Q&A: The Sun Went Down

The Sun Went Down

Question

The sun does not really rise and set, so is the Bible inaccurate?

Answer

Genesis 15:17 (KJV) And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.

Genesis 19:23 (KJV) The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

The Bible is the inspired and inerrant word of God. It is true (Psa. 119:89; 142; 144; John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16, etc.). However, the Bible also uses language to communicate. Language at times is not used to state things literally, but rather to infer meanings or to state a particular perspective. For instance, I can say I am typing this answer on my computer. This is a true statement, but in reality I am typing on a wireless keyboard and not literally typing on my computer. Moreover, from a different perspective, I am not literally sitting on my computer. Additionally, the letters of this answer do not appear on the outside of my computer encasement. However, most of those who read this answer understand what it means when I say I am typing this answer on my computer and would never question the validity of such a statement.

As to our texts, the Bible is not claiming that the sun actually sets or rises. Rather, it is using observational language which has an inferred meaning. We still do this today. The weather channel and many news channels still use terms like "sunrise" and "sunset." But we understand the usage of the terms - the rotation of the earth simply makes it appear that the sun sets and rises. This is a common use of language biblically and even today. It is an accepted way of expressing and understanding truth.

So, these verses and the Bible itself are accurate when understood using the proper rules of interpretation.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).