One day is as a thousand years:

God’s warning to those who deny creation and the worldwide flood

by

Published: 16 July 2019 (GMT+10)
iStockphotohourglass-2
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. (2 Peter 3:8)

Have you ever spoken with people who point to this passage as evidence that God did not create the world in six 24-hour days? How should we address this claim?


When addressing biblical creation, professing Christians sometimes appeal to
2 Peter 3:8 as a reason for rejecting a plain reading of the six days of creation.

The argument usually goes as follows:

2 Peter 3:8 tells us that one day of God’s time is a thousand years of man’s time. Therefore, when we read Genesis 1, it is not telling us that God created in six 24-hour days. Each day in God’s time might just be a reference to long periods of time on the Earth.

How should we address this claim?

From the outset, we should note that this verse does not say that a day is a thousand years. It says that a day is as/like a thousand years. The word ‘as’ tells us that this is a figure of speech, which only makes sense if the word ‘day’ refers to a literal day—so this is actually the opposite of what creation compromisers claim—namely, that the day in 2 Peter 3:8 is not a literal day. As explained in 2 Peter 3:8—‘one day is as a thousand years’,

“the figure of speech is so effective in its intended aim precisely because the day is literal and contrasts so vividly with 1000 years—to the eternal Creator of time, a short period of time and a long period of time may as well be the same”. If the word ‘day’ in 2 Peter 3:8 refers to a literal day, how then can a person use this to say that the word ‘day’ refers to a non-literal day?

2 Peter 3:8 is not contrasting God’s time with man’s time. God is outside of time, and it is God Himself who created time. Consider Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God is already there at the very beginning, before the creation and before time itself. God’s creation of the universe marks the beginning of time (also see: If God created the Universe, then who created God?). So it makes no sense to say that one day of God’s time is equivalent to a thousand years of man’s time. God is eternal, and any attempt to contrast His time with man’s time betrays an erroneous understanding of the eternal nature of God. If there is no such thing as ‘God’s time’, then when the Bible refers to time, it has to be a reference to man’s time. Thus, 2 Peter 3:8 cannot be contrasting one day of God’s time to a thousand years of man’s time.

In addition, each day of creation in Genesis 1 is marked by ‘evening’ and ‘morning’, so it is impossible to stretch the days out to millions of years on Earth. (See: The numbering pattern of Genesis for a more in-depth analysis of the Hebrew syntax in this regard). The days in Genesis 1 are clearly a reference to man’s time—or more specifically, a literal day on Earth—marked by an evening and a morning.

Continuing contradictions

The order of creation in the Bible contradicts the evolutionary order in over two dozen places, and stretching the days out into long periods of time only makes the matter worse. For example, the Bible tells us that the plants were created on Day 3, but the sun, moon and stars were created on Day 4.

If you stretch out the days of creation to a thousand years each, you still only have six thousand years. This is still several orders of magnitude short of the billions of years required by evolution and the big bang. And if we stretch the days of creation into billions of years, we create an even worse problem. Now, you have plants (created on Day 3) growing for millions of years without the sun (created on Day 4).

Keep in mind that the motivation for adding millions of years into the biblical account is an attempt to reconcile the Bible with long ages. But stretching the creation days into billions of years, results in plants existing billions of years before the sun. This position is neither compatible with the Bible, nor with the big bang/old-earth view. The existence of days (i.e. evening and morning) before the sun is not a problem for the biblical creationist since God had already created a light source on Day 1 (but the actual sun, moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day), all you need is a rotating earth for there to be evening and morning.

The biblical order of creation is irreconcilable with the evolutionary belief system. Stretching each day of creation into billions of years only serves to compound the contradiction further. It is so much easier to just take God’s word as it says: God created the heavens and the earth in six literal, 24-hour days.

To make matters worse, the second half of 2 Peter 3:8 says, “and a thousand years are as one day”. The creation compromiser is stuck. He claims that a day is like a thousand years, but he does not consider the rest of the verse which says that a thousand years is like a day. He is back to square one. Should we now say that one thousand years of God’s time is equivalent to one day of Man’s time? This would not leave enough time for evolution to happen (And we have already dealt with the problem of contrasting God’s time with man’s time). In other words, creation compromisers are not consistent with their own method of interpretation. They want to stretch the days in the first half of 2 Peter 3:8 to mean thousands of years, but they refuse to compress the thousands of years in the second half of the same verse into one day of Man’s time.

It would be worth taking time here to read the whole passage to determine its context. 2 Peter 3:3–10 says:

“knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 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. 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.”

The point is this: we need to interpret a text within its context. We cannot simply take the word ‘day’ in 2 Peter 3:8 and randomly impose it on Creation week or any other unrelated passage. Why not, for example, also randomly impose it on the three days that Jesus was in the grave? To be consistent with their hermeneutics, one would then have to say that Jesus has not yet risen, and we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).

When 2 Peter 3:8 is read in its proper context, it becomes clear that it is not even talking about creation, but rather, this verse is speaking of the patience of God. The passage tells us that God is patient towards his people, desiring that they all come to repentance, yet it does not stop there. It must be read in the larger context of how God will certainly judge the heavens and the earth with fire and bring judgment and destruction upon the ungodly. 2 Peter 3 is primarily a passage about the certainty of God’s judgment. Within this context, 2 Peter 3:8 explains that God is not slow concerning his promise, but is patiently waiting for his saints to be saved.

Who are the ungodly (2 Peter 3:7) who will be judged? What are their characteristics? 2 Peter 3:3 identifies them. The ungodly in verse 7 refers to the unrepentant scoffers who come in the last days following their own evil desires.1 These unbelievers exhibit several characteristics. They will:

  1. 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.” (2 Peter 3:4)
  • These scoffers hold to a form of deism or divine inactivity where God is thought to be inactive in our recent past. Similarly, uniformitarians today appeal to the naturalistic order of things, denying a recent creation and a worldwide flood.
  1. Deny that, “the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God …” (2 Peter 3:5)
  • Similar to the scoffers in Peter’s day, many creation compromisers today deny that the Earth was formed out of water and through water. Instead, they insist that the Earth was previously a hot molten blob that cooled down over millions of years and only obtained water much later on.
  1. Deny that the Earth that then existed was deluged with water and perished. (2 Peter 3:6)
  • Again, like the scoffers in the past, many consistent evolutionary or ‘Old-earth’ proponents deny the worldwide flood, since the whole idea of millions of years stems from an interpretation of the rock layers. These rock layers are assumed to be a record of millions of years. A world-wide flood would destroy most pre-existing rock layers and lay down its own set of rock layers. In other words, if you believe in a global flood, you can no longer appeal to the rock layers as evidence of millions of years. Thus, the consistent evolutionist/old-earther has to deny the worldwide flood if they want to insert millions of years into the Bible. In so doing, they commit the same error as the scoffers in Peter’s day.

2 Peter 3:5 tells us that these ungodly people “deliberately overlook” these three facts. But if they have to deliberately overlook them, it means that with the right presuppositions, we should be able to see evidence of a catastrophic worldwide flood all around us; evidence which refutes the idea taught by some, that the Global flood was a tranquil worldwide flood that left no evidence.

That brings us back to 2 Peter 3:8–10—“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.” We have already established that the context speaks about the certainty of God’s judgment of the ungodly. The ungodly will one day be judged with fire and destruction (unless they repent and believe the Gospel). These scoffers are those who believe in:

  1. a form of uniformitarianism;
  2. deny that the Earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God; and
  3. those who deny the worldwide flood.

Yet these very three beliefs are common among creation compromisers today who try to insert millions of years into the Bible.

Therefore, although 2 Peter 3:8 is often used by creation compromisers as a proof-text to reject 24-hour creation days, the passage actually ends up working against them. “ … One day is as a thousand years”, read in the larger context of 2 Peter 3, highlights the importance of affirming Biblical creation and the worldwide flood—lest we find ourselves in agreement with the very same scoffers that Peter said were going to be destroyed (2 Peter 3:7). As the Apostle Peter sums up in 2 Peter 3:16b–18:

“There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

References and notes

  1. The last days mentioned in 2 Peter 3:3 probably began with Jesus (cf. Hebrews 1:2– … but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son). Peter was writing to his own audience in the 1st century, so the scoffers were already present during his time. But this does not exclude his words from being true in modern times as well. I am not saying that Peter addressed 21st century evolutionists. I am saying that creation compromisers today share all three characteristics common to the scoffers of Peter’s day. This should be a concern for those who compromise on biblical creation today. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Refuting Compromise, updated & expanded
by Dr Jonathan Sarfati
From
US $15.00
The Genesis Account
by Jonathan Sarfati
From
US $35.00
The Creation Answers Book
by Various
From
US $10.00

Readers’ comments

Lorna T.
God is all powerful. Everything is possible with God, nothing is impossible for Him. Even if the plants had been in darkness for hundreds of years He could keep them alive if He wanted to.!
Joel Tay
I think you are missing the point. The reason why creation compromisers try to insert billions of years into the Bible is because they want to reconcile the Bible with the evolutionary idea of the Big Bang and billions of years. If the Sun was only created billions of years later (if they stretch the days out to be billions of years), they contradict the Big Bang. So this not only undermines their motivation for appealing to the Billions of years in the first place, but they also reject the Biblical teaching of a 6,000 year old Creation. Remember, the Big Bang has the sun becoming into existence before the Earth and all its life forms. But if you throw out the Big Bang and the billions of years, you now have to invoke a miracle not mentioned in the Bible to prop up this artificial construct, there is no longer any reason for having the plant grow in darkness for millions of years. Why not just take God's word as it says: God created a light on Day 1, with a rotating Earth—even the plants were before the sun was created on Day 4. The order of biblical creation contradicts the evolutionary order in close to two dozen places. Any attempt to stretch the days out to accommodate billions of years only makes the situation worse for the creation compromiser. It is so much better to just take God's word as it says.
Marg T.
Also, if one day is 1000 years, then when God rested on the 7th day, he would have rested for 1000 years, not doing anything, leaving the world to operate without him.
Joel Tay
That's right. And it still leaves them with only 7,000 year—short of the millions of years required for evolutionary or 'Old-earth' dates. And you still cannot put death before the fall even in such a scenario, so it does not help them at all.
Mike D.
Basically compromisers are calling Jesus as CREATOR a liar when He validates the Genesis creation & inerrancy of Scripture. Once someone has compromised any part of the Scripture ie Gospel & foundation per Genesis 1-11. Then there is no foundation to stand on since we've surrendered inerrancy. The rest is pick & choose to hearts desire. Plus they've disobeyed Jesus command for the Greatest commandment to Love the Lord with ALL your Heart Soul & MIND. Romans 1 being plainly obvious to ALL includes Theistic evolutionist compromisers who've chosen to worship the created rather than CREATOR & even worse chosen man's " wisdom" which is foolishness to God over God, Jesus & the HS which leads to all truth. John 14:26 & 16:13. Plus rejected Jesus teaching on proper priorities & cost of discipleship explained by Jesus Himself in Matt 10:24-39 & Luke 14:25-35. Jesus rejected Rich Young Ruler. How will they defend this before Jesus Thee CREATOR Himself? They need to get their priorities straight, repent & then follow the command to learn how to defend the inerrant scripture. Found in 2 Tim 2 & 3 vs 15. Jesus will spew out of His mouth Lukewarm. If compromising for the world isn't Lukewarm & choosing friendship with world which makes one an enemy of God James 4:4. Then I don't know what Lukewarm is. They truly need to wake up & esp quit attacking those trying to warm them for their own good etc.
Joel Tay
That's a great point. That is why we sometimes call Biblical Creation the evangelical litmus test, since it goes back to the heart of the issue—belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.
Graham P.
Great piece. My mother used to say that I only tidied my room 'once in a blue moon'. Common sense told me she knew that, despite the moon never becoming blue, I did in fact tidy my room occasionally. Another friend often told me that certain unlikely events would only happen 'when the cows came home', despite not owning any cows.
A child will tell you that they are figures of speech.
However, when my mother told me I wouldn't get any dessert unless I ate my vegetables, I understood without doubt that my ice cream was in danger.
Jonathan B.
Context, context, context! We ignore it at our peril.
Del U.
"For example, the Bible tells us that the plants were created on Day 3, but the sun, moon and stars were created on Day 4."

Assuming that God, who is supposed to know everything, would know that plants require sunlight in order to photosynthesize, why would he damn them to one full day (as stated in the Genesis) of darkness without any sunlight rather than, you know, make the sun, moon and stars FIRST, THEN make plants? What did they ever do to incur His divine wrath (can't be anything TOO serious since it's just for one day unlike some of his...other punishments)? Or did he just slip up and mess up the order of creation (but God CAN'T make mistakes yes?)
Matthew Cserhati
Hello Del,
Light was already there before Day 3 when plants were created. Read Genesis 1:3: "And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." So there was enough light for plants to survive. Plants also grow during the night, so the night phase is also important for plants. You see, God created light out of nothing the very first thing on Day 1. Light does not depend on the sun being its exclusive source. Thus plants existed all throughout Day 3 of creation. Therefore we do not need to reinterpret Genesis to fit the Big Bang.
Pauline T.
Hi CMI
I am SO thankful for you all. I've been reading/considering this creation issue for 3 decades now and STILL have trouble at times being ready to give a clear answer to inquiries ... but you at CMI have it all, and continually bring MORE relevant info so that folk like me CAN give an answer.
This one on the meaning of DAY and it's referenced articles etc is very timely for me and my friend and I'm so EXCITED to be able to provide a clear thought-through explanation about this "controversial" issue.
A million (ooops) thank-yous and may our Lord Jesus delight to continue to protect and provide for you and your ministry to His awesome praise and glory, and your blessing.
Michael B.
It is also helpful to draw on Psalm 90 which I believe is the Scripture Peter was using as his reference text in this part of his letter.
In it Moses writes "A thousand years in Your sight is as but yesterday when they are gone, like a watch in the night You carry them away as in a flood, they are like a dream" Psalm 90: 4-5
In 2 Peter 3; Peter's reminders and admonishments through the whole chapter are all very reflective of Psalm 90 and the two make an excellent parallel study.
Last note regarding these for the Christian, they both have similar callings on our lives that we need to seriously reflect on.
In Psalm 90 after speaking on the eternality of God, the fleetingness of our own lives, and the reality of God's wrath, He asks of the Lord to "teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom"
Likewise Peter in the middle of his reminders to us that this world is passing away and that our hope is not in this world he asks the question "what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godlines"? 2 Peter 3:11b
Thank you and all of the CMI staff for your faithfulness to God's Holy Word.
Your Brother in Christ,
Michael
Joel Tay
Thanks Michael, you are correct to point out that Peter probably had Psalm 90 in mind, as we have pointed out in "2 Peter 3:8: 'one day is like a thousand years'."
Mark C.
In addition to the arguments above, the New Testament was written in Greek. You don't go to a passage in the New Testament to define the Hebrew word yom.
Frank S.
Thank you Joel, for this excellent reminder . This passage is to make us always aware of the coming Day of judgment, not to make a statement abut the length of the days of creation.
Mark Z.
Do we have a God of order or a God of confusion? How can day 2 be the same day as day 2 or day 2,000? I am confused, which day 2 are we talking about? Look at how much creation we get done in 1 day. Are we greater than God? All who stand behind 1,000 years as a day must give an account of the teaching. If they have no understanding of the teaching of 1,000 years as a day then they don’t hold any truth.

----

Genesis 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Take a stop watch and record how long it takes for you to say those words really slow, “Let there be light”.

“and there was light.”

The lack of details is where one could manipulate those words.

Take what we know about one day, and the text “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.“ and the sequential order throughout says it clearly. It is written, John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” These people clearly need Jesus if falsehood wins over what we know about one day.
Robert B.
I have come across many who presuppose a six thousand year creation instead of a literal six day creation because of this verse in 2 Peter 3:8. My response to them is, "Then if a day equaled a thousand years, then that means there was a five hundred years of darkness and then 500 years of light. So all the plants would have died. And even if some had survived till day six, during that 500 years of darkness they all would have died again and the animal life would have had nothing to eat, because according to Genesis 1:29, 30, all animals, including mankind, were vegetarians. Text taken out of context is pretext.
Joel Tay
That right, Robert. I often point this out in my talk. Stretching the days out results in them having a view that is neither compatible with the Bible, nor compatible with the evolutionary long ages. They end up in 'no-man's land'. It is so much better to just take God's word as it says—God created the world in six, 24-hour days.

Comments are automatically closed 14 days after publication.