Discourse 67 - Allegorical hermeneutics and the literal interpretation.




Allegorical hermeneutics and the literal interpretation. / Lecture Jürgen Haizmann 00, 2003.

The authority of the literal interpretation. / Lecture Jürgen Haizmann 01, 2003.

Jonah and the sea monster an allegory? / Article at "Life is More"

The true "Holy Week" - Tabular Overview of the Week of Jesus’ Crucifixion

The death of the Lord, and Resurrection after three days - a metaphor?

Are the days of Creation 24-hour days? / Lecture Jürgen Haizmann 02, 2003.


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Allegorical hermeneutics and the literal interpretation. / Lecture Jn 00, 2003*) )

Christ says, "I am the door." This is a symbolic image. Christ’s intended meaning is “I am the means of access to the Father.” He doesn’t mean to say that he is made of wood, and fitted with a doorknob - he just wants to tell us that he is the means of access to the Father. So we understand the images that Scripture uses, and we take this image just as it is, literally. This is allegory - in that we recognize an image as an image and understand it as such, while at the same time registering the literal meaning of the image. This is the true form of allegory. The false form of allegory, allegorical hermeneutics, is something else. And I would like once again to make the difference between the two very clear: in the false form of allegory, what is literal is interpreted as being an image. Where something is written as a literal account - for instance, when we are told that God created heaven and earth, along with a description of how he completed this work in seven days - then along comes someone to say that this is not to be understood in the literal sense, and a lot of people will tell you that it is just symbolic. But here the events are described literally. Allegorical hermeneutics, on the other hand, simply asserts that this is not to be understood in a literal sense, it has to be taken as a symbol. These seven days are seven epochs of millennia, or even millions of years. And so a lot of people will try to fit evolution in at this point, or give God a bit more time in which to have created everything. Whatever. What we see here is a plain denial of the fact that the meaning here is literal. This is allegorical hermeneutics, and it is completely wrong. What it does is to reinterpret literal statements as being symbolic.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Jürgen Haizmann, Munich, on “Eschatology”.



Of course we must express our unreserved agreement with the above remarks of Mr. Haizmann on the literal interpretation of Scripture. And when the Lord says, in Jn 10,9, “I am the door,” of course he is not “made of wood, and fitted with a doorknob.”

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.

Jn 10,7 So Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 10,8 "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 10,9 I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10,10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. Jn 10, 7-10;


Likewise in the following passage from John, the Lord does not mean that he is really a shepherd and we are the sheep.

I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

Jn 10,11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 10,12 "He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 10,13 "He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 10,14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 10,15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. Jn 10,11-15;


All this is patently an allegory, and no one would seriously think otherwise. On the other hand, in Rev 7,4-8 we hear about the 144,000 who were sealed, from every tribe of Israel - and every single one of the twelve tribes is listed by name:

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000 sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.

Rev 7,4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 7,5 From the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, 7,6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, 7,7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, 7,8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. Rev 7, 4- 8;


And here some biblical commentators, even those who have nothing to do with allegorical hermeneutics (though Mr. Haizmann is not among them, as far as I know!) have no qualms about interpreting these twelve tribes - Israel or not - as an “allegory” of the Christian congregation of all time. Anyone who reinterprets such totally unambiguous scriptural statements at his own pleasure, on whatever grounds, may be pretending to interpret Scripture allegorically, but in actual fact he is just falsifying it.

(See also Discourse 06: “The 144,000 who were sealed: Israelites, or the congregation of the Last Days?”)


Mr. Haizmann demonstrates in another passage, with admirable cogency, why only the literal interpretation offers us a guarantee that we are understanding Scripture objectively, and in a way that anyone can test for himself:



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The authority of the literal interpretation. / Lecture Jn 01, 2003*) )

If we do not take the Bible literally, then we can interpret it any way we like, it doesn’t make a scrap of difference. (...). I have no basis for saying why my own particular method of interpretation should be the correct one, if I do not take the Bible in the literal sense. If I take the Bible literally, I must be able to substantiate all my efforts of interpretation from start to finish on the basis of Scripture, without getting into any contradiction with Scripture. I have then the only system which is reliable for biblical interpretation - namely, the literal interpretation. All other forms of interpretation have no kind of authority, and cannot refer to any kind of principle that would make their approach credible. God’s authority is behind the literal interpretation: that is the truth, and this mode of interpretation is the only truthful one, the only one that is correct in God’s eyes. No one can come to this conclusion who does not interpret the Bible literally.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Jürgen Haizmann, Munich, on “Eschatology”.



We could hardly imagine a more trenchant expression of this point of view! And it is just here that we encounter a highly critical issue: if passages that can be unambiguously understood are interpreted not literally and in concrete terms, but are seen as symbolic and allegorical, then every possible kind of interpretation - or impossible one - is likely to emerge. This can go so far that the statements of a scriptural passage may be turned inside out, so that they assert the direct opposite, without anybody being in a position to check what is going on. The serious biblical commentator, then, must hold fast to that principle which once served our fathers in faith as the foundation of their belief.

And this principle may be formulated as follows: we have to do with allegories in Scripture in all cases where its statements and images contradict our experience of the realities of this world. Examples of this are the Lord’s statement that he is the door, or the reference to the beast with seven heads and ten horns in Rev 13,1. Such beasts are unknown to us, so this statement has to be classified as allegorical. Those texts in Scripture, on the other hand, which we can judge to be true to life, in the light of our knowledge of God’s creation, are principally to be interpreted as referring to reality, and understood literally.

Here, though, we have to take into account that our knowledge of the creation can go on expanding - first of all as a result of the discoveries of science, which we have to take seriously, but even more through the insights which Scripture itself gives us into events and connections that go beyond the limits of this visible world. A good example of this is Our Lord’s statement in Mt 12,38-40:

Jonah and the sea monster an allegory?

Just as Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Mt Mt 12,38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." 12,39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;

12,40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mt 12,38-40;


We would like here first of all to address ourselves to the obvious question whether it is realistically possible that a human being could be swallowed by a huge sea creature. We do not just have Jonah’s own report, in Jon 2,1-11; we also have it confirmed by Our Lord in his saying above, where he sees Jonah’s encounter with the whale as a historical fact. Here now is a short extract from an Austrian website, one that I can recommend to your attention:


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Jonah and the sea monster an allegory? / Article at “Life is More”)

A crew of men had set out from the mother ship in a small boat to harpoon whales. They spotted a very big one, and succeeded in harpooning it. The whale was enraged, made straight for the boat and thrashed around, as a result of which the boat capsized. The entire crew fell into the sea and swam towards the mother ship, from which all these events had been observed. But the furious whale attacked once more, and one man vanished. This man later gave his account of what happened on oath, saying that he was carried away all at once by a massive wave, after which everything around him suddenly became pitch black, and terribly hot. He found that he was sliding downwards on smooth, elastic surfaces, and a few seconds later he was pitched into a kind of hot and acrid mush, by which he was most painfully affected. He felt around, trying to find something to hold onto, and came into contact with all kinds of semisolid objects, which frequently reacted to his movements. He said that the stink, in this close atmosphere, was quite intolerable. Panic seized him when he realized where he was - in the belly of the harpooned and maddened whale.

Have you ever opened up a chicken’s stomach? Do you know what it looks like? Do you know how it smells? Would you like to find yourself in such a place? The sailor found he was in a veritable death-vault, where only half-dead and half-digested objects floated around him in this ghastly stew. The sailor lived in a real death-vault, in a hell, in the “depth of Sheol”, as the prophet Jonah so well put it in describing his situation (Jon 2,2).

He tried frantically to climb up the smooth walls, in order to get out. But he did not manage it: he only succeeded in climbing a short distance, and then every time slid back down again. The acrid mush and the stifling air affected him so unpleasantly that he soon became confused, and lost consciousness. Some time later, the whale surfaced again, and was killed by the sailors on the waiting ship. When it was cut up, they found the man who had disappeared. He was unconscious, but alive. His skin was very yellow, and his eyes and ears had suffered damage. When he regained consciousness, some time later, he was out of his mind. But he recovered after a convalescence of some months, after which, at the request of his companions, he made a statement about his terrible experience, confirming it on oath. This attested statement is to be found in a book by Dr Rimmer (‘Science, Religion and Reality’).

So the biblical story of Jonah is really something that can happen. It has even happened a number of times in recent years, as Dr Rimmer tells us.

(This extract has been taken from the website “Life is More” - http://www.Life-is-More.at.



So much for the reality of such occurrences. But let us go on to consider that part of the Lord’s saying quoted earlier (Mt 12,38-40) which gives us an insight into realities which go beyond the visible spectrum of our earthly experience. In Mt 12,40 the Lord says:

“Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”


The true "Holy Week" - Tabular Overview of the Week of Jesus’ Crucifixion

 Day   Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday
 Time         6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm  6am6pm
13th Nisan 14th Nisan 15th Nisan 16th Nisan 17th Nisan 18th Nisan 19th Nisan         
      Day NightDay NightDay NightDay NightDay NightDay NightDay;         



















Preparation Day
for Passover


after 6:00 pm
the Lord's supper

Capture in
Gethsemane

Crucifixion

3:00 pm
Death on the
Cross

~6:00 pm
burial

Begin
Passover

Great Annual
Sabbath













Preparation Day
for Sabbath

Purchase of
Spices and Perfumes













Weekly Sabbath














~6:00 pm
Raising up

First Day of
the Week

Women arrive at
the empty tomb
































(Please note: In Jewish division of the day, the day begins with 6:00 p.m. and ends on our today's next day at 6:00 p.m.)

(See also Discourse 87: “The Turin Shroud - The sign of Jonah”)


The death of the Lord, and Resurrection after three days - a metaphor?

The statement that the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth is interpreted by many commentators - in principle quite correctly - as a reference to the death and Resurrection of Jesus. But if we put ourselves to the trouble of studying Scripture in depth, we will recognize that a great deal more is being revealed here, and that this is no more than just the tip of the iceberg. To understand the full implications, let us look at a few more scriptural passages that have a bearing on this issue.

He had descended into the lower parts of the earth.

Eph 4,8 Therefore it says (Psalm 68,18), "When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men." 4,9 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 4,10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) Eph 4, 8-10;

(See also Chapter 12: “The Resurrection.”)

Let us first of all take a look at a scriptural passage that may be able to give a more detailed explanation of the implications here. Peter tells us in 1Pet 4,3-6 that the gospel has been preached to the dead.

For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead.

1Pet 4,3 For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. 4,4 In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; 4,5 but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 4,6 For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God. 1Pet 4, 3- 6;


The good news that is preached here is, of course, the gospel of the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross at Golgotha for the sins of humanity. And now we are in a position to see why the Lord spent three days and three nights in the kingdom of the dead. It was he who at this time proclaimed the good news to the dead. Those who died in the time before the death of Jesus were none of them able, as yet, to take advantage of this opportunity of salvation, because this sacrifice had not been offered in their lifetime. Now, after the sacrificial death of the Son of God on the cross, God’s justice insists that not just the living, but also those who have died up to this point should have the opportunity of making a personal response to the Lord’s dying for their sins, as a substitute for them.

And of course this offer was also extended to those who had lived before the Flood, whom God destroyed by means of the Flood because of their violence upon earth.br>

God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.

Gen 6,10 Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 6,11 Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. 6,12 God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 6,13 Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Gen 6,10-13;


As Peter goes on to say in his first Epistle, in these three days in the realm of the dead the Lord also, of course, preached this news of great joy to those who had lost their lives in the Flood, so as to offer them the chance of redemption from their sins:

The Lord also made proclamation to those who had been destroyed by the Flood.

1Pet 3,18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

3,19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 3,20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 1Pet 3,18-20;


And this shows us, now, that the good news of redemption by grace, through the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God, has in very truth been proclaimed to all human beings - all those who died before the death of the Lord, to whom the Lord preached the good news in person, in the realm of the dead, as well as all those who have only come into the world since, who have had available the preaching of the apostles and their successors. And this brings home to us a second point - the absolute justice of God. No one is forgotten. No one - not a single human being who has ever lived, or who will ever live in future - will be able to say at the Judgment that he has been treated unjustly.

This, then, is the background to this saying of the Lord’s in Mt 12,38-40: “so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Some commentators, though, prefer not to go into this kind of analysis, and so turn the saying into an allegory - claiming that this is just to be understood symbolically, that it is just a metaphor of the death of Jesus and his Resurrection on the third day. As we can see, this method totally misses the real reach of the passage.

Then again, we have another interesting saying of the Lord’s that refers to the realm of the dead:

The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Jn 5,25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 5,26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 5,27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 5,28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 5,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. Jn 5,25-29;

And death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them.

Rev 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Rev 20,13;


Here, in Jn 5,25-29, the Lord says to the Jews that the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. And he speaks here of several events of this kind (“hours”). One day, at the end of the world (Jn 5,28-29), the Lord will send forth his voice into the realm of the dead; and all the dead who at that time are still in the realm of the dead will hear this call, and come alive again in body, in the General Resurrection, and rise for the Last Judgment.

(See also Discourse 97: “Raising and resurrection ‒ the realities of another dimension.”)


The Biblical Trinity

There is just the one and only God in his three authorities: God the Father as the legislative authority, comparable with the legislature in human society; the Holy Spirit as the authority of execution, similar to the political executive arm; and the Son of God as the judicial authority, like the court of justice. God has given human beings the law and the commandments (Ex 24:12), the Holy Spirit registers the extent to which people observe them, but only intervenes when human actions might otherwise contravene God’s plan (2Thess 2:7), and the Son of God will judge every single human being (Jn 5:22) at the Last Judgment.

In this age of quantum entanglement – with its “spooky action at a distance”, as Einstein termed it – the independent spiritual personality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and their simultaneous presence (Jn 14:10-11) in the spirit of the one God (Jn 4:24), can only be a problem for people living today if they are completely uninformed. In addition, the Bible gives us numerous examples of manifestations of spirit in the spirit of human beings (Mk 1:23-25; 5:6-8; Lk 3:24; but also Jn 14:23; 17:26!).

The attempt to explain relations of this nature on the basis of the ancient wisdom of the Fathers of the Church (Council of Nicea etc.) was already erroneous in view of their assertion that the earth is the center of the universe (The Creation.) and might be regarded today as comparable to the attempt to explain quantum mechanics by the laws of classical physics.

The actual reason why the Unitarians reject the Trinity (There is no salvation apart from the Trinity / C H. Spurgeon), is, first of all, the fact that they refuse to accept the divinity of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ as God (Ps 45:7-8; Jn 20:28; Phil 2:5-6; 2Pet 1:1; 1Jn 5:20) and even his pre-existence (Gen 1:26; 11:7) not to mention his post-existence with God (Jn 14:23; 17:26!), would call in question their entire false structure of faith with its "human Jesus" as a "faith fighter", "pal" or "model of suffering" and reduce it to absurdity.

But on the other hand the doctrine of the three in one – the Trinity – was interpreted for centuries by the Catholic church according to the whim and "feelings" of the old Church Fathers (Council of Nicea etc.) and not in accordance with the Bible’s statements. As a result it was easy for the representatives of "faith in the one God" – the Unitarians – to question this in the light of the Bible.

But unfortunately the opportunity was missed of studying the Bible in depth and determining what it actually says about the essence of God, his Son and the Holy Spirit – instead, people just made use of superficial arguments to rebut this equally incorrect Trinitarian dogma of the Catholic church.



But then the Lord has spoken before this, in Jn 5,25, of another “hour” which is coming, and in which too he will send forth his voice into the kingdom of the dead. Not all of the dead, admittedly, will be able to hear him. But those dead who hear him will live likewise. This is the time of the raising of the dead in Christ for the Rapture, on the Second Coming of the Lord. The Lord will call into the realm of the dead, and those of the dead who hear him - that is to say, those of the Christian faithful who sleep in Christ - will rise, be clothed in a spiritual body and will then join the living faithful, who have been similarly transformed, to meet the Lord in the sky and be taken up into the Rapture (1The 4,15-17).

But at the same time the Lord also says here that this “hour” now is - and this indication must be taken to refer to the immediate future of the time at which he uttered this saying. If this interpretation is correct, the statement of the Lord that this hour also “now is” would imply that already, at that time, a resurrection of faithful must have taken place. And indeed we find just such an event in Mt 27,50-53:

The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.

Mt 27,50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 27,51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 27,52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 27,53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Mt 27,50-53;


It was immediately after the death of the Lord that the very first resurrection of all took place. The tombs were opened, and many of the saints who had died rose from the dead. This is what the Lord meant to convey in saying that “the hour is coming and now is.” But we come now to the second part of the statement by Mr. Haizmann which we quoted at the start of this Discourse. He says here - to recapitulate:



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Are the days of Creation 24-hour days? / Lecture Jn 02, 2003*) )

And I would like once again to make the difference between the two very clear: in the false form of allegory, what is literal is interpreted as being an image. Where something is written as a literal account - for instance, when we are told that God created heaven and earth, along with a description of how he completed this work in seven days - then along comes someone to say that this is not to be understood in the literal sense, and a lot of people will tell you that it is just symbolic. But here the events are described literally. Allegorical hermeneutics, on the other hand, simply asserts that this is not to be understood in a literal sense, it has to be taken as a symbol. These seven days are seven epochs of millennia, or even millions of years. And so a lot of people will try to fit evolution in at this point, or give God a bit more time in which to have created everything. Whatever. What we see here is a plain denial of the fact that the meaning here is literal. This is allegorical hermeneutics, and it is completely wrong. What it does is to reinterpret literal statements as being symbolic.

*) This extract has been taken from the recording of a lecture by Jürgen Haizmann, Munich, on “Eschatology”.



(The basic understanding of the following interpretation forms Excursus 12 “The Creation.”)

Mr. Haizmann is quite entitled to defend his position against the advocates of allegorical hermeneutics, who think that the seven days of the account of Creation are to be symbolically understood. And he thinks that such people are denying that we here have to do with perfectly normal 24-hour days. Although it is not our intention here to speak in support of the false form of allegory, we would like to see, just the same, how these literal statements in the Bible actually look, and what sort of conclusions may be drawn from them. So let us start with the first three days of Creation:

The first day.

Gen 1,1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 1,2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 1,3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 1,4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 1,5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Gen 1, 1- 5;

The second day.

Gen 1,6 Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."1,7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 1,8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. Gen 1, 6- 8;

The third day.

Gen 1,9 Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. 1,10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. 1,11 Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them"; and it was so. 1,12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. 1,13 There was evening and there was morning, a third day. Gen 1, 9-13;


So let us sum up the happenings of the first three days of Creation. The first day sees the creation of the heavens (plural) and the earth. On the second day God creates an ‘expanse’ (the Hebrew word “rakia” for “expanse” here denotes the air or the atmosphere), that is, the earthly sky around the earth. And on the third day, finally, the seas are created, the dry land appears and we see the start of the growth of the vegetable world.

Now let us consider the fourth day:

The fourth day.

Gen 1,14 Then 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;

1,15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. 1,16 God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. 1,17 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 1,18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 1,19 There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. Gen 1,14-19;


And here we are now confronted with a double surprise. First of all we realize that the sun - without which 24-hour days on earth would be quite impossible - was only created on the fourth day of Creation. Consequently we are told, by Scripture itself, that the “days” referred to earlier cannot possibly have been days of 24 hours. And then too, to substantiate this, we have the statement in Gen 1,14, which tells us that the sun is to serve “for signs and for seasons and for days and years”. This means, then, that those days which were given to humanity, in accordance with the will of God, to determine the seasons and the days and the years - standard earthly days, that is - could only begin when the sun was created, on the fourth day of creation. So we will only be accurate in assuming the reality of a 24-hour day on earth, with the alternation of day and night, from the fifth day of Creation on - when the first animals, fishes and birds were created.

All this, now, follows from the literal (and in no way symbolic!) interpretation of what we find here written in the Bible. And if Mr. Haizmann, in the passage quoted earlier, is completely justified in condemning the false form of allegory and defending his views against it, we have to bring it to his attention here, all the same, that when he claims that all the days of Creation were days of 24 hours, he is redrafting the literal significance of this passage and so himself falling into the same error as the misguided advocates of allegorical hermeneutics. And when he observes, “And so a lot of people will try to fit evolution in at this point, or give God a bit more time in which to have created everything,” either he has not paid sufficient attention when reading these scriptural passages, or he is denying what we find literally stated in Scripture - namely, that the sun was created only on the fourth day of Creation. So none of the “days” preceding this can have been earthly days of 24 hours.

And it is not a matter here of wanting to give God “a bit more time”. Most assuredly, God could have accomplished the whole act of creation in just five minutes, if he had wanted to. But anyone who knows Scripture will be aware that in his created world God always acts along with creation, not against it. A good example of this is the feeding of the 5000. Here there was a crowd of 5000 people, and they were all hungry. It would surely have been an easy matter for the Lord to arrange things, through the Holy Spirit, in such a way that they might all at once have been miraculously filled. But he took the limited resources that happened to be available - five loaves and two fish - and gave thanks to the Father, after which he and the disciples divided up what there was, for as long as it took until the last person present had had enough; and what was left, in the end, was twelve baskets of fish.

In the same way, in his Creation, God created everything in sequence and according to plan, one thing after another. First of all the universe, with space, matter, light and darkness (Gen 1,1-5). Then, at the preordained moment in time, the earth along with the heavenly bodies, and all vegetable, animal and human life (Gen 1,6-31). And anyone who reads the account of Creation with attention will recognize that the first three days of Creation fall into a completely different category from those days which God gives to humanity in Gen 1,14 as earthly days for the definition of seasons and days and years. The one is a measurement in God’s terms; the other is on a human scale.

If we compare the first day of Creation with the second to fourth days of Creation, as in the table that concludes Excursus 12, we will see that the repeated mentions of “heaven”, “earth”, “day”, “night”, “light” and “darkness” are by no means repetitions of one and the same happening, but are associated with two quite different acts of creation: on the first day, the creation of the universe (as a result of the Big Bang) and from the second day through the fourth, the creation of the earth, along with the heavenly bodies.

(See also Excursus 12: “The Creation.”)

We had occasion earlier in this discourse to speak of those biblical commentators who take the 144,000 who have been sealed, coming from the twelve tribes of Israel, and press them into service - free of charge - as the Christian congregation of all time. Such persons can hardly be reproached for a lack of intellect, seeing that we here have a blatant and deliberate reinterpretation of scriptural passages so as to make them yield confirmation of a preconceived opinion. The interpretation of all the days of Creation as 24-hour days, on the other hand, does rather suggest a certain superficiality on the commentator’s part: the texts have been read, but their full implications have not been understood; nor has the commentator succeeded in registering the entire spectrum of their significance.

(See also Discourse 50: “The account of creation in the Bible.”)