Genesis 1 – Are the Creative Days Literal Days? (r-blogger creation)

The days of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 are literal, but literal “days” in the Bible are not always 24 hours long. Genesis 1 uses the word “day” to express at least three time lengths (we believe four). Each “day” is literal, but the time lengths are different.

Genesis 1:5 uses the word “day” to express two different time lengths.

Genesis 1:5 God called the light Day (avg 12 hours — John 11:9), and the darkness he called Night. There was evening and there was morning, one day (undisclosed length).

Both of these references to “day” are literal, but they are not both the same time length.

The average 12 hour literal “day” is again spoken of Genesis 1:14,16,18. However, the plural “days” is also used in Genesis 1:14, which refers to literal days of 24 hours each.

Then in Genesis 2:4 the whole six days of creation are referred to as one day. All of the expressions of “day” and “days” are speaking of literal days, but they are not all the same length in time.

Considering that the length of the creative days is not indicated, I believe that each day represents a long period of time (perhaps thousands, or even millions, or even billions of years), each with a beginning, designated an evening, and each being brought to fullness, represented by the morning. With such an understanding, the “evening” and “morning” might be considered symbolic, but the days themselves are literal days.(Nevertheless, one might also consider the “evenings/mornings” themselves literal in the setting given; just different from what we normally think of as evening and morning.) There are six literal days of creation listed, none of which are stated to be 24 hours long, nor are we told that each of the days are equal to each other in length.

Believing as we do, that the six literal days of creation are extremely long periods of time, there are at least four different time periods, and maybe more, if each of the creative days does not represent equal time lengths.

The Six Days of Creation

Bible Chronology and Bible Time Prophecy

Bible Chronology, of itself, is not time prophecy; however, since Bible time prophecy is closely associated with one’s understanding of Bible chronology,  many often confuse the two as though they are one and the same.

As most Bible Students know, Bible chronology and time prophecy has been a subject of disagreement amongst Bible Students, even in the days of Russell. We do not believe that Bible chronology or one’s understanding of time prophecy is a matter that should bring a division amongst Christians. To allow such to cause division is, in effect, as Paul stated, a sign of carnal thinking. See our study on Sectarianism.

Before proceeding, we need to clarify a misperception that many, especially amongst those who oppose Russell, have concerning Russell.  Some have attributed the attitude of the JWs to Russell, and have claimed that Russell taught that any who disagreed with him was not Christian; this is the thought that we have found repeated concerning Russell on many websites, blogs and forums. Some put it that Russell taught that if you did not accept what he taught, that you would not be saved. This kind of reasoning is actually attributing the later teachings of Joseph Rutherford to Brother Russell. Russell never taught that one had to agree with him or else that one is not a Christian; he certainly never taught that one had to agree with him in order to be saved (as some of his opponents have claimed).

One great question that prevailed in the time of Russell, and is still with us to this day, is whether Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 606 (actually 607) BC, or at another date, often given as somewhere between 589 to 585 BC. Most historians, based on findings and conclusions that archaeologists reach from those findings, believe that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587, not 607. However, we believe that the date 607 for the destruction of Jerusalem harmonizes the Bible so well, that we would find it hard to ignore that harmonization. We should remember that conclusions reached by archaeologists often conflict with the Bible, and most archaeologists, based on their conclusions, reject the Bible as being worthy of consideration as far as historical chronology is concerned. Many Christians, nevertheless, wish to accept the conclusions of archaeologists regarding when Jerusalem was destroyed, but they often reject the conclusions of these same “experts” as related to many other things that would not harmonize with the Bible.  At any rate, we have very high regard, and we certainly have great love, for many of our brothers who reject the date of 607 BC as being the date of Jerusalem’s destruction, but because we have found, from our own studies, that the date 607 harmonizes so well with the Bible as a whole, as Russell presented in Volumes 2 and 3 of Studies in the Scriptures, that we accept that 607 comes closer to harmonizing with the scriptural record itself than 587. Nevertheless, like Russell, we are not dogmatic concerning this, and allow room that we could be wrong, and that there is always the possibility that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 or thereabouts.

Some have proposed that if Jerusalem was not destroyed in 607, then the date 1914 is wrong. No, this would be the wrong conclusion. There are many Bible Students who believe that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587, or 589, or some other date, but who still hold to the date 1914. The date — 1914 — itself is not dependent on accepting that Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 607 BC.

Some have proposed that Christians should ignore time prophecy, or as they usually refer to it, “date setting”.  The claim is usually based on Jesus’ words concerning the passing away of the present heavens and earth. It is claimed that, due to what Jesus said, no one can know when Christ is to return, although Jesus did not use those words pertaining to the beginning of his parousia, but of his coming to bring about the passing away of the present heavens and earth.  Regardless, Jesus included himself as one not knowing the day and hour. Are we to think that Jesus still does not know the day and hour of the beginning of his parousia? Whenever he begins his parousia, will he not know that the his parousia had begun? Furthermore, Jesus told his followers to watch, but does not watching include a study of prophecy, including the study of the Biblical prophecies that relate to periods of time?

Although at the time of the writing of the original editions of  The Studies in the Scriptures, Brother Russell thought that the present heavens and earth would pass away in 1914, ten years before 1914 (in 1904), Russell came to realize that 1914 would be the beginning, not the end, of the time of trouble; thus, his expectation from 1904 onward was the opposite on the matter as he had previously thought.

Elsewhere, we have presented the Bible evidence that Jesus’ parousia begins while the world is ignorant and going about their everyday affairs unaware of Jesus’ parousia.

See our studies:

Christ’s Parousia – Presence or Arrival?

The World Will See Me No More

The Parousia, the Seventh Trumpet and the Harvest

Astrape in Luke 17:22; Matthew 24:27

CTR’s Expectations Concerning 1914

Beginning of the Time of Trouble – Quotes From Russell

Below are some links to various views of Bible Students regarding Bible chronology and time prophecy. Some of them may appear to be dogmatic; others are much less so. Each is evidently convinced that the particular chronology and application of prophecy is correct, and this should be so, else why present the matter at all? At the same time, we believe every Christian has to also understand that whatever conclusion any of us reach may not be “the truth” on the matter; none of us have ascended into heaven so as to present such as “knowledge” — that we absolutely “KNOW” that this or that conclusion is absolutely correct. Thus, it is up to each Christian to accept or reject whatever he finds according to the best of his understanding of scripture.

Charles Taze Russell

Studies in the Scriptures

Universal Anarchy — Just Before or After October 1914 A.D. (June, 1904) — In this article, Russell presents a change in his expectations concerning 1914; before 1904, Russell believed that the time of trouble was end, not begin, in 1914. In 1904, however, he came to expect that the time of trouble was to begin, not end, in 1914. Some expressions in the Studies in the Scriptures were later changed to reflect this, but no exhaustive overhaul of the Studies was ever done, thus leaving some statements reflecting his earlier expectation, while others were changed to reflect his expectation of 1904 and onward.

Fear Not, O Zion (August 1904) – Russell discusses more concerning the change of expectations concerning 1914. We believe that Russell erred regarding the harvest in (1) expecting a physical separation (2) that the wheat would be gathered first –Jesus stated that the tares was to be gathered first — Matthew 13:30 — See: The Parousia, The Havest, and the Trumpet (3) that the harvest would end before the time of trouble begins.

The Time of the Harvest (October, 1904) – A Response regarding the idea that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 BC, not 606  (607) BC. Shows that Brother Russell was expecting that the time of trouble was to begin, not end in 1914, as he had thought previous to 1904. We believe that he was correct in the belief that the time of trouble was to begin in 1914, but that he erred in the assumption that the harvest would end in 1914.  Jesus indicates that the harvest time period extends over into the time after when Satan is abysseed, into the time when the saints are made manifest.  — Matthew 13:43; Romans 8:19; Revelation 20:1-3.

Other Material:

Bible Chronology and History

Bible Students Chronology Documents

Bible Students’ Library 3 – Doctrine: See the Subtitle: Chronology.

Bible Student Ministries Library – See the Subtitle: Chronology

Bible Student Literature: Chronology Books

Bible Prophecy