Many years ago when I first began to read the Bible, I came across the Creation account in Genesis 1. I read with wonder and amazement the well-known words, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.[Gen. 1:1, 2] My Christian friends at the time explained to me that these two verses set forth how God began creating the earth, and everything in it. They told me that He created it empty, barren, unformed, covered over by water; and then during a six-day period began to arrange creation in a beautiful orderly fashion, creating man on the sixth day and resting on the seventh. It was like a master sculptor throwing a lump of clay on the wheel and then forming it into a beautiful bowl or vase.
I must admit that this scenario made no sense to me whatsoever, but the people who were telling me this certainly knew more about the Bible than I did at the time, so I accepted their explanation. Some of these same brethren also told me that the Earth was approximately six-thousand years old. That really puzzled me, because I had been taught in school that the earth was millions, if not billions of years old. My brethren told me that the scientists were all wrong in their dating due to being biased by their belief in Darwinism, or more specifically the theory of evolution. I knew I was a Christian. I knew I believed the Bible. I was convinced it was (and is) the very Word of God. I was resolved to believe all of the Bible, Genesis – Revelation, so if the Bible said the earth is only about six-thousand years old, and that God created the earth empty, dark, and covered over by water, well that is what I believed. I took it by faith.
Yet the nagging questions in the back of my mind remained. Were all of those scientists wrong? What about the fossil record? Where do we fit in the time of the dinosaurs? These were questions that simply were not being answered by the folks teaching me in those early days. To even suggest anything other than the traditional creation view could get you branded a heretic or worse. So, I quit asking my questions. I concluded that apparently we had to accept an inexplicable, unfathomable, and unavoidable chasm between science and the Bible and never the twain to meet.
It was about this time that I discovered a copy of the Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible that my wife had used in Bible school. Finis J. Dake was a Bible teacher who lived many years ago and first released his study Bible in the 1940’s. I will go on record as stating that many of his views are extreme, and there are several areas that I would disagree with him on. However, I do find his study Bible very helpful in many respects. It certainly helped me begin to sort out several questions I had on creation, the age of the earth, and where we fit in the dinosaurs, etc. Through comparing scripture with scripture, and doing Hebrew word studies, Dake saw and taught an uncertain period of time between the events of Genesis 1:1 and what we see beginning to transpire with Genesis 1:2. This teaching has come to be known as, The Gap Theory.
We introduced the first part of this thought last time when I said that I believe that, and note this terminology as we will be referring to it several times, original creation or what we could refer to as, the original earth, could well have been created millions, if not billions of years ago. Does this view do violence to the scripture? Does it mean we are acquiescing to evolutionists? Absolutely not. We do not have to divorce the conclusions of true science from the Bible. What do we mean by true science?
The Apostle Paul admonished Pastor Timothy, O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: [1 Tim. 6:20] “Science” here is the Greek, gnosis (Strong’s G1108) and is knowledge, intelligence, and understanding. Paul had the prevalent gnostic heresy of the day no doubt in view here, but it certainly can apply to all human philosophies that try to exalt themselves over the knowledge of God revealed in scripture. This would be science, or knowledge “falsely so called”. We reject that. This does not mean however that we reject science or knowledge that is in agreement with the Word of God.
I believe that the Bible demonstrates that in fact God did not create the earth originally “without form and void.” He did not create it covered with water. Further, I believe that we can demonstrate that the earth became that way as a result of some cataclysmic occurrence or divine judgment.
Again, we are not going to reiterate all of the material from last time. I will say this much to get us to where want to go this time. 1) We said last time that the beginning of Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew, reshiyth. It is from the Hebrew root, rosh, which is, “The Head.” (It is the same, beginning that we find in John 1:1, by the way) It speaks of original creation. It was the very first act of creation. We don’t know how long ago it was. 2) We said God is the Hebrew, elohim. It is literally, “gods.” It is a uni-plural noun, and in this context represents the entirety of the Godhead (Trinity) involved in the act of original creation. 3) Created, is the Hebrew, bara. It also points to God, and implies fashioning or forming something out of nothing. Human beings cannot bara, that is , we cannot create something out of nothing. That is only the prerogative of Almighty God. 4) Lastly, we said God originally created, A) The Heaven (lit. “heavens”), and B) The Earth. God (Elohim) did all of this in the dateless past.
Lets look again at Genesis 1:2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. This is not, I submit to you, a picture of a perfect creation. This is the picture of chaos. This is darkness. This is, destruction it would appear. Lets examine some salient Hebrew words and the picture becomes much clearer. First, notice the word, was. This is the Hebrew, hayah. This is a primitive root that is translated variously. The thought is, exist, be, become, happen, or come to pass. The earth did not merely exist in this chaotic state, it became this way. Something happened to God’s universe. There is a difference, I submit to you, between the time described in Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
One interesting side note further demonstrating this is the use of the word, “And” in Genesis 1 – 2. The word, “And” appears some 153 times in Genesis 1 – 2. This is to separate the 102 recorded independent acts of God in these chapters. If this is the case, then verse 1 is as separate from verse 2 as to time and subject matter as all of the other separate acts of God. Verse 1 speaks of the whole universe being created and inhabited in the dateless past, while verse 2 refers to chaos because of sin. Someone says, “inhabited?” Yes, I believe that the Earth as well as portions of our universe were inhabited in the dateless past. I know such a notion shakes things up theologically. I know it brings up a lot of questions, and we will address those. Put a pin here, so to speak, and we will come back to this. For now, lets look at a few more salient words in verse 2.
Notice the words, “without form and void.” This is the Hebrew, tohu va bohu. It describes that which is empty, void, and waste. You could translate this part of the verse, “And the earth came to be empty and waste, desolate.” The question is, did God create the earth originally in this fashion? Some would answer, “Of course He did.” I would answer it, no, He did not. It became empty, waste, and desolate, but it was not created that way originally. Compare Isaiah 45:18, For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. “Vain” here is the Hebrew, tohu. It is, “empty, waste, a desolation.” God did not originally create the world, tohu, or in desolation, but for the purpose of being inhabited.“Inhabited” is the Hebrew, yashab, or. “To dwell in, or inhabit.” So, if God originally formed the earth for habitation, what happened?
That may well be the, “$64,000 Question.” I want to make it clear that the Bible doesn’t reveal much to us concerning this, however many scholars see the event that occurred in the dateless past causing some sort of cataclysmic event on the earth, wiping out everything on it, leaving it covered in water; as a judgment on the once mighty Archangel, Lucifer. It is very possible that Lucifer was once the highest of God’s angels. Further, scripture seems to indicate that Lucifer reigned over both the heavens and the earth. He ruled over nations, and it would seem to follow over some sort of Pre-Adamic civilization. I know this rocks some religious “Apple Carts”, but stay with me.
Are we pulling this teaching out of, “thin air?” Is there any scriptural basis for such a notion? I submit to you there is. I want to take some time to explore this next time. Please plan to join us!