mē genoito

May it never be! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” (Ro 3:4)

Was the Sun, Moon and Stars Created on the 4th Day?

(Genesis 1:14–16 NIV) “And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.”
(Genesis 1:14–16 ESV) “And 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 lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.”

It is an artifact of young earth creationism to say that the stars were made on the 4th day.
It is not possible from a straight reading of the Text in Genesis 1:14-16 to say the Sun, Moon and stars were created at the same time. You can’t get that linguistically, exegetically or logically. And young earth creationists (YEC) must create all sort of exegetical distortion to Scripture in order to justify the creation of the Sun and the Moon on the 4th day.

Let’s look at this from 2 different perspectives. First, it is an interpretive presupposition by YEC to insert the word “made (asah)” where it doesn’t exist in the manuscripts for the purpose of suggesting the stars were made at the same time as the moon. Second, based strictly on the plain reading of what is in the manuscript, the straight plain literal reading of the Text that is “God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night and the stars” In other words the stars were not created on the 4th day but rather the stars were made and now rule the night along with the moon cf. Ps 136:9 and the (Midrash: The stars serve as the entourage of the moon). Furthermore if we look at v.16 in context of vv.14-15, the emphasis is solely on these 2 great lights and v.16 is a continuation of that.

A Sound Hermeneutics Instead of Antagonism Toward Science Based on Fear

The fear of YEC to atheist philosophical and methodological naturalism has prompted the YEC to be antagonistic to all science that contradicts their erroneous hermeneutics. And what is even worst is the extension of their ravenous attack on other Christians who tries to correct or put forth an alternate exegesis of Genesis that suggests the creation is much older than their 6000 years. Young earth creationists have been very successful in making themselves gods over the Bible and creating a sort of cult following to their belief system. From this point on when I say YEC I really mean those in leadership position like those at AIG and ICR and not the regular church going Christians who might hold to a young earth view. In the YEC mindset if you question and point out how young earth creationism is wrong; they will tell you that if the Bible is wrong about a 6000 year old universe then it could be wrong about Jesus and His atonement, implying that the Bible could be wrong about everything else and we have no means of salvation.

There is only one problem with this logic. What YEC say about Genesis is not equivalent to what God has said. But YEC have created this mystique like Joseph Smith and Charles Taze Russell that if you doubt what they say then you are really doubting the Bible.

The Church better wake up and understand that even if the earth is indeed billions of years old, the Bible is not wrong. It is still the inerrant Word of God, instead it is the YEC that are wrong. Christians have to decide are we really going to trust the infallible interpretation of YEC or the inerrant Word of God. As an old earth creationist (OEC) I have never said and would never say that if the universe is only 6000 years old then the Bible can no longer be trusted. I have been and always will be open to be convince either by general revelation or sound convincing hermeneutics from the Bible that the universe is only 6000 years old. Unfortunately what I have received are threats and insults rather than sound doctrine from some in the YEC camp.

What Does an Old Earth and Universe Perspective Look Like?

The creation week must be interpreted within its entire context and the fourth day must not be taken in isolation. Based on OT Hebrew scholars’ understanding of Genesis 1, the use of the words bara (create) and asah (made) is significant. Here is a list of some notable scholars who hold to or is open to a long period of time for Genesis 1.

  • 19th Century Theologians: Charles Hodge (A.D.1797-1878), A.A. Hodge (A.D.1823-1886), John Gresham Machen (A.D.1881-1937), William G.T. Shedd (A.D. 1820-1894), Benjamin B. Warfield (A.D. 1851-1921). Edward J. Young (whose work was regarded  as “the epitome of conservative exegetical orthodoxy” not to be confused with Robert Young for the YLT and Father knows best).1
  • 20th Century Theologians: Gleason Archer and R. Laird Harris (co-authors, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament), James Montgomery Boice (Chairman of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy), Francis Schaeffer (founder of L’Abri Fellowship), R.A. Torrey (Editor, The Fundamentals (A.D.1907-1917). 2 a
  • Contemporary Theologians and Apologists: John Ankerberg, Bill Bright (Founder, Campus Crusade for Christ), C. John Collins (Chairman, Old Testament Committee, ESV Bible; PhD, Hebrew linguistics), Chuck Colson, Paul Copan, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler (author of numerous books, including Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics), Wayne Grudem (General editor, ESV Study Bible; author, Systematic Theology), Hank Hannegraff (Bible Answer Man), Jack Hayford, Walter Kaiser (President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Phillip E. Johnson (founder of Intelligent Design movement), Greg Koukl (Stand to Reason ministry), J.P. Moreland, J.I. Packer, Nancy Pearcey, Vern Poythress, Earl Radmacher (President Emeritus, Western Seminary), Lee Strobel (author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Creation)3

So what is the exegesis of Genesis 1 and more specifically here for vv.14-16? Again creation on the 4th yom needs to be understood in context of the prior creation periods. But starting with these first 3 verses here, there are a few significant points to understand.  In v.16 the word made(asah) is used for the making of two great lights instead of the word create (bara) in v.1. Asah has a wide range of translations. It has been translated as make, prepare, trim, care, etc. The word bara while having relatively fewer variation to its translation, nevertheless does have some flexibility, e.g. create, make, choose, cut down, etc. So if both words can mean “make”, according to YEC they are interchangeable, what’s the problem? The problem is that these 2 words do not mean the same thing. For a group of people (YEC) who claims to be the sole source of uncompromising fidelity to God’s Word, as you will see they are only faithful until it contradicts their young earth theism. Let’s do a word study on this.

Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (OT)

6913 I. עָשָׂה (ʿā·śā(h)): v.; ≡ Str 6213; TWOT 1708, 1709—1. LN 42.7–42.28 (qal) make, i.e., to fashion or create an object, usually implying the use of existing materials (Ge 1:26); (qal pass.) be made, created, fashioned (2Ki 23:4); (nif) be made (1Ki 10:20); (piel) see 6914; (pual) made, be created (Ps 139:15+); 3. LN 13.1–13.47 (qal) cause, make, bring about, i.e., bring about a state or event (Ps 111:4) ─ Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.


The root bārāʾ has the basic meaning “to create.” It differs from yāṣar “to fashion” in that the latter primarily emphasizes the shaping of an object while bārāʾ emphasizes the initiation of the object. ─ Mccomiskey, T. E. (1999). 278 בָּרָא. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 127). Chicago: Moody Press.

Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (OT)

1343 I. בָּרָא (bā·rā(ʾ)): v.; ≡ Str 1254; TWOT 278—1. LN 42.29–42.40 (qal) create, i.e., make something that has not been in existence before (Ge 1:1); (nif) be created (Ge 2:4); 2. LN 42.29–42.40 make, form or fashion something out of elements that exist (Ge 6:7; Isa 65:18; Jer 31:22); 3. LN 42.7–42.28 do, i.e., bring about, perform a task, with an emphasis on the uniqueness of the event (Ex 34:10; Nu 16:30; Isa 45:7) ─ Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

As you can see according to Hebrew scholars the nuance of these 2 words have drastic implications. Bara, especially here in the Genesis context, has the meaning of creating something new, akin to ex nihilo “out of nothing”. Where as asah is to make or fashion something using existing materials. John Sailhamer, professor of Old Testament studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2000, whose view in Genesis Unbound is also accepted by John Piper.

Sailhamer: concludes that when Genesis 2:4 says God “made” (asah) the earth and heavens (that he had bara-“created”), it means the same as the English expression,“to make a bed”. When the land was covered with waterit was not inhabitable. God slashed a separation between the waters and commanded the waters below to recede from the land to “make” a place fit for human habitation. The word bara, supplemented with the meanings of its piel form and its synonym, asah, means to put something in good order, to make it right.

At this point I would like to make a note of the irony of the YEC exegesis. Here you have 2 different Hebrew words which have clear distinctive usage, even if I was willing to stipulate that there might be some similarity in its usage, the scholarships on this is unequivocal, bara and asah is not interchangeable. But the irony of the YEC’s attempt to obscure these 2 distinct Hebrew words while insisting a single word like yom can only have a single possible meaning in Genesis creation yom is the height of hypocrisy. It is even more preposterous if you take into account the size of the Hebrew vocabulary which is less than 1% of the modern Oxford Dictionary. The Hebrew vocabulary is approximately 8,000 words and if you just take the root of those words you end up with about a third of the vocabulary. For YEC to insist that bara and asah is interchangeable and yom has only one meaning in Genesis 1 is ridiculous and it is clearly driven by ideology and not sound hermeneutics.

Given the correct understanding of asah, what does it mean when God said He made the Sun and the Moon on the 4th yom? First that is not what God said. If you read v.16 carefully God said He made “the two great luminaries/lights” on the 4th yom. Why is this distinction important? Because bara in v.1 already told us that God created the universe and our solar system and He was already shaping our solar system with these great light in v.3. So now here in v.16, on the 4th yom, God comes back again and refashions further these great lights to make them visible for inhabitants on the surface of the Earth for the purpose of vv.14-15, i.e. for us to see the Sun during the day and the Moon and stars visible for us to see at night. And starting on the 4th yom the inhabitants of the Earth will be able to use the Sun and Moon to mark our seasons and for the passing of days and years. It seems clear that vv14-15 is referring only to the Sun and Moon, because only the Sun can give the light for the “day” and the Moon light for the “night”. And only the Sun can give days based on the Earth’s rotation, years based on the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, and the seasons based on the tilt of Earth’s axis as we orbit the Sun. The stars have zero affect on these signs. And v.16 is just a continuation of the significance of the Sun and the Moon.

This exegesis of Genesis 1 makes sense linguistically, chronologically and logically. It also makes sense contextually to understand v.14 in relation to v.3. When God said “let there be light” in v.3 and “let there be light” in v.14, God is referring to the same thing. God was in the process of transforming and preparing our solar system with these 2 great light for life that He is about to create for the earth. This is in stark contrast to the YEC idea that God caused some supernatural light that has no tracable source to create the illusion of a 24 hour cycle. While God maintains this supernatural illusion of a 24hr cycle, everything else He is doing is based on a process of real derivable phenomena. e.g. separating the waters v.6, separting the water from the atmosphere vv.7-8, dry land v.9, seas v.10, vegetation v.11, fruits v.12 all of these are real derivable things, all except this supernatural light. And finally on the 4th day according to the YEC God finally made the real derivable objects like the Sun, Moon and stars. But wait what happen to that supernatural light. The Bible never said the God took it away. Where is it now? Why don’t we see it? I guess as a YEC, I would have to just add the removal of  this supernatural light into the literal interpretation of Genesis.

Finally there is the framework interpretation of Genesis 1 that I also do not agree with but I will not get into at this time but to just give this quote from a proponent of this view.

Ray Stedman:

The best explanation, and one which I personally adopt, is what we have been saying all along: that this passage is not trying to teach a consecutive series of developments. Chronological time is not primarily in view of Genesis 1. The great question of Genesis 1 is not, “How long ago did these things happen?” or even, “How long did it take in the process of making them?” despite the fact that we continually bring these questions into this passage. It is not so much the question of How, but really the question is, Why did these happen.

There is a remarkable sequence that has been noted by many in Genesis 1. If you take the fourth, fifth, and sixth days of creation and lay them alongside the first, second, and third, you will notice a very remarkable parallelism. The first and fourth day both deal with the bringing of light to the earth. The second and fifth day are both concerned with the ocean and sky. And the third and sixth day deal with the land and its life, animal and plant life. So here is really a series of three, repeated twice, during these six days of creation: light, ocean, sky, and the earth. In the second repetition there is a further development and enlargement of that which has been given before, a recapitulation in more detail. Therefore, these are not six consecutive days, but they come in a sequence of three. The events of Day 4 occur at the same time as the events of Day 1, but further detail is given.

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