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The Creation Explanation

Creation Explanation Appendix B

Biblical Chronology

Some Christian including a number of scholars of the past and present have held that the language of the Bible permits the possibility that the earth may be millions or billions of years old. While we do not question the faith of those who espouse this view may, we nevertheless cannot accept it as a reasonable interpretation of the Scriptures. This question of time in the biblical history is a complex one tat really requires more space than is available in a brief appendix, but we will offer an outline of biblical reasons for believing the earth is young.

What the Scriptures Plainly Appear to Say

Anyone who simply picks up the Bible and reads the opening chapters without preconceptions will never get the idea that vast span of time was required for the creation. Neither does the subsequent history leading to the appearance of Abraham give the impression of millions of years rather a few thousands.

The Meaning of the Word "Day"

Many have assumed that the days of creation are actually enormous periods of time, or the initial days of long periods of time. Others have proposed that they were "revelational days" the times at which the writer received the original divinely inspired report of God's work of creation. There are, however, many reasons for understanding the days of the creation week in Genesis 1 to be six successive, normal solar days.

1. In Genesis 1:14-18 the words day and night are used seven times in a context that allows no other understanding than that of normal solar days and nights. The Hebrew word for day, yom, is used in these verses four times to indicate a normal solar day. Then in verse 19, the final sentence of this short paragraph reporting the fourth day of creation, the Holy Spirit tells us, "So the morning and evening were the fourth day." It is inconceivable that any author would use a word four times in a paragraph to signify a solar day, and then without any signal in the context, use the same word to signify 500 million years.

2. The expressions morning and evening are each used more than one hundred times in the Old Testament, and they always refer to normal days.

3. The word day occurs over two hundred times elsewhere in the Old Testament with ordinals, i.e., first, second, third, etc. In all of these cases outside of the first chapter of Genesis, the reference is to a normal day.

4. The Hebrew word for day and its plural, yom and yamim, appear in the Old Testament over 2240 times. In 90 percent of these the King James Version gives the translation day or days. In the other 10 percent yom appears in figures of speech signifying time periods other than a normal days or days, but the context always determines the meaning. And there is no instance in which the usage of yom justifies ever using the word to signify a vast period of time, millions or billions of years. In 65 instances yom or yamim are translated time or times. Again, the context controls the translation, and the "times" are never millions or billions of years. In summary it may be said that there is in the Hebrew Old Testament not the slightest justification to be found for interpreting the word yom in Genesis 1 to mean a vast period of geologic time.1 The above conclusions are fully supported by an excellent, detailed technical analysis of the usage of yom made by ???????, who is the librarian of the Institute for Creation Research.2

5. In Exodus 20:8-11 a reason for the fourth Commandment is given. Men shall work six days in a week and rest on the seventh because the Creator made all things in six days and rested the seventh. it is difficult to see how the Author of the inspired Scriptures can mean anything other than a creation week of six successive normal days. To conclude other wise is to rob language of any certain meaning.

A "Gap" Between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?

Many Christian have held this view, probably for the most part because it has for many decades been promoted in the footnotes of the Scofield Reference Edition of the Bible. Once again we feel that we must disagree with many of our brethren whom we love and respect in the Lord, for we believe there are too many weighty reasons for rejecting this interpretation. Space permits listing only a few of these reasons.

1. There is no hint of such a gap in the text of Genesis 1:1, 2. Surely if there were a vast period of time with momentous events on the primeval earth leading to a judgment and cataclysmic destruction, there would be some clue in the text, but there is none. A strange kind of exegesis is required to read a great time gap between these two verses.

2. Some propose that the word hayetha should be translated "became" rather than "was" in verse 2. While this is a possibility, another word is normally used for "was." Hayetha is translated "was" about 4900 times in the Old Testament and "became" only 64 times.

3. If this gap is used to explain the geological strata and the greater part of the fossil record, death was in the world on a massive scale before Adam. This appears to contradict Romans 5:12.

4. Finally, it is difficult to see how God could, during the creation week, repeatedly pronounce His handiwork "good" and His finished creation "very good" if the rocks carried a burden of fossilized evidence from sin, rebellion, and judgment of a previously created order, and if a fallen angel, Satan, the author of that rebellion, were lurking somewhere in the shadows.

Interpretation of the Biblical Genealogies

The construction of a biblical chronology depends upon the interpretation of the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. If these genealogies are assumed to be reporting direct father-son relationships, the resulting chronology places the creation at about 4000 B.C., as in the traditional chronology of Bishop Ussher first published in 1654. there is, however, evidence that the Hebrew expression translated "beget" does not always refer to a direct father-son relationship, but that it can also signify a more distant connection. This led some to propose that the listed patriarchs were heads of dynasties perhaps hundreds of thousands of years long. This, however, makes the genealogies like rubber and reduces biblical chronology to absurdity.

One unique contribution (Chapter 8, reference 1) adopts as the interpretive principle the idea that each successive named patriarch was born the same year as his predecessor and was of his blood line. the application of this assumption leads to a chronology that places the creation at about 11,000 B.C., the Flood at about 5000 B.C.

Another approach makes use of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. This is a translation from the ancient Hebrew into Greek dating to about two centuries before Christ, and it has somewhat different numerical data for the ages of the patriarchs. a chronology built primarily on the Septuagint information places creation at about 5650 B.C. and the flood at 4000 B.C. It is the present authors' opinion that further progress in biblical studies may well occur that will confirm one or the other of these lines of interpretation.

In any event, it is clear that the Bible teaches that the age of the earth is to be measured in thousands of years, not in millions. Probably the majority of informed students of the problems of relating creation to science would consider that a date for creation of around 10,000 B.C. is not out of line with the scriptural account, and that this would correlate satisfactorily with the essential data of the sciences interpreted in terms of biblical catastrophism.




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