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In the Beginning, God - Part 3

Updated on April 20, 2018

Before moving on to the days of Creation, there is one more topic we need to take a brief look at. I know this subject has certainly been discussed much over the years. Many will disagree. That is okay, but I do believe the topic of The Gap Theory or the teaching that the earth was created and inhabited before Genesis 1:2 needs to be revisited.

The gap theory has been around for a long time but experienced a growth in popularity during the early 1900s. C. I. Scofield included this description of Genesis 1:1, 2 in his early study Bible. "The first act refers to the dateless past, and gives scope for all the geologic ages. . . . The face of the earth bears everywhere the marks of such a catastrophe. There are not wanting intimations which connect it with a previous testing and fall of angels. . . . Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains."

The gap theory has since become a way to try to reconcile evolution and creationism. But, "There are not wanting intimations which connect it with a previous testing and fall of angels" simply isn't rue. Neither is his statement, "Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains."

True science and Scripture never disagree. Although the Bible is not a science book, where it speaks of science, it is accurate.

In its simplest form, the gap theory (also known as gap creationism or ruin-restoration creationism) basically states that God created the worlds in six literal days as he said, but allows for an undetermined amount of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. This allows for the geologic ages to be squeezed into this period, thus supposedly reconciling science with the Bible. However, science can still be reconciled with the Bible without inserting a gap between the two verses. This differs from day-age creationism which teaches that each of the six days of creation was actually an age of several million years. Again, this supposedly brings the Bible and science together.

The teaching of the gap theory actually stems from what is not written rather than from what is written. The problem begins with a misunderstanding that a gap or 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, 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 vibration that started the earth rotating on its axis. As we come to this verse, we also come to the problem. Basically, this theory (and it is only a theory) states that the original world was created perfect in all ways. God put satan in charge of the earth. Then satan rebelled along with his angels causing the earth to become without form and void. Thus, the complete six-day creation in Genesis was really a recreation, in the mind of the gap theorist.

The reasoning is this. The verb translated was 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 in other places in Scripture to denote judgment (Jeremiah 4:23-30). 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 gives us an example - "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness . . . . " The original Hebrew word for waste is tohu, the same word translated without form in Genesis 1:2.

Job 6:18 tells us, "The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish." Here, we find tohu in the English word nothing. We read yet again in Psalm 107:40, "He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way." In this verse, tohu is translated as the word, wilderness.

We can see from these verses that the Hebrew word, tohu, does not always represent judgment.

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. He told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. 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 says 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. God created darkness with purpose, as well as light - "He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth."

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 who 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 translated as day. This generally indicates a 24-hour period. If Moses wanted to express a longer period of time, he likely would have used the word olam. This signifies a longer period of time - an age.

The use of numerical adjectives such as first, second, third, etc. that we find in Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 18, 23, and 31 generally calls for a literal interpretation and 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. We read in John 5:46, " For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me."

Paul mentions in Romans 5:14 that death reigned from Adam, not before. "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses . . . " This would eliminate a pre-Adamic race that existed during the supposed gap of Genesis 1:1 and 2. Death is the result of sin according to Romans 6:23, and according to the gap theory, sin was the cause of the earth being without form and void. But if we are to believe the Apostle Paul, sin didn't exist until Adam and Eve's fall in the garden.

There are good men who 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.

© 2018 William Kovacic


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