Ruin & Restoration.
The Gap Theory
(Old earth Versus Young earth)
Is there a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2?
This is a subject that many evangelical Christians disagree on.
Respected Bible scholars stand on both sides of the argument. There are exponents of a young earth of no more than 6000 to 10000 years and those of an old earth, which could be thousands, even millions of years. Experts in the Hebrew language argue over the Hebrew words and the grammar of the Hebrew phrases.
The question is this, did God create the earth with form and not void at the beginning of Gen 1:1 or did He create the earth in a state of
being without form and void, as we are told in Genesis 1:2.
If the first statement is true, that the earth was created with form and not void, then what happened to render it into a state of having no form and void and covered in darkness in v2?
If there is a gap between those two verses, what was the earth like after Gen 1:1 and what was it like just before Gen 1:2?
OK, well let’s look at Genesis chapter 1.
Gen1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
In the beginning, God created time (beginning), space, (Heaven) and matter (Earth ). In other words, He created the universe.
Beginning, Hebrew—rê'shı̂yth. Pronounced ray-sheeth'
From the same as H7218 (Strongs concordance); the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): - beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing.
Before anything existed, God created the heaven and the earth, V1.
Then we are told in V2, that the earth was without form and void.
Genesis 1:2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved over the
face of the waters.
Hebrew word by word translation.
WeHaAretz (And the earth) — Haytah (became) - Tohu (formless) WaBohu (and void) — WeChoshech (and darkness) — Al - [was] on Pinee (the face of) — Tihom [the] (deep) — WeRuach (And [the] spirit) — Elohim (of God) - Mirachepheth (hovered) - Al (on) - Pinee (the face of) - HaMayim (the waters).
So, either God created the earth without form and void, or the earth was or became without form and void in between verses 1 and 2.
We are not told what this heaven and this earth looked like when God first created them.
On one hand, God could have created the earth and the initial state of this earth, was formless and void, with the Spirit of God hovering (brooding) over the waters, waiting for God’s creative instructions to prepare it for people to dwell upon it.
On the other hand, God could have created the earth in a perfect state and something happened in between verses 1 and 2 to render it formless and void.
The argument hinges on the word “was” in Genesis 1:2.
The King James Version translators, translated this word as “was”.
V2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.
Without form and void. Hebrew Tohu and Bohu. (Confused and empty).
The word “was” here is the Hebrew hâyâh
A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary): - beacon, X altogether, be (-come, accomplished, committed, like), break, cause, come (to pass), continue, do, faint, fall, + follow, happen, X have, last, pertain, quit (one-) self, require, X use.
So, it is argued that this verse could be translated:
The earth was/existed without form and void. Or The earth became without form and void.
This would mean that God either created the earth confused and empty, ready to be made into something that was fit for habitation, or God created the earth perfect and something went wrong and it became confused and empty.
These are the two views and the commentaries are divided on the matter.
Take for example, Jer 4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, (Tohu) and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
Some take the view that God created the earth formless, as a chaotic mass before He gave it form fit for habitation. This is known as the young earth view. From the beginning of creation, until God rested from His work was a literal six days.
To use an analogy, it is like God creating a lump of clay without any form and then making something with form from the lump.
However, Jeremiah was not referring to something that happened to the first earth, but comparing the nation of Israel’s state because of their sin. If you take this verse in context with the whole passage, we see that Jeremiah is referring to Israel’s sin and the judgement of God on the nation of Israel, vv1—14. Jeremiah is prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem as being in the same state as when God created the heaven and earth in the beginning, Tohu and Bohu.
Notice these verses:
Jer 4:25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
Jer 4:26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
Jer 4:27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
V25 where it says and “there was no man”, it is not referring to the idea that there were men before Adam.
One verse that is used to back up this young earth view and to counter the ruin and restoration view is Exodus 20:11
Exo 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
It is said that this verse proves that God made all that there is, heaven and earth and all in them is, in six days, so there could not be a gap
between verse one and two.
You will notice that the word used here is “made” (Hebrew—Asah).
In Genesis 1:1 the word used is created, (Hebrew- Bara).
Created and made are two different words. Create is out of nothing, "Creatio ex nihilo" in Latin and only God can create out of nothing. Where “made” is making something out of something.
For example God created the earth and then made the creatures and Adam from the earth, as a potter makes something out of clay.
The opposite view is known as the Gap Theory or the Ruin and Restoration Theory or Ruin & Reconstruction Theory.
What is said in this view is that God created the heaven and the earth, perfect in verse one, then something happened that rendered it without form and void verse 2. Then from that chaotic state, God made what we see today in six days.
This view uses such scriptures as:
Isaiah 24:10a The ruined [tohu] city lies desolate; NIV
Hebrew: nishberah qiriyath tohu ("the city has been shattered")
Job 38:4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Job 38:5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
Job 38:6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
This suggests that God created the earth perfect and it caused the angels (the sons of God) to shout for joy. However something
happened causing it to be ruined or shattered.
This also shows that the angels were created prior to the heaven and earth being created.
Also in Isaiah:
Isa 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.
The word vain here is the same word as “without form” in Gen 1:2. (Tohu).
So, the argument is, that this verse is saying that God did not create the earth without form. He did not create it in vain but it had form and was not void.
Following are notes from some commentators for a young earth and notes for an old earth.
Commentaries supporting the young earth, that God created the earth formless and void and then continued to give it form and made it
Young Earth commentaries:
Adam Clarke Commentary:
ו tohu vabohu ; the very words used in Genesis to denote the formless state of the chaotic mass before God had brought it into order.
John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible:
Jer 4:23 and, lo, it was without form, and void; as the first earth or chaos was, before it was brought into form and order; the same words, "tohu" and "bohu", are used here, as in Genesis 1:2, the land of Judea now was, in the prophet's view of it, like the first earth, when darkness covered it; no grass sprung out of it, not a tree to be seen in it, and neither man nor beast as yet upon it, but all an undigested mass, and in the utmost wild disorder and confusion; and this may denote not only the natural, but the political, and ecclesiastical, disorder of the Jewish nation and state:
Calvin's Commentary on the Bible (Jer 4:23)
He says first, that he looked on the earth, and that it was תהו, teu, and בהו, beu. He employs the very words which Moses adopted in his history of the creation; for before any order was introduced, he says that the earth was תהו, teu, and בהו, beu, that is, waste and unformed chaos; and it had no beauty pleasing to the eye.
Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
Jeremiah described the land of Judah, after the coming devastation, as appearing completely desolate: like the earth and heavens before God formed and filled them.
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Without form, and void.—An obvious quotation from the tohu va-bohu of Genesis 1:2. The goodly land of Israel was thrown back, as it were, into a formless chaos, before the words “Let there be light” had brought it into order.
Notable Bible scholars that hold to the Young Earth view.
Henry Morris, Christian apologist, scholar, and hydrologist. He is most notable in his role in the modern creation science movement,
John Whitcomb, theologian and author who is known for his role in the modern creation science movement.
Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D Hebrew Christian Creation Ministries
Dr. Carl Wieland was a founder of Creation Ministries International
John Macarthur, Senior Pastor, Grace to You.
On the other hand, other commentators take the view that God created the earth perfect and it became chaotic and without form.
This is the Ruin and Restoration view,
Old earth (Gap Theory) Commentaries.
Scofield's Reference Notes: without form and void
Cf. Genesis 1:2. "Without form and void" describes the condition of the earth as the result of judgment; Jeremiah 4:24-26; Isaiah 24:1 which overthrew the primal order of Genesis 1:1. SCOFIELD'S "GAP" THEORY!
Jamieson’s Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible.
2. the earth was without form and void--or in "confusion and emptiness," as the words are rendered in Isaiah 34:11 . This globe, at some undescribed period, having been convulsed and broken up, was a dark and watery waste for ages perhaps, till out of this chaotic state, the present fabric of the world was made to arise.
So, there are those that argue that God originally created the earth with such perfection and beauty that the angels shouted with joy.
Notable Bible scholars that hold to the Ruin and Restoration view:
Julian the Apostate The Roman Emperor (circa A.D. 331–363) and Isaac de La Peyrère Calvinist theologian (1596-1676) are two notable examples of those that held this view.
Thomas Chalmers, a divinity professor at the University of Edinburgh, who popularized the gap theory. He first lectured on it in 1814 and attributed it to Episcopius: (Simon Episcopius, Dutch Theologian)
This has become known as the Gap Theory or the Ruin and Restoration or Reconstruction Theory and there are many evangelicals that believe this theory in one form or another.
George Hawkins Pember (1837–1910), known as G. H. Pember, writer of the book, Earth's Earliest Ages, was an English theologian.
Arthur C. Custance. Writer of “Without form and void.
Cyrus Scofield endorsed it in the notes of his famous reference bible.
Published in 1909 by Oxford, with an expanded edition in 1917, The Scofield Reference Bible.
Watchman Nee, a Chinese theologian, argued strongly for the gap theory in a series of "Meditations on Genesis," They all believed that a "gap" exists between the first two verses in Genesis chapter one.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Although Charles Spurgeon clearly denounced the theory of Evolution, did he prescribe to the GAP Theory, which includes death before Adam?
Can any man tell me when the beginning was? Years ago we thought the beginning of this world was when Adam came upon it; but we have discovered that thousands of years before that God was preparing chaotic matter to make it a fit abode for man, putting races of creatures upon it, who might die and leave behind the marks of his handiwork and marvelous skill, before he tried his hand on man. End of Quote.
If one accepts the translation that Gen 1:2 is rendered “became without form and void”, it would make sense that the earth’s state prior to this was perfect.
However if the verse is rendered “was without form and void”, it would mean that without form and void was the state that God created it. This idea would not fit in with the Job and Isaiah verses.
If, as is being suggested, that the earth became without form and void, then the question arises, what caused it to become in this state?
There are many different ideas concerning this depending on your standpoint.
There are those that believe that there existed a pre Adamic race on the old earth and that violence occurred, causing God to destroy the old earth and then later in Gen 1:2 reconstructing it.
There are however many problems with this view.
The proponents of this view would use Jeremiah 4:23 and in particular
Jer 4:25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. as a verse that supports a pre Adamic man.
However this passage in Jeremiah is not referring to this.
Although this passage shows that the earth was without form and void, it is not supporting the existence of a race of beings prior to Adam.
The Bible tells us that Adam was the first man. It also declares that Eve was the mother of all living.
1 Cor 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
If there were flesh and blood and bone creatures on the earth before Adam, then these pre Adamic men/creatures must have died, which would put death before Adam.
However the Bible tells us that death came into the world because of Adam’s sin. So before this there was no death.
1 Cor 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
So, this theory does not hold water and conflicts with scripture and should be dismissed.
Then there is the view that there were no flesh creatures on the old earth but that it was occupied by spirit beings, namely fallen angels.
This, they say is the best explanation for this condition, that a great destruction had occurred when, sometime in prehistory, Lucifer and his angels rebelled against God's authority and tried to overthrow Him.
Isa 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Eze 28:12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Eze 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Eze 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Eze 28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
Eze 28:16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
The Bible does speak of Lucifer being created perfect but because of pride, he fell and God cast him down to the earth and he took with him a third of the angels of heaven.
Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
Rev 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
We know from scripture that Satan was in the garden of God, (Eden), Eze 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God, for he tempted Eve, but the scriptures nowhere tell us that Lucifer occupied the created earth before Adam.
This idea holds to scripture, accepting that Adam was the first human being and that physical and spiritual death came because of Adam’s sin.
This view also accepts that God, beginning at Genesis 3:3 made all that exists in six literal days.
It appears to me that both theories are based on the translation of Genesis 1:2. Is it translated (Was or Became).
Whichever view you take, we know that scripture teaches that mankind as we know it began with Adam and Eve.
Adam was the first man and Eve was the mother of all living.
We also know that death came into the world through sin, the sin of Adam and Eve.
It seems very clear that the history of mankind and this world that we occupy, began at Genesis 1:3.
Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Whether there was a gap between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2, and whatever the earth was like when God created it is a subject that creates great debate and argument and for the untrained scholar is a very difficult to come to a definite conclusion.
Both of these viewpoints seem to make sense depending on the stance one is taking. However we know that there is only one truth.
It all depends on the translation of “the earth was without form and void”.
Do we translate the Hebrew word “hâyâh” as “was”(existed) or became” (had become).
The idea that there was some form of physical life, (flesh and blood), whether creature or primitive man on the old earth, does not hold water at all in the light of scripture, as death came into the world through Adam and Eve was the mother of all living.
If there is a gap between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2 and the earth became without form and void, it cannot be used to prove the fossil records of life, pre Adam.
Therefore the catastrophe that occurred , must have been as a result of the fall of Lucifer.
So, one could hold the view of a gap between verses 1 and 2 and not be using it to answer the geological questions or to prove creation
In the light of the Isaiah scripture: Isa 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.
It does appear from this verse, that God did create the heavens and the earth with form and not void, which suggests some catastrophic event that rendered the earth confused and empty or ruined and shattered.
However, I remain open on this subject and I have no problem with either view.
Whether God created the earth formless and void and then out of this mass made the world as we know it today, or whether God created the earth perfect and it became formless and void and then He made out of that chaos, what we see today. For me it does not matter. God is in
control of all things and He will do according to His plans and purpose.
Our world, the earth that we occupy today, I believe began in Genesis 1:3 And God said let there be light and there was light.
What followed took God six days to make, all that we know today the sun, the moon, the stars and planets, the flora and fauna, the living creatures and mankind where made in six literal days and then God rested on the seventh day.
The witness of Jesus. We also have to take in account Jesus words.
Concerning when CREATION occurred, we see in Mark 10:6 that Jesus said, “But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female.”
In these very words, Jesus clearly teaches that Adam and Eve were created in “the beginning of the creation”—not after billions of years had passed. Also, the expression “beginning of the creation” rules out any “re-creation” or “second start” as taught by many gap theorists.
Also The witness of Jewish history.
The Churches that put forth the gap theory assert that "the earliest supposed recorded controversy on this point can be attributed to Jewish sages at the beginning of the second century." (Take notice that this admits the argument of silence that the 6 day creation was not questioned by the biblical writers themselves.
We can argue all day over this topic but for me, it all hinges on that one Hebrew word “Hayah”. Is it translated “Was” or is it translated “Became”.
Hayah—Was OR Became
That is the Question