Objection: The days of creation were not literal, twenty-four-hour days, but long indefinite periods, millions of years in length. Therefore Seventh-day Adventists are not warranted in using the creation story of Genesis 1 as an argument for the holiness of the literal seventh day of the weekly cycle.
Answer: If the person setting forth this view is an evolutionist, and thus does not believe that Genesis gives a dependable historical record, there is no point in our trying to provide here an answer. We would need, first, to compass the wide question of the truth of evolution and the dependability of the Bible, and that would carry us far beyond the compass of this article. But such reasoning is sometimes presented by Christian people who believe the Bible. To such, we direct our answer. The way the matter is stated one might think that Adventists, late in earth's history, thought they discovered a valid connection between creation week and the specific seventhday Sabbath. The facts are that we found that connection by reading the straightforward narrative in Genesis and the simple declaration of the fourth commandment. "In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." Ex. 20:11.
Certainly when God spoke those words to Israel they understood Him to mean that the seventh day of the weekly cycle had been blessed, for it was that particular day in the cycle they were called upon to honor. Indeed, there would have been no point to the command that they should work six days and keep the seventh day of the week, in memory of creation, if creation had not taken place on that same pattern-six days God labored and the seventh day He rested. To make the days of creation long periods is to spoil the parallel that God, not the Adventists, set up between the creation incidents and the weekly cycle of human activity and rest.
This Sabbath objection goes too far. No matter how hard most Sunday advocates seek to prove that the Sabbath is not binding in the Christian era, they quite uniformly agree that it was binding in the days before Christ. But the objection before us, if true, could have been used by all the good men before the first advent, and hence there would have been no seventh-day Sabbath in all earth's history!
How anyone who accepts the Bible record as true history could think of the creation days as long, indefinite periods, millions of years in length, we cannot understand. Adam was created on the sixth day. He lived only 930 years. Long before those years were totaled he had been driven from the Garden of Eden, and in his sinful state had reared a family. According to the objection, Adam must have lived his whole life within the span of that sixth "day," for 930 is but a small segment of a period that is measured in millions of years. But when God had rested the seventh day and looked back over the week, He blessed that day as a climax to a perfect work. Therefore, no sin had yet entered to mar the earth. How, then, could Adam, who lived sinlessly at least beyond the end of creation week, have lived a grand total of only 930 years, when he had to live through a fraction of the sixth and all of the seventh day of creation, and yet those days were millions of years long?
The whole creation account is written as a simple narrative. There is nothing in the record to suggest that words should not be understood in their ordinary meanings. To each day of that first week there is "the evening and the morning." Indeed, that is how each day is marked off. But "evening" and "morning" belongs to twenty-four-hour days, not to long, indefinite periods of millions of years.
On the third day grass, herbs, trees, and other vegetation were brought forth. Now these all require sunlight if they are to thrive. According to the creation narrative the sun appeared the next day. Does that mean millions of years later? If so, then we are confronted with a more amazing miracle than Genesis has been thought to contain, the plant kingdom flourishing for ages without sunlight!
Of the fourth day we read, "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night." Gen. 1:16. Here, obviously, the words "day" and "night" are being used as we use them today. From the beginning of the fourth day the day and night were thus ruled. But according to the record, the length of that fourth day, and of succeeding days, is the same as that for each of the first three days: "The evening and the morning were the fourth day," verse 19. Hence the question that the objector should answer is this: If on the fourth day and onward "the evening and the morning" mean an ordinary day measured by sun and moon, why should the identical phrase used earlier in the narrative regarding the first three days mean something entirely different? Was part of creation week a long, indefinite period, and the remainder ordinary days?
But why carry the discussion further? For the man who believes that Genesis is history, there can be no doubt that the creation days are literal days. And the "seventh day" is as literal as the others. Some who do not wish to keep that day holy would fain lose it amid the billowing mists of indefinite geological ages. We prefer to believe the straightforward historical narrative, so eloquently summarized by God Himself in the fourth commandment: "In six days the Lord made heaven and earth. . . . and rested the seventh day."
Francis D. Nichols former editor at the Review and Herald Publishing Association.