Studies in Genesis 1
God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:5 ESV)
Day and Night. Why do these two words cause so much questioning and so many arguments among Christians? Especially when it comes to the timing of God’s creation during the first six days? God created darkness and called the darkness Night. God formed light, said “let there be light” and called the light Day. From the context of Genesis chapter 1 Day is a period of time of light. Night is a period of time of darkness. Since God is not constrained by time, existing outside of the space-time universe, the period of time is determined by Him, not by us.
Day and Night are used in literal and figurative senses. Day can mean a literal 24 hour period but Night never means 24 hours. Day can mean the time from sunrise to sunset and Night the time from sunset to sunrise, splitting the total 24 hours into segments. Day can also mean a period of time of a particular occurrence, such as “the Day of the Lord” (see Isaiah 13:6, 9; Amos 5:18, 20; Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5) or an indefinite time of prosperity or trouble.
Day also has figurative meanings. A Day’s work is a period of time of labor. Yet, “work while it is day” (John 9:4 ESV) suggests labor during a period of time of enlightenment. Genesis 2:4 is the beginning verse of the second description of Creation. “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4 ESV). God calls the time He spent creating “in the day that the LORD God made” the whole time of creation. So, Day can be from human perspective a set time or an indefinite time. Since God has determined all things He knows exactly how long each Day, or period of time, lasts. We do not necessarily know.
Night is a period of time of darkness, either literally or figuratively. Darkness is not just an absence of physical light but also and absence of knowledge and understanding which brings despair and chaos. Night is also the end of the opportunity to work or to gain knowledge, understanding and insight. Night is a time of sin, where the works of darkness reign and where a person will spiritually stumble.
Night is for those who rebel against God while Day describes a time when those who obey and follow Him receive His promises.
They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (see Psalms 90:2-4). The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:4-10 ESV)