When our first parents sinned against God, they faced dire consequences for their actions. God had told them, “in the day you disobey me, you will die.” Therefore we would have expected that on the very day they broke God’s law, they would have perished. Yet they did not die on that day. Adam lived for 930 more years. Did God not keep his promise of judgment? Can his word not be trusted?
The key to resolving this conundrum is the word, “day”. In Hebrew it can mean a literal 24 hour day or it can be taken figuratively to mean a long period of time. Therefore God could have fulfilled his promise of judgment by immediately bringing physical death to Adam and Eve within 24 hours of their sin. Or, by taking the word “day” in its figurative sense, God could have extended the period before his judgment fell to a long stretch of time, like 930 years. In both scenarios God would be true to his promise that disobedience would be punished in a day.
That God chose the extended period of time before implementing his judgment, shows He is a God of grace, not just a God of wrath. As the Scriptures repeatedly tell us “the Lord is compassionate and gracious, show to anger, abounding in love.” This is the first clue in the narrative of the human fall that God would extend mercy to his rebellious creation—–that he had a plan for our salvation. That plan would reach its zenith in the coming of Christ.