Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Genesis 1:6-25.
Maybe you’ve heard someone suggest that the creation account in Genesis 1 should be taken as poetry and not history.
Reformed expositor John Currid, in his Genesis commentary offers at least four reasons as to why Genesis 1 should NOT be taken as poetry BUT instead as historical narrative. Here are his four reasons:
First, there is a literary devise in Hebrew historical narrative called the ”vav-consecutive-plus-imperfect.” That is, there is a conjunction “and” plus a verb in the imperfect (past) tense. So, historical narrative reads like this: “And this happened, and this happened, and this happened, etc.” Just look at Genesis 1:6-8 to see this pattern. Currid adds, “this pattern is almost non-existent in Hebrew poetry” (38).
Second, “Genesis 1 contains little or no indication of figurative language. There are no tropes, symbols, or metaphors” (39). We do not read in Genesis 1 that God is like a potter, or that the earth was like a piece of clay, etc.
Third, “the most basic common feature of Hebrew poetry is line parallelism” (39). Think of Psalm 19:1:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament sheweth his handywork.
There is no line parallelism in Genesis 1.
Fourth, some have suggested that the repetitions which appear in Genesis 1 indicate poetry, like the repeated phrase, “and the evening and the morning were the ___day.”
Currid points out, however, that repetition is not necessarily a sign of poetry. In fact, it is actually common in Hebrew historical narrative. He points to the repetition of the phrase, “Now these are the generations…” (see Genesis 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2).
Genesis 1 is not poetry. It is historical narrative, and this is the way we should read it, if we are to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
We accept this history, because we believe in an all-powerful and sovereign God, and because we have faith in him and his Word. As it says in Hebrews 11:3a, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.”
This means that the six days of creation are not meant as metaphorical references to long periods of time (the so-called “day-age” theory), but they refer to 24-hour days, just as the term is used in Genesis 1:14b.
Let me just add that it is actually a very liberating thing to trust in the Lord and to accept his word as it is without having to trouble oneself with the invention of clever explanations to get around the obvious meaning of things.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle