I was asked the question,
“In Genesis chapter one, day and night are separated twice; On day one and again on day four.”
- What was the purpose of this?
- Why was it separated twice?
On day one, we see this.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening, and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5 NASB)
Day four reads like this.
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness, and God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day. (Genesis 1:14-19 NASB)
The person asking me the questions went on to say,
“This leads me to believe that Genesis chapter one is more poetic than literal. So, could there be a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?”
My attempt at an answer.
In trying to understand, I look at specifics, so let’s start with the idea of light that we see in Genesis 1:3 through 1:5.
then God said, Let light be! And there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good, and God separated between the light and darkness. And God called the light, Day. And He called the darkness, Night. And there was evening, and there was morning the first day. (Genesis 1:3-5 LITV)
Light, as used here, is the Hebrew word ’ôr (pronounced ore.) The Strong’s concordance tells us this word means illumination or luminary. The Complete Word Study Dictionary explains the word ’ôr in this manner, “In a literal sense, it is used primarily to refer to light from heavenly bodies.”
We, tend to see these luminaries as the milky way, that is, if you can still see them.
The passage reads differently, depending upon the translation. The NET Bible, like some others, put the word day in quotation marks, almost as if it was a word inserted for understanding, much like the italicized words we find commonly in the King James version.
God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” There was evening, and there was morning, marking the first day. (Genesis 1:5 NET.)
Day is the Hebrew word yôm: It is a masculine noun meaning a day, an unrestrained period of time, or, a year. This word stands as the most basic conception of time in the Old Testament.
It designates such wide-ranging elements as:
- the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset (Gen_1:5; 1Ki_19:4);
- a literal twenty-four hour cycle (Deu_16:8; 2Ki_25:30);
- a generic span of time ( Numbers 20:15);
- a given point in time (Gen_2:17; Gen_47:29; Eze_33:12).
- In the plural, the word may also mean the span of life (Psa_102:3 )
- or a year (Lev_25:29; 1Sa_27:7).
- The prophets often infuse the word with end-times meanings or connotations, using it in connection with a future period of consequential events, such as the “day of the LORD” (Jer_46:10; Zec_14:1) or simply, “that day” (Isa_19:23; Zec_14:20-21). [Word Study Dictionary]
In short, what we are calling a day can be an indeterminate amount of time.
The variable that determines the length of the said day is associations with another word or words, such as hot; and, we have nothing like that when we look at Genesis 1:3-5. What we have is merely a lighter and darker period, which we can easily associate with the rotation of the earth.
To keep this verse in context, I have to back up to Genesis chapter 1:1, 2.
There we find:
Genesis 1:1 CJB In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
In this sentence, the word “the” is an additive. The idea is understood and not needed. So the verse could be read, “In beginning.” That gives the verse the feeling that it was a process that is yet to be completed. God was is not a fool, and knew sin would be introduced; He also knew that the most precious thing, that relationship with His creation would be severely tested – not that God needs to test man, but that humanity would lose out on its understanding of God, and what it was to communicate with Him – not that it is difficult, but in our lack of honesty and straightforwardness, we struggle to talk with God. Anyhow, all this carnage needed to be permanently put away, and that is the story behind this salvation in Jesus and the Bible that made it possible for us to know such salvation
Now, God does nothing by mistake and so Genesis 1:1 could clearly be describing His act of speaking a flawless world into existence. However, God has the right and opportunity to allow for numerous methods and aspects of creation to happen. We have an example of this in that the oceans brought forth after their kind, this opens the door to a myriad of possibilities, including some forms of evolution. (That was not the case with humankind.)
The prophet Isaiah backs up this idea of the earth being made correctly at the moment that He made it.
Isaiah 45:18 CJB For thus says Adonai, who created the heavens, God, who shaped and made the earth, who established and created it not to be chaos, but formed it to be lived in: “I am Adonai; there is no other.
However, that is not what we see in verse 2.
Genesis 1:2 CJB The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.
Many translations use the phrase “without form and void,” to describe the setting in verse three. The word unformed, or “without form” is the Hebrew word tôhû meaning to lie in waste, formless, or confusion. Void is the Hebrew word bôhû which means emptiness, void, and waste. To say these words together implies that whatever the damage was, it was complete.
Is it possible that Genesis 1:3-5 is God’s reclamation of a previously created earth?
Absolutely, but why? The only reasonable explanation came from Jesus’s mouth. Yeshua said to them,
“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (Luke 10:18 CJB)
While we have nothing else that might explain how something that was made inhabitable became utterly ruined, and all we can do is to operate on reasonable conjecture, but our theory, in this case, is logical. Why? Because we are aware of significant meteoric earth strikes, such as the one in Yucatan peninsula. Science has been able to reproduce for us estimates of the size of the meteor and the effects it had on the earth – rapid cooling; sun blockage; planetary temperature reduction; lack of oxygen, and it effectively created what we understand to be a nuclear winter; an ice age. If this reclamation concept is not possible, then how do we explain or answer your question.
Since there are no defining words that include the sun in Genesis 1:3-5, as we will see on the fourth day, the general idea is that stars are in place, but not much more.
The Fourth Day.
Verse four indicates a separation of the light from the dark; here, the Hebrew word is bâdal and means to divide or separate into parts, or, to withdraw from. This separation of the luminous bodies opens the door to God moving the undefined luminaries around so that some would be closer than others. As I am writing this, it occurs me that the milky way could easily be proof of such an event, as it can only be seen during a window of opportunity.
And by the way, in verses 3-5, there is no humankind on earth as yet.
We have no time frame with which we can associate the actions of verses 1 and 2 and therefore should not speculate as to how much time may have passed between the potential events; this is where you get tend to encounter harsh hostility, as people argue for a young earth of about 10,000 years. I happen to think this is irrational thinking because you cannot explain away a dinosaur with time acceleration.
The fourth day entails the events ranging from Genesis 1:14 through 1:19.
Genesis 1:14-19 CJB God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, seasons, days and years; (15) and let them be for lights in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth”; and that is how it was. (16) God made the two great lights—the larger light to rule the day and the smaller light to rule the night—and the stars. (17) God put them in the dome of the sky to give light to the earth, (18) to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. (19) So there was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day.
Now we have something specific to focus on:
- “a larger light for the day.” (This now puts the sun into a timed category.)
“a smaller light
to rule the night.” (The moon.)
- “lights that can be used as signs of seasonal changes, and for years.” (The sun, moon, and stars fit that description.)
From Genesis 1:3 until Genesis 1:14-19, we have nothing to indicate that the effects that we see, could have happened in verse 3.
And, we cannot prove or disprove that the earth, in Genesis 1:1, was not functioning at full capacity. However, verse 2 would indicate that it all came to a sudden and crashing halt.
Again, my short answer is, YES, I see a gap between verse one and two of Genesis chapter 1.