The Earth is More than 6000 Years Old: How Young Earth Creationists have Misinterpreted the Bible

The Biblical Error of Young Earth Creationism

Does the Bible REALLY Suggest that the Earth is 6000 Years Old? Summary and Highlights

Modern preterism, I believe, correctly recognizes the fact that there is covenantal significance behind each instance of the destruction of heaven and earth throughout Biblical history and Biblical prophecy. See The Covenantal Significance of the Destruction of Heaven and Earth.  However, as will be addressed in the following article there is more to the destruction of heaven and earth than just the establishment of a new covenant with Israel or the cessation or nullification of an old one. These covenantal shifts are always marked by the literal destruction of a kingdom. This destruction of a kingdom is the literal fulfillment of the Biblical language and imagery signifying the destruction of the earth (earth is often used in the Bible to refer to an isolated kingdom, not the entire globe). See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations.  (For a similar discussion of the concurrent destruction of heaven see The Destruction of Heaven and Earth and the New Heaven and Earth Explained!.) The following article addresses the implications of this fact as it relates to the creation account in Genesis 1 and the age of the earth.

Genesis 1 seems not to be written in the same literary style as the rest of Genesis or the other historical books. Genesis 1 appears to be a poem because its structure is similar to the Psalms. Almost by definition, poems are replete with symbolism. The symbolic nature of Genesis 1 becomes more probable in light of the fact that whenever a kingdom faced a major war, the Bible often describes the destruction of that nation as the destruction of heaven and earth itself in the books of the prophets.

These Biblical predictions concerning the destruction of heaven and earth are attached to prophecies concerning the destruction of several kingdoms and their governments that had already been fulfilled at various points in Old Testament history. Furthermore, the resumption of the practice of the Law and the subsequent establishment of a new sovereign Israel after the Maccabean Wars of the second century B.C. is depicted in imagery mirroring the steps of creation in Genesis 1. See How and Why the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1:1-10 and Zechariah 14 Fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars: A Preterist Commentary.

These facts have powerful implications for the meaning of Genesis 1 and the age of the earth. Like these symbolic prophecies concerning the rise and fall of various kingdoms and their governments portrayed in the image of the destruction and creation of heaven and earth, Genesis 1 also appears to be an apocalyptic poem describing the renewal of a kingdom/government [possibly Israel] by foreign conquest symbolically portrayed as the creation of heaven and earth itself. This understanding undermines the assumption that the world is 6000 years old and that the creation account in Genesis 1 relays the very first literal, physical creation of heaven and earth.

Furthermore, contradictions in the order of creation in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 in addition to logical improbabilities like the fact that plants and both day and night precede the creation of the sun bolster this interpretation while simultaneously challenging the assumption that Genesis 1 is a literal step-by-step sequence of the creation of the cosmos.

This interpretation also harmonizes Genesis with Revelation according to the preterist view of end time prophecy. What is Preterism? Preterism is the belief that all end time Bible prophecies have been fulfilled primarily in Israel’s first century war with Rome. For compelling evidence of the complete historical fulfillment of all end time prophecies in the Bible see revelationrevolution.org. In other words, if the preterist view is correct and the end of the age did not bring about the literal end of the physical world in its entirety, then it is unlikely that the beginning laid out in Genesis 1 is a literal, scientific account of the creation of the physical world in its entirety. Because the destruction and recreation of heaven and earth are apocalyptic or somewhat symbolic at the end (and at several points throughout Biblical history), it would, therefore, seem highly probable that the beginning would also be apocalyptic in style or somewhat symbolic.

In the following essay, the meaning of apocalyptic symbolism found elsewhere in the Bible is applied to each verse in Genesis 1. By using the Bible to interpret the Bible, Genesis 1 is shown, I believe conclusively, to be a poem describing the conquest of a kingdom by foreign powers wrapped-up in the imagery of the creation of heaven and earth. This interpretation harmonizes Genesis 1 with the implicit meaning of apocalyptic and creation imagery found throughout the rest of the Bible in a fully consistent way. Implicit in this message is the implication that the earth may be much more than 6000 years old.

Michelangelo. The Creation of Adam. 1511. Sistine Chapel

The Biblical Error of Young Earth Creationism

Does the Bible say the Earth is 6000 Years Old? Ussher used the Bible to Calculate the Earth to be 6000 Years Old.

In the 17th century, Archbishop James Ussher used the Bible to calculate the age of the earth. According to his calculations the earth was created in 4004 B.C., just 6000 years ago. Many theologians agree with Archbishop Ussher’s assertion that all life was created 6000 years ago. However, this calculation stands boldly against the prevailing view of the age of the earth according to modern geology. Geologists estimate the earth to be 4.5 billion years old. These scientists assert that there is a multitude of evidence suggesting that the earth must be very old since geological processes often seem to require millions of years in order to explain the current global landscape. Which view is correct? Interestingly, a careful study of Genesis 1 interpreted in light of related Bible verses may actually support the idea of an old earth.[4]

Does the Bible say the Earth is 6000 Years Old? Genesis 1 and 2 poetically pictures the Origin of Israel in the Image of the Creation of the Cosmos.

Though I disagree with Ussher’s assertion that the world is just 6000 years old, I agree with him that the Bible only records history up to approximately 4000 B.C. In the following essay I will show, I believe conclusively, that the Jewish creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 relays the conquest and settlement of a new people in a new land in the image and language of the creation of heaven and earth itself. This idea is implied in Isaiah 51. In v. 15 God “divided the sea” and “gave the law” in v. 16. It is in this context that God is said to “plant the heavens and found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people [emphasis mine].’” Here one can see how heaven and earth are created anew at the reception of the Law and the subsequent conquest and settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan after the exodus. Though the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1 does not symbolize the Israelite conquest of Canaan after the exodus, I believe that it does symbolize a previous conquest of a particular land by a new people with a corresponding change or establishment of a new covenant between God and His people. (For the complimentary covenantal significance of the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1 see The Covenantal Significance of the Destruction of Heaven and Earth.)

This idea implies that the destruction and creation of the earth is not a global phenomenon. How could this be? Whenever the Bible mentions the earth, it often just refers to a particular kingdom, not the world as a whole. The Greek word for earth is ge. This word is often used to denote to an isolated country or nation (Isaiah 1:1-3; 24-27; Jeremiah 51:24-25). See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations.  The Bible’s use of the word earth is interchangeable with land or kingdom. Whenever a kingdom is destroyed and its people dominated or replaced by foreigners, this destruction or conquest of an individual kingdom is often metaphorically portrayed in the Bible as the destruction and creation of heaven and earth itself.

Though this notion, I believe, will be shown to be true in the essay below, it is important to also recognize that there is also covenantal or religious significance in each instance in which heaven and earth were said to be destroyed.  In every instance in which the Bible mentions or implies that heaven and earth was to be destroyed it seems to focus on one particular kingdom that was too be attacked or in some way destroyed.  This destruction also always appears to have covenantal significance.  In other words, every time heaven and earth were destroyed throughout the Bible a kingdom was attacked or destroyed in some way whether militarily or by acts of God and this tragedy accompanied the establishment of a new covenant or a change in an existing covenant between God and the people of Israel.  For an explanation of the covenantal or religious significance behind each instance of the destruction of heaven and earth throughout Biblical history and Biblical prophecy see The Covenantal Significance of the Destruction of Heaven and Earth.

Does the Bible Really imply that the Earth is 6000 Years Old? The Cycle of Creation and Destruction in the Bible

Genesis 1 presents the creation of heaven and earth. Then in Isaiah 65:17, 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1, there is a promise of a new heaven and earth. However, this is not the only cycle of creation and destruction in the Bible. Whispers of this cycle of creation and destruction of heaven and earth are found in Noah’s flood, the exodus, the war with Babylon, and a few other instances in Jewish history. According to the Bible, the “earth” appears to have been “destroyed” and “re-created” several times throughout Biblical history.

Noah’s flood represents a return to the water world of Genesis 1:1-10 before the creation of the earth.

Noah’s flood represents a return to the water world of Genesis 1:1-10 before the creation of the earth.

The Cycle of Creation and Destruction in the Bible: Noah’s Flood and the Destruction of the Earth

The first recorded destruction of the earth is the flood of Genesis 7.  The flood of Genesis 7 is implied to have been a destruction of heaven and earth as the subsequent destruction of heaven and earth by fire is likened to its previous destruction by water in 2 Peter 3:5-13. During the flood, the state of the earth reverted back to the formless and void precreation water world of Genesis 1:1-8.  The convergence of the fountains of the deep below together with the prodigious rain above mentioned in Genesis 7:11-12 which caused Noah’s flood points to a reversal of the separation of the waters above from the waters below in Genesis 1:6-8.  The receding of the flood waters in Genesis 8:3-4 mirrors the separation of the waters below the heavens that allowed the earth to appear in Genesis 1:9-10.  Then when the people and animals left the ark, the earth was populated with life as it was in the rest of Genesis 1.  After this event the destruction and conquest of individual kingdoms and the subsequent establishment of new regimes is symbolized in the Bible as the destruction and creation of heaven and earth itself.  The first example is Exodus 14, the parting of the Red Sea.

The parting of the red sea points to the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9.

The parting of the red sea points to the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9.

The Cycle of Creation and Destruction in the Bible: The Destruction and Creation of Heaven and Earth during the Exodus

The miracle of the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14 is a creation motif pointing to Genesis 1:9 in which God parts the waters under the heavens at the creation of the earth. Then after the Israelites cross the sea, the waters rise-up to drown the Egyptian pursuers. This flood imagery hints at the destruction of the earth such that it resembles the desolate water world of Genesis 1:1-10 and Genesis 7. The miracle of the parting of the Red Sea appears to be a sign from God foretelling the creation of a new “earth.” Remember that the Bible’s use of the word earth is interchangeable with land or kingdom. See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations.  This miracle prophetically portrays the impending Israelite conquest of Canaan as the creation of a new earth. This new earth represents a new Israel no longer dominated by the ancient Canaanites but rather populated by the descendants of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt.

The fact that the reception of the Law and the subsequent Israelite conquest of Canaan is accompanied by the creation of a new heaven and earth may also be implied in Isaiah 51. In v. 15 God “divided the sea” and “gave the law” in v. 16. It is in this context that God is said to “plant the heavens and found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’” Here one can see how heaven and earth are created anew at the reception of the Law and the subsequent conquest and settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan after the exodus.[5]

The Cycle of Creation and Destruction in the Bible: The Destruction of Heaven and Earth during the War with Babylon

One of the next instances in which Israel had been conquered by foreigners was during the Babylonian conquest in the sixth century B.C. Here the destruction of Israel by the Babylonians is presented as the destruction of heaven and earth itself according to Jeremiah 4:23-26:

I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. . . . I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins . . .

In Jeremiah 4:23-26, the desolation of Judah is depicted in imagery strongly suggestive of the destruction of heaven and earth.  In v. 23, the earth or land, which is Israel, is dark, “formless and empty” as it was in Genesis 1:2.  This apocalyptic darkness engulfing Judah in Jeremiah 4:23-26 represents a return to the primordial darkness of Genesis 1:2 thereby suggesting that heaven had also been destroyed at that time since all the light from the sun, moon and stars “was gone” in v. 23.  Similarly the fact that Jeremiah says that “there were no people [and] every bird in the sky had flown away” and “the fruitful land was a desert” in vs. 23-26 seems to intentionally point to the lack of living things at the start of creation in Genesis 1 when the earth was a desolate wasteland.  In Jeremiah 4:23-26, Jeremiah uses apocalyptic language in order to paint the sixth century B.C. destruction of Judah by the Babylonians as the destruction of heaven and earth.  Interestingly, the destruction of heaven and earth around this time, in the sixth century B.C., was not just limited to Judah.  Heaven and earth were also said to have been destroyed during the Babylonian conquest of Egypt and Edom which also occurred in the sixth century B.C. (Ezekiel 32:7-9 and Isaiah 34:4-5).

The Cycle of Creation and Destruction in the Bible: The Destruction of Heaven and Earth at the Fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.

Similar imagery pointing to the destruction of heaven and earth is also present in Isaiah 13:9-13 concerning the conquest and fall of Babylon by the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C.

The Cycle of Creation and Destruction in the Bible: The Destruction of Heaven and Earth during the Maccabean Wars.

The next time heaven and earth were destroyed and recreated appears to have been during the Maccabean Wars.  During this war the Jews fought for and temporarily won their sovereignty from Greece during a series of battles in the second century B.C.  This war began when the Seleucid Empire attacked Jerusalem and seized the Temple, desecrated it and put a stop to the practice of the Law.  The Temple remained under Greek control until it was seized by Jewish rebels under Judas Maccabees and reconsecrated three years later.  With the Temple seized by foreigners and the Jews thus unable to perform the stipulations of the Law, God’s covenant with the Jews was temporarily put on hold and heaven and earth were destroyed.  The destruction of heaven and earth at that time appears to be predicted in Zechariah 14 and is implicit in that chapter.  In Zechariah 14 events fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars are painted in imagery mimicking the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1:1-10. See How and Why the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1:1-10 and Zechariah 14 Fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars: A Preterist Commentary.

Roberts, David. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus

Roberts, David. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 . 1850. Yeshiva University Museum, New York.

The Cycle of Creation and Destruction in the Bible: The Destruction of Heaven and Earth during Israel’s War with Rome

Later in Revelation 6:12-14, the conquest and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 is also presented as the destruction of heaven and earth:

I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to the earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Hebrews 12:26 reads,  “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’  The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain [emphasis mine].”  The shaking of heaven and earth predicted in Hebrews 12:26 is depicted in Revelation 6:12-14.  Here there is an earthquake and the stars fall to the earth presumably as a consequence of God shaking heaven and earth.  The fact that the earth and sky appear to be shaken in Revelation 6:12-14 implies according to Hebrews 12:26 that they will be removed.  Revelation 6:14 predicts the removal of heaven and earth when it says, “The sky receded like a scroll rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place [emphasis mine].”

The fact that the sun turned black, the moon turned blood red, the stars fell to the earth and the sky receded like a scroll in Revelation 6:12-14 is a metaphorical description of the destruction of heaven.  The destruction of the earth is implied by the following expression: “every mountain and island was removed from its place.”  The removal of the mountains and islands implies that the earth is once again formless and void as it was in Genesis 1:2 before its creation.

In v. 14, John states that every mountain will be removed. As is implied in Daniel 9:16, mountain is a Biblical metaphor for a city or kingdom. This is not the only verse in which this meaning is implied. There are a multitude of examples of this implicit meaning throughout Scripture of which Psalms 2:6, Psalms 48:1, Isaiah 66:20, Jeremiah 51:25 and Joel 3:17 are just a few examples. The removal of these mountains or kingdoms was fulfilled in the war with Rome.

In A.D. 70 the mountain or kingdom of Jerusalem was besieged by the Romans.  After the Romans seized the Temple fortress, Caesar Titus commanded his soldiers to destroy the city.  Consequently Jerusalem was burned and destroyed with only the western wall and a few towers left standing.  Describing the desolate state of Jerusalem after the war, Josephus writes, “[T]here was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.”[6] Here the reader can appreciate how the mountain of Jerusalem was destroyed or removed in fulfillment of Revelation 6:14. The fact that the mountains or kingdoms of Israel had been removed during the course of the Jewish War is a poetic way of expressing the fact that Jerusalem and Israel had become formless and barren. This formless and barren state of post-war Israel resembles the formless and barren state of the earth before its creation according to Genesis 1:1-2: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void.” This desolate and formless state of the Israel and Jerusalem which mirrors the primordial state of earth before its creation sets the stage for its recreation as the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21:1. See Revelation 6: A Preterist Commentary and What is Preterism, Preterist Theology and the Preterist View of Eschatology?

The Cycle of Creation and Destruction in the Bible: Though Each Instance of the Destruction of Heaven and Earth marked the Time in which a Change occurred in a Covenant between God and Israel, the Destruction of Heaven and Earth was not limited to just Wars in Israel.

Though each instance of the destruction of heaven and earth marked the time in which a change occurred in a covenant between God and Israel, Biblical prophecies concerning the destruction of heaven and earth were not limited to just wars in Israel.  In Ezekiel 32, Ezekiel predicts the destruction of heaven and earth at the defeat of Egypt by the Babylonians in the sixth century B.C.

When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light.  All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord.  I will trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring about your destruction among the nations, among lands you have not known (Ezekiel 32:7-9).

In Ezekiel 32:7-9 heaven is implicitly destroyed as a consequence of the darkening of the sun, moon and stars at the fall of Egypt in the sixth century B.C.  Similar language is found in Isaiah 13:9-13 which was fulfilled shortly thereafter at the fall of Babylon also in the sixth century B.C.:

See, the day of the Lord is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. . . . Therefore I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger [emphasis mine].

Recall that the shaking or trembling of heaven and earth is a sign of their removal according to Hebrews 12:26.  The fact that heaven trembles and the earth shakes at the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. according to Isaiah 13:13 points to the fact that both heaven and earth were destroyed at that time.

Heaven and earth were also destroyed at the fall of Edom which occurred around the time in which Babylon also conquered Judah as mentioned in Jeremiah 4:23-26 cited above:[7]

All the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll; all the starry host will fall like withered leaves from the vine, like shriveled figs from the fig tree.  My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed (Isaiah 34:4-5).

Above one can see that the destruction of Edom by the Babylonians in the sixth century B.C. is depicted in much the same way as heaven and earth are destroyed in Revelation 6:12-14 at the end of the age.  In Revelation 6:12-13, heaven and earth are shaken as they were at the fall of Babylon in the sixth century B.C. (Isaiah 13:13).  Furthermore, in Revelation 6:14 the sky recedes like a scroll rolling up and the stars fall from sky as was the case at the fall of Edom (Isaiah 34:4).  In the vs. cited above it is clear that the destruction of heaven and earth is directly correlated with the destruction or conquest of a nation, even nations other than Israel.

Is the Earth Really 6000 Years Old? With so many Instances of Creation and Destruction throughout the Bible, how can anyone confidently assert that Genesis 1 records the very First Creation of Heaven and Earth?

As stated above, the destruction of heaven and earth is not a onetime event. Whenever a nation is destroyed, subjugated or conquered by another, the Bible often poetically portrays this conquest as the destruction of heaven and earth itself. Having displayed several examples in which the Bible describes the destruction and re-creation of heaven and earth throughout Biblical history, how can one assert with any confidence that the creation account laid out in Genesis 1 is the first, literal and physical creation of heaven and earth?

Is Genesis 1 Apocalyptic Literature? The Prophecies concerning the Destruction of Heaven and Earth in Both the Prophets and Revelation are written in an Apocalyptic Style. Apocalyptic Literature is similar to Poetry and is thus not Rigidly Literal

In Revelation 21:1 John writes, “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”  As full preterists who believe in the fulfillment of all end time prophecy we know that the entire planet and sky were not physically destroyed after the Jewish War in the first century in the same way that heaven and earth were not physically destroyed at the fall of Judah, Edom and Egypt in the sixth century B.C. and the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.  The predictions regarding the sixth century B.C. falls of Edom, Egypt, Judah and Babylon cited above, similar to the prophecies in the Book of Revelation, are penned in an apocalyptic style.  Apocalyptic literature is almost by definition poetic.  It is not a woodenly literal portrayal of events as one would expect in a newspaper or scientific textbook.   In light of this fact, it is not surprising that the sky and earth were not literally obliterated after the Jewish-Roman War in the same way that the stars were not literally “dissolved and the heavens rolled up” at the conquest of Edom in the sixth century.  For a more detailed explanation of the destruction of heaven and earth in Biblical history including the meaning of this apocalyptic symbolism and how these signs despite being written in an apocalyptic style were fulfilled much more literally than one might initially expect see The Destruction of Heaven and Earth and the New Heaven and Earth Explained and How and Why Prophecies with Apocalyptic Imagery May Have Been Fulfilled in Old Testament History Much More Literally than Previously Thought.

Is Genesis 1 Symbolic Literature? The Fact that Biblical Descriptions of the Cosmos like the Foundation of the Earth, Cornerstone, and the Pillars of Heaven and Earth Symbolize People (Revelation 21:14, Matthew 21:42, Psalm 75:3, Job 26:11) Implies that the Destruction of Heaven and Earth in the Bible may also refer to the Destruction of the Inhabitants of a Kingdom, Not the Physical Destruction of the Cosmos.

The fact that heaven and earth were not physically annihilated in Old Testament history is consistent with what one would expect based on the way Biblical expressions are used to describe the cosmos. Ancient Jews and Christians once believed that the earth was flat. The idea of a flat earth emerged from references to the “four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12, Revelation 7:1) as well as Biblical references to the “foundation of the earth.” [7a] This expression “foundation of the earth” is significant because it appears to symbolize the founding fathers of a city. This idea is clarified in Revelation 21:14 in which the twelve foundation stones of the New Jerusalem signify the twelve disciples: “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” “Cornerstone” carries a similar meaning, the cornerstone which is the first stone set in a building’s foundation symbolizes the city’s ultimate founding father or king. This is why Jesus calls himself the “cornerstone that the builders rejected” (Matthew 21:42).

The Bible also mentions “pillars of the earth” (Psalm 75:3) and “pillars of heaven” (Job 26:11). As is the case concerning the foundation of the earth, the pillars of heaven and earth also appear to signify the inhabitants of a kingdom. The fact that pillars symbolize people is implied in Revelation 3:12. Here the inhabitants of the kingdom of God are made into pillars in the New Jerusalem: “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name (Revelation 3:12).”

Interpreting the above mentioned expressions as well as a few others in a literal and physical sense, ancient Jews believed that the earth must be flat surrounded by a solid dome.  Of course, science and mathematics together with satellite images of the earth have shown this cosmology to be false in a literal, physical sense.  The reason this view of heaven and earth was proven false is because as illustrated above, these and similar Biblical descriptions of heaven and earth are really symbolic expressions signifying the inhabitants of a kingdom, not physical literal descriptions of the earth and sky.  The planet is round, thus there is no physical foundation to the earth.  Furthermore, there is no literal cornerstone or literal pillars in or on the earth and sky.

All of the above mentioned expressions that were historically misinterpreted to give the false impression that the planet was flat were ultimately poetic symbols intended to depict God’s people as a temple. Temples have foundations, cornerstones and pillars. The planet earth has none of these features. Illustrating the fact that God’s people are His temple, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 reads, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

How is this information relevant to Bible prophecies concerning the destruction of heaven and earth? As implied above, when the Bible mentions the destruction of heaven and earth it is also not literally describing the destruction of planet earth and its atmosphere in a physical sense. The heaven and earth that is destroyed in the Bible like the Biblical descriptions of heaven and earth mentioned above refers to the death or destruction of the inhabitants of a kingdom, not the destruction of the entire cosmos in a physical sense. If these prophecies concerning the destruction of heaven and earth are to be understood physically, would we not then also expect if we are to remain consistent in our exegesis a physical annihilation of a flat earth with a foundation, cornerstone and pillars in or on the earth and sky? Not at all! Thus it follows that the destruction of heaven and earth seems also to point to the destruction of the inhabitants of a kingdom as is implied by the symbolic significance of these descriptions of heaven and earth mentioned above. See The Destruction of Heaven and Earth and the New Heaven and Earth Explained and How and Why Prophecies with Apocalyptic Imagery May Have Been Fulfilled in Old Testament History Much More Literally than Previously Thought.

Is Genesis 1 Apocalyptic Literature? If the End did not result in the Physical End of the World, then the Beginning should not be a PHYSICAL Creation of the World.

The end of age should mirror the beginning. If the end of the age did not bring about the physical end of the world in its entirety, then it is unlikely that the beginning laid out in Genesis 1 is a physical, scientific account of the creation of the entire physical world in its entirety.  Because the destruction and recreation of heaven and earth were apocalyptic or somewhat symbolic at the end (and at several points throughout Biblical history), it would, therefore, seem likely that the beginning would also be apocalyptic or poetic in style and thus somewhat symbolic.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus describes His kingdom, the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, in parables. Parables are symbolic stories. The kingdom of God is the Messianic kingdom which is the New Jerusalem of Revelation 20 and 21. Revelation 21:1-2 explicitly indicates that at the inauguration of this kingdom, the New Jerusalem, there was to be a new heaven and earth. According to Matthew 13:10-13, Jesus described the kingdom of God at the new heaven and earth exclusively in parables. If Jesus spoke about the coming of the kingdom of God, the new heaven and earth, exclusively in parables or symbolic stories, why would one assume that the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1 and 2 is literal? In other words, if the creation of the new heaven and earth is described by Jesus exclusively in symbolic stories and Jesus spoke and taught as God spoke and taught in the Old Testament, then it stands to reason that the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1-3 is most likely also a parable or symbolic story.

The symbolic nature of Genesis 1 also seems especially probable in light of the fact that the structure of Genesis 1 is different from other historical books in the Bible.  Unlike the rest of Genesis, Genesis 1’s structure is similar to the Psalms.  In fact, Psalm 78 opens by saying it will teach in a parable: “My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old [emphasis mine.]”  In other words like the Psalms, Genesis 1 is a poem.  Almost by definition, poems, like parables, are replete with symbolism.

Genesis 1 is clearly different in style from the later historical chapters of Genesis and the historical books, because of its poetic structure. To say it is “poetic” does not mean it is not true; it simply has the form of a poem, like the Psalms, in which words are sometimes used symbolically and generically.[8]

Having shown how the Bible frequently portrays the conquest and subjugation of a kingdom by foreign powers in the poetic or symbolic language of the destruction of heaven and earth, could the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1 symbolize the establishment of a new kingdom as it did at the end of the age? Assuming that the beginning and end of the Bible are written in an apocalyptic or poetic style as would seem to be the case, in the following paragraphs we apply the meaning of apocalyptic symbols present elsewhere in the Bible to Genesis 1. And by doing so Genesis 1 is revealed to be a poetic, apocalyptic depiction of the occupation and subjugation of a nation by a new people portrayed in the imagery and symbolism of the creation of heaven and earth.

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would Mean: “Creation” or “New Creation” is Sometimes used in the Bible to Just Refer to People/Kingdoms.

How could the “creation” of Genesis 1 refer to anything other than the physical creation of the earth and its inhabitants? In Mark 16:15 Jesus tells His disciples to “preach the gospel to all the creation[.]” Were the disciples to preach the gospel to birds, trees and mountains? No. Jesus meant to preach the gospel to Israel and/or the Jews scattered throughout the known world. This fact is clear because the command to preach the gospel to the Gentiles had not been issued until years later (Matthew 10:5; 15:21-24; Acts 10-11). Then in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15 the church is said to be a “new creation.” In Galatians 6:16 this new creation, the church, is called “the Israel of God.”[9] And in Revelation 21 and 22 the church is called the New Jerusalem. See the commentary on Revelation 21. Here one can see a few examples in which the Bible uses “creation” or “new creation” to signifying the people of a kingdom (Israel/the church).

The world begins in a flooded state according to Genesis 1:2.

In Isaiah 8:7-8, Daniel 11:10, Daniel 11:40, Nahum 1:8 and Joel 2:9, floods represent conquest by foreign armies. The world begins in a flooded state according to Genesis 1:2.

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would MeanIn Isaiah 8:7-8; 17:12; Jeremiah 46:7-8; Daniel 9: 26; 11:10; 11:40; Joel 2:9 and Nahum 1:8, Floods represent the conquest of a nation by Foreign Armies. Could the Water World of Genesis 1:2 be an apocalyptic depiction of a Nation Conquered by Foreign Armies?

As stated above, though earth can be used in a global sense, throughout the Bible earth often just represents the people of a particular city or kingdom (Isaiah 1:1-3; 24-27; Jeremiah 51:24-25).  Throughout the Book of Revelation and much of the rest of the Bible, earth symbolizes a particular nation or kingdom (often Israel) and sea represent nations foreign to the specific nation addressed as the earth:

And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. (Revelation 17:15)

Stretch forth Your hand from on high; rescue me and deliver me out of great waters, out of the hand of aliens[.]” (Psalm 144:7)

“Now therefore, behold, the Lord is about to bring on them the strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates, even the king of Assyria and all his glory; and it will rise up over all its channels and go over all its banks. “Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, it will reach even to the neck;

and the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. (Isaiah 8:7-8)

“Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you. (Isaiah 60:5)

Who is this that rises like the Nile, like the rivers whose waters surge about?   Egypt rises like the Nile, even like the rivers whose waters surge about; and He has said, “I will rise and cover that land; I will surely destroy the city and its inhabitants.” (Jeremiah 46:7-8)

That which came as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh conquered Gaza.  Thus says the Lord: “Behold, waters are going to rise from the north and become an overflowing torrent, and overflow the land and all its fullness, the city and those who live in it; and the men will cry out, and every inhabitant of the land will wail. (Jeremiah 47:1-2)

For the Lord is going to destroy Babylon, and He will make her loud noise vanish from her. And their waves will roar like many waters; the tumult of their voice sounds forth.  For the destroyer is coming against her, against Babylon, and her mighty men will be captured[.] (Jeremiah 51:55-56)

[T]herefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. (Ezekiel 26:3)[9a]

His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress. (Daniel 11:10)

At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. (Daniel 11:40)

See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations.  Thus when the Bible describes the destruction of the earth it seems to refer to the destruction of a particular kingdom.  In the case of 2 Peter 3:10 the destruction of the earth signifies the destruction of Israel.

In Genesis 1:2, creation begins with the earth covered entirely by water. This flood imagery may represent military conquest by foreign armies as it does in Daniel 9:26, Daniel 11:10 and Daniel 11:40:

His sons will prepare for war and assemble a great army, which will sweep on like an irresistible flood and carry the battle as far as his fortress. (Daniel 11:10)

At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. (Daniel11:40)

Identical imagery is also expressed in Nahum 1:8: “[B]ut with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh.”  This flood signifies the Babylonian, Susianan, Scythian and Median armies who conquered Nineveh in 612 B.C.  Similarly in Joel 2:9 a foreign army is portrayed rushing into a vulnerable city like a tsunami: “They rush upon the city; they run along the wall.  They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows.”  Comparable symbolism is also found in Isaiah 8:7-8.  Here the Assyrian army and its king are symbolized by rising floodwaters:

[T]herefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates—the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel!”

Gustave Dore. Let there be Light!

According to Psalm 104, God came on the clouds of heaven at the creation of the earth. This appearance echoes the parousia when Jesus also came on the clouds at the creation of a new earth predicted in 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1.

 

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would Mean: According to Psalm 104, God Came on the Clouds at the Creation of the Earth Just as Jesus Also Came on the Clouds at the Creation of a New Earth Predicted in 2 Peter 3:13 and Revelation 21:1.

Creation begins in Genesis 1:2 when “the Spirit of God hovers over the waters.”  According to Psalm 104 when the Lord hovered over the waters in Genesis 1, this was the first time in the Bible in which God came on the clouds.  When Psalm 104 records the steps of creation, it does not say that God moved or hovered over the waters.  Instead, Psalm 104:3 says that the Lord came on the clouds: “He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.”  Thus at the start of creation, God came on the clouds of heaven.

The clouds forming God’s chariot in Genesis 1:2 and Psalm 104:3 are presumably created by evaporation which is the separation of the waters mentioned in Genesis 1:6-8.  The coming of the Lord on the clouds of heaven is a recurring Biblical motif.  Jesus also promises to come on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 24:30, Mark 14:61-62) at the promised creation of a new heaven and earth (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1).  When Christ came on the clouds of heaven during the parousia, this cloud coming was an allusion to Genesis 1:2-8 and Psalm 104:3 when God also came on the clouds at the beginning of the creation.

If Genesis 1:2 and the second coming are analogous events, how did Christ move over the waters during his second coming? According to Genesis 1 the earth was in a flooded state before its creation. As stated above, floods are often used in the Bible to symbolize conquest by foreign armies according to Isaiah 8:7-8, Daniel 11:10, Daniel 11:40, Nahum 1:8 and Joel 2:9. Furthermore, in the Old and New Testaments whenever God or the Son of God was said to come on the clouds that often meant that the Lord was going to come in conquest upon a rebellious nation in the midst of a foreign army as is exemplified in Nahum 1:3 and 2 Samuel 22:10-12.[10] This foreign army represents the primordial flood waters over which the Spirit of God moved in Genesis 1:2. Therefore, when Christ “came on the clouds of heaven” or “moved over the waters” during His second coming amidst the Roman assault on Israel in the first century, the Roman Army represents those primordial waters (Revelation 17:15). In other words, this foreign nation which destroyed Israel, the earth, during the Jewish War in preparation for its renewed creation as the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22 represents the precreation water-world of Genesis 1.

 

 the second coming according to Revelation 19.

Jesus came on the clouds of heaven in the first century during the Jewish War. This appearance of Christ foreshadowed the creation of the new earth, the new Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22.

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would Mean: If the Creation of the New Heaven and Earth signifies Post-War Christian Jerusalem, then the Creation of the Earth in Genesis 1 probably also Represents the Establishment of a New Kingdom after Foreign Conquest and Not a Literal description of the Creation of the Cosmos.

After the Jewish War and subsequent Bar Kochba Rebellion, Jerusalem grew to become an almost exclusively Christian nation during the thousand years between the Jewish War and the Crusades.  See Revelation 20: A Preterist Commentary. This new Christianized Jerusalem was the earthly shadow of the new Jerusalem that is in heaven. See Revelation 21: A Preterist Commentary and Revelation 22: A Preterist Commentary. The fact that there is a Jerusalem in heaven is indicated in Galatians 4:26: “But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.”  Hebrews 12:22 confirms this cosmology: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.”  Notice that Jerusalem is not just a city on earth, there is also a Jerusalem in heaven. As explained in the commentaries on Revelation 21 and 22, the fact that post-war Jerusalem is described in the likeness of its heavenly counterpart, the Jerusalem that is in heaven, implies that this new post-war Christianized Jerusalem is the new earth predicted in Revelation 21:1 and 2 Peter 3:5-13 while the new post-resurrection Jerusalem that is in heaven is the new heaven also mentioned in Revelation 21:1 and 2 Peter 3:5-13.

If the creation of the new earth predicted in Revelation 21:1 and 2 Peter 3:5-13 was fulfilled in post-war Christian Jerusalem, is it then safe to assume that the original creation of the earth in Genesis 1 details the actual literal creation of the world in its entirety?  If the creation of the new earth signifies post-war Christian Jerusalem, then the creation of the earth in Genesis 1 probably also represents the establishment of a new kingdom after foreign conquest and not a literal, scientific description of the creation of the whole world.   Therefore, as stated above, the precreation water-world of Genesis 1:2 may be a symbol of foreign powers that had destroyed a kingdom [probably Israel] before the institution of a new earth or kingdom described in the subsequent acts of creation laid out in the rest of Genesis 1.

The First Crusade occurred 1000 years after the Jewish War with Rome and is the Battle of Gog and Magog.

The First Crusade occurred 1000 years after the Jewish War with Rome and is the Battle of Gog and Magog.

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would Mean: The Primordial Darkness of Genesis 1:2 is Also Mirrored in Apocalyptic Predictions of Foreign Conquest.

Having explained how the flooded state of the world before its creation is a Biblical metaphor representing conquest by foreign armies, let us now turn our attention to the pre-creation darkness of Genesis 1:2. While the Spirit of God moved over the waters, there was “darkness over the surface of the deep” according to Genesis 1:2. During the day of the Lord when God sent foreign armies [flood waters] against a wayward kingdom, the Old Testament prophets called this day a day of darkness. During this time of war and foreign subjugation, the Biblical prophets often predicted that the sun, moon and stars would be darkened. The resulting darkness signifies the primordial darkness of the preformed earth mentioned in Genesis 1:2. And as stated above, the flooded state of the primordial earth appears to be a metaphorical depiction of foreign conquest. Illustrating this symbolism, Ezekiel 32:7-12 says the following concerning the destruction and subjection of Pharaoh and Egypt by the Babylonians:

When I snuff you [Pharaoh and Egypt] out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring about your destruction among the nations, among lands you have not known. I will cause many peoples to be appalled at you, and their kings will shudder with horror because of you when I brandish my sword before them. On the day of your downfall each of them will tremble every moment for his life. “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “‘The sword of the king of Babylon will come against you. I will cause your hordes to fall by the swords of mighty men—the most ruthless of all nations. They will shatter the pride of Egypt, and all her hordes will be overthrown.

The Babylonian domination of Egypt appears to be a literal reflection of the metaphorical water-world state of the earth in Genesis 1:1-8.  Notice the fact that during the conquest of Egypt by Babylon, God brings “darkness over” Egypt by darkening of the sun, moon and stars in vs. 7-8.  This darkness mirrors the primordial darkness at the start of creation in Genesis 1:2.  The fact that the sun, moon and stars are darkened in Ezekiel 32:7-8 points to the fact that the sun, moon and stars were not visible in the darkness before creation since they did not begin to appear until the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1:14-19).

dark storm clouds

The separation of the waters above from the waters below may have caused cloud cover so thick that the heavenly lights were obscured until the 4th day of creation.

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would Mean: The Apocalyptic Darkness during Foreign Conquest is Caused by Dense Cloud Cover that Blots Out the Heavenly Lights. This Cloud Cover is a Physical Sign of the Spirit of God Coming on the Clouds in Judgment on a Wayward Kingdom.

Preterist scholars often assert that apocalyptic predictions in the Bible concerning the darkening of the sun, moon and stars in the presence of foreign invaders is not to be understood literally. This is not true! The darkening of the sun, moon and stars in Ezekiel 32:7-8 and related Bible verses is the result of thick, dark cloud cover: “I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land.” This dense cloud cover that darkens the land of Egypt by blotting out the light of the sun, moon and stars is not only the cause of the literal darkness mentioned in Ezekiel 32:7-8 and related verses, it is also a sign of the Spiritual presence of God coming on the clouds in judgment. These dark storm clouds are the chariot that the Spirit of God rides when he comes in judgment on Egypt or any other nation. This fact is explicitly indicated in Psalm 18:7-11:

The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. . . . He parted the heavens and came down, dark clouds were under his feet. . . . He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky.

In the above verses, God mounts dark storm clouds to hide the brightness of his presence when he comes in judgment on a nation. As will be addressed shortly, this thick cloud cover that blots out the heavenly lights in Ezekiel 32:7-7 and the brightness of God’s presence is also present at the start of creation and may explain why the sun, moon and stars do not appear until day four.

There are many examples similar to Ezekiel 32 found in Scripture in which darkness covers the land as the Lord brings a foreign army to punish a sinful kingdom (Isaiah 5:25-30, Isaiah 8, Isaiah 13:1-10, Jeremiah 13:16-20, Lamentations 3, Joel 2-3, Amos 5:8-9, Amos 5:18-20, Zechariah 14:2-6 and Zephaniah 1:15-16).   Recall that this darkness, of course, mirrors the precreation darkness of Genesis 1:2, these foreign armies represent the flooded state of the earth before creation and the thick cloud cover that causes the darkening of the heavenly lights marks the presence of God coming on the clouds as he had at the start of creation according to Psalm 104:3 and Genesis 1:2.

island

In Genesis 1:6-9, God separates the waters to make the earth appear.

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would Mean: Does the separation of the Waters in Genesis 1:6-9 point to the Creation of a New Kingdom as it did in Exodus 14?

In Genesis 1:6-9, God separates the waters to make the earth appear. This separation of the waters to expose the earth seems to represent the creation of a new nation after foreign subjection. Recall that earth represents a particular nation and sea represents foreign kingdoms throughout much of the Bible. As stated above, the flood of Genesis 1:2 may represent the military conquest of a kingdom by foreign powers represented by the sea. After this conquest, the earth is created or exposed by the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:6-9 to denote the creation of a new nation now occupied or ruled by a new ethnic group. The sea surrounding the earth then represents the foreign nations surrounding this new kingdom (Daniel 7; Psalm 65:7; Psalm 144:7; Isaiah 8:7-8; 17:12; 60:5; Jeremiah 51:55-56; Ezekiel 26:3; Revelation 17:15).

This meaning seems to be implied in the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14).   As stated above, the parting of the Red Sea is a creation metaphor pointing to Genesis 1:9 in which God parts the waters under the heavens at the creation of the earth.   This miracle is a prophetic sign of the impending creation of a new “earth” or land fulfilled in the impending conquest of Canaan by the former Hebrew slaves.  This Hebrew conquest of Canaan is the new earth or new Israel no longer dominated by the ancient Canaanites but rather populated and dominated by the descendants of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt.

And as stated above, the notion that the parting of the Red Sea points to the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9-10 and that this miraculous sign points to the creation of a new heaven and earth at the conquest of Canaan by the Hebrew slaves of Exodus is confirmed by Isaiah 51. In v. 15 God “divided the sea” and “gave the law” in v. 16. It is in this context that God is said to “plant the heavens and found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’” Here one can see how heaven and earth are created anew at the reception of the Law and the subsequent conquest and settlement of the Israelites in the land of Canaan after the exodus.

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would Mean: Since Plants and Animals frequently symbolize People in the Bible, Could the Creation of Plant and Animal Life in Genesis 1 symbolize the New Human Occupants of the Land?

The subsequent creation of the various forms of plant and animal life in Genesis 1 may all represent the people of the conquering nation that have come to occupy the land since plants frequently symbolize people in the Bible (Deuteronomy 32:2; Judges 9:8-15; 2 Kings 19:26; Job 5:25;19:10; 24:20; Psalm 1:3; 37:2, 35; 52:8; 74:1-5; 92:12; 103:15).  Similarly people are also often represented by various animals in the Bible. (Psalm 22:1-13; 49:12, 20; 57:4; 68:29-31; 73:22; 74:19; Jeremiah 12:9; Ezekiel 39:18; Daniel 7:11; Micah 5:8; Acts 10:9-28)[10a]

One might protest to the above interpretation by saying, “How could the plants and animals of Genesis 1 represent people when man was created after plants and land animals?” Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 are two separate creation accounts. Genesis 1 presents the seven-day creation of heaven and earth while Genesis 2-3 is another creation account centered on the story of Adam and Eve. In Genesis 1 plants are created on day 3; birds, on day 5; and land animals and man, on day 6. In Genesis 2 the creation of man is mentioned first in Genesis 2:7. Trees are presumably created later in Genesis 2:9 and the creation of birds and land animals is mentioned even later in Genesis 2:19. Genesis 2 presents the order of creation laid out in Genesis 1 in reverse. Here the creation of man precedes that of trees and animals. This fact suggests that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 are symbolic and not a literal step-by-step sequence of the creation of the cosmos since a literal reading of these introductory chapters appears to be contradictory.

Gustave Dore. The Deluge.

In Isaiah 8:7-8, Daniel 11:10, Daniel 11:40, Nahum 1:8 and Joel 2:9 floods represent conquest by foreign armies. The world begins in a flooded state according to Genesis 1:2.

If Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature, This is what it would Mean: Brief Recap

I believe Genesis 1 is an apocalyptic poem describing the destruction and subsequent renewal of a kingdom [possibly Israel] by foreign conquest symbolically portrayed in universal apocalyptic language as the creation of heaven and earth.  Genesis opens with the Spirit of God moving over the waters.  According to Psalm 104:3, this is the first time God is depicted coming on the clouds of heaven in the Bible.  When God came on the clouds of heaven this often meant that God was going to send a foreign army to punish a city or kingdom as is the case in 2 Samuel 22:10-12 when God used Israel to punish the Philistines, Isaiah 30:27-31 when God saw to the conquest of Assyria and Ezekiel 30 when Babylon invaded Egypt and its neighbors.  The fact that God came on the clouds of heaven at the start of creation according to Genesis 1:2 and Psalm 104:3 suggests that creation began after God sent a foreign army to punish the previous inhabitants of the land depicted as the earth in Genesis 1.  This foreign army which is used as God’s weapon to punish the wayward nation represented by the earth in Genesis 1 is symbolized as the flood waters over which the Spirit of God is said to hover over in Genesis 1:2.  Similar apocalyptic imagery in which foreign armies are symbolized by flood waters is found in Isaiah 8:7-8, Daniel 11:10, Daniel 11:40 and Nahum 1:8.

While the Spirit of God moved over the waters, there was “darkness over the surface of the deep” according to Genesis 1:2.  This precreation darkness is alluded to in the prophets.  During the day of the Lord when God sent foreign armies [flood waters] against a wayward kingdom, the Old Testament prophets called this day a day of darkness.  There are many examples in Scripture in which darkness covers the land as the Lord brings a foreign army to punish a sinful kingdom (Isaiah 5:25-30; 8; 13:1-10; Jeremiah 13:16-20; Lamentations 3; Ezekiel 32; Joel 2-3; Amos 5:8-9, 5:18-20; Zechariah 14:2-6; Zephaniah 1:15-16).  The darkening of the sun, moon and stars in Ezekiel 32:7-8 and related Bible verses is the result of thick, dark cloud cover.  These clouds that darkened the land of Egypt by blotting out the light of the sun, moon and stars is not only the cause of the literal darkness mentioned in Ezekiel 32:7-8 and related verses, it is also a sign of the Spiritual presence of God coming on the clouds in judgment.  This thick cloud cover that blots out the heavenly lights in Ezekiel 32:7-7 is also present at the start of creation and may explain why the sun, moon and stars do not appear until day four as will be explained below.

In Genesis 1:6-9, God separates the waters to make the earth appear. This separation of the waters to expose the earth seems to represent the creation of a new nation after foreign subjugation as it did in the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. After this subjugation symbolized by the precreation flooded state of Genesis 1:1-5, the earth is created or exposed by the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:6-9 to denote the creation of a new nation now occupied or ruled by a new ethnic group. The sea surrounding the earth then becomes the foreign nations surrounding this new kingdom. This meaning is implicit in the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea and the subsequent establishment of a new Israel populated and ruled by the descendants of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. The subsequent creation of the various forms of plant and animal life in Genesis 1 may all represent the people of the conquering nation that have come to occupy the land since plants and animals of all kinds frequently symbolize people in the Bible.

For a prominent example of how the steps of creation symbolize the establishment of a new kingdom see How and Why the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1:1-10. Much of Zechariah 14 is a description of the destruction and creation of a new Jerusalem which was fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars of the second century B.C. when Israel acquired sovereignty over the Seleucid Empire portrayed in miracles and symbolism mimicking the steps of creation in Genesis 1. Similarly, the new heaven and earth mentioned in 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21:1 also points to the establishment of a new earth or a new Jerusalem after Israel’s wars with Rome. During the thousand years after the first and second war with Rome, the ethnic Jews of Israel were expelled and Israel grew to become a Gentile Christian nation. I believe this non-Jewish nation was the new earth predicted in 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21:1.

Logistical problems in the order of creation according to Genesis 1 are solved in an apocalyptic reading of the chapter.

Logistical problems in the order of creation according to Genesis 1 are solved in an apocalyptic reading of the chapter.

Genesis 1 is Apocalyptic Literature: The Fact that the Sun, Moon and Stars were created on Day Four makes sense in Light of an Apocalyptic reading of Genesis 1.

One might argue that the fact that God created the sun, moon and stars on day four proves that Genesis 1 records the ultimate creation of heaven and earth. This fact actually suggests the opposite. According to Genesis 1, God creates day and night on day one of creation and yet creates the sun three days later. Furthermore, plants also precede the creation of the sun. These and other problems with a literal, sequential reading of Genesis 1 are powerful arguments against the belief that Genesis 1 records the ultimate, literal creation of heaven and earth since day and night cannot exist without the sun and plants need the sun to grow and survive. However, these anomalies make perfect sense in light of an allegorical or apocalyptic reading of this chapter.

As explained above, Genesis 1 is an allegory symbolizing the conquest of a kingdom [possibly Israel] by foreigners portrayed in the image of the creation of heaven and earth using apocalyptic symbolism. Remember that the plants created on day three may symbolize the new human occupants of the land and not literal plants since plants require the sun to grow and the sun had not been created until the following day.

The appearance of the sun, moon and stars on day four also makes sense in light of this apocalyptic interpretation and the preceding events of Genesis 1.  Recall that according to Psalm 104:3 God came on the clouds in judgment on this kingdom represented by the earth at the start of creation.  These clouds that served as God’s chariot were presumably formed by the separation or evaporation of the waters above from the waters below mentioned in Genesis 1:6-8.  Thick cloud cover like that in Psalm 18:7-11 indicative of the presence of God coming in judgment would naturally blot out the sun, moon and stars as it is explicitly said to have done in Ezekiel 32:7-9.  This thick cloud cover does not appear to subside until day four when the sun, moon and stars appear.  Though the reader is given the impression that the sun, moon and stars were created on the fourth day, the Bible implies that they already existed on day one when God created light in order to make the day and night.  Since there can be no day and night without the sun, this implies that the heavenly lights were already present on day one.

“Let there be light.”

“Let there be light.”

The World Must Be 6000 Years Old? As suggested in the Bible and other Religious Texts, the Appearance of the Sun, Moon and Stars signifies their Creation and that of Heaven Itself in the same way that the Darkening of these Celestial Lights represents their Destruction.

Predicting the destruction of heaven by fire, 2 Peter 3:10 says, “The heavens will disappear with a roar[.]”  According to 2 Peter 3:10 the disappearance of the heavens is a sign of its destruction.  The sky is blue during the day and black at night.  It would seem that the only way in which the heavens could appear to disappear is if the heavenly lights were obscured by smoke or cloud cover.  The appearance of the sun, moon and stars signifies their creation and that of heaven itself in the same way that the darkening of these celestial lights represents their destruction as is implied in Ezekiel 32:7-9 and Isaiah 13:9-10 where the destruction of heaven is portrayed by the darkening of the heavenly lights. Here one can see how the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. was also depicted together with the destruction of heaven. When Isaiah 13:9-10 was written warning of the impending fall of Babylon, the wise men of Babylon would likely have understood what Isaiah meant when he said that the sun, moon and stars would be darkened at the coming fall of Babylon. According to the Babylonian sacred scripture, The Epic of Creation, the darkening of the heavenly lights signified the destruction of heaven. In the fourth tablet of The Epic of Creation, the gods command Marduk to destroy and recreate: “‘Speak and let the constellation vanish!’ ‘Speak to it again and let the constellation reappear.’ He spoke, and at his word the constellation vanished. He [Marduk] spoke to it again and the constellation was recreated.”[11] This quote perfectly illustrates the ancient Middle Eastern concept of the destruction and recreation of heaven. Here it is suggested that the mere disappearance of the constellations signifies their destruction.

This idea was common in the ancient world. In ancient Canaan and many other cultures in the Middle East and north Africa, when the sun set it was thought that the sun had descended into the underworld and thus had been killed or destroyed only to be reborn at sunrise. In the Canaanite (pre-Israeli) myth “The Descent of Anath into the Underworld,” the sun descends to Sheol during the night. Sheol is the spiritual realm of the dead mentioned often in the Bible. Similar cosmology is suggested in Ezekiel 32:7-9, Isaiah 13:9-10, Jeremiah 4:23-26 and much of the rest of the Bible. In Jeremiah 4:23-26, the heavenly lights, presumably blotted out by thick cloud cover, are implied to be gone in order to poetically or apocalyptically denote the destruction of heaven during the Babylonian conquest of Judah in the sixth century B.C.

The Descent of Anath into the Underworld

In the Canaanite myth “The Descent of Anath into the Underworld,” the sun descends to Sheol during the night. Sheol is the spiritual realm of the dead mentioned often in the Bible.

For a more detailed explanation of the destruction of heaven and earth and its surprisingly literal fulfillment in the first century see The Destruction of Heaven and Earth and the New Heaven and Earth Explained!.

dinosaur skeleton

The Bible Implies that the Earth Must be 6000 Years Old? The Earth cannot be more than 6000 Years Old since this implies that there was Death before the Fall.

Young earth creationists often object to old earth creationism on the grounds that it implies that there were millions of years of death in the world before the fall of man. I believe that this argument is grounded in poor Biblical exegesis. For a convincing answer to this argument see Why Isaiah 65:20 and Related Verses Imply that Physical Death Preceded the Fall of Man.

The Earth is NOT 6000 Years Old: Is there a Cornel of Scientific Truth in Genesis 1?

Is there a literal foundation of truth to the Biblical imagery of the creation of the earth in Genesis 1? Interestingly, geologists believe that the earth began as a water world similar to Genesis 1:2. During this time, the atmosphere was so thick that it could crush a human.[15] With an atmosphere this thick, a person floating on the surface of the earth would presumably not be able to see the heavenly lights. Therefore, it appears that science confirms the idea that the earth truly did begin as a dark, formless water world in which the sun, moon and stars were not immediately visible as indicated in Genesis 1.

Does the Bible Really say the Earth is 6000 Years Old? Misunderstanding the Bible

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus rarely spoke literally.  Instead, Jesus taught almost entirely in parables which are symbolic stories.  In Matthew 13:10, the apostles asked Jesus, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”  Jesus replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. . . .  This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand (Matthew 13:11-13).’”  Concerning important topics, Jesus often spoke clearly but concerning almost everything else he spoke cryptically.  The secretive tone of the Gospels is also found throughout the Old Testament as well.  The Old Testament prophets also spoke almost entirely in symbolism.   Because the Bible is largely symbolic and therefore difficult to understand, if man-made interpretations of this sacred text do not line up with the preponderance of un-biased historical or scientific evidence then these interpretations may be incorrect.  The idea that the earth is just 6000 years old seems to be one of these misunderstandings.

The Earth is NOT 6000 Years Old: Conclusion

Given the fact that whenever a kingdom faced a major war, the Bible often describes the destruction of that nation with imagery denoting the destruction of heaven and earth, how can anyone confidently declare that the world is 6000 years old and that the creation account in Genesis 1 is the very first literal creation of heaven and earth? Furthermore, contradictions in the order of creation in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 in addition to logical improbabilities like the fact that plants and both day and night precede the creation of the sun suggest that the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 must be symbolic and not literal step-by-step sequences of the creation of the cosmos.

Furthermore, the end of age should mirror the beginning. If the end of the age did not bring about the literal end of the physical world in its entirety, then it is unlikely that the beginning laid out in Genesis 1 is a literal, scientific account of the creation of the physical world in its entirety. Because the destruction and recreation of heaven and earth are apocalyptic or somewhat symbolic at the end (and at several points throughout Biblical history), it would, therefore, seem likely that the beginning would also be apocalyptic in style or somewhat symbolic.

The symbolic nature of Genesis 1 seems especially probable in light of the fact that the structure of Genesis 1 is different from other historical books in the Bible. Unlike the rest of Genesis, Genesis 1 appears to be a poem because its structure is similar to the Psalms. Almost by definition, poems are replete with symbolism.

Applying the meaning of apocalyptic symbolism found elsewhere in the Bible to Genesis 1 clears up these problems and suggests that Genesis 1 is really an allegorical depiction of the destruction of a kingdom and the establishment of a new government after war.  For an in-depth rebuttal of the argument that the world cannot be more than 6000 years old since that would imply that death preceded the fall of man see Why Isaiah 65:20 and Related Verses Imply that Physical Death Preceded the Fall of Man. For a similar explanation of the symbolic and literal meaning of Genesis 2-3 see Understanding the Garden of Eden and the Fall from an Old Earth Perspective. For a detailed explanation of what is truly meant by the destruction of heaven in Biblical prophecy see The Destruction of Heaven and Earth and the New Heaven and Earth Explained.

 

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For more compelling evidence of an old earth through sound Biblical exegesis see the following articles 1) The Earth is More than 6000 Years Old: How Young Earth Creationists have Misinterpreted the Bible 2) Why Isaiah 65:20 and Related Verses Imply that Physical Death Preceded the Fall of Man 3) Understanding the Garden of Eden and the Fall from an Old Earth Perspective 4) How and Why the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1:1-10 5) The Cycles of Creation and Destruction in the Bible are Reflected in Prehistory.

Interested in PRETERIST ESCHATOLOGY or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!


[4] See The Cycles of Creation and Destruction in the Bible are Reflected in Prehistory.

[5] Isaiah 51:15-16 appears to depict the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon in Exodus (Exodus 14:21-22) or Genesis (Genesis 1:6-10) imagery.

[6] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 7.1.1.

[7] Charles S. Meek, Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy: Is Your Church Teaching Error about the Last Days and Second Coming?, (Spicewood, TX: Faith Facts Publishing, 2013), 123.

[7a] If the earth has four corners, then the world must be flat right? No. As explained above, in the Bible “earth” often just means “land” and thus often just refers to an isolated kingdom as is the case in Jeremiah 51:24-25:

“Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion,” declares the LORD. “I am against you, you destroying mountain (Babylon), you who destroy the whole earth (Zion), declares the LORD. “I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain (city built on a hill).

In Jeremiah 51:24-25 it is clear that the “whole earth” in v. 25 refers not to the entire globe–Babylon’s kingdom was not nearly that large–but rather to Zion mentioned in v. 24 which Babylon destroyed in the sixth century B.C. As Preterists we all know that the destruction of heaven and earth also carries this local meaning thus being fulfilled at the end of the age in the destruction of Israel. (There are other examples of the destruction of heaven and earth denoting the destruction of other isolated kingdoms in OT history as well (Ezekiel 32:7-9 (6th century Egypt), Isaiah 13:9-13 (ancient Babylon), Isaiah 34:4-5 (6th century Judah)). Thus the “earth” or land of Israel was roughly rectangular in shape so, of course, it has 4 corners. Also fortified cities were generally roughly square or rectangular in shape hence having 4 corners. This is why the earth or land had 4 corners.

[8] David Snoke, A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 145 cited in Timothy P. Martin and Jeffrey L. Vaughn, PhD, Beyond Creation Science: New Covenant Creation from Genesis to Revelation, (Whitehall, MT: Apocalyptic Vision Press, 2007), 249.

[9] David Green, Edward Hassertt, and Michael Sullivan, House Divided: Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to When Shall These Things Be?, second ed. (Ramona, CA: Vision Publishing, 2013), 53.

[9a] NASB.

[10] In 2 Samuel 22:10-12 God used Israel to punish the Philistines. See also Isaiah 30:27-31 and Ezekiel 30. Similar imagery is also found in Joel 2:2, Nahum 1 and Zephaniah 1:15.

[10a] Animals also represent people in 1 Enoch 83-91.

[11] Stephanie Dalley Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others, trans. Stephanie Dalley (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 250.

[15] How the Earth was Made, prod. Stuart Carter, dir. Peter Chin, 94 min., The History Channel, 2008, DVD.

Does the Bible REALLY Suggest that the Earth is 6000 Years Old? Summary and Highlights

The fact that heaven and earth seem to be destroyed whenever a nation is conquered by foreigners suggests that Genesis 1 may be an allegory of the conquest and settlement of foreigners in a new land in the image of the creation and destruction of the cosmos itself. This repeated cycle of creation and destruction in Biblical history in addition to the allegorical meaning of Genesis 1 suggest that the earth is more than 6000 years old.

Cycles of Creation and Destruction in the Bible Challenge the Assumption that the Earth is Just 6000 Years Old

 

3 thoughts on “The Earth is More than 6000 Years Old: How Young Earth Creationists have Misinterpreted the Bible

  1. Curt

    I just came across your site today. I’ve been a preterist since the early 90’s after trekking through the muck of all the other eschatology’s. I would love to share your insights but I have an issue with the fact that you buy in to the erroneous view of an old earth. Without getting too involved I would just like to point out a couple things. I understand the imagery of the heavens and earth being used to describe the downfall of nations but Genesis 1 thru 3 explicitly says that it is describing how the heavens and the earth were created. In other words there is a “beginning” otherwise reference to it would be meaningless. There is a type and there is a fulfillment of the type. There is an old man and a new man, a first Adam and a last Adam. We all, including “scientists” are dealing with the same facts. There is a wealth of plausible theory’s on how the heavens and earth were created that fit into the 6000 year time-frame and a number of accredited scientists that believe in a young earth. Let’s use one example of how you put forth an old age interpretation. This sentence is from the beginning of your article, It states, “Geologists ESTIMATE the earth to be 4.5 billion years old. These scientists ASSERT that there is a multitude of evidence SUGGESTING that the earth MUST be very old since geological processes OFTEN require millions of years in order to EXPLAIN the current global landscape.” It takes more faith to believe in the theory of evolution than it does in creationism. I encourage you to look more into this issue because an old earth DOES NOT naturally flow from preterism. God bless.

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  2. rachel creamer

    I have to disagree, not with your prophecy explanation, but with your science. You have over analyized the prophecy but have under analyzed the science. Point One: yes YAH created the plants before the lights of the sky but after the Light of the first day creation. It’s a moot point anyway because they were still latent within the soil He created them from until “dew could water them and man could til the ground”. They popped up like daisies when Adam was created. Point two: the geologic forces you mention… Well, paleontologists use carbon dating to record a “time” upon the fossil they dig up. There are MANY fallacies with carbon dating. If you truely do the math, nothing. Would be older then 155,000 years old. Half life of half life only lasts so long. Now that is not a proponent of 6000 years old earth ,but it is not the billions the evolutionary scientists would have you believe. Geologists can not date soil. It is not living so can not be carbon dated. So, they date it by the fossils present in it that the evolutionary scientists have determined lived during certain eras of earth’s history. What they neglict to tell you is that many times layers dated as old in one place at on top of “newer” sediment layers in other places. The Grand Canyon is a wonderful example of this. A layercat the top of the canyon ridge actually date s a older then the layers on the base. And a lava flow which dates older then base layers starts at the rim of the canyon and “flowed” down to the bottom. Point Three: i actually could not finish your article due to your continual use of greek to explain the Hebrew concept. Greek is abstract, Hebrew is Concrete in explanation and pictograph. It was based upon what ancient Hebrews could see taste touch and smell. Hell language is purely the idea. One can’t be successfully translated by the other. Your use of History is stellar, please consider to look at the Hebrew instead of the Greek to understand the Hebrew Berisheet (Genesis). And yes, the beginning should mirror the end in revelation with a cataclysmic bang and it did. It starts in the Hebrew that YAH “fattened” or filled up the earth and the waters b/c they were “formless” but the elements were there. Don’t put YAH and His creation into a box of our understanding…..in revelation everything is wiped out…. In the beginning everything was made.. Parallels equal. Poetry complete. Point Four, so much science points to a young earth: salinity of the oceans (in increases as years go by from runoff, if old earth then the salt would be too high for life in the oceans to exist), magnetic poles and warm centered earth ( both would have deteriorted by now if old earth, mutations in human genome would be to high for life to survive if old earth ( math of the genome mutation does not match with old earth math mutation outcomes), the sun increases in size every year of old earth were correct them the sun would have enveloped the earth by now not even bringing into scope the impossibility of life if the sun’s degree of closeness increased even by the smallest increment…. I really could go on and on. Please research the science and the Hebrew. A good science source is the Institute For Creation Research. I have a background in science but the college textbook has multitudes of loopholes and outright mistakes based upon circular reasoning and red herring fallacies. I’m not saying that creation scientists have it all right either…. Neither of course do i …i honestly know so little of YAHUAH’s creation, it’s all really just guesses after all….. But i caution you in your aliegnment with evolutionary thought, as it’s purpose is to erase YAH and replace Him with….. Worship/acceptance of the beast : humanism and the cause of the fall in the first place. Sincerely, i thank you for what you are doing and have written. Rachel Creamer
    P.S. if i didn’t homeschool my children and have to get up in 6 hours (it being 1 am now… I would have given you the respect of reading your entire article, i apologize and will attempt to do so tomorrow if time allows.

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