So the evening and the morning were the first day.
The statement “evening and morning” in the creation account is more than when the day started—it gives an incredible picture of the redemptive work Christ is doing in us.
Have you ever wondered why the Jewish day starts with evening?
If an Israelite touched a dead body and was unclean, they were unclean until evening. For the Israelite, the next day started not when you woke up or at our traditional midnight, but at evening. Sabbath begins not Saturday morning but Friday night.
During creation, as seen in Genesis 1, six times it says that there was evening and morning. But there was no “evening and morning” on the seventh day. Why?
- Light – God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day (Genesis 1.5)
- Dividing Waters (water/sky) – And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day (Genesis 1.8)
- Land (with trees, grass, seeds, plants) – So the evening and the morning were the third day (Genesis 1.13)
- Sun, Moon, & Stars – So the evening and the morning were the fourth day (Genesis 1.19)
- Fish, water creatures, birds – So the evening and the morning were the fifth day (Genesis 1.23)
- Living creatures, cattle, creeping things, man – Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day (Genesis 1.31)
- Rest – Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2.1-3)
What is fascinating about the words “evening” and “morning” is that they convey more than mere times of the day.
The word in Hebrew for “evening” is erev (or ereb). It does mean darkness, dusk, evening, and sunset, but it came out of the understanding of obscurity, mixture, chaos, increasing entropy.
When the day approaches evening, things increasingly get obscured, it becomes hard to see, darkness (chaos) encroaches, and there is seeming movement toward disorder (entropy). The word came to mean “evening” because of this.
The morning is the opposite of evening. Sunlight pierces the darkness and things become discernible. Entropy decreases, visibility is restored, and a seeming order ensues. This is why the Hebrew word boker (or boqer) came to mean “morning.”
Evening and Morning: From Chaos to Order
Though Genesis is a literal account of creation, there is another layer of understanding and depth. On day one, God took creation and brought order to the chaos. On the second day, He continued His work and brought about more order. This continued through day six until creation was complete and therefore the “erev” (obscurity, chaos, entropy) of creation was brought into order.
Why didn’t day seven have an evening and morning? In a literal sense it did – it had a sunrise and a sunset. But there is more to the story than daylight … erev/boker is not mentioned because creation was whole, in order, and “very good” (Genesis 1.31).
The Thread of Redemption
Do you see how this parallels our lives?
We are born into sin (which in Genesis 3 brought creation back into erev: chaos, entropy, and mixture). God’s redemptive work in our lives is paralleled in the creation account. He takes us from mixture, disorder, and chaos and brings about a transformation so great that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5.17). We are brought into boker.
And similar to creation, Jesus is constantly bringing us into greater order. We increasingly become more like Him – having His heart, mind, character, attitude, etc. God’s saving grace is not a one time deal but a daily redemptive work.
What areas of your life do you need to freshly give over to Jesus so that He can transform it, making you more like Himself in thought, word, and deed? Would you allow Jesus to take the erev areas of your life and bring forth boker? Will you go from evening to morning?