Click for Gospel Way home page


Creation Passages: "In Six Days" and "Evening and Morning"


In this study we continue to examine the term "day" and related words that describe the time element in the Biblical creation. Specifically, we seek to determine whether the "days" of creation refer to literal 24-hour days or to long periods of time (averaging 700 million years each, so as to agree with the modern time scale adopted by evolutionists).

To see a more thorough statement of the issue, please read my previous article on the significance of the word "days" (plural) in creation passages (see www.gospelway.com/creation/). We will not repeat the statement of the issue here but will proceed with further evidence.

While the word "day" is occasionally used to refer to periods of time longer than 24 hours, such instances are a small fraction of the total. To know what a Bible word means in any particular passage, we must examine its use in context and then compare such usage to other similar contexts.

Please consider the following expressions regarding the days of creation:

"In Six Days"

Two passages state that God made everything "in six days."

Exodus 20:11 -- For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Exodus 31:17 -- It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.

As explained in previous studies, we may occasionally use the word "day" in a vaguely defined sense. However, the use of a specific number would imply that the intended meaning is more precise, specific, or exact. But then the expression "in six days" states something still more specific yet. It states that the entire event under consideration was completed in the time described: "in six days."

Our purpose here is to determine whether "in six days" refers to an undefined period of time or whether it refers specifically to literal, consecutive days. In particular, is it used in a way that could comprehend vast ages lasting many millions of years?

I have listed below what is, to my knowledge, a complete list of every passage in the Bible using an expression such as "in X days" with the Hebrew word for "day" (YOM or YOWM - Strong's number H3117) or the Greek word for "day" (HEMERA - G2250). This list was compiled from a computer word search of Strong's Hebrew/Greek text.

Here is a list of the passages:

Exodus 20:11 -- For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Exodus 31:17 -- 'It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.'"

2 Chronicles 29:17 -- Now they began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD. Then they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished.

Nehemiah 6:15 -- So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days.

Matthew 26:61 -- and said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'"

Matthew 27:40 -- and saying, "You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross."

Mark 15:29 -- And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days,

John 2:19 -- Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

John 2:20 -- Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"

Acts 20:6 -- But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.

[Consider also different but related expressions in Lev. 12:2; Num. 14:34; Luke 4:2.]

Observations about the results:

(1) The expression "in X days" is used ten times in Scripture. Every time, without exception, it refers to literal days. Never - not once - does it refer to longer periods! To take the two references to creation to be long periods of time would be to argue for a meaning which is entirely foreign to Scripture. To take them to refer to billions of years should simply be incredible to anyone who chooses to take the Bible seriously.

(2) Not only does this expression refer to literal days, but it refers to literal, consecutive, sequential days. The entire point of the expression is to state the limits of a literal time span within which an event or task was completed. This not only eliminates the day-age theory (that the days were long ages), but it totally discredits the theory that long ages occurred between the days. The clear point of the passages is to state that God completed the work of creation within the time span described: "in six days." If time intervened between the days (especially if long ages intervened), then it simply would not be true that " in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them."

Consider, for example, that several of the references describe the fact that Jesus arose "in three days" after His death (this is described as rebuilding the temple, but John 2:21,22 clearly states that the temple referred to was Jesus' body and the fulfillment was Jesus' resurrection). Do we believe that Jesus literally arose "in three days," or not? The statement is clearly intended to convey the fact that, before the end of a time span of three literal, consecutive days, the event of Jesus' resurrection had been completed.

To deny that is the meaning would be a denial of the truthfulness of Scripture, and the result would be to effectively deny one of the most foundational miracles on which our faith is based. If we cannot believe Jesus arose "in three days," why should we believe He arose at all? If we so clearly deny God's plain statements about the time element involved in the event, how can we expect people to believe the rest of what the Bible says about the event? How can we be sure the event ever even occurred?

Likewise, to claim long ages between the days of creation would be more than just making the passages figurative; it would be a denial of the truthfulness of Scripture! If we deny God's clear statements about the time element, how can we expect people to believe the rest of what the Bible says about the event? The result would be to effectively deny one of the most foundational miracles on which our faith is based. In other words, if we deny the Divinely stated time element for creation, why not deny the Divinely stated time element for the resurrection?

(3) But note what the Bible account says occurred "in six days": "in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them." That includes everything, folks! He made the heaven, the earth, and the sea; and He made "all that is in them" - i.e., all that is in the heaven, in the earth, and in the sea. That would include the heavenly bodies, the plants, the birds, the fish, the animals, and the people. In short, here is a clear affirmation that all of creation was completely formed in six literal, consecutive days. To deny it is to flatly deny Scripture.

So once again a study of the language of Scripture confirms that the original intent of the inspired writer was to state that creation occurred in six consecutive, literal days. The clear intent of Scripture is violated by all attempts to find long ages in creation.

"Evening and Morning"

Consider the passages that use "evening" and "morning" in connection with the days of creation.

As Genesis 1 describes each of the days of creation, it always defines them to consist of "evening and morning." Note:

Genesis 1:5 - God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1:8 -- And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

Genesis 1:13 -- So the evening and the morning were the third day.

Genesis 1:19 -- So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Genesis 1:23 -- So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Genesis 1:31 -- Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

So for each day, God counted the day and told us that the day consisted of evening and morning. Surely this is significant. Repetition throughout the Bible serves to emphasize. God repeated six times that the days of creation each consisted of evening and morning.

As previously discussed, we may occasionally use the word "day" in a vaguely defined sense. However, the use of a specific number would imply that the intended meaning is precise, specific, or exact. The use of six consecutive, sequential ordinal numbers is yet far more specific or precise.

Now we consider the fact that each of these consecutively numbered days is further defined to consist of "evening and morning." God does not want us to miss the point. He becomes more and more precise!

So let us consider now whether "evening" and "morning," when used together as in the context of Gen. 1, refer to an undefined period of time or whether it refers specifically to literal days. In particular, is it used in a way that could comprehend vast ages lasting many millions of years?

I have listed below what is, to my knowledge, a complete list of every passage in the Bible using the Hebrew word for "evening" (EREB - Strong's number H6153) along with the Hebrew word for "morning" (BOQER - H1242). This list was compiled from a computer word search of Strong's Hebrew/Greek text.

In the list, I have indicated which verses might possibly involve a meaning significantly longer than a literal day. They are preceded by ????. I have also categorized the verses according to the nature of the books (books of law or history as compared to prophecy, etc.). And I have summarized the results by whether they are literal days or could be longer ages. I have also indicated how many could refer to ages lasting hundreds of millions of years.

Here is a summary of the results:

Type of book Total verses Literal days Long ages?? Millions of years
OT Law 20 all none none
OT History 8 all none none
OT Poetry 5 all none none
OT Prophecy 2 ?? 2(??) none
Total 35 33+ 2(??) none

Observations about the results:

(1) Again the writings of Moses (Old Testament law) constitute the Bible section that most frequently uses both "evening" and "morning" together. Moses uses such an expression in 20 verses, and every time, without exception, he uses it to describe literal days. Never - not once - does he use it to describe longer periods! And remember that six of these examples are inspired statements defining what the days of creation mean. What are the chances that all six of them refer to long periods of time, when such a usage is never found anywhere else in Moses' writings?

(2) Further, the same is true with all writings that have the nature of history, law, or even poetry. Always, without exception, passages using "evening" and "morning" together describe literal days, never longer periods. (I will later discuss one example that some might question.)

Genesis 1 is clearly intended to be history and doctrinal instruction. But the Old Testament contains 33 verses of history, law, or even poetry that include "evening" with "morning." Every one of them refers to literal days. Why would anyone think the days of creation are not literal days?

(3) Only two verses in all the Old Testament use "evening" and "morning" together in a way that could possibly refer to periods longer than a literal day. And those verses are prophecy, not history or law. Prophecy commonly uses words in symbolic and non-literal ways, but these examples prove nothing about how the words are used in historical or doctrinal contexts.

When the Bible uses "evening" and "morning" together, the fact remains that the usage is always literal, except in symbolic prophecy. Since Bible descriptions of the days of creation are not prophecy, the only fair conclusion is that the days of creation are literal.

(4) And finally, no Bible passage - not even prophecy - uses "evening" and "morning" together in a way that could reasonably be taken to refer to ages of many hundreds of millions of years. There simply is no Bible authority whatever for such a conclusion.

Some folks attempt to make "morning" and "evening" in Genesis 1 symbolic by claiming the words refer to some general concept such as a beginning and an ending. Even if it could be proved that the words carry such a meaning in some rare occurrences elsewhere, the fact is that they do not carry such a meaning when they are used together in historic or doctrinal contexts.

"Evening" and "morning" used together describe a literal 24-hour day, except perhaps in prophecy. And they never refer to a period of hundreds of millions of years. The days of creation are again shown to be literal 24-hour days.

[A parenthetic discussion of Psalm 90:6]

Psalm 90:6 uses "morning" then later "evening" as a parable or illustration of the fact that God allows people to live and prosper, but later punishes or judges them for unfaithfulness (see the context). So the spiritual application represents an indefinite period of time. Nevertheless, I count this verse among the literal uses. Please consider:

(1) Even if this were a symbolic or non-literal usage, it is still prophecy. This is the same point made in a previous study about 2 Peter 3:8. It is a prophecy contained in a book that is not predominantly prophetic. Psalm 90:6 is a predictive description of how God judges men for their lives. So even if this were a case of "evening and morning" used non-literally, it would simply add another instance to the list of prophetic symbolic passages. It still gives no evidence whatever that the instances in Genesis 1 are non-literal, since they are clearly historic in context.

(2) However, Psalm 90:6 is actually a sort of parable or illustration. It describes a plant or flower that sprouts or blooms in the morning, then withers in the evening. This is a physical story told to teach a spiritual principle (God allows men to prosper, but later judges them for their sins).

In the physical statement, the day is literal - the morning and evening refer to a literal day. This is like Jesus' parables, such as the parable of the sower. The literal story describes a physical fact: there is literal seed, literal ground, etc. The physical story, however, is presented to teach a spiritual lesson in which the seed represents something else (the word), etc.

Likewise, Psalm 90:6 is used in context to teach a spiritual application in which the day represents a long period. Nevertheless, v6 itself describes a literal, physical truth in which the day (morning and evening) is literal. So I have classed it among literal usages.

(3) And surely no one would take the "morning and evening" of Psalm 90:6 to refer to hundreds of millions of years. So by no stretch of the imagination can it be made to harmonize with day-age theory on Genesis 1.

"Day" and "night" in the context of "evening and morning"

A few verses in Genesis 1 strengthen our conclusions about "evening and morning" by also referring to darkness and light or day and night.

Genesis 1:5 - God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Here the darkness, which is called "night," was separated from the light, which is called "day" (v4). ("Day" here obviously refers to the daylight part of the day, rather than 24 hours. Nevertheless, this is simply an alternative literal use of the word, and certainly does not refer to a long period consisting of many literal days.)

But the day/light and night/darkness are so closely associated with the evening and morning, that they appear to define the terms. This was the very first day. So from the outset of creation God defined a "day" of creation to be "evening and morning," which separate darkness from light or night from day - hence, a literal 24-hour day. Each day after that is then said to also consist of evening and morning.

Genesis 1:14-19 - On the fourth day the heavenly bodies were designated to measure time. They divided the day from the night and ruled over the light and the darkness. They were signs of seasons, days, and years. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

This again describes the daylight period of a day and the darkness period of a day. Then it again describes that day of creation as "evening and morning." The reasonable conclusion again is that the darkness and the daylight that make up a day are described by the evening and morning of the day here referred to, hence a literal 24-hour day.

Furthermore the heavenly bodies separate daylight from darkness and measure the seasons, days, and years. So "days" are distinguished from seasons and years. These "days" are clearly 24-hour days. Why should anyone take the fourth "day" (evening and morning) on which these heavenly bodies were created to mean anything other than the kind of "day" that those heavenly bodies measure? Why should we take that "day" to be many "years" long, when we have just been told that "days" are not the same as "years"?

So once again a study of the language of Scripture confirms that the original intent of the inspired writer was to state that creation occurred in six consecutive, literal days. The clear intent of Scripture is violated by all attempts to find long ages in creation.

As we continue to study the time descriptions of creation, the conclusion is strengthened as the evidence accumulates. Please examine the other articles on my web site at www.gospelway.com/creation/.

Below are definitions, translations, and a detailed list of the passages involved in this study of "evening" with "morning."

Definitions:

"Evening" (Heb. EREB - H6153):

Wilson: "to be or grow dark ... the evening, when the day begins to be obscured"

Gesenius: "evening ... at evening" (from a root which means "to set") (p. 652)

Brown, Driver, Briggs: "(sun)set, evening ... 1. a. evening, orig. sunset ... 2. (late poet.) = night" (p. 787f)

"Morning" (Heb. BOQER - H1242)

Wilson: "the first breaking forth of light; dawn of prosperity and happiness ..."

Gesenius: "(1) morning, daybreak, dawn ... so called from the breaking forth of light ... (2) Specially the next morning ... Hence, tomorrow ..." (from a root meaning "to open") (p. 137)

Brown, Driver, Briggs: "morning ... 1. morning ... a. of end of night ... b. implying the coming of dawn, and even daylight ... c. of coming of sunrise ... d. of beginning of day ... e. opp. [EREB] ... note also the formula ... and evening came and then morning Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23,31, i.e., the day ended with evening, and the night with morning ... f. oft ... in the morning ... g. fig. of bright joy after night of distress (poet.) ... h. in phrases ... 2. morrow, next day..." (p. 133f)

Translations:

EREB is translated as follows in the KJV (according to Young's Concordance): "even" (62 times), "evening" (46x), "eventide" (1), "night" (4), and a few other special cases.

BOQER is translated: "day" (3), "early" (2), "morning" (189), "morrow" (7).

The list of passages where evening and morning are used together:

Quotations are from the NJKV. If you believe I have mistakenly omitted any passages or counted incorrectly, please email me (see link below). I do not promise to respond to all email, but I will try to consider whether the numbers should be modified.

Note that "evening" in these verses is sometimes translated "twilight" or "night." Nevertheless the Hebrew word for "evening" (EREB) and the Hebrew word for "morning" (BOQER) are the words found in every verse.

Genesis 1:5 -- God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1:8 -- And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

Genesis 1:13 -- So the evening and the morning were the third day.

Genesis 1:19 -- So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Genesis 1:23 -- So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Genesis 1:31 -- Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Exodus 16:8 -- Also Moses said, "This shall be seen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD."

Exodus 16:12 -- "I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'"

Exodus 16:13 -- So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp.

Exodus 18:13 -- And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.

Exodus 18:14 -- So when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, "What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?"

Exodus 27:21 -- "In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the LORD. It shall be a statute forever to their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.

Exodus 29:39 -- "One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.

Exodus 29:41 -- "And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.

Leviticus 6:20 -- "This is the offering of Aaron and his sons, which they shall offer to the LORD, beginning on the day when he is anointed: one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a daily grain offering, half of it in the morning and half of it at night.

Leviticus 24:3 -- "Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron shall be in charge of it from evening until morning before the LORD continually; it shall be a statute forever in your generations.

Numbers 9:15 -- Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony; from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire.

Numbers 9:21 -- So it was, when the cloud remained only from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud was taken up, they would journey.

Numbers 28:4 -- 'The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, the other lamb you shall offer in the evening,

Deuteronomy 28:67 -- "In the morning you shall say, 'Oh, that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, 'Oh, that it were morning!' because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see.

1 Kings 17:6 -- The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

2 Kings 16:15 -- Then King Ahaz commanded Urijah the priest, saying, "On the great new altar burn the morning burnt offering, the evening grain offering, the king's burnt sacrifice, and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, their grain offering, and their drink offerings; and sprinkle on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice. And the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by."

1 Chronicles 16:40 -- to offer burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly morning and evening, and to do according to all that is written in the Law of the LORD which He commanded Israel;

1 Chronicles 23:30 -- to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening;

2 Chronicles 2:4 -- Behold, I am building a temple for the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to Him, to burn before Him sweet incense, for the continual showbread, for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths, on the New Moons, and on the set feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance forever to Israel.

2 Chronicles 13:11 -- "And they burn to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense; they also set the showbread in order on the pure gold table, and the lampstand of gold with its lamps to burn every evening; for we keep the command of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken Him.

2 Chronicles 31:3 -- The king also appointed a portion of his possessions for the burnt offerings: for the morning and evening burnt offerings, the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths and the New Moons and the set feasts, as it is written in the Law of the LORD.

Ezra 3:3 -- Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening burnt offerings.

Job 4:20 -- They are broken in pieces from morning till evening; They perish forever, with no one regarding.

Psalms 55:17 -- Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.

Psalms 65:8 -- They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of Your signs; You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.

Psalms 90:6 -- In the morning it flourishes and grows up; In the evening it is cut down and withers.

Ecclesiastes 11:6 -- In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.

???? Daniel 8:14 -- And he said to me, "For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed." [“Days” translates “evening and morning.”]

???? Daniel 8:26 -- "And the vision of the evenings and mornings Which was told is true; Therefore seal up the vision, For it refers to many days in the future."

[See also Gen. 49:27.]

(C) Copyright 2000, David E. Pratte
Local churches and individuals may, within limits, distribute this Bible study guide for free, but not for sale.  Web sites may link to this page but not reproduce it. For details click here for our copyright guidelines.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click for more Bible studies relating to creation or evolution.
Use your "back" key to return here.

To enroll in a free online Bible course or to receive free Bible study materials by e-mail or to read other online Bible studies, click on the links below.

Use your "back" button to return to the previous page.

Gospel Way Home Page Go to the Bible Study Online Library (the Gospel Way)

See our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) if you have questions about this site or about the author.

Bible Study Lessons
Free Online Bible Courses

MP3s
Free audio Bible
 study recordings

Free monthly Bible
 articles
by 
Email or Blog

Email
Contact Us

Free E-Books
Commentaries
or Class Books
or Electronic Books

Tweet   Pin It        RSS Feed 

Hit-meter: 15984455