by Laura Powell
Co-Ministry Director, Truth of Genesis
One of my favorite things to do while I eat lunch is to play Classic Words on my Kindle. It’s a game that resembles Scrabble, and it allows me to test my vocabulary prowess. Today while I was playing, I formed a three-letter word, yom. This Hebrew word was accepted by the computer, and it told me the definition of the submission was “day.”
When my husband, Dave, was first studying Biblical Creation I would often pepper him with questions. One of which was, “How are you sure the days in the timeline of the beginning of the world aren’t long?” I wasn’t convinced that God’s six days of work, outlined in Genesis, didn’t happen over lengthy periods of time.
The tiny word yom was a cornerstone in the case. In most of its uses in the Old Testament it means a literal, twenty-four-hour day; and when it doesn’t the context makes it clear.  In Genesis 1:5-2:2, the word yom is used in conjunction with a number (day one, day two, etc.).  In all these instances where yom and a number are used (four hundred and ten times in the Old Testament), the word means an ordinary day, a literal twenty-four-hour period. 
Another place in the Old Testament where the word yom is used is in Exodus 20:9-10. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day in a sabbath of the LORD your God.” God is speaking directly to Moses in this passage. As Terry Mortenson says, “If God meant that the Jews were to work six days because He created over six long periods of time, He could have used one of three indefinite Hebrew time words. He chose the only word that means a literal day.”
For most of Christian history the literal six-day creation account was not questioned. Some even wondered why the days would have to have been twenty-four hours. This seemed too long! Christians in Martin Luther’s time thought that God could have created everything instantly. Luther’s response was to stand behind the authority of scripture and not support creative notions of what God “could have done” but instead validate what God did. Luther said:
“When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are. For you are to deal with Scripture in such a way that you bear in mind that God Himself says what is written. But since God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His Word in the direction you wish to go.” 
The change in mindset to long periods of time was driven by hostility to the Christian religion and by extra-biblical influences (influences outside of the Bible) in the nineteenth century.
When I heard the explanation of that tiny Hebrew word, I was convicted that yom meant a literal twenty-four-hour day, and that it could be trusted to mean God created all that we see and know in six literal days. The Genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11 give detailed chronological information that also confirms an approximately 6,000-year-old universe.
If you believe God is all-powerful and able to do things that are incomprehensible to our human minds, speaking the world into existence in a short period of time is only another miracle on His list of many.
 Mortenson, Terry. (2006). Why Shouldn’t Christians Accept Millions of Years. In Ham, K. (ed). The New Answers Book 1. [pg. 26]. Green Forest: Masterbooks.
 Mortenson, Terry. (2006). Why Shouldn’t Christians Accept Millions of Years. In Ham, K (ed). The New Answers Book 1. [pg. 26] Green Forest: Master Books.
 “Does Genesis Chapter 1 Mean Literal 24-hour days?” GotQuestions.Org.
 Mortenson, Terry. (2006) Why Shouldn’t Christians Accept Millions of Years. In Ham, K (ed). The New Answers Book 1. [pg. 27]. Green Forest: Master Books.
 Johnson, James J.S. “Luther The Reformation and Taking Creation Seriously.” Icr.org. Sept. 29th, 2017. ICR.org/article/luther-reformation-taking-creation
 “Luther on the days of creation.” Creation.com. https://creation.com/luther-on-creation-days.
 Ham, Ken. (2006). Could God Really Have Created Everything in Six Days... In Ham, K. (ed). The New Answers Book 1. . Green Forest: Master Books.
 Mortenson, Terry. (2006). Why Shouldn’t Christians Accept Millions of Years. In Ham, K (ed). The New Answers Book 1. [pg. 26]. Green Forest: Master Books.