A Day is a Thousand Years? (The Language of Creation Part 3)

A Day is a Thousand Years?

Peter’s statement “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2Pet 3:8) has been A Day is a thousand yearsused to supposedly prove that time and numbers in the Bible do not have concrete value and therefore the days in Gen 1 could have lasted one thousand years or perhaps even one million. The key to understanding is the phrase “with the Lord” with which Peter describes God’s perspective to time and not man’s; he is not saying that one thousand years are equal to one day but rather in God’s economy, time is radically different and when we think that the Lord is “slack” (2Pet 3:9) we should think again. Peter wants to make clear that God’s timetable is different from ours, hence “with the Lord”.

Numbers are Literal in the Bible

Another objection made against the creation account is that numbers and days are allegorical or figurative. Signers of the Clergy Letter Project suggest the creation account is not meant to convey literal truth but simply “timeless truths.” Though there are many examples that can be brought to demonstrate that claim to be false, for brevity’ sake we will only compare the texts of Jeremiah, Daniel, and 2 Chronicles.


God told the prophet Jeremiah that the people of Judea would “serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jer 25:11) Approximately seventy years later, Daniel tells us, “I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem” (Daniel 9:2). Keep in mind, though the book of Daniel contains many visions, Daniel chapter 9 is him explaining an event in his life; in other words, it ought to be read as literally and historically true. In his time of prayer he interprets the prophecy of Jeremiah in unmistakable terms – he understood from the prophet Jeremiah that God would keep His people in Babylon for seventy literal years. He does not try to look for a hidden message as to what God meant by seventy years, he assumes them to be literal: exactly seventy years after the first deportation, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem.


Daniel interprets and confirms that the curse given in Deuteronomy was 100% literally fulfilled through the destruction of Jerusalem. “As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us.” (Daniel 9:13) He does not seek to

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interpret away God’s words as allegory as many do today. Daniel was much closer to and was a part of the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures – less than seventy years after Jeremiah. His own writings are also considered canonical, inspired, and authoritative. If he took such writings as literal and straightforward, how much more should we? The literal interpretation of Daniel regarding Jeremiah’s prophecy is also shared by the writer of 2 Chronicles in extremely plain language: “…to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah … As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years…that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled…” (2Chron 36:20, 21) The author of Chronicles reiterates the period of seventy years to fulfill Jeremiah’s prophecy. There was no question in the writer’s mind that this prophecy was fulfilled completely and literally.