The Gap Theory?
I know that this subject has certainly been discussed before. Many will disagree. That's okay, but I do believe that the topic of The Gap Theory, or the teaching that the earth was created and inhabited before Genesis 1:1 needs to be revisited.
The problem stems from a misunderstanding that a gap (a period of time) exists between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. The thinking is that since the earth was without form and void that God had recreated the earth rather than creating it as is plainly stated.
In verse 2, we see the Holy Spirit at work as He moves or vibrates upon the waters. I believe it was this vibrating that started the earth spinning on its axis. As we come to this verse, we also come to the problem. Basically this theory (and it is only a theory) says that the original world was created perfect in all ways. God put satan in charge of the earth. Then satan rebelled with his angels causing the earth to become without form and void. Thus, the complete six-day creation in Genesis was really a recreation.
The reasoning is this. The verb translated "was" (hayetha) can be translated "became". The earth became without form and void. However, the sentence structure in verse 2 seems to suggest that the heaven and earth in verses 1 and 2 are exactly the same. Compare the sentence structure of these verses with Jonah 3:3. "Jonah arose, and went into Nineveh...Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city". Obviously, Nineveh did not become a great city after Jonah entered in. This verb (hayetha) is used 264 times in the Pentateuch. Only six times is it translated "became". It is translated 258 times as "was".
The second argument is that the phrase "without form and void" (tohu-wa-bohu) is used other places in Scripture to denote judgment (Jeremiah 4:23). Tohu does not always signify judgment, however.
The book of Job tells us in chapter 26:7 that God "stretcheth out the north over the empty place (tohu) and hangeth the earth upon nothing." In many places it refers to a desert or wilderness where there is limited or no life (Deuteronomy 32:10; Job 6:18; Psalm 107:40).
Isaiah 45:18 seems to clear up God's purposes. "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created not in vain (tohu), he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else". God's purpose was for the earth to be inhabited, to be fruitful and multiply. Is not that what He told Adam to do? The emphasis here is on the fact that the world was created for habitation, not for waste (created not in vain). It deals with emptiness, not judgment.
Thirdly, the argument goes that God would not create the world in darkness when He is the author of light. Generally, darkness in Scripture represents evil. Again, however, physical darkness does not always represent evil (Psalm 104:19-24).
Consider fourthly please, Exodus 20:11 which says "For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day...". Those that accept the gap theory must deal with this verse for it plainly tells us that God created everything in six days.
So what about the days? Were they 24-hour days as we know them today? It would appear so. In Genesis one and two the Hebrew word yom is used. This generally indicates a 24 hour period. If Moses wanted to express a longer period of time, he no doubt would have used the word olam. This signifies a long period of time.
The use of numerical adjectives would also lend itself to that of a normal day. Moses testifies of six normal days in Exodus 20:9-11. David sees six normal days in Psalm 33:6, 7, and 9. It would seem that Jesus Himself accepted the original account of the first three chapters of Genesis (Matthew 19:4; Luke 3:38; John 5:46, 47). Paul mentions in Romans 5:14 that death reigned from Adam, not before.
There are good men that hold to the gap theory, and they certainly have the right to do so, but I hope you see that God is very clear in what He says and we just need to take Him at His Word. We must be careful not to add to Scripture what is not there.
More by this Author
The Great American Fast takes place each year on the second weekend of September.
The story deals with the crumbling relationship between a couple, perhaps husband and wife. The hopes of early life have dwindled into the past and leaves in its place loneliness and regret.
There is much confusion today about the Spirit-filled life. Let the author of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, tell you exactly what it is.