the original Hebrew there were no chapter separations. They were all one text. I also don’t understand why a poetic discourse cannot be understood in a literal manner. Where is the rule that poetry cannot carry literal meaning or implications and that only narrative/prose style writing is the only style that can hold literal meaning and historical content?
2. “The word “day”, yowm, in Hebrew can mean both a 24-hour period of time and an extended period of time. In fact, the different uses of the word are similar to the different uses of our English word “day”. The most common is to when the word references a 24-hour period. In the context of Genesis chapter one why would it mean more than a 24-hour period? The text emphasizes, makes it a point, to mention that there was evening and morning, one day. The Hebrew words for evening and morning most common usage is in the singular tense. But in the text of Genesis 1 people who want to mix evolution with the bible want to say that in this context they mean a multitude of evenings and mornings, meaning a multitude of days, known as the Gap Theory or Theistic Evolution. It seems to me that the meanings are stretched so as to fit a man-made worldview of creation and not the biblical teaching of creation, a literal six-day creation process with a Sabbath day for rest.
3. We cannot meld man-made theories with God-given eternal truth. What does the knowledge of man have to do with the infinite wisdom of God?
4. Also, there are times when God does cause trees to grow to maturity instantly. In the book of Jonah God causes a plant to grow in order to give Jonah shade.
5. The last bullet point I want to make is that what does theistic evolution or gap theory (not capitalized on purpose) imply towards the text in John 1? Does in some way impact the authority of Jesus? If all was created by Him, for Him and through Him, and without Him was not anything made, then saying He couldn’t create the universe and earth in six 24-hour days means that God is a weak God. Maybe Satan has more power than we think. Maybe Satan foiled God as He attempted to create the universe which caused God to continue to alter His plans until He finally, after billions of years and attempts, we have what we see now.
I’m sure I am missing some other major considerations. What I want to say is that a literal six 24-hour day understanding of the God’s creation of the universe and the earth is not just one for an orthodox understanding of scripture. I want to say that the six 24-hour day teaching of creation is essential to the gospel. Understanding that God has the ability to create all we see and cannot see ex nihilo, and also uncreate it when He destroys it for the new heaven and new earth, makes it easier to believe in the cross and the resurrection. The same power was employed to raise Jesus from the dead as was employed in creation.
I believe it is a matter of the utmost importance that we hold to the literal understanding of a poetic text as part of the remaining orthodox in our understanding of the gospel.