If you believe the scripture is true, then you must subordinate all other sources to second place. So, if science seems to contradict Scripture, then it must be science that is wrong. Since no man was there at the beginning, we can only guess what happened. But since God was there, and he told us what happened, we should believe God, not men.
Most Christians have heard the argument that the word "day" in Genesis does not mean a literal 24 hour type day, but rather that the "days" represent 6 great ages of time. This is often referred to as the day-age theory. Many people have wondered whether this argument is valid. It is true, after all, that the Hebrew word for day (yowm) can have several different meanings, depending upon its context. However, it is abundantly clear that all creation took place during the time period of six, normal, 24-hour type days.
The Hebrew word for day (yowm) can have several different meanings. The meaning is always clear when read in context. The first reference to "day" in the creation account is in the context of a 24 hour cycle of light and dark, "And God called the light day, and the darkness He call night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day." When the word "day" is used with a number, such as day one, day two, etc., it always refers to a literal, 24 hour type day. This is true 100% of the time. This holds true all 359 times that "day" is used with an ordinal modifier (number) outside of Genesis chapter 1. There is no Biblical indication that "day" is used differently in the beginning chapter of Genesis than it is throughout the rest of the book, or the rest of the Old Testament.
The "days" in Genesis 1 are always specifically used in connection with the words "evening and morning." This phrase is used with "day" 38 times in the Old Testament, not counting Genesis chapter 1. Each time, without exception, the phrase refers to a normal 24 hour type day. It is also important to note that this phrase is never used in the Old Testament in a manner which is obviously metaphoric.
When the phrase "evening and morning" is coupled with a numbered modifier and the word "yowm", there is no stronger way of specifying a normal 24 hour day. The "days" of Genesis 1 include both these indications. Genesis is describing six Earth rotations, not an unspecified period of billions of years.
Further evidence is given in Exodus 20:11. This passage, written in stone by the finger of God Himself, states, "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day." God, the only witness to the creation events, testifies that all things were created within a literal six day period.
The "days" in Genesis 1 cannot possibly refer to "ages", due to the fact green plants and fruit trees were created before the sun (Gen.1:11,16). Science of botany proves "day" means day because plants and trees could not survive without light for photosynthesis. Science of zoology proves "day" means day, because many plants, animals, and insects have a symbiotic relationship. Many species are fertilized by insects in a mutually beneficial arrangement that supplies food to the insects while transporting pollen from flower to flower. (Note: on the first day, when God said, "Let there be light," it was not sunlight because there would have been no occasion for God to separate the light from the darkness, as the opacity of the earth would have done it. Sunlight was created on the fourth day).
Scriptural "eons" are found no where in scripture. If eons are allowed by scripture, great amounts of time must be placed in the text. Where? Only three possibilities. Before, during or after creation week. All three have been desperately tried.
1) Before the creation week?
The claim that the word "was" (hayah) in Gen.l:2 should be translated "became" is false. This word is never translated as "became" in any bible translation.
Also, there’s a false distinction between "created" (bara) & "made" (asah). Gen.1:1 "created". The rest was "made", Ex.20:11. These words are used interchangeably, Gen.1:21,25,26,27; 5:1-2.
Exo.20:11 says the earth and everything in it in was made in 6 days, therefore neither earth nor anything in it existed prior to those 6 days. 1 Cor.15:45, 47 says the "first man" was Adam, so this excludes a pre-Adamic race.
2) During the creation week?
"Day" (yowm) is precisely defined when first used in Gen.1:5. "Day" (yowm) is defined for each creation day (same before the sun as after the sun in Gen.1:8-31). "Days" are used in contrast to "years" in Gen.1:14.
3) After creation week?
Inspiration affirms man was here from the beginning. Mark.10:6, "from beginning of creation." Rom.1:20, "seen…understood" since creation of world. Luke 11:49-51, "from foundation of the world....Adam"
Your Questions Answered
1) Was physical death the penalty imposed upon man when God said, "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17)?
Answer: No, this is speaking of spiritual death. Physical death was not a penalty at all. All physical, living things will eventually decay and die. Without using any pre-conceived beliefs, let's take a closer look at:
Genesis 3:19, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
Notice it says that man will have to physically labor to get his bread. And it says he will do this, "until he returns to the ground." This verse does not say he will return to the dust because he sinned. On the contrary, this verse explain why man will return to the ground, it says the reason for his death in this verse! "for (because) out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." This verse says that because man was taken from the dust, he will return to dust. This is the reason given for man's death. It says nothing about returning to the ground because of his sin, but because he was taken from the dust.
Genesis 3:5, "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."
We must let scripture interpret scripture. This is the same "in the day" as mentioned in Genesis.2:17, speaking to the same Adam and Eve, in the same context. What better way to interpret Genesis 2:17 than seeing how the phrase "in the day" is used here in the very next chapter?
Genesis 3:7, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
Notice, "in the day" they ate, the prophesy about their eyes being opened happened! There eyes were not opened 900 years later, but in the very same day they ate the fruit! Just like Genesis 3:5 says. It's the same 24 hour period!
Scripture has just given the definition of "in the day" as used in the same exact context, speaking of the same exact day, specking of the same tree, as Genesis 2:17. "In the day" means in the very same day in Genesis 3. This is proof of how "day" should be interpreted in Genesis 2:17. All the evidence points to a 24 hour day when letting scripture interpret itself.
I feel too many of us overly-exaggerate the importance of the physical consequences of the Fall of Adam, and fail to focus on the spiritual implications. I do not deny there are physical consequences associated with man's sin. The question is whether physical death was the "Death" God judicially threatened on the day of Adam's disobedience, or whether it is merely the natural consequence of being a creature of God and made from dust. Sin killed them spiritually in their relationship with God. It not only put them in a condemned state of "death", but also took them out of God's presence. If physical death was the "death" God threatened Adam with, then the serpent told the truth (Genesis 3:4) and God lied. Adam didn't die physically on that day, but he did die spiritually in his relationship to God. It is that spiritual death that is the focus of redemption. It also has physical implications, but the redemptive focus is still on the spiritual relationship with God that is being restored.
Jesus nailed the " penalties" for our sins to the cross (Colossians 2:14). Physical death is a planned, "natural" consequence of being a creature of God and living on earth. The seed analogy (1 Corinthians 15:35ff) shows that the outer shell is not preserved or resuscitated. It dies and decays. It is still subject to that consequence of being made from dust. The inner man rises into God's presence with a new kind of body after the outer shell dies. It is a different kind of body. The outer shell is not a part of the new body that rises out of the dust. The outer shell of the seed is not "the body which is to be." (1 Corinthians 15:37), "But God gives it a ... body of its own." (1 Corinthians 15:38).
Christ's resurrection reversed that curse of spiritual death which hung over all mankind because of Adam's sin. That spiritual death robbed us of immortality and fellowship with God in His presence. Jesus' resurrection restored the fullness of life (immortality) and access to the fellowship and presence of God (the paradise that man had lost). The Bible does not say "sin is the transgression of Adam", it says, at 1 John 3:4, "...sin is the transgression of the law. " To transgress the law is sin...it is not a sin to be born. If physical death is a penalty, it is a penalty because of the transgression of somebody else (Adam), but God does not punish us because of the sin of our fathers, but because of our own sins.
Physical life is not immortal; only the spirit is:John 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
Romans 8:10, "...but the spirit is life because of righteousness."
2 Corinthians 3:6, "...but the spirit giveth life. "
Galatians 6:8, "...he that soweth to the spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. "
It is the spirit that gives life everlasting. Physical bodies do not have eternal life, all physical properties will eventually decay. All physical bodies will eventually die, or transform.
2) But the phrase "in the day" cannot mean within 24 literal hours, because it is used in 1Kings 2:36ff of Solomon and Shimei. The idea is the moment Shimes went out of the city, he was under the sure penalty of death. It was not necessary for Solomon to actually execute him on that same day. Indeed, since he was killed only after he went to Gath for his servants and came back, I don't know if Solomon could have physically done the execution in that day.
Answer: This passage is not a comparable verse to Genesis 2:17. First, I will explain how "on that day" in 1 Kings 2:37-42 does actually mean in that very same day. Secondly, I will show that, even if Shimei was not killed in that very day, this does not contradict what King Solomon said, because he did not say Shimei would die in that day!
Let's look at the facts first in 1 Kings 2. Solomon told Shimei not to leave Jerusalem (verse 37). So Shimei stayed in Jerusalem (verse 38). After 3 years, his servants informed the king of Gash that he was going to leave Jerusalem (verse 39). Now, in one day, Shimea went to Gath, got his servants, and came back to Jerusalem (verse 40). Solomon eventually found out (verse 41). And killed him. These are the facts.
Now, the question is, could it have been possible for Shimea to go back and forth to Gath from Jerusalem in the same day, and have Solomon find out and kill him, that same day? Yes, there was more than enough time for everything to have happened that very same day, and the scripture indicates nothing to the contrary.
First of all, let's look at a map of where Jerusalem is, and where Gath is. Gath is only 23 miles away from Jerusalem. Could Shimea have gone to Gath and back to Jerusalem in a 24 hour period? Yes. Shimei didn't walk, but rode an ass (verse 40). How fast can a donkey go? The Funk and Wagnall's Encyclopedia says "a donkey can travel 15 miles per hour, for 2 hours, without food or water." This means he would have made it to Gath in about 1 hour 45 minutes! Which would be 3 and a half hours riding time round trip. Shimea probably went to Gath and back as fast as he could, because he knew he'd die if he got caught! Dear reader, wouldn't you go as fast as you could if you knew you'd die if caught?
However, let's say he traveled only 5 miles per hour. This would mean it would take 5 hours one way, 5 hours back. 10 hours traveling time. This allows 14 hours to spare (which allows time to eat, find his servants, and give the donkey rest).
Now that we know he made this trip the same day, could it have been possible for Solomon to find out and kill him the same day? Yes. Let's assume that Shimea took a total of 20 hours (instead of just 10 hours) to travel round trip (this is more than fair). This would leave 4 hours from the time Shimei returned to Jerusalem, to the time of his death. Solomon could easily have called for Shimea, and Shimea arrive at Solomon's place, within minutes of his arrival. But let's say it took Solomon's' messengers an hour to find Shimei, then another hour to arrive back at Solomon's place. That leaves 2 more hours to talk to Shimea and kill him.
So, considering the short distance between Gath and Jerusalem, it is very probable that all this happened the very same day. There is nothing in these verses which indicates it did not happen the very same day.
For arguments sake, let's say that Shimei was not killed the same day. Did Solomon say he would surely die the same day? No, he did not. This is what he said:
1 Kings 2:37, "For it shall be, that on the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain that thou shalt surely die: thy blood shall be upon thine own head."
Solomon said that on that day, he would know that he would die. Just that he would know it, but not necessarily that he would die on that day. Unlike Genesis 2:17, which says, "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Do you see the difference? One verse says you will die that same day, the other verse says you will know that you will die. For example, to say, "In that day, you will know that this flashlight will need batteries," is not the same as, "In that day, this flashlight will need batteries." To have a knowledge of an act is not the act itself.
These two verses are phrased very differently, and this is why it is not a good verse to compare Genesis 2:17 to.
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