The Concept of Time in the Bible with Pastor Orville Erickson

I’ve mentioned in several posts about how I’ve had trouble wrapping my ahead around some of the concepts of time in the Bible. Like how people profiled in the Bible lived 180, 600, and even 900+ years during times when the average lifespan was 30-40 years. Or how an entire planet was built in 6 days. I had a lot of questions around this topic, so I decided to ask someone who would know—Pastor Orville Erickson of Greenhill Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Before you ask: Yes I got my hair chopped off, and no I’m not wearing one of my usual snarky t-shirts.


This video is brought to you by the SodaStream Fizzi. I switched from pop to sparkling water a while back, and I got tired of spending tons of money on cans. So I bought this fancy machine and use it relentlessly. I don’t particularly like any of the drops out there, so I (carefully) stir in a little Crystal Light. Or Crystal Light with caffeine when I need a pick-me-up.

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Megan: All right. Hey guys, this is Megan and I am here with Pastor Orville from Greenhill Church and we are going to talk about the big, big concept of time, time in the Bible. Um, so a few of my posts have talked about how, you know, Noah lived 950 years. That’s not something that we see now. I’m, so I’ve brought in an expert, somebody who knows what they’re talking about, a to talk to me a bit about the concept of time in the Bible, what to look for as I’m reading forward. So thanks for spending some time with me or will.

Pastor Orville: Well, thank you. This is kind of fun. It is fun topic.

Megan: Yeah, it’s big. It’s definitely a big one. Um, you know, the Internet is certainly inconclusive on that. So I’m excited to have a conversation on your thoughts. Um, so my first question is a time in the Bible, so is when no lives young says 900 years is the years that’s being referenced there the same as what we think of a year today. Three hundred 65 point two, five days. Um, it’s time referencing the same thing there.

Pastor Orville: Can I make a couple of remarks before I jump right into that for you?

Megan:  Yes, please.

Pastor Orville:  Just in the, in that, the idea that, um, you know, one of the things you run into, especially with the book of Genesis, I think, um, because it deals with origins and that sort of thing is that people throughout history and in our culture, I mean all the way from the really militant atheist to the really ultra fundamentalist Christian, um, folks and everything in between. All want genesis to say certain things that it may or may not say I’m, and I’m coming. Of course, you know, when you contacted me, you’re talking to a person who, um, I live at the Bible as, as it has god communication to people, um, of things he wants us to know, but understanding in the same way that he used human authors to do it. Um, and in a cultural context that’s vastly different than ours with vastly different ideas about things like history and science and, um, and all that sort of thing. And if you’re at all familiar with ancient literature of any kind, you know that they had vastly different ideas. Just read the Greek stuff sometime and you’ll see that their ideas have histories are all about their interactions with their ideas of who the gods were in that sort of thing. And the Bible is no different in the sense of it. It’s the kind of ancient literature that’s not meant. It’s not obsessed with things like chronology and the way we think of history, you know, George Washington crossed the Delaware, you know, on the night of whatever it was, you know, sort of thing. I just betrayed my incredible lack of American history in 1776, I think. I don’t know. Um, yeah. But that’s okay because that was called, that’s for sure. That was Columbus sailed the ocean blue. But when you understand what I mean, that’s the kind of history that we’re used to thinking of. And the Bible doesn’t really function that way. The Hebrews didn’t really function that way. In fact, most ancient cultures did not function in that way of recording history or science or what we think of science, which is a very enlightenment concept of, of science. They didn’t think of things like that. It was meant to be more theology than history and I think that’s good to have.

I’m just kind of in the back of our heads as we talk about this stuff because I could pull out, you know, I could pull out 40 books off my shelves that are all going to talk about different things regarding these issues and say, oh, well, it was clearly this where it was clearly that. And you can talk to a bunch of, you know, when you call me an expert, I’m kind of laughing because I hope you got really big quotation marks around that because even the people that are really truly have spent their whole lives studying this kind of stuff, if they’re honest, they know that they can’t be conclusively dogmatic about it must be this thus Sayeth the lord sort of thing. It’s hard to come in some of those conclusions. Okay. So having said all that, um, the idea of, of the years and that sort of thing is actually they, um, they use pretty much the same kind of calendar we used in the sense of they a understood historically a solar and lunar cycles.

The ancients were very good astronomers. They’re always looking, remember for cosmic signs. So they have to be good astronomers, right? People’s we sometimes I think get the idea. The ancient peoples weren’t all that sophisticated, but in fact, I’d like to see any of us go build the pyramids without a crane or lay the Roman roads without bulldozers. Um, you know, the kind of cities that the Babylonians and the Acadians and the Sumerians built with no power tools and no machines, absolutely incredible to think about. I sure don’t want to carry all those bricks up, uh, you know, up into those buildings. Um, so they were actually very sophisticated. They understood an approximately 360 day year, uh, with 12 months based on the, on a lunar cycle. They base their stuff on the lunar cycle generally because that was easier to keep track of. You know, it’s really obvious, right?

Moon starts out full, it gets small, it disappears, it comes back and it’s full again and a 30 day, 29 and a quarter days. Um, so for the whole foods, so they had a pretty much the idea of that and they would compensate for the extra, what we call leap days by sometimes certain cultures would add a week somewhere on the wine or add a month or they would just have a slightly shorter year and their months would just keep changing slightly over the course of the years, which is actually how the Jewish calendar for the most part works actually keep moving back a little bit in the 360 days a year. Um, and then depending on the source, I mean, I don’t know how deep you want to get into this, but the Egyptians or the Sumerians scholars to kind of divided, from what I can tell on this, um, they were among the first to divide the day into 24 hours and the Babylonians later divided into 60 minutes in 60 seconds per hour.

Um, and the reason they came up with that is that this is, I actually just found this out and getting ready to talk with you. Um, the Babel, uh, the Babylonians used a base 60 number system. We use a base 10 number system with 1,000 thousand, 10,000. They use the base 60 number system. I’m so basically there was a radio number system which had to be really, really weird when you were doing math. But anyway, yeah, this is true. Um, so, uh, so anyway, um, the, uh, so if you think about it, today is Thursday, right? And on the Jewish calendar today is a 25 Tishri that would be the name of this month of the year, five, seven, seven, nine on the Jewish calendar. And that is based on a literal rendering of the dates and genesis all the way back through the generations. And so according to the traditional Jewish calendar, okay, uh, the world was created in 3761 bc

Megan: Because they don’t have, because they don’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah. They don’t have, like we’re in 2018. A D was not a big event and Judaism, because he was just a, he was just a guy, he wasn’t the Messiah, so they are based on the split up bc and ad, then.

Pastor Orville: The traditional Jewish calendar, right. Doesn’t use the traditional split of how we deal with the VC and the, and the and that sort of thing. And of course is just based on that now. No, I mean most. I mean I think if you even went and talked to all but the most ultra orthodox rabbis, they would not say that they really believed the world was created exactly in 37, 61 vc, but it’s the calendar that they use. Um, and I, I think there’s other calendar, other cultures that don’t, um, don’t always use the same, you know, yearly divisions that we use. Um, I’m pretty sure that, that in a, like the Chinese culture, I think they use a different rendering for their traditional years. Even though most countries, let’s face it, have had to, to the western way of doing things. If you want to do business with the West, a lot of things, you know, just like I can, you know, travel, you can travel to all sorts of places and still get around in English reasonably well. So same with, same with the dates.

Megan: So then that a Jewish calendar is kind of where the, you hear like the world is 6,000 year old years old. Um, when you hear some people talk about creation. So that’s the timing. Where it comes from is that 3,700 BC

Pastor Orville: Timeframe taking a really literal rendering and we’ll talk about this, I think later on, uh, of the, those, those ages of people in those generations relating that back to, you know, um, come up with a particular date

Megan: Going back through the, all of the big gaps.

Pastor Orville: Right, exactly. All those we had, there was a little living so long and, but yeah, that’s sort of.

Megan: So looking back then at that 3,700 BC time. So the story of creation, the first one, the very first story of creation, genesis one through shares that God made the world in six days and then took, took a nice rest on the seventh, on the Sabbath. I’m. So what are your thoughts then on the interpretations of those six days? I’ve heard some people rationalize it as well. Maybe each day as a year or maybe each day is a thousand years. Uh, what are your thoughts on the interpretation of time there?

Pastor Orville: Sure. There’s a variety of theories of, of dealing with genesis chapter one. And I think I’m the first one that you might run into is what’s called the gap theory. And the gap theory is the idea that in genesis chapter one, verses one and two, um, there is, you know, talks about in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was formless and void and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters and that sort of thing. Um, and that from there to genesis chapter one, verse three, where you start into the, of the six days of creation and then the seventh, the seventh day rest, that there’s a huge gap of time. Okay. And that’s called the gap theory. Which gap of time. That makes sense. Right, exactly. They’ve really created there. And the, uh, the idea being to account then for, for the apparent, um, long age of, of what, what science says, you know, the university is, you know, anywhere from, depending on what you believe, all the way up to multiple billions of years old, um, you know, four and a half billion for the earth according to the typical rendering of both scientists and, you know, whatever, 13 billion or so for the entire universe and that sort of thing.

Um, and um, they, they account for that. Then with this gap theory idea that there’s, there’s some space in there, everything. God creates everything. It kind of sits for awhile, does its thing. And then he starts into the, to the real work on earth, have, you know, making the way things are that we see today. And so that’s one possible, one, one idea that’s out there, um, and there’s a, you’re going to find that idea among people who are all committed to really, you know, the authority of the Bible and that sort of thing. You’re going to find that theory and you’re gonna find people who don’t like that theory and that sort of thing. So I’m going to give you all my, all the theoretical ideas before I give you how, what I think, and then you can take it off or what. It’s whatever you think it’s worked as an expert. I’m more way more than I do. I’m chapter.

Um, so then when you get to the, to those days, there’s a bunch of different ideas about that. There’s what’s called the Dave’s theory. Okay? And that was what you were alluding to earlier. Each day actually represents some age of time, anywhere from the idea of each one’s a thousand years. Um, which comes from that. There’s a verse in, in Peter’s one of Peter’s letters about the idea of a day to the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. And I’m not sure were meant to take that quite literally, but anyway, and so they take that idea, um, or that each one represents a geological epoch, right? Because if you go through, um, what you’re paleontologists and geologists, you’re going to show you got this, the Pleistocene era in this era and that era in each of those represents one of these epochs. Okay? And that’s called the date, the day age 30.

Now of course, the problem with the day age theory when you come to the actual text is that what does it say for each day there was morning and there was evening. And then, um, you’re kind of, you’re kind of stuck because the idea of morning and evening doesn’t really fit with the idea, oh, this long epoch seems to really fit with the structure of a day. Okay? So then there’s the second generally accepted idea that’s out there that people throw out as what’s called the framework hypothesis. And the framework hypothesis is actually a literary theory. And it’s the idea that genesis one is really was really meant to be a poem. And that the, there was morning and evening is the refrain of the poem, and so it’s meant to convey the idea of God creating the universe in stages, but in sort of poetic or allegorical language.

Okay. So obviously you’re going to discover as you read the Old Testament and maybe you’ve discovered that there’s lots of what appears to be poetry in the Old Testament. The ancients love poetry, ancient peoples, you know, again, we, we tend to sort of think of ancient peoples not being that sophisticated, but honestly they love poetry. I’m Hebrew Bible is full of, of, especially when you get to the psalms of kind of if you can read it and he kind of fun language and they kind of do things with sounds and that sort of thing and repetitive stuff because that’s how they did poetry. Uh, the Hebrews was using repetitive phrases and repetitive structures and stuff. They didn’t really use rhyme like, like we tend to do, um, and that sort of thing. Um, so, so if a lot of scholars look at it and go, well, it’s actually just meant to be poetic or allegorical, which then of course if you take it that way, you don’t have to worry about the days at all, right?

It’s just meant to convey some other ideas. Okay. So that’s the framework of houses. Then of course, the third general place you can go is the literally the idea of literal six days and each day is a literal 24 hour period. A morning and evening is what defines it. Um, and the really the real driver in support of that idea as far as the text goes, is that the Hebrew word [inaudible], which means day when, wherever it’s used anywhere else in the entire Old Testament always means a literal 24 hour period. And so it’s hard to imagine if in every other place in the, in the Old Testament, you’ll means day literal, 24 hours just like you and I are going to experience today that all of a sudden, except, except in this one chapter, it doesn’t mean that. And so, um, you know, that that creates a real problem for the non literal interpretations.

I think you also have to ask, um, when you’re thinking about this whole genesis one thing and even into genesis chapter two, what’s the purpose of genesis one? Because again, remember I pointed out we don’t, um, the Hebrews didn’t think of history the way we do. And so you’ve got a lot of times ask yourself. One of the things I always ask myself whenever I’m reading the Bible, why is this here? Why would God want me to know this? Because I mean, you’ve got to admit there’s some stuff when you’re written in the Bible, you kind of go, why world does God want me to know this? And so and so was began by so and so up above it and the genealogies, right? But then there’s reasons for those things. And so there’s a lot of purposes that we can see in genesis one, one of which is the etiology of the week.

Do you know what an etiology, his etiology is a story that describes the origin of something. How did this come about? Well that the term for that to etiology, okay, well how did we end up with a seven day week? Well, because God created in six days and rested on the seventh. And so one of the purposes of the genesis story is to define the seven day a week, which becomes a repeating we important thing in the scriptures. Um, another thought about the purpose of genesis one is the idea that it is intended as a polemic against other ancient creation stories. Now, if you study ancient literature, okay, you will find that everybody has a creation story. Okay? So the, the Babylon, the Babylonians have their stories called Enuma elish on. It’s the idea that, uh, this Guy Marduk splits this dragon light creature called Tiamat into two in this great battle and the body of Tiamat, um, forms the, a heaven and the earth.

And then, um, the world is brought about from that or the Samarian era do, which is another similar type of legend which also has a flood. Incidentally, I found a lot of different references to that. I mean, the flood is everywhere. I told, Oh yeah, we can have a whole podcast just on the subject. So much to think about there. But um, the uh, the Zulus and Africa, um, have their creation legend, which is called the uncle, Uncle Hulu, say that three times fast. And in uncle a loca Hulu, I’m sure. I’m sure my missionary friends will be telling me I’m massacring he creates everything from the land and the water to people and animals and he’s considered the first person as well as the parent of all the Zulu and he teaches the Zulu how to hunt and how to make fire and how to grow food, all of which are good things to know.

Um, so everybody’s got their creation story. And so one of the purposes of the biblical creation story then is meant to, to say, nope, this is the way it really happened. Or to say that at least to the point that, um, that it’s, it’s the Hebrew God who did these things. It’s not a uncle, Uncle Hulu or cutting up 10, excuse me, Tiamat and that sort of thing. Another purpose that fits well with the ancient cosmology ideas. And literature ideas is, um, the idea of God bringing order from chaos. You certainly see that, right? You got chaos basically verses one and two, you know, it’s formless and void and that sort of thing. And God comes on the scene and he brings order to everything. He creates time and he, uh, separates the heavens from the earth and the waters and all that kind of stuff.

And remember ancient people, lot of ancient peoples, especially the Hebrews, feared the water. There was huge fear of, of the water because it was unknown sea monsters and all that kind of stuff. Um, and ancient peoples were really all about the whole idea of order from chaos and fearing chaos and that sort of thing, which is also why they were such good astronomers because they feared the cosmic signs and that sort of thing. And so they were working on. I’m trying to understand those things just as we through science a lot of times now are trying to understand our universe. They were, they were trying to understand their universe and they were trying to make sense of what they saw and what was going on around them. All the ancient peoples were doing that. Um, and so the is also have their, their creation story and one of the great purposes then of course is just to show the idea that, that, that the Hebrew God is the true God because he created everything. And since he’s the creator, he must be the true bad. Um, and I think, uh, there’s a lot of that in that story. Okay. So having said all that, any questions about that before I move on?

Three different theories, right? You got the theories and kind of how it fits into the context of ancient literature. So I will tell you where I personally stand. Okay. Uh, I, I view the six days is literal, literal six days of creation, but I would also argue that the earth is older than 5,000, 770 whatever years it was of the Jewish camp. Seventy 5,779 a. The is somewhat older than that with, without necessarily being billions of years old. Um, and we’ll talk about that a little bit here when we get to the genealogies next, a little bit about that. And without, you know, without getting into a lot of these issues of the billions of years. Um, I always like to remind people that both in Biblical scholarship and in science, um, a lot of what people come down really hard on and say this must be this way, is not necessarily settled.

Um, there are stuff that when I was in college many, many years ago, as I often joke in the last millennium that I learned the true right. I mean, as long as we’re talking about time, the last millennium, uh, that things I learned in, in physics and the eighties at the University of Michigan. I’m just isn’t true. Now we’ve done things that approved. So for example, uh, the old science was the speed of light was always constant in a vacuum. But you know what? They’ve done experiments where they have been able to slow the speed of light down. In fact, almost bring a beam of light almost to a complete stop, kind of weird, but there you go. So the speed of light isn’t always constant in a vacuum. We can at least create conditions in a laboratory where it’s not anymore. Um, so stuff like that. So, so it’s not always as settled as, as people want to say.

Things are also, there’s a lot of, a lot of assumptions that are made in, in science, um, that about the early state of the universe that no one can really observe, right? I mean, all, all of the things that we talk about, about the state of the early universe are based on extrapolations of what we see now. You know, you’re kind of extrapolating back, um, that sort of thing. Nobody was there to actually observe that stuff except God. So if God is communicating that stuff to us in a way that the ancient Hebrews could understand, not necessarily according to the way we see science, um, but we certainly get the idea that, you know, the main, I think God is the creator. It’s not an accident. It’s intentional. It has purpose and meaning, and of course you probably gathered as you got to the end of the chapter that when it was all done, it was very, very good because originally we look at the world now when we go, Ooh, we got some problems. It was originally prior to the fall in genesis three. It was very, it was exactly what bad one.

Megan: Yeah. So as I’m reading through some of the points you brought up as reading it as a book that was meant to, that was written by men. The words were actually written by humans and in a culture very different from our own, um, you know, in the past posts and conversations, talking about a, it’s such a different culture. And so, um, I work really hard to read it as that and not try to make comparisons to what I know and what, you know, what we know today. Um, but like you said, kind of understand the bigger picture of like, what is this story trying to tell us? What’s the point of it? Um, so I think we’re on the same page there.

Pastor Orville: And you’re always asking yourself why would God put this here? What is this here for?

Megan: Yeah. Yup. And um, and then I think the creation story is so bad. There are just so many different, like you said, so many different theories. We’ll never know. I don’t see us ever getting to the point where someone says, here’s irrefutable evidence that this is how it was, that this is how the world was created. So kind of, um, for me, I’ve resigned to live in that ambiguity, not knowing having my same as you, having my theory and my guest, but having no real concrete proof that it just is what it is.

Pastor Orville: Yeah. I like to think that someday in eternity God’s got this really sweet version of youtube that I can go back and I’ll be able to watch all the creation happen. But you know, until that time, I’m Kinda,

Megan: he had video technology back then.

Pastor Orville: I’m sure you could retroactively,

Megan: you know, somehow perhaps somebody animated.

Pastor Orville: There you go. It’s got to me some people at Disney that could come up with something for them. Interesting.

Megan: So you kinda talked about this as far as the genealogy and all the begats and we mentioned so no alert. Nine hundred 50 years. Methuselah and I don’t know if I’m pronouncing that correctly. Also lived. He’s recorded as the oldest living personally. The Bible App, is it nine slash 58?

Pastor Orville: Jared was pretty close at 962. Not the same guy from subway. Oh, different. He’s not related to either take from Jake from state farm. State farm. That’s right, yeah.

Megan: You, we have those old guys and then next we move into kind of the 600 year range as we’re moving through genesis and then we get down to like after the floods I’m with, it’s more like 180 and 120. Kind of as you get to the end of Genesis with Joseph and Jacob living more in the 120, 150 timeframe. So talk to me a bit about, about the, the ages of humans then throughout really especially Tennessee.

Pastor Orville: Sure. Let’s just remind ourselves that, that as far as the units of time there are, or years basically, um, and you correctly noticed that, um, between what we call the, the Antediluvian period of the pre flood period, genesis one through nine and the postal lumion period after the flood, you know, genesis 10 and on that, um, the lifespan start to really shorten quickly within a few generations. You know, you’ve got sham who is technically a, a pre or an Antediluvian, a patriarch because he was born before the flood was on. No, with the art of 600 years. Next Guy, um, our MCAD is like 4:38 and then you get down within a couple generations to Pele and to 39 and then within a few generations more, right? You’re in a Abraham and nay horror and terror and those guys and they’re all in the under, you know, for the most part, the under two hundreds.

And then pretty quickly you’re down to 120 or so. Um, and so something happened in there for sure. Um, and you’ll notice, you know, the, the flood seems to be the dividing line and there’s a, there’s a variety of theories about this issue of the, of the flood being a dividing line that prior to the time of the flood, uh, that there’s what’s called the firmament theory, which is the idea that, um, if you, if you were to go back to genesis chapter two, verses five and six, you would see this really interesting little verse in there that says that prior basically prior to the flood, it had never rained on the earth, that the earth was much more, was much more damp and was watered from, uh, the, uh, basically, uh, almost like fog and that sort of idea. And that, and from that we take the idea that there were, there was really no rain until the flood.

Um, and there was a, the firmament ideal theory then has this idea that there was a, um, a, like a, like a dome or on the earth. I’m sort of the remnants of which may be what we call the ozone layer now. And that protected the ancient peoples from some of the more harmful things that we get that cause aging. For example, we know too much sunlight exposure to uv rays, uh, you age much faster. Um, and the ancients weren’t subject to those sorts of things. They were also much more because they were closer to the time of creation. There wasn’t as much time for genetic decay to break in and that sort of thing. Okay. So then the idea then when you get to the flood, it talks about how not, you know, the windows of the heavens were open. That’s the idea of the firmament being done away with.

So the rain comes in, um, and the, uh, flood gates of the deeper open water comes up from the, from the bottom, which if you, if you get into some of the reading, some of the, uh, creation science people that are really into the flood. Like I said, we could have a whole podcast. They would take that idea as you, you’ve obviously noticed that if you take all the continents, you know, and you shifted the world around, you could fit them all back together like a little puzzle. Pardon? Right. The idea of, of Pang Pangea, that sort of thing. Um, and the, and, and a lot of creation scientists would say in the, in the scriptures that comes from the fact that the idea of the flood gates of the deep opening up is where those continents were broken apart and pushed apart by the flood because the water pushed up and we know water, you know, has a lot of power when it can do crazy stuff.

So that enabled people, this idea of the firmament and being protected from, um, from a lot of the harmful uv rays of the sun and stuff, enable people to live a lot longer. There’s the theory that God is to enable people to live longer simply because it was needed to populate the earth because you only start out with two people. It’s going to take awhile. It’s going to be a, you know, going to be a lot of work to populate the earth. Uh, there is the, um, the idea of this called the pollution theory and that assembly, that idea that as time went on, people took less and less care to keep the environment clean and uh, to take care of their surroundings and that sort of thing, so you start to have the subject to more, um, diseases and the and that sort of thing as time goes on and we certainly understand, you know, the effects on our environment and pollution today.

We see that all around us all the time. Um, and then there’s of course going along with that kind of the disease theory, simply the idea that it took time because everything was originally created perfect after sin entered and he really just took a few thousand years for things like diseases to develop, you know, that the early people died of really, really advanced old age, but they didn’t really have diseases and that sort of thing. And it took a lot longer for diseases to come along. Now, of course, none of those, um, you know, we have no way to prove any of those ideas of why the lifespans were shortened. I mean, I certainly, the idea of the, the firmament theory appeals to me greatly simply because, um, it seems to fit with the text really well. I know it’s really foreign to disorder are thinking about how the world might have functioned. But one of the things that both science and the, you know, Osiris, one of the ways science would, would kind of support that idea I think is that a lot of paleontologists will tell us that the earth used to be a lot warmer than it is now,

which fits with that idea of this firmament covering and the moisture in the air and that sort of thing. So you can take that. But, um, it’s a, it’s an interesting theory and it would account for the longer, you know, any of those theories account for the draft and the longer lifespans. So of the people. Um, and then they just get shortened a lot because the disease and that sort of thing comes into the point, you know, I mean, looking historically now, there was a period of time when you still see this in some countries. Unfortunately we’re lifespans are only, you know, in the 17 hundreds if you live to 60 or 70, you were considered just ancient. And nowadays in the West at least, you know, it’s not uncommon to me. I mean, I did a funeral, a your, so go for a gentleman who was in his nineties that’s becoming more and more common, you know, we have lots of disease. Yeah. So anyway, so I think, um, again, you know, because a year is a year, I think that those people really probably live that long. But as your next question will come up, do they account for, for everybody that lived. And that has to do with the genealogies.

Megan: Okay. So that’s, and kind of related to this topic and talking about different groups of people. So when we’re talking to like later in Dennis says we’re talking about, you know, Joseph for example, and his lifespan was in that 120 150 somewhere in there and so were the, were the humans in that time period where the humans who were not connected with the Hebrew culture and religion. So for example, the Egyptians or anyone living outside of. Well we’re hearing about in the Bible, do you happen to know the lifespans were similar for down 120 years just for the Hebrew? And I didn’t ask it in advance so…

Pastor Orville: I’m not sure anyone has a really good answer for that. But I do know one thing and that is that many of the ancient cultures, not only do they have flood stories, most of them have some sort of flood story. Many of them also have stories of people who lived for what to us seems like ridiculous long times. Egyptians have stories of that and the Babylonians have stories of that and that sort of thing. I’m suggesting that there’s some sort of common truth back there about that, that people, you know, it wasn’t just limited to the two, just to Hebrews the idea of long lifespans that there are other cultures that have those stories.

Megan: Good answer. Considering I didn’t have any advance warning on that.

Pastor Orville: Yeah. I don’t have any details out of them and we could probably find it, but, but it is interesting that they also have those same sorts of stories. Most of the things that you read about in the, you know, the really ancient history parts of the Bible there are there multiple other cultures, you know, be at the acadians are the Marion’s or whatever that have similar stories to those where they talk about, um, you know, either people with long or interesting creation myths are flood stories or that sort of thing. So suggesting that even other people’s outside the Hebrews were aware of these historical things that had happened.

Megan: Sure. Yeah. So I am, I’m done with genesis. So over what time period then did jen and says take place? So you mentioned, kind of covered some of the answers. I said maybe the start of being around the I’m 3,700 BC, 5,700 years ago, um, so, uh, over, over what time period and how many generations then does the singular book of Genesis take us through.

Pastor Orville: Okay. So, so the first, um, the first firm date that we can really figure out archaeologically and otherwise in Genesys is Abraham, genesis 12, you know, Abraham comes on the scene and really the rest of genesis is kind of telling the story of Abraham’s family line and how the Jewish people come to be the Jewish people and that sort of thing and how they end up in Egypt and in that kind of thing. Um, and we can look at, at sort of a, the way things are from genesis 12 on and the kind of culture that was there and compare that to all the other sort of data that we have about, you know, some of the other ancient cultures kept much more detailed records of their rulers and that sort of thing and have certain astronomical signs that happened on certain times in those rulers. Um, and so you can get a pretty good idea that Abraham is somewhere is somewhere around 2166 PC.

I’m from comparing all that information and putting together archeological stuff and that sort of thing. Um, and so it’s pretty easy to figure out from Abraham on and get pretty. We can get later in the old day, you know, you’ll meet, you’ll meet guys like David and that sort of thing and we have pretty good ideas of where they lived and pretty good idea when the exodus would take place based on Pharaoh’s dates and that sort of thing. So what we have pretty good ideas of, of all that stuff, um, much easier to date. And of course the farther you get the Old Testament, the easier and easier it gets to date because you know, the other, other cultures also have records of interactions with various kings and that sort of thing. And so we can go. But we know Nebuchadnezzar was, you know, five whatever vc and that.

So that becomes very easy today so we can get back to Abraham around 21, 66 pc, and that, that’s probably the last, you know, I mean, that’s on the last date. Okay. Then I’m willing to, you know, standing on a hill for, because prior to that we have all these other genealogical information and that sort of thing. Um, and we have to ask ourselves, I think is, is that a literal, are those, are those genealogies so detailed that they’re literal in the sense not that those people lived there, didn’t live but literal in the sense that everything is accounted for or are they, what we call representative genealogies. We’re only the most important figures are listed and there’s a whole bunch of other things that happened in between there. So if they’re, if they’re, if you take the super literal interpretation, um, which is where the ancient rabbis would come down, which is why the Jewish traditional Jewish calendar comes out to 57, 76 this year.

And Abraham basically doing the math back. Exactly. You come up with that approximately 6,000 years, you know, 576, 57, 76 or whatever. Um, in fact I remember reading it. Yeah. One, one rabbinical commentary where they even actually had the actual date and time of the creation list and I’m not sure how I want to go there because I was like, ah, I don’t know where they came up with, but that’s kind of right, right. It was like at 10:00 AM or something like that. I don’t know. I’ve got at his coffee first maybe. And then this is a good question. I like to think that God created coffee very early because really, I mean, it’s such an important thing that me to not a cost. Um, so anyway, so the representative Gi geneal, logical theory is the idea that um, the most important figures in their minds are listed and this possible, there are other generations in between that are unaccounted for, sort of in the same way that the ancient king list sometimes only listed the most important ascendance even though we know that these kings had many other children, but the only, the most important to send that would be listed.

Yeah. They were very patriarchal. They were very, very patriarchal, exactly the, the, um, the really very everything was oriented around the, the fathers, you know, and even to the point of, of the sons. Um, and you’re, you’re gonna, you’re gonna run into an issue later on where when you get into farther into the Pentateuch there, when you’re getting into it, I want to say this occurs in numbers, but I can’t remember exactly. I’d have to look it up for you. Where, um, somebody dies and he’s only left with daughters and what do they do with the inheritance? And so there has to be decreased the things that the women can inherit. The inheritance.

Yeah. But in this case, it doesn’t, it goes, it goes to the daughters. Um, yeah. Um, and I think you’ll also find, if, you know, if you get into the new testament sometimes, sometimes in the new testament things, um, we’re getting kind of off topic but are accused of also being very patriarchal, but, but in fact you’ll find, I think one of the most appealing things about Jesus is that he, he did not see women as inferior even though it’s culture. Did he, he in his culture too, to talk to this woman was scary enough to them that he would talk to this Samaritan woman, but that she was a woman and he would talk to her, was just on her to have right. Scandalous. But Jesus very much a, was totally comfortable with women being, uh, you know, important and valued and an equal and that sort of thing.

Megan: One of the interesting things, reading through the genealogies, patriarchal. So they’re very focused on the, the men generally, probably the first born men since birthright had a very, very important place in there. So when I was reading through I, without any research, I guess I just assumed based on context that it was pretty much documenting firstborn sons.

Pastor Orville: Exactly. Well, and the fact that comes into play in the whole Jacob and Esau thing, the birthright and Esau Turmeric and in because he saw technically or Jacobs technically the second born and you know, and yeah, so that theme, that theme actually occurs, you’ll see that theme happened where the, the, the second overtakes the first, a couple of different times in the Old Testament. It was kind of there. But yeah, their day talking about firstborn sons. So going back to the topic, um, so when you think about all that it is possible then that those genealogies could have, could have big gaps of time in them because they’re not recording everything. Everyone that happens in between, they’re just recording the most important figures historically for the, for the purpose of the historical record. Um, and so, uh, it becomes really hard if that’s the case, to know exactly how much time has spanned there.

Um, you know, if it’s very literal than the Jewish calendar is basically right. Okay, if it’s not, if it’s more of the representative genealogy idea than the earth can be much older than, than the 6,000 years approximately. Um, and so, uh, that’s a possibility there. A genesis 12, a through genesis 50 is about 360 years of time. So if you’ve Abraham’s about 21, 66, it goes to what? Eighteen hundred BC six. But then you get from genesis one to 11. It’s, it’s hard to be sure, I think because so many ancient genealogies were representative. And of course the purpose for that is creating a lineage for Abraham. Uh, you know, and eventually for Jesus because you’re going to get to the New Testament, hopefully a might not be this three 65 days, but eventually you’re going to see that there’s genealogies and matthew and Luke for Jesus and they’re a little bit different each one because they have different purposes.

Because Jeannie genealogies, again, we, when, when we think of a genealogy, right? You go to and you’re looking up your family history and genealogy and all that. We’re looking for. We want exact dates and we want to know so and so did the. This all the way back there. Genealogies tended more to serve a theological purpose or or something like that where they were trying to show Jesus is linked back to so and so and that sort of thing show he’s related to David because he’s the Davidic king that was promised. That sort of thing that. That’s off topic too, but same thing here. We’re creating a genealogy for Abraham and all the way back to Adam, but does that mean that every last ancestor and every generation in between us is included? Or just the ones that are kind of important important for filling that out there? There’s there’s not any way I think to prove one way or the other aisle and I don’t think it violates the idea in any way of the authority of scripture that God somehow wasn’t involved in the producing of the scriptures because that was a normal way of relating back. Then have these idea of representative genealogies and so it could be, you know, obviously I leaned that way and you know, the earth can be to be considerably older than. Although again, I’m not sure you can account for billions of years, but that’s a whole other discussion.

Megan: You’re skipping a couple of generations. So as I raised my mom, it’s like very early on in the project, I think today was daylight. I posted like day 16. I’m a 30, 65, so someone pointed out it’s not 365 consecutive days.

Pastor Orville: Exactly. See the representative days?

Megan: Yes. The concept of time. Yes. It will be a year and day. It just won’t be a year in real time because life happens. So as I’m reading forward then a, what are some of these other kind of time interpretation type stories that I should look out, look out for?

Pastor Orville: Well, I think there’s a couple of things you’re going to probably want to look out for. One is what we call a. It has to do with prophecy. You know, you’re going to get later on in the Old Testament is a lot of prophecy books, Daniel, and you’re going to run into what we call now and not yet prophecies, and there are these prophecies where you’ll read and certain parts of it will have been fulfilled in sort of the near term, but there’s still things that haven’t been fulfilled or it’ll be more fully fulfilled later on. And those kind of play with the idea of time in the scriptures. Um, you’ll get to Daniel and he’ll talk about some, some world governments that are gonna come that fit pretty well with what we know about what world governments really did come after, Daniel, uh, but there’s also things that haven’t happened yet because they’re all in the same prophecy and so they’re not fully fulfilled yet.

You’ll run into some, some things like that. Um, you’ll also probably run into, when you get to the New Testament, um, the idea that in, in the New Testament, the idea of time there, there are two distinct ideas of time there. There’s what we call the Kairos and the kronos. Can I say the word crowd out of the Greek words? Obviously the word Kronos, it’s what you’d expect chronometer right as time. Okay. Just, you know, but the word Kira actually has to do with the idea that there are appointed times or specific times or things things are happening exactly right as they’re supposed to at the right time. So when you get to John Chapter Twelve, okay, there’s gonna be an event that’s going to happen and Jesus is going to go now is the time and that’s a Kairos sort of thing and there are several incidences like that in the new testament of things being the appointed time or the right time, uh, the idea that things had to happen just at a certain time for them to be part of God’s plan. And those are things to look out for because it’s kind of interesting to see how they view time and the idea of this, this appointed times and that sort of thing. You’ll even see some of that prophecy. It got certain times for certain things.

Megan: Cool. Well this has been super educational, very insightful, learned a lot. Do you have any kind of final thoughts on the overarching concept of time in the Bible, the big, big topic?

Pastor Orville: Sure. Um, yeah, this has been a lot of fun. I appreciate you asking me. And so it’s always good to, to kind of stretch your brain a little bit and think a think about some of the stages and I realized that, you know, it’s hard to come up with some really definitive answers on some of this stuff. I’m sure that to some folks who might, who might listen, uh, you know, they might think, well, why didn’t he come hard and fast down on this or that the other thing. But I mean, to be intellectually honest, I don’t think we can really prove certain things. And I think that’s a very important thing to remember when we’re studying the scriptures is that it’s easy subconsciously to sort of either project our worldview into the scriptures, which that’s gonna mess you up or to take things we’ve maybe heard in the past or learned in the past and decide that must be the way it is.

And hopefully we have a little, a little more open mind. Again, I’m, I’m still coming from the point that I really believe that the scripture is God’s communication to people and it’s what he wants us to know, uh, about, you know, his, his work in history and his purposes for things. But the flip side of that is he obviously doesn’t tell us everything. In fact, he only tells us a very limited amount of things. Um, there’s, you know, for example, you can read the entire Old Testament. And what about the people who ended up in the far, what we call the Far East, never talks about those folks, right? But they have a whole history and that sort of thing. So it’s obviously history, um, with the theological purpose. No, which I’m going to say is always pointing to Jesus. Everything’s meant to you. Another time concept, since we’re talking about time that you’re going to run into is the idea of helios.

Okay? That there’s an end, that there’s a per and not an end like this. This is the end, like, you know, the old door song. But the, uh, the idea that, that things have a purpose and they’re tealy Os is what they were intended to culminate in. Um, and you’re gonna you’re gonna see some of that in the new testament that this idea of Helios, um, and I, I think the Helios of the scriptures is to point us to Jesus and the Old Testament is working us forward to him and then he comes and then the New Testament, his commentary on what do we do with them. Then

Megan: I’m struggling a lot with the old testament in terms of, um, and we don’t need to dive into this, but in terms of like vengeance and punishment and things like that. Whereas I think my growing up very much focused on the Jesus and the love. And so it’s interesting to go through that adventure of starting with the background and then with the all leading up to kind of what I already know. So.

Pastor Orville: Sure. That makes perfect sense.

Megan: Yeah. And I appreciate how you didn’t cave because it’s similar to how I look at it, where you gave the three different theories of like, here are things that could be, here’s what some options are and then explained your thoughts on them. I actually respect that a lot more than someone coming in and saying this is how it was, what, this is, how it was, this is exactly what it was. And being very definitive and something that’s not definitive. So I think being kind of definitive and like you said, kind of laying it down hard would actually be kind of a disservice to the conversation and having a conversation about what could be. So I do appreciate that

Pastor Orville: everything was super clear. Nobody have any disagreements about it. Faith wouldn’t be hard. But there’s going to be disagreements because everything’s not super clear and everything’s not super clear because this book was written a long, long, long, long time ago and you know, in a culture that we barely understand and we have to always kind of keep that.

Megan: Alright, well this was great. I appreciate your time and might bring it back in for some other expert topics down the road.

Pastor Orville: Well thanks. There’s a lot of fun talking to you.


About Megan Horn

I'm spending portions of the next 365 days reading the Bible. And document my thoughts as I work through the Holy Book.

3 thoughts on “The Concept of Time in the Bible with Pastor Orville Erickson

  1. Awesome!

    And those soda streams are a life saver. The worst thing about regular soda was having to see those cans get crushed after.

    It was soda pressing

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