Some claim that Genesis 1–2 is poetry, fancifully telling us that God created all things. This overarching point is good enough, and the details need not be literal, especially if evolution and its millions of years can thus be inserted into these chapters. Science swallows the text. Why not go one step further to call Genesis 1–11 myth altogether and let evolution rule as king?
Some inch closer to language with meaning and claim that God created all things in days, but these days must have been figurative to speak of indeterminate ages of time. God set all things in motion and apparently rested before Day 7 to let evolution take it from there. Both the Bible and science are true, they say, letting science stretch the days. Paradise is a graveyard of bones and death, eventually giving way to the first human and his wife. Somehow their souls came about, by God we hope, and so also the image of God. So much for the deathless, very good creation described in Genesis 1:31.
Some move yet closer to six, literal days of creation, but only after inserting millions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. God created the heavens and earth in Genesis 1:1, they say, but if earth is without form and void in Genesis 1:2, words describing judgment elsewhere (Isa 34:11; Jer 4:23), this condition must be a judgment as well and not simply further describe the unfinished world found in the previous verse. Indeed, Satan fell between these verses, and God judged such pre-creation chaos with a gap of billions of years until He created the rest of all things in six, literal days. But even here, creation is not so very good. Paradise is neighbor to a kingdom of darkness, even if fallen spirits are chained in darkness far away.
The best way to understand the timing of Genesis 1:1–2:3 is seven, 24-hour days. God created all things in six days and rested on the seventh. Unless we find a prepositional prefix attached to the Hebrew word “day” to make it a figurative day (cf. Gen 2:4), a day is simply a 24-hour day. Such a day in Genesis 1:1–2:3 included a daytime portion during which God created this or that, and each day then closed with its nighttime portion, a time from evening to morning. Of these days, there was a first, a second, and so on, marked in succession as one might find elsewhere recorded by Moses (cf. Num 7:12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60, 66, 72, 78). The Sabbath Day would parallel the seventh day of the creation week, indicating that the rest of the days were 24-hour days as well (cf. cf. Exod 20:11; 31:14–17).
All quotes ESV. Articles by Pastor Huffstutler are at davidhuffstutler.com.