How long is a “day” in Genesis 1? Is it a real period of time? Is it a measurable amount of time or, rather, is it an indeterminate period of time?
Notice that in the text, the “day” is defined as a repeating period of one turn between dark and light. The text calls these periods “evening” and “morning.” This was, in the case of days 1, 2 and 3, done without any celestial bodies. Rather God sets up dark and light to happen in each period. And then the sun, moon, and stars were made on day 4, according to the text.
I believe that all of this, up to this point, if we are pointing out what the text says and not to interpretation, is indisputable. In the text, day 1 is an evening and morning pattern. So is day 2, and day 3. These three days are, in the text, a pattern of evening and morning. And in the text, day 4 sees the creation of day and night-time rulers. The sun is set in the sky for the period of the already-established day.
James B. Jordan points this information out in his book, “Creation in Six Days.” He explains that the period of time in which the sun would operate was set up and already operating for three days before the sun was made. So we should note that the sun’s appearance each day was designed to fit the length of time already created, and already in place.
From day 4 onward, a day is defined as a period of evening, and a period of morning, whose dark and light are now caused by an intentional clock and calendar set up – the sun and moon are for days, and special seasons, and signs.
It should become apparent to us:
- that these timekeeping terms are used: day, night, evening, morning, days, seasons.
- that the time schedule of day and night was set before the sun was placed to mark out that time period.
- that, if nothing else, in the text these are six working days and a sabbath. Normally, that means a week of seven days.
- that without being told otherwise, nothing in the text would lead you to believe that day meant a period which was not actually a sun-governed, night and day schedule.