Challenging Questions People Ask
Lesson 6Is a Day a Thousand Years?
This week we’ll continue our study, which I’ve titled “Challenging Questions People Ask”, and I want us to give some thought to a question I’ve been asked many times: "Did God create the earth in seven literal days, or is it true, as Peter the Apostle wrote, that to God, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day?"
Much has been studied and written about the origins of man, everything from Creation Science to the Science of Evolution and even Theistic Evolution and Intelligent Design all trying to explain how we got here and perhaps even where we’re headed. While we won’t be studying these various forms of “science” in this lesson, let me be clear from the onset that I don’t believe any of them are actually a “science”; and more importantly, I believe that God created everything, including the spiritual beings. Everything else is man’s attempt at trying to explain the unexplainable.
In all of the attempts at evolutionary science, no one has ever been able to explain how it all began, where the first particle or primordial ooze came from, not how it came about. Even more importantly, the purpose of mankind and the creation as a whole can only be truly understood through the belief that God created all of it, and us; and that the universe in which we live is not here by accident, but rather is part of a grand plan of which we have a part.
Rather than use this lesson to debate evolution, intelligent design, the big bang theory, theistic evolution and so on, we’ll focus on something more specific to those who do believe that God created everything – that question being: was it actually done in seven literal days or are there other reasonable explanations? For example, are the seven days figurative representations of seven eras or epochs in which God created each piece of the creation in stages?
The real answer is that since none of us were present the day God began creating, we can only rely on two things: what God tells us in the Bible, and what we can physically see or test of the physical world in which we now live. Personally I believe that this is important for me, as I believe we are to take the scriptures as God’s Holy and inspired word, while making use of proper hermeneutics – a fancy word for examining and translating documents by first considering the context, historical setting, and grammatical structure. (For example, a poem in a foreign language would be interpreted differently than a land contract, and both would need the background context in which they were written in order to make a proper translation.)
I also believe that how you interpret the creation days, affects your view and understanding of God and His word -- which means that the question of literal versus symbolic days will affect how you look at much of scripture.
So let’s use what we have available to us -- God’s word and the physical sciences -- to see if we can arrive at a reasonable and defensible answer.
- Write down brief definitions of Carbon Dating and Radiometric Dating:
- Carbon Dating
- Radiometric Dating
- Why is either of these important to determining whether God created the earth in seven literal days or seven eras?
- What are the shortcomings of these measurements?
- Is measuring the erosion of rock and earth by running water helping to age places like the Grand Canyon, which is said to carved by the Colorado River and took tens of millions of years? What do places like Mount St. Helens and Burlingame Canyon tell us?
- Read 2 Peter 3:8. What is Peter telling us in this verse?
- Now read 2 Peter 3:7-9. What is Peter telling us?
- Where else in the Bible does it tell us about a day equaling one thousand years? Write down the verses here:
- Read the following and briefly describe what happens in each one:
- Exodus 4:3-5
- Exodus 16:1-16
- 1 Kings 17:7-16
- Exodus 20:11
- John 2:8-10
- If God can create anything and everything that is physical in an instant as though it was either full grown, or mature, or harvested fresh; doesn’t that say something for His ability to create all of this from nothing in an instant? Still not convinced? How about all of the miracles, hundreds -- maybe even thousands -- done by Him and by Jesus? Instant recovery of sight, the lame healed, the dead raised, the Red Sea split, and so on -- miracle after miracle, the impossible becomes the possible with God. Can you think of some things that God did take a thousand or more years to do?
I believe a credible argument can be made that when it comes to God’s plan of salvation for mankind, His patience is immeasurable. This is witnessed by the fact that before we were created, Christ knew that he would need to come down as man, suffer and die and be raised again -- a plan that has taken thousands of years to unfold. As Peter tells us, we are not to reckon this as slowness on God’s part, but rather, we are to see it as God’s great patience and his desire that no one fall into judgment and perish -- wanting all mankind to be saved and to spend an eternity with Him in heaven.
In looking at all of the miracles in the Bibles and in looking at other texts within the Bible related to time, including the route word used for day in Genesis I believe the seven days are all literal. I believe God created man and woman as grown, mature human beings, not as embryos that eventually mutated or grew into humans. I believe he created all things in the day in which He said and on the seventh day He rested, just as He commands us to, and I believe that if God is capable of all of that He’s more than capable of saving you and I and preparing for all of us a new heaven and new earth that will last an eternity.
Have a great week everyone and thanks for studying with us.