A third argument for the non-literal reading of chapter 1 is that since the seventh day is not a literal day, we should not interpret the first six days as literal. According to the framework hypothesis, since the seventh day lacks the concluding formula (“evening and morning”) and the New Testament refers to God’s rest as eternal (John 5:17; Heb. 4:3–4), we may not interpret it to be a literal day.
The absence of the formula used for the other six days is in part explained grammatically. The phrase evening and morning links the day that is concluding with the next day. For example, the evening and morning that mark the end of day one also mark the beginning of day two. Thus, we do not find the formula at the end of the seventh day because the week of Creation is completed.
Neither do John 5:17 and Hebrews 4:3–4 prove that the seventh day was not a literal day. The emphasis of John 5:17 is that since God the Father works every day of the week and has entrusted His work to the Son, the Son may do the works of the Father on the Sabbath. In other words, because Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He is not breaking the Sabbath when He heals on it.
According to Hebrews 4:3–4, the seventh day pictures the eternal rest God offers to His people. I agree that God permanently rests from His work of Creation, and that the seventh day of Creation pictures the eternal rest God promises to His people. This theological significance, however, does not preclude that the day is a literal day.
The framework hypothesis’ arguments fail to prove that Genesis 1 should be interpreted in a non-sequential manner. Furthermore, the clear reading of the text demands a chronological interpretation.
First, throughout Genesis 1 (55 times), Moses uses the grammatical mark of sequential narrative, the waw consecutive (the conjunction and used with a specific form of the verb that means “and the next thing that happened was”). This form introduces each day and each creative act. Even though the Bible occasionally uses this form in a non-chronological way, Old Testament writers used this grammatical mark throughout lengthy sections to signify sequence.
Second, the use of day with the ordinal number demands a sequential reading. An ordinal number is a number that reflects order: “first,” “second,” “third,” etc. When an ordinal number is used with yom, the Hebrew word for “day,” it always signifies sequence.
Third, the phrase evening and morning suggests a completed day. The phrase describes the period of darkness that completes a regular day. In addition to Genesis 1, Moses uses the phrase three times (Ex. 27:21; Lev. 24:3; and Num. 9:21). In all three, the phrase refers to a literal night.
Exegetically, the framework hypothesis raises more problems than solutions. Nothing in the text demands a non-chronological, topical structure. Thus, evidence compels us to interpret Genesis 1 as sequential narrative.
I ask the proponents of framework to answer these questions: Why does Moses use so many time indicators? If time is an analogy, to what does it refer? Are there other examples of the Bible’s using so many time indicators in a non-literal way? Could Moses have revealed sequential normal days in a more explicit manner? Could Moses have revealed a topical account in a more explicit manner?