Responding to Objections of Death Pre-Fall

Exodus 20 and The Gospel

There was a video planned for this response, but I find it better and more thorough to work on these within the confines of textual posts.

My friend John has responded to my Article on Pre-Fall death. I will be engaging with his arguments here.

John’s first argument

// No matter what degree of prose or poetry exists in Genesis 1, we know from Exodus 20:9-11 that the events of Genesis 1 really did happen, just as described. It’s not enough simply to affirm that “I believe that God created everything.” Theistic evolutionists could affirm that, and I know that TE is not your view, RC. //

Yes, Theistic Evolution is not my view, nor is it a view that I think anyone should hold while maintaining proper theological frameworks.

Exodus 20:9-11 states: 20:9 For six days you may labor and do all your work, 20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. 20:11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

Before we jump into the contextual analysis of this text, I want to state logical objections to John’s argument and the use of Exodus. First, the man was not created until the 6th day. Therefore, to framework God inside a timeline of 24 hour days is to do what Open Theists do and put God into time, not outside of time. God resides outside of time, He alone is in control of time, which is to say the concept of a 24 hour day is not only human, it is highly modern (in relative tone). God did not enter time until that of Jesus Christ when Christ came as a man. God stands outside of humanity’s parameters and suggesting that God was within those parameters while creating the universe is simply odd. Did he step into time to create then stepped out? That makes no sense.

Second, we have evidence that suggests days were much shorter many years back. We know that days were almost an hour shorter and maybe even more so long ago. In fact, we can now see that the earth rotation was 372 times each year as opposed to the 365 today. Therefore, 24 hour days were not in mind or in proper view when the earth was supposedly young.

Now, let’s examine the context and exegesis of this Scripture.

Without endorsing CC Walker's explanation, it is significant that he recognized both the weight of scientific evidence against recent creation, as well as alternative ways to interpret Ex 20:11

It has been thought that the law of the Sabbath necessitates six literal days in creation; but on second thoughts this does not seem conclusive, since the millennium is a “Sabbath” of a thousand years duration, and “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:9). 

It has been argued persuasively that a fundamentalist is one who does not think he has a hermeneutic. In other words, he simply assumes that a hyper-literal reading of an English translation of the Hebrew text, taken out of its ancient Near Eastern context is the default exegetical option. However, literalism, like any hermeneutical option is a decision, and the fundamentalist does not get to assume literalism as the default. He is obliged to fully justify that strategy. Given that the scientific evidence (the careful study of God's creation is no more 'man's wisdom' than is the careful study of the Bible) can nearly completely rule out recent creation, any reading of Ex 20:11 by necessity needs to take place within the framework of what we know about our possibly ancient universe, and those facts would a priori exclude YEC.

In Deut 5, Moses does not refer to the Sabbath being selected to remember creation in six literal days. Instead, it was to remind Israel of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Given the existence of two different reasons for the commemoration of the Sabbath, it is more than probable that the compilers of the Pentateuch were more concerned with emphasizing the importance of remembering the Sabbath. As such, these words represent a later tradition. 

In textual criticism, it must be noted, that the statements found in Exodus 20 that are not found in Deut 5 are deemed to be added in later by scribes attempting to solidify a theological position. (Biblical Interpretation and Method, Oxford Scholarship 2005 - the earliest manuscripts of Exodus do not have "six-day" or surrounding variants and were likely added later).

We can now look at what is noticed as a pronoun shift. 

         לֹ֥א תִשָּׂ֛א* אֶת־שֵֽׁם־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ לַשָּׁ֑וְא   

   לֹא נשׂא אֵת · שֵׁם · יהוה אֱלֹהִים · אַתָּה לְ · הַ · שָׁוְא 

   not lift up [obj] · name · Yahweh God · you for · the · vanity 

   not you shall lift up [obj] · the name of · Yahweh God · your for · (the) · vanity 

   G VaI2MS PO · NC-SC · NPMSA NCMPC · RS2MS P · A · NC-SA 

  כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יְנַקֶּה֙ יְהוָ֔ה אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־יִשָּׂ֥א*   

  כִּי לֹא נקה יהוה אֵת אֲשֶׁר · נשׂא 

  because not leave unpunisheda Yahweh [obj] who · lift up 

  because not (he) will leave unpunished Yahweh [obj] who · (he) lifts up 

  C G VbI3MS NPMSA PO CR · VaI3MS 

  אֶת־שְׁמ֖וֹ לַשָּֽׁוְא׃

  אֵת · שֵׁם · הוּא לְ · הַ · שָׁוְא

  [obj] · name · he for · the · vanity

  [obj] · name · his for · the · vanity

  PO · NC-SC · RS3MS P · A · NC-SA

  כִּ֣י שֵֽׁשֶׁת־יָמִים֩ עָשָׂ֨ה יְהוָ֜ה אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ   

  כִּי שֵׁשׁ · יוֹם עשׂה יהוה אֵת · הַ · שָׁמַ֫יִם וְ · אֵת · הַ · אֶ֫רֶץ 

  because six · day make Yahweh [obj] · the · heaven and · [obj] · the · earth 

  because [in] six (of) · days (he) made Yahweh [obj] · the · heaven and · [obj] · the · earth 

  C UCFSC · NCMPA VaP3MS NPMSA PO · A · NCMPA C · PO · A · NC-SA 

  אֶת־הַיָּם֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֔ם וַיָּ֖נַח בַּיּ֣וֹם   

  אֵת · הַ · יָם וְ · אֵת · כֹּל · אֲשֶׁר · בְּ · הֵם וְ · נוח בְּ · הַ · יוֹם 

  [obj] · the · sea and · [obj] · all · that · in · they and · rest on · the · day 

  [obj] · the · sea and · [obj] · all (of) · that · [is] in · them and|but · he rested on · the · day 

  PO · A · NC-SA C · PO · NC-SA · CR · P · RS3MP C · VaW3MS P · A · NC-SA 

  הַשְּׁבִיעִ֑י עַל־כֵּ֗ן* בֵּרַ֧ךְ יְהוָ֛ה אֶת־י֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת   

  הַ · שְׁבִיעִי עַל־כֵּן ברך יהוה אֵת · יוֹם הַ · שַׁבָּת 

  the · seventh unto thusa bless Yahweh [obj] · day the · sabbath 

  the · seventh unto thus (he) blessed Yahweh [obj] · the day of the · sabbath 

  A · UO-SA P VbP3MS NPMSA PO · NC-SC A · NC-SA 

  וַֽיְקַדְּשֵֽׁהוּ׃ ס  

  וְ · קדשׁ · הוּא  

  and · consecrate · he  

  and · he consecrated · him|it  

  C · VbW3MS · RS3MS  

12         כַּבֵּ֥ד אֶת־אָבִ֖יךָ וְאֶת־אִמֶּ֑ךָ לְמַ֙עַן֙ יַאֲרִכ֣וּן   

     כבד אֵת · אָב · אַתָּה וְ · אֵת · אֵם · אַתָּה לְמַ֫עַן ארך 

     honor [obj] · father · you and · [obj] · mother · you so thata be long · [obj] 

     honor [obj] · father · your and · [obj] · mother · you so that (they) be long 

     VbM2MS PO · NC-SC · RS2MS C · PO · NC-SC · RS2MS P VcI3MP--n 

  יָמֶ֔יךָ עַ֚ל הָאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ   

  יוֹם · אַתָּה עַל הַ · אֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר · יהוה אֱלֹהִים · אַתָּה 

  day · you on the · ground that · Yahweh God · you 

  days · your on the · ground|land that · Yahweh God · your 

  NCMPC · RS2MS P A · NCFSA CR · NPMSA NCMPC · RS2MS 

  נֹתֵ֥ן לָֽךְ׃ ס

  נתן לְ · אַתָּה 

  give to · you 

  [is about] to give1 to · you 

  VaR-MSA P · RS2MS 

In all three passages, we see a shift from the first person to the third person, providing commentary on the dangers of blasphemy, the reason for the Sabbath day, and the benefits accruing from obeying one's parents. None of these follow the original words of God but are additions to the text made by compilers, most likely under inspiration. It is undoubtedly worth noting that if God wanted to declare that the physical creation took place in six literal days 6000 years ago, the text would have reflected an unambiguous first-person declaration in both Ex 20 and Deut 5. However, we do not see that. Instead, we see a third-person commentary in Ex 20:11, and nothing in Deut 5, which further indicates later additions as we know from textual criticism. 

This shift from the first person to the third person is also seen in Deuteronomy 5. In verse six, Moses begins by recalling the words of God: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." We see in Deut 5 a shift from the first person to the third person at the same places (warning against blaspheming the name of YHWH, the reason for Sabbath, and the need to honor parents). Providing further evidence that the original words of God did not contain the etiologies for these three points that Ex 20 and Deut 5 provide. 

In fact, given that the etiology for the Sabbath is described in Deut 5:14 as coming directly from Moses rather than an anonymous compiler (as is the case in Ex 20:11), one could make an exceptional case that the explanation in Deut 5:15 has authority based on simple textual criticism law. 

This, I believe, is a sufficient refutation of the use of Exodus and the attempt to use it to solidify young earth. I will paraphrase in this way: More often than not, the theological meaning will trump the literal fundamentalist meaning. 

John's Second Argument

 // True, we don't see the phrase "very good" until the creation of man. Other created things are described as "good." But later, God describes the whole universe as "very good." (Gen 1:31) That would seem to include everything that was created before man. [Continued] The whole creation was "very good." The whole creation was not subjected to futility until the Fall (Romans 8). I wonder if, you say that Dr. Ting is in error for saying that "good" means no evil or death present, that you are not making the opposite error of saying that "good" rather than "very good" *must* mean that death/sin/evil was present before the Fall. Perhaps we could agree that the presence of the word "good" is indeterminate, regarding the presence of sin/death/evil before the Fall. But "very good" (Gen 1:31) might be more declarative of the state of bliss, innocence, and lack of evil in the Garden. True, Satan may have fallen by this time, but Satan was not a native of the Garden, as Adam and Eve were. //

This, as you will see, doesn't matter, because it is not that it was good or very good but rather "not perfect". The absence of the word perfect is utterly astonishing because we know that the ancient Hebrew had a specific usage for such things. God did not create the universe "holy" but rather "good" or "very good" which should indicate inquisition in a translator's mind. Simply, suggesting my argument made later in the article. 

 // Some good points here. But 'poetic prose.' You seem to want to have your cake and eat it too. Is it poetry or prose? If prose, certainly it's lofty and grand and majestic, no doubt. But poetry? Poetry implies that a non-literal understanding is an option. Exodus 20 seems to indicate otherwise. //

John and others may be confused here when the words "poetic prose" go hand in hand. As I have shown, Exodus 20 is not a verse to beg when discussing these nuances. In clarification, literature has two meanings when applied to the writings known today from the ancient Near East. It can mean any written expression, so can include inscriptions, letters, scholarly treatises, or epics, or, as used here, literature can be restricted to prose and poetry of consciously artful form and content. Therefore, when I use poetic prose in the same breath, I mean to say that it could be merely a rhythmic instruction with weight, and not everything is intended literally at all times. 

Quite possibly an essay or lecture on historical prose, prose, epic prose is in line or necessary here for further understanding. 

JOHNS NEXT ARGUMENT

// "Spiritual, not physical." Why one or the other? Why not both? False dichotomy. Both/and, not either/or. Yes, when you read Gen 2:17, you might get the sense that Adam and Eve were to die within 24 hours of eating the forbidden fruit. I do not deny that. However, "day" can mean a number of things besides a 24-hour period, including a long period of time. Certainly they died spiritually on that day, in that their perfect relationship with God was broken, but they died physically eventually, "in the day" (or, during that indeterminate period of time) when they ate the fruit. There are also lots of articles on this verse on the YEC websites, which I won't list here. You can find those on your own, if you like. //

First, John makes the error of stating, "You may get the sense that Adam and Eve were to die within 24 hours". Where does he get 24 hours from? The word used by God literally means "immediate, on the spot, at that moment" - not 24 hours later. 

John then proceeds to state "day" can mean several things. There, my friend, is the strictest form of irony. Surely, you all see that for decades of debates, Young Earth Creationists have said that day means day. In fact, I have screenshots upon screenshots of Young-Earth Creationists insisting that day only means day. They did not die that day; Adam and Eve died a physical death hundred of years later, which does not even constitute "in that day" by any regard or reading. Rather, they died a spiritual death, a strict theological death that would indicate separation from God further backed by the exile out of the garden, which is a physical picture to them that they are no longer in communion with God. 

The theological significance should be in focus here. Spiritual death is when a person is alive physically, but dead spiritually. All of us are born spiritually dead, separated from God. The Lord said to Adam.

But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die (Genesis 2:17).

Adam and Eve died spiritually at the time that they sinned - they became different beings then the ones God had originally created They also began to die physically.

Separated By Nature

Humanity is now separated from God by nature. Jesus said.

Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).

Were Dead

Not only is humanity separated from God by nature, humans are also hostile to Him. The Apostle Paul spoke of believers in the following way.

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else (Ephesians 2:1-3).

These believers had been spiritually dead in their trespasses and sin.

Died Spiritually

Paul wrote about being spiritually dead.

Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died (Romans 7:9).

Spiritually Dead

The wayward son was said to have been spiritually dead.

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found (Luke 15:32).

Result Of Sin

The reason we are all born spiritually dead has to do with sin. We receive our fallen nature from our parents. After Adam and Eve sinned, the death sentence was pronounced. All other humans have been born with their sinful nature (the exception to this was the Lord Jesus who was born without sin). Therefore each of us comes into the world spiritually separated from God.

This is the Gospel that you must believe in Jesus and submit to His commands, that you may be BORN AGAIN (not physically, but spiritually). Once again, my point stands that a theological reading of Scripture often supersedes a literal fundamentalist reading.