A friend at Sydney Anglican’s emailed me this on ‘days’ in Genesis.
1. The continuance of God’s seventh day in Genesis 2:3 (i.e. the pattern established in each of the previous days does not recur and variations to patterns like this are usually significant). This is reinforced by the idea that to postulate a day following the seventh undermines the finality of the rest.
2. John 5:17-19, here Jesus argues in such a way that it is clear that if God’s seventh day (Sabbath) was not still continuing then his point would be mute. In other words, Jesus does not teach that God’s seventh day was a 24 hour period of time.
3. Hebrews 4:3-4 also indicates that God’s Sabbath continues to the present.
So a careful (as opposed to careless!) reading of the Bible indicates that the seventh day in Gen 1:1-2:3 could not have been a 24-hour period of time, and that ought to serve as sufficient warning to the reader that we ought to tread carefully with respect to the remaining days.
There are, of course, other indicators as well. Such as deviations from the standard historiographical genre of the OT which should stand out to the reader much as the opening words in an English tale “once upon a time…” signal to the English reader that they’re not reading literal history, no matter how historical the subsequent prose may sound
More on John 5:17-19.
Let me just quote Henri Blocher:
Jesus’ reasoning is sound only if the Father acts during his sabbath; only on that condition has the Son the right to act similarly on the sabbath… God’s sabbath, which marks the end of creation but does not tie God’s hands, is therefore co-extensive with history. Our Lord did not see the seventh day of Genesis as a literal day.
and this from John Collins:
… the Father is ‘working’ on his Sabbath, which only makes sense if we suppose that his creation Sabbath continues.
Jesus’ argument makes no sense if he is not claiming that God’s continued work takes place on the divine Sabbath – because God is resting from the work of creating, according to Genesis. If God’s original creation week is the first of many weeks during which he can take one day off in seven then again, Jesus argument has no force.