by Steven L. Ross
Editor's Note: A number of explanations have been proposed over the centuries for the ``days'' described in Genesis 1-2. The following article, excerpted from Steven L. Ross's book Genesis Said It First (second edition, 1991) describes one such explanation. Like the ``gap theory'' models that were discussed in Issue 1 of Grace and Knowledge, this is an ``old earth'' model that still understands the days of Genesis 1-2 as literal twenty-four hour days. A similar model is presented in Creation Revealed in Six Days by P.J. Wiseman (Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, Ltd., 1948).
The Seven Days of Revelation theory, also called the ``Six Day Revelation about Creation'' theory, varies the Day-Age approach. Basically, it views the seven days of Genesis 1 not as seven days of creation, but rather as seven successive 24 hour days of revelation to Moses about God's acts of creation. It views the phrase at the end of each section of the creation story, that says, ``...and the evening, and the morning were the day,'' as a scribal note recording on what time of which day God gave each revelation.
Naturally, this extreme departure from the traditional view of the days of Genesis offers just too big a pill for many to swallow. It strays too far from the Creation Story as their Sunday School teacher presented it to them on her flannel board all those years ago.
All together, it would seem much too cute a twist on the passage to be taken seriously if it were not that the theory points to at least five other things in the Bible that support its view.
Five Biblical Supports
Firstly, it focuses on the Hebrew word mla'ktow, translated as ``work'' in Genesis 2:2-3: ``And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made....'' Now, the Old Testament has many Hebrew words translated as ``work''. However, mla'ktow is an inflection of the word mla'ak, which is consistently translated as ``angel'' throughout the Old Testament.
Since we could also translate angel as ambassador, here we could translate mla'ktow as a deputation, a delegated task, or even an angelic revelation. We see it used in that sense in Haggai 1:13: ``Then spake Haggai the Lord's messenger in the Lord's MESSAGE unto the people,....'' This supports the suggestion that Genesis 1 records six days of an angelic message about God's creation.
Secondly, a special seven-day ceremony took place just before Moses first instructed Israel about the Sabbath.
Nothing in the Bible suggests that the children of Israel knew anything about a seventh day Sabbath rest before they crossed the Red Sea. As slaves in Egypt, forced to work every day without distinction, any conflict over a divinely mandated rest every seven days would almost certainly have made its way into the Biblical account. Yet, glaringly, the Bible says nothing about any such conflict.
However, immediately after the crossing of the Red Sea, in the Wilderness of Sin, in Exodus 16:22-30 we find Moses scolding the Children of Israel for attempting to gather manna on the Sabbath. This implies that something had happened between the flight from Egypt and the Crossing of the Red Sea, leaving the Children of Israel instructed on the creation story.
So, what does the Bible say happened during that time? In Exodus 12:16-20 we see that God had commanded that the Children of Israel observe a seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. In this case it followed immediately after that first Passover, the day after they left Egypt.
Now, outside of the many spiritual lessons we find in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we should remember that unleavened bread is essentially way-bread, easy-to-carry food, for travelers to eat while on the road. Clearly, the Children of Israel had celebrated a seven-day feast while on the road from their Egyptian homes to the Red Sea (Ex. 13:20).
All this supports the suggestion that immediately before Israel began to commemorate the creation story with a seventh-day rest, a special seven-day event had taken place.
Thirdly, if the revelation were indeed given during Israel's trek out of Egypt, then the only two times available for such a revelation would be just after sunset after a long day's march, and just after waking in the morning, before starting the next march. The Hebrews reckoned each day as beginning at sunset.
It takes the phrase, ``...and the evening and the morning...'' as much more than a kind of poetic device to emphasize the 24-hour nature of the days of creation. Instead, it approaches the phrase more literally, as a statement of exactly when during the day the revelation was given, morning and evening, as opposed to night or daylight.
Note that ``the evening and the morning'' formula is conspicuously absent on the Seventh Day. This would make sense, since the marching exodus of slaves would have rested that day. They would have had no special limitation to either evening or morning, since they neither broke nor set-up camp on that seventh day.
Fourthly, the appearance of the pillar of a cloud by day and fire by night would provide the revelational context.
One day out from Rame'ses, the pillar of a cloud by day and fire by night makes its first recorded appearance (Ex. 13:21). This one day delay would coincide with the beginning of the first Feast of Unleavened Bread.
This raises the question, ``What kind of introduction did that pillar make for itself?'' Did it simply arrive and do nothing but drift and glow?
We should not underestimate the impressiveness of that cloud. It was huge enough to provide shade by day and heat at night for millions of Israelites. Furthermore, when the cloud settled to the ground between Israel and Pharaoh's pursuing army, that army could not find a way around.
In that context, immediately after that first feast of unleavened bread, and just before the crossing of the Red Sea, Exodus 14:19 ties the ``pillar of the cloud'' to an angel: ``And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them.''
Interestingly enough, the word translated as ``pillar'' here, Strong's 5982 ammood, literally meant a stand, as in a stage or platform from which to speak or perform.
Exodus 16:10-11 refers to the cloud in that sense: ``And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud, And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying,....''
This brings us to the heart of the Seven Days of Revelation tradition. It proposes that the seven days recorded in Genesis are in fact a record of what God visually revealed to Moses, and possibly all the hosts of Israel, from the ``stage of fire'' during the ``evenings and the mornings'' on the six traveling days of that first Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Fifthly and finally, note the singular form of the word ``day'' in Genesis 2:4, which seems to refer to all seven days of creation. All the other traditions suppose that God simply uses the word ``day'' loosely here: ``These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God Made the earth and the heavens.''
However, look at the grammatical structure of the verse. Taken literally, it seems to say that the entire story of Adam and Eve (the chapter called the ``Generations of the Heaven and the Earth'') occurred on the first day of creation (the day-singular-that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens).
This seemingly absurd meaning is further emphasized by the phrase ``when they were created'' found in the middle of the verse. Naturally, since this literal, grammatical interpretation seemed to make no sense whatsoever, traditional Bible scholars tended to pass it by and look for a different sense for the verse.
However, if we view the days of Creation as seven consecutive days of revelation to Moses, then Genesis 2:4 can literally function as a statement that God revealed the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden and the Fall of Man to Moses during the same day that he gave his first evening and morning revelation about creation to Israel.
In contrast to how badly other interpretations fit the verse, this more literal approach fits this verse so well that Genesis 2:4 provides a major support for the Seven Days of Revelation view of the Creation Story.
Two Biblical Objections
Exodus 20:11 says, ``For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.''
First, Ex. 20:11 seems to declare fairly clearly that God actually made, not just revealed, his Creation in those six days. Reasonably, in light of this verse, many hesitate to accept the Seven Days of Revelation position. However, let's look at the following verses:
· Exodus 14:13 (On the bank of the Red Sea): ``And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day...''
· Judges 6:17 (Gideon to the Angel): ``...shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.''
· Psalm 86:17: ``Shew me a token for good....''
· Psalm 88:10: ``Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead?''
The word translated here as ``shew'' is the same word translated as ``made'' in Exodus 20:11 and, for that matter, in all of Genesis 1. The Hebrew word `asah means to make or produce in the broadest sense, and closely resembles the word for ``to shine.'' If we substitute ``shew'' for the word ``made'' in Exodus 20:11, we get ``For in six days the LORD shewed (shined) heaven and earth.''
This actively supports the idea that God showed (displayed/shined) the creation story to all of Israel from the pillar of fire during the first Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Second, let's look at a passage that some say contradicts any form of Old Earth Creationism. I Corinthians 15:21-22: ``For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.''
Traditionally, many teach that since death is an evil thing, death did not exist before the fall of man. They see I Cor. 15:21 as a clear statement that it was the fall of man that brought death into the world. Therefore, they cannot accept ages of animals living and dying long before the creation of Man. They believe that God originally created the lion and the T. Rex as vegetarians.
But look at the whole passage. If we take vs. 22 to say, ``For as in Adam all animals die,'' then we have to take the rest of the verse to say, ``even so in Christ shall all animals be made alive.'' Despite the popular fable about ``doggie heaven,'' few people seriously propose that every rat and cat will stand with us in line at the last judgment. Obviously, the topic in this passage is human death, and not death in general.
Furthermore, while human death is a consequence of sin, biological death in general is not a sinful thing. Otherwise, God sinned in inflicting it, and Christ sinned in accepting it. In reality, the biological cycle of animal birth and death is a good thing. Otherwise, the world by now would be ten miles deep in just kittens alone.
Next, note that only the Garden of Eden contained something called ``The Tree of Life.'' The very presence of this Tree implied that, in contrast, death functioned on the rest of the planet. Think about it. If God had made the animals inherently immortal, then what purpose did that Tree serve?
Finally, note that God warned Adam that he would ``surely die'' if he ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If death did not exist before this time, then this statement would have been meaningless to Adam.
For example, the popular Christian philosopher C. S. Lewis unsuccessfully wrestles with this dilemma in his fantasy novel Perelandra, which replays the temptation of Eve on Venus. Lewis has the book's Satanic figure attempt to convince Venus's Eve that her death would be a wonderful and noble thing. Meanwhile, Ransom, the protagonist, experiences great frustration trying to figure out a way to convince Eve that she really does not want to die. Eventually, Ransom gives up the effort at verbal persuasion as impossible, and wins the argument by physically assaulting with the Satanic figure.
So while many teach that no death preceded the fall of man, we see that the idea has no real support in the Bible itself. It is just a tradition, and not a very well thought out tradition at that.
About the Author: Steven L. Ross grew up on a ranch in California's Salinas Valley and now lives in Tempe, Arizona. On the background of this article, Mr. Ross reports,
``As a College Science Student in 1968 I set out, armed with lexicons and a King James Bible to see how the Creation Story held up to modern cosmology and paleontology. I expected to quickly expose the text in as simple myth. However, word followed word, and verse marched into verse for three weeks, leaving me shaking. I would seize on some absurdity of the King James Text, sure I had won the contest, only to have the Hebrew text nail my every argument. I began as a modern skeptic, and ended as Bible-thumping Evangelical. I became a Christian not in spite of, but rather because of my understanding of modern science.
I eventually graduated from Bethany Bible College with majors in Bible and Psychology (they offered neither science nor math). During the Jesus Movement of the Early 1970's I helped start several Christian Coffee Houses around California's Monterey Bay. From there, my wife and I went to Oregon and founded The Ross's Shelter/Evaluation Center for teenage wards of the state. In 1980 I went back to the Monterey Bay to teach the one-room High School section of a small Christian school until 1999, writing Genesis Said It First as a text for my classroom.''
Mr. Ross can reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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