Previous article in this series: March 15, 2010, p. 272.
When witnessing to those who profess to be Christians, we come across a variety of views on the subject of creation. Some will admit that they believe in evolution, even though it blatantly contradicts the teaching of Scripture. Others will say that they reject the theory of evolution, yet they will still insist that the six days of creation may have lasted for an extremely long period of time.
This latter group, though denying evolution, is still falling into a very serious error. Even if they confess the truth concerning the historicity of the creation and fall of man, they are still maintaining an error that has serious consequences. The long-day theory obviously involves a denial of the principle of interpretation that we are to interpret a word like “day” to refer to a normal day unless Scripture clearly indicates that it is to be taken differently. But in addition to that, this false teaching often leads a person to deny that death was the punishment for sin, and that therefore there was no death in the world until Adam sinned.
No Death in the World before the Fall
Most of those who hold to the long-day theory also hold to the error that animals died before there was a man on this earth. In their view, animals must have died, because the science of this world has “proven” that animals walked on this earth for many thousands of years before Adam was created. And, so it is thought, these animals certainly must have died, just as animals do today.
But there is a problem with this. Scripture says there was no death in this creation until Adam sinned: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). It was “by sin” that death entered the world. It entered the world as the punishment for sin.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
In the new earth, the lion shall not hurt in God’s holy mountain. It will not hurt man, nor will it hurt other animals. This implies that it was because of man’s fallthat it hurts today. It was not like this originally.
Adam: The Head of the Earthly Creation
Adam was set by God over the earthly creation, as is shown by the fact that he was given dominion over it:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth,
That Adam was to rule “over all the earth” means that he was the head of the earthly creation. So when God’s judgment came upon Adam the head, it came also upon the creation over which God had set him.
When God created the world, He said that it was “very good.” In this good world there was no death. This first paradise was a picture of the heavenly one. Just as there will be no death in the future paradise, so there was no death in the first one. John Calvin, in his commentary on Isaiah 11:7, was correct when he wrote:
For this reason, he says, that straw will be the food of the lion as well as of the ox; for if the stain of sin had not polluted the world, no animal would have been addicted to prey on blood, but the fruits of the earth would have sufficed for all, according to the method which God had appointed.
The long-day theory may seem harmless, but it almost inevitably leads one to deny that death entered the world by sin. Some who hold to this theory may not be aware of this. So it is very important in our witnessing that we point this out to them. Indeed, it is important for all of us to see and to confess that the whole truth of God hangs together. If we deny one point, it will lead to a denial of others. We must never be so deceived by the world that we deny even one point of what our Lord has taught us.