In order to find whether the world was created in six literal or symbolic days, we need to study the word “day” which is “yom” in Hebrew. We can determine how “yom” should be interpreted in Genesis 1:5-2:2 simply by examining the context in which we find the word and then comparing its context with how we see its usage elsewhere in Scripture. By doing this we allow the Scripture interpret itself.
The Hebrew word “yom” is used 2301 times in the Old Testament. Outside of Genesis 1, “yom” plus a number (used 410 times) always indicates an ordinary day, a 24-hour period. The words “evening” and “morning” together (38 times) always indicate an ordinary day. “Yom” + “evening” or “morning” (23 times) always indicates an ordinary day. “Yom” + “night” (52 times) always indicates an ordinary day.
So, the context in which the word “yom” is used in Genesis 1:5-2:2, describing each day as “the evening and the morning,” makes it quite clear that the author of Genesis meant 24-hour periods. The references to “evening” and “morning” make no sense unless they refer to a literal 24-hour day.
The Hebrews, who were never in doubt about the meaning of “yom”, began the day with sunset and ended it with the following sunset (Lev. 23:32; Deut. 16:6). And, the language of the fourth commandment leaves no doubt that the evening and morning of the creation record are the component sections of an earthly day. This commandment, referring in unmistakable words to the week of creation, declares, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Ex. 20:11). God used six literal days to create the world.
Those that cling to the idea that the days of creation were long periods of time, even thousands of years, largely find its explanation in the fact that they attempt to make the inspired creation record agree with the theory of evolution. But throughout its sacred pages, the Bible contradicts the evolution theory and rather teaches instantaneous creation as the result of words spoken by God (Genesis 1).
In His service,
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