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Genesis 1 New International Version:

2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Darkness was first.

3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Light was next.

4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.

Darkness was followed by light.

5God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

The usage of "night" here was related to the darkness in verse 2. The usage of "day" here was related to the creation of the light and not the sun. Could the first day be defined as a 24-hour earthly period? Here I define the first day as the time elapsed from Genesis 1:2 to 1:5.

In reality, time is not absolute but a relativistic experience that depends on the observer. To my reading, the first day seems far far shorter than 24 hours.

Related question:

Assessments of the evidence for the "Gap Theory" reading of Genesis 1:1-2? This one questions geological time over the 6 days of the creation process and Gap Theory. My question has nothing to do with the Gap Theory. I'm not interested whether there was nap time or not between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. I'm interested in the possible relativistic time elapsed between Genesis 1:2 to verse 5.

P.S. I am not trying to impose science on the Scripture. I'm trying to reconcile them when I can. When I cannot, I always put more weight on the Scripture, thinking that the science needed will catch up with it in the future :)

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    Check out geraldschroeder.com/wordpress/?page_id=53 where the author points out that for an observer positioned at the point in the early universe counting out six 24 hour periods would cover a time period of ~14 billions of years to an observer positioned on earth. There are so many different interpretations of Genesis, and one tricky part is positioning the observer during the narrative, since clearly they can't be on earth (or the sun). The point of view of the narrator must be elsewhere, so six days to him may not be six days to us now.
    – Robert
    Sep 3 at 19:59
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Yes, the first day would have shared equal length with the other days, so if each of the days was a 24-hour period, so was the first.

Consider the context.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1:3, KJV)

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:4, KJV)

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:5, KJV)

The description of this creation makes clear that the "Day" and the "Night" had both been created by God when He "divided" them. They did not separately exist until after God had created the light and divided it from the darkness. That division would have certainly included the concept of time, because their sequence remains consistent throughout the creation week, with the evening preceding the morning of each day.

While on one hand, human wisdom might conclude that the darkness, ergo the night, had always existed prior to God's special creation, Isaiah 45:7 speaks plainly to the fact that God had created the darkness also.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7, KJV)

Considering that God divided out the darkness from the light after creating the light on the first day, naming each in a show of His authorship, and considering that the dark part of each day is of consistent length, it is appropriate to understand the first day to have been of equal length to the other days.

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The first thing that must be understood is that we cannot begin with our observation of the natural world and then move to scripture and attempt to manipulate the grammatical structure of the text so that the text will seem to agree with man’s observations of the natural world. This never works. When God said he created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh day, there is absolutely nothing in the language of that text to suggest this means anything other than precisely what it says. When our understanding of the logic of the creation event conflicts with the inspired account, it is not the biblical account that is suspect. Exodus 20:11 confirms the defined length of time in the context of the creation account recorded in Genesis one.

"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; therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

The entire concept of their Sabbath was rooted in this temporal fact. This is why EVERY seventh day (every seventh 24- hour period) they rested. The standard of measurement that was to determine the frequency with which they were to observe the Sabbath was the duration of time recorded for the creation of the heavens and the earth. For six days, God worked, for six days, they would work. On the seventh day, God ceased his work, on the seventh day, they would rest. The same language is used in both texts. The language of both texts must agree. The meaning must be understood to be the same in both texts. If not, then by what rule of grammar do you do otherwise?

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The verses have a theological meaning rather than a scientific one. They describe the first physical appearance of the Messiah. As Jesus said about Himself in John 8: 12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

And in John 3: 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Back to your question. It is more than likely that the first day was a 24-hour period of time. 12 hours of night and 12 hours of day. I personally believe that it is the main reasons why Jesus had 12 disciples. One for each hour of the day.

John 11: 9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

1 Thessalonians 5: 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

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  • +1, theological meaning rather than a scientific one. Why not both? :)
    – Tony Chan
    Sep 9 at 13:46
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How likely was the first day a 24-hour period?

Length of Creative Days.

At the end of each of the first six creative days ,it was said: "And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." This, however was not said of the seveth day that God proceeded to rest from his creative work on the earth.[Gen. 2:1-3]- God's day of rest. More than 4.000 years later Paul indicated that the seventh day- God's day of rest was still in progress when he said that Christians should do their utmost to ender it -Vs 11 Hebrews 4:1-11 read on the link below.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Hebrews+4%3A1-11&version=NASB;NET

That a day can be longer than 24 hours is indicated by Genesis 2:4, which speaks of all the creative periods as one “day.”

Genesis 2:4 ESV The Creation of Man and Woman of the heavens and the earth when they were created,in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

Also indicative of this is Peter’s inspired observation that “one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” (2Pe 3:8 NIV) " But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

That a day can be longer than 24 hours is indicated by Genesis 2:4, which speaks of all the creative periods as one “day.”

Genesis 2:4 NASB " This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and heaven."

Ascribing not just 24 hours but a longer period of time, thousands-billions of years, to each of the creative days better harmonizes with the scientific evidence found in the earth itself. Scientists estimate that the earth is 4.54 billion years old.{Source Google}

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    The use of "yom" = day can mean any length of time, it is true. However, when "yom" is preceded by a number, there is not a single exception to the rule that in this case, it ALWAYS means a 24 hour period.
    – Dottard
    Sep 3 at 21:37
  • Peter’s comment is a reference to understanding prophetic language. It didn’t mean nor occur to Peter that a day was ever a thousand years long. Sep 4 at 2:21
  • Dottard :That a day can be longer than 24 hours is indicated by Genesis 2:4, which speaks of all the creative periods as one “day.” Genesis 2:4 NASB " This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven." Sep 4 at 18:52
  • 2 Peter 3:8 is not intended to be a standard of measurement by which God measures either a day or a 1000 years. God created time and he knows the difference between a 24-hour day and 1000 years. All this passage is demonstrating is the fact that God is not contingent upon time.
    – oldhermit
    Sep 6 at 13:46
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    Oldhermit: I agree,to the One who lives forever, a thousand years are as one day. He is not restrained or pressured by time, Sep 6 at 18:18

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