When Does a Day in God's Description Happen?
By Jarvis Windom
How does God count a day?
Consider for a moment how different from ours was the culture (including worldview) of the Old Testament writers. The differences are still evident in the Middle East today. Let's focus specifically on the creation narrative. To question what "day" means would not even occur to an ancient (or modern) Middle Easterner. The passage's poetry, spiritual meaning, and overall message would be accepted and appreciated without microscopic analysis of the words or sentence structure.
Exo 1 shows in many accounts that the evening and the morning were the 1st day...etc.
Then He divided the light from the darkness. God called the light "day", and the darkness he called "night." And the evening and the morning were the first day.
With this understanding. We can assume that the first day included the evening and the morning. Starting with the evening, this scenario continues in many following verses.
And God called the dry land "earth"; and the gathering together of the waters He called "seas": and God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the earth produce grass, and herbs, and fruit trees, all yielding after their own kind," and it happened; And God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Ge 1:17 And God set them in the firmament
of the heaven, to give light upon the earth.
Ge 1:18 And to rule over the day, and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it [was] good.
Ge 1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
The word for "number" is caphar, Strong’s #5608. It means, "to score with a mark, tally or record, to inscribe, to enumerate, to count, declare." The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance gives all the Biblical uses of the Hebrew word caphar.
So as you capher or tally a day, one would come to the obvious conclusion that a day would start with the evening portion.
In Leviticus 23, we are told to count from the morrow after the Sabbath (the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread), even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath, we are to "number [caphar] fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord." Count fifty days, then come before the Lord. The New International Version, while deficient in some areas, captures the Hebrew precisely: "Count off fifty days . . . ."
Later when God described the day of Atonement he then mentions the count and when the day starts and ends.
The question is, do you count a day before it starts, or when it is completed? In baseball, do you score a run when the base runner starts to run the bases, or when he touches home plate? Our family sometimes plays board games, tallying (counting) the points by four marks with a fifth mark crossed over the four. This is an example of counting, caphar-ing. When you earn a point, you make a tally. God counts days the same way. In Genesis 1, time after time, days are counted as follows: "And the evening and the morning were the first day . . . ," etc. Days are counted at the end of the day, when they are completed. But the day starts with the evening.
Likewise, in the Pentecost count in Leviticus 23, each of the fifty days are counted at the end of the day. Then, after the completion of a fifty-day count, we come before the Lord. It is simple, and scripturally correct, to count fifty days, then keep Pentecost.
The numerical count is counted upon completion. The definition of a day starts with the previous evening and continues to the next morning and presumptively until the completion of the day.
In this time of spiritual visitation God would remind His people over and over again that He is consistently seeking to draw them into direct, unhindered union with Himself, that through them He might reveal His glory unto the nations. Whenever forms of truth, and religious structures and systems are emphasized, the people of God are invariably bogged-down in human contrivances that will eventually lead them nowhere.
I hope this is a profitable definition to assist those in the difference of numbering and defining.