In this study I want to look at verses 1 and 2 together, and how they relate to each other. I want to consider specifically why the earth was created “without form, and void” as the text states. Why does verse 2 begin with what appears to be chaos and not perfection? I also want to consider the gap theory that many believe today, and determine if this is a valid way to look at Genesis 1:2. Was God re-creating the world, as some believe, or does this term without form, and void mean something else? In addition, what part does the Spirit of God have in the creative process that is described here? God spoke and said, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2).
Understanding the gap theory.
What is the gap theory? Is the gap theory a rational explanation for why the earth was without form and void? Is the gap theory a biblical option for those who believe in the authority of the Word of God? Or, is the gap theory an accommodation to the evolutionary and naturalistic beliefs of mankind?
The gap theory simply states that there is a long pause between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, that potentially could be millions or even billions of years. Those who believe this idea of creation state that all of the geologic formations, and what they call “pre-historic fossils on the earth, prove that this planet is not 6,000 to 10,000 years old, but billions of years old. The gap theorists believe that the earth was ruined because of the judgment of God and then reconstructed again. For what reason you ask? They believe that in the distant past God created a perfect world. They assert that Satan was the ruler of the earth which had human beings living here, but without any souls. Satan chose to rebel against God, and sin entered the world, which brought God’s judgment upon the earth in the form of a flood indicated by Genesis 1:2. Many translate verse 2, “And the earth became ruined and desolate.” In addition, they believe that then a global ice-age resulted from the removal of light and heat from the sun which was a part of this judgment. All plant, animal, and human fossils found today are the result of what they call “Lucifer’s flood.” This is the essence of the gap theory.
Let me say at the outset of this study that I do not believe in the gap theory. Why? I believe it is a theory that has resulted from well-meaning Christians who wish to accommodate evolution and geological “ages.” Here are some good reasons why the gap theory is unnecessary and false, and why the immediate text and the teaching of the Bible demand a rejection of it.
1. There is no requirement that the earth “became ruined and desolate” as the gap theorist’s state. If you simply read the rest of Genesis 1 you realize that the earth was created without form and void, because God originally created the basic elements of matter, not a completed system. Each successive day of creation God takes the elements of matter and continues His creative process. Even Eve was created “from” the man who had already been formed, showing God’s continued creative work (Gen. 2:22). God created the elements of matter, and then gave them form in light, dry ground, the sun and the moon, and all living creatures, by His verbal creative power. Thus, God brought order to formless matter. The Hebrew words “without form,” simply mean formless or empty, which is exactly what you see in Genesis 1:1, the basic elements of matter but without any order, the absence of dry ground, and no plant, animal, or human life. It is also important to note that the word void is defined by God Himself in the writings of Jeremiah the Prophet when God said, “I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light” (Jer. 4:23). So, without form, and void just meant that the earth did not yet have light, and it was without any of the other creative acts that were to immediately follow. In addition, for those who declare that God, who is light, would not create darkness, is simply foolish thinking, because God can do anything He pleases! God declared from His own mouth, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things” (Isa. 45:7). This is the sovereign God that the Bible reveals!
2. Note the use of the word “and” in each of the succeeding verses in Genesis chapter one. This word “and” shows that there is additional work that God is adding to each day of creation. According to “The Interlinear Bible” which gives a literal translation of the Hebrew and Greek text of the Old and New Testaments, the word “and” should be placed at the beginning of verse two, and the beginning of every verse thereafter from verse four all the way to the end of chapter one. Why is this important? Because it shows that each verse, and the truth described, is in a sequential order. Each creative act of God is connected to what came before it. The Old King James Version of the Bible translates it this way, showing that there is a sequential and connected order of thought from what comes before that verse and what comes in the next verse. The Hebrew word “void” literally means a lack of order. This is exactly what you should see if God simply created the basic elements of matter and then formed all things from that matter. The earth had no light, landmass, plant life, animal life, or human life. All these came into being from the matter that God had previously created. Consequently, if you see this point, then there is no need to interpret the earth as having been destroyed and in need of re-creation, and thus no gap between verse one and two.
3. One of the most important reasons why the gap theory is incorrect is because if there was a destruction of human life before the creation of Adam and Eve, then the Bible is wrong. Let me explain. In Genesis 3:20 the Bible declares, “Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” The Bible is emphatically clear that Adam and Eve were the first human beings on this planet. That means there were no humans here previously to be destroyed in a prior judgment. In addition, the Bible is clear when sin and death entered the world. If someone believes in the gap theory, they believe that there was sin and death before the fall of man. That is a real biblical problem! How can there be any life on the earth before man was even created? How can there be death and judgment before mankind even sinned? It’s just completely illogical. Paul states in Romans 5:12, “Just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin.” When did death enter the world? It was only after the fall of Adam and Eve, not before the creation of man in a supposed gap of time. In Romans 5:18, Paul writes again, “As through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation.” This verse clearly states that the only time that judgment came upon all men was after the sin of Adam and Eve. So, the gap theory chronology is just backwards, and this is why you should reject this hypothesis.
But the gap theorists respond and say, “But what about all the dead animal and plant life we see in the fossil record?” The answer to this question is very simple and obvious. These fossils resulted from Noah’s flood, not some supposed judgment during a gap of time.
Why do people believe in the gap theory when there is such powerful biblical and scientific evidence to the contrary? I find that the most basic reason for Christians believing in the gap theory is that they cower before the forcefulness of naturalistic philosophy, and because they haven’t heard the other evidence from a creationist viewpoint. The indoctrination of evolution that happens from elementary school through college is powerful. You are made fun of if you believe that the earth is six to ten thousand years old. The pressure to yield to the hypothesis of evolution, the idea of geologic ages, and the billions of years for this all to take place, is overwhelming. Therefore, do your own study and you will realize that theistic evolution and the idea of a gap theory just doesn’t match up with the Bible or the evidence. Don’t try to mix the Bible’s account of creation with the world’s view of how we all got here, or you will be hopelessly confused.
Evidence for a young earth
The teaching of evolution logically requires millions of years to have passed for anyone to even begin to entertain the idea that this hypothesis might be true. Why? Because we have not observed any evolution in mankind in the last 6,000 years of recorded history. This is why people have proposed the gap theory as a way to add time to their scenario. As I have already stated, most Christians are afraid to bring up their faith in a young earth, because they don’t possess any facts to refute the old earth teaching of evolution, and for fear of ridicule and charges of ignorance. This is why you need the evidence I am about to give you. Consider these facts. This evidence will include the least technical proofs that are easy to understand. If you want even more proof, please visit https://answersingenesis.org/answers/
1. If you do a quick search of the earliest archeological discoveries of written history you will find them to all be within the time frame of a young earth.
For example, the earliest cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. All recorded histories begin abruptly in China, Pakistan, Iraq, and Egypt. The earliest known civilization arose in Sumer, Iraq somewhere around 4,500 BCE. The earliest recorded date in the Egyptian calendar is 4,241 BCE. These are logical reasons why a young earth is very plausible. If mankind has been on the earth for a million and a half years, then why don’t we have recorded histories from before these earliest known civilizations? Where is the proof that people existed even 100,000 years ago? This is a question that must be considered.
2. Population growth.
Population scientists of our day have looked at this subject, and given us some great information. They declare that if we had a population increase of 2% per year as we have today, and if this number had remained constant, one couple could generate 3.5 billion people in only 1,075 years. Scientists believe that the population growth rate has probably been much lower in the past, simply because of how many people are on the planet today. Our growth rate today is much higher than it has been in the past. They believe that our population growth rate has been at about 1/2% for the last 6000 years. If it increased at only 1/2% per year, that is one quarter of the growth rate we have today. At a population growth rate of 1/2% you could generate our present population in only 4000 years. So, let’s do the math. If mankind lived on the earth for 1 million years, at minimum of 1/2% growth rate of population, we would have a population today of 1trillion, 500 billion people! However, we only have 7 billion people on our planet today. Why aren’t there billions more?
Now consider that at the time of Christ there were 140 million people on the planet. In 1000 CE there were 280 million. In 1804 there were 1 billion people on earth. In 1927 there were 2 billion. In 1960 there were 3 billion. In 1974 there were 4 billion. In 1985 we reached 5 billion people. In 2000 we crossed the 6-billion-person threshold. It only took eleven more years to reach the 7-billion-person mark in 2011. The United Nations Populations Division believes the earth’s population will reach 8 billion in 2023. This is called an exponential population growth rate which you also have to figure into these numbers. So, if you take the smallest population growth rate and multiply it for 1 million years, it doesn’t compute. If mankind has been here on this planet for a million years there should be standing room only in every nation on earth. But this is not the case! Why? The most logical answer to this question is, because mankind has only been here on the earth from 6 to 10,000 years.
3. The problems with Carbon 14 and other radiometric dating methods.
This topic is very technical, so let me quote Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey in the article featured in “Old-Earth Creationism on Trial,” published on February 23, 2012. They wrote, “One of the most commonly used arguments for an old earth involves the technique of radiometric dating. We are told that rocks “have been dated” to be billions of years old. Radiometric dating is supposed to tell how much time has elapsed since a rock was formed (from magma).
First of all, we know that radiometric dating is unreliable because it can be tested on rocks of known age. Indeed, geologists have taken rocks of which we know the age because they were formed from recent volcanic eruptions (the age of a rock is supposed to go back to the point of solidification). These rocks were then “age-dated” using the standard radiometric dating techniques. The results came back that these rocks were estimated to be hundreds of thousands to millions of years old, when in fact their true age is only a few years. This is not an isolated incident; it is quite common. Dr Andrew Snelling, a geologist, points out several of these instances with potassium-argon (a common method for dating the earth at millions of years). A few are listed below:
When did the event occur?
Date by radiometric dating
Mt. Etna basalt, Sicily
330,000–170,000 years old
Mt. Etna basalt, Sicily
490,000–210,000 years old
Mount St. Helens, Washington
300,000–400,000 years old
Hualalai basalt, Hawaii
1.76–1.44 million years old
Potassium-Argon Dates in Error
Radiometric dating has been shown to not work on rocks of known age. Yet most secular scientists and other old-earth supporters assume that radiometric dating does work on rocks of unknown age. This is quite an obvious inconsistency.”
Obviously, these inconsistencies with radiometric dating should cause you to question these old earth scientist’s assumptions and conclusions.
Other evidence for a young earth.
1. Our shrinking sun. The sun that you see rise over the horizon every morning, and watch descend every night is shrinking. The sun is 865,000 miles in diameter, and approximately 93,000,000 miles from earth. The sun is losing 5,000,000 tons of fuel per second, every single day. This means that the sun’s diameter is shrinking at a rate of 5 feet per hour, or 8.3 miles per year. So logically, if the sun is expending its energy and shrinking every single year, then many years ago it was much bigger than it is today. Isn’t that a logical conclusion? So, if the first humans lived on the earth one to two million years ago as evolutionists theorize, that means 2 million years ago the sun was about 16.6 million miles closer to the earth than it is today. Now, Venus is 26 million miles closer to the sun than we are. The average temperature on Venus is 860 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, life does not exist on that planet. If the earth is 4.5 billion years old, our planet would have been not only closer to the Sun than Venus, the sun would have consumed Mercury, Venus, and the Earth. This means that the earth is obviously very young!
Another interesting fact, is if the earth were as far from the Sun as Mars is today then life could not be sustained here on earth. The temperature gradient on Mars is from -226 degrees to as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This should lead you to conclude that our earth is fixed at a very specific place in our solar system and distance from the sun which allows life to exist only on this planet. If you would like to read more on this idea about our privileged position in our solar system, see my article “Factors Necessary to Sustain Complex Life on Earth.” https://covenantkeepers.org/bible-studies/apologetics-studies?layout=edit&id=500
2. Our receding moon. The moon is another very interesting proof to consider. Our moon is moving away from the earth at a measured rate. We know this is a fact because the Apollo missions 11, 14, 15 left at their landing sites what are called “Laser Ranging Retro Reflectors.” These corner-cube reflectors are a special type of mirror that allows a laser beam shot from earth to bounce back to earth and tells us the exact distance the moon is from earth. This is how we know that the moon is receding from its orbit around the earth. The moon is moving away from earth at a rate of 4 cm or 1-1/2 inches per year. The moon is 238,857 miles from the earth at the present time, so it’s logical to conclude that if the earth and the moon are separating from each other at a measured rate, then many years ago the moon was much closer to the earth. Is that not a logical conclusion? This means that every thousand years the moon is receding away from the earth by 125 feet. Every million years it would recede 23.67 miles. Every billion years it would be 23,670 miles. If the universe is 4.5 billion years old, then the moon was 106,515 miles closer to the earth in times past. If the moon was 106,515 miles closer to the earth, that would be 45% closer to the earth than it is at the present time. If this were true then because of the gravitational influence of the moon upon the earth, the tides would have completely flooded the earth twice a day, and the landmass would have been completely inundated. This is what is called the inverse square law. This is a technical term that means, if you half the distance of magnetic forces between the moon and the earth, it quadruples the magnetic attraction. Therefore, evolutionists have a real problem with these facts, if evolution requires millions of years to work as they surmise. Our receding moon is then a great proof that the earth is very young!
3. Soft tissue found in a fossilized bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex. In a recent discovery by Dr. Mary Schweitzer, a femur of a Tyrannosaurus rex was excavated in the Hell Creek formation in Montana. She discovered blood vessels in the bone marrow with red blood cells with nuclei. Amazingly, the bone marrow contained flexible tissue and intact fragments of protein collagen which is the building block of connective tissue. (See Schweitzer’s review article in Scientific American [December 2010, pp. 62–69] titled “Blood from Stone.”).
The obvious question arises: how could this bone found by Dr. Mary Schweitzer possibly be 65-68 million years old as evolutionists claim concerning dinosaurs? Well, listen to Dr. David Menton, who holds a PhD in cell biology, from Brown University, and is a well-respected author and teacher. He is also Professor Emeritus at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He writes, “An obvious question arises from Schweitzer’s work: is it even remotely plausible that blood vessels, cells, and protein fragments can exist largely intact over 68 million years? While many consider such long-term preservation of tissue and cells to be very unlikely, the problem is that no human or animal remains are known with certainty to be 68 million years old. But if creationists are right, dinosaurs died off only 3,000–4,000 years ago. So, would we expect the preservation of vessels, cells, and complex molecules of the type that Schweitzer reports for biological tissues historically known to be 3,000–4,000 years old?
The answer is yes. Many studies of Egyptian mummies and other humans of this age (confirmed by historical evidence) show all the sorts of detail Schweitzer reported in her T. rex. In addition to Egyptian mummies, the Tyrolean iceman, found in the Alps in 1991, and believed to be about 5,000 years old, shows such incredible preservation of DNA and other microscopic detail.
We conclude that the preservation of vessels, cells, and complex molecules in dinosaurs is entirely consistent with a young-earth creationist perspective, but is highly implausible with the evolutionist’s perspective about dinosaurs that died off millions of years ago.” This is some powerful evidence!
Who created the heavens and the earth? Was it the Father, the Son, or the Spirit?
One last thing that is important to not miss in these verses, is the statement mentioned in Genesis 1:2 where we read, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The immediate question that arises after reading verse 2 is this; what is the Spirit of God doing hovering over the face of the waters? Is the Spirit of God involved with the creative acts that are taking place during creation? The word hovering, literally means to flutter in a stationary position. This same Hebrew word is also translated in Deuteronomy 32:11, where it declares, “An eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young.” So, as an eagle stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, so the Spirit of God was hovering over the basic elements of creation, giving us this picture of the energizing power of the Spirit of God at work. God is revealing the integrated work of the third person of the Godhead. This also agrees with the psalmist who wrote, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 104:30). The Spirit of God is clearly involved with the creative power of God as He creates all things.
But then you have to also ask, what part did Jesus play in this process of creation? Paul tells us that by Jesus all things were created. He writes, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16-17). So, who created the heavens and the earth? The answer is that “God” created the heavens and the earth, because God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Bible declares that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the one true and living God, which is understood by the word God in our text. In Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God.” The word for God here is the Hebrew word Elohim, which is a plural word for God. There is the Hebrew El which is singular, and Elah which is duel, and Elohim which describes a compound unity. The usage of the word Elohim gives you the understanding that there is a plural personage in this one true and living God. God also uses the plural pronoun “us” several times to refer to Himself (Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:6-7). But then how can God speak through Isaiah and declare, “Do not fear, nor be afraid; have I not told you from that time, and declared it? You are my witnesses. Is there a God beside Me? Indeed there is no other Rock; I know not one” (Is. 44:8). Answering this question of how one God can also be a compound unity of three persons is not an easy task? God declares that there is only room in the universe for one God, and He knows of no other. The Word of God is very clear, “Hear Oh Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One!” (Deut. 6:4). The Christian teaching of the Trinity does not teach a belief in three God’s. We believe in one God, in the person of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Why should you hold to this belief? Let me give you several reasons.
1. First, from the clear teaching of Genesis 1:1-2, you see the separation of the Father and the Spirit in the work of creation.
2. God differentiates between Himself and the creative work of the Son and the Spirit in the verses I quoted above.
3. Each person of the Godhead is called God.
- Jesus called “God the Father” (John 6:27).
- The Father called the Son “God” (Heb. 1:8).
- Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit as “God” (Acts 5:3-4).
4. Each person of this triune God has the attributes of God.
They are all omnipresent
- The Father (Jer. 23:23-34).
- The Son (Matt. 18:20).
- The Holy Spirit (Ps. 139:7-10).
5. They are all eternal
- The Father (Deut. 33:27; Isaiah 57:15).
- The Son (Heb. 1:8; Micah 5:2; John 12:34).
- The Holy Spirit (Heb. 9:14).
6. Each person does the same work of God alone.
- The Father (Gen. 1:1-2; Ex. 20:11; Heb. 3:4).
- The Son (John 1:1-3; John 1:10; Col. 1:16).
- The Holy Spirit (Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30).
- The Father (Jude 1:1).
- The Son (1 Cor. 1:2).
- The Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2).
C. Who raised Jesus from the dead?
- The Father (Acts 3:26; 1 Thess. 1:10; Gal. 1:1).
- The Son (John 2:19-21; John 10:17-18).
- The Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18).
D. Who inspired the Prophets?
- The Father (Luke 1:68-70).
- The Son (1 Peter 1:11).
- The Holy Spirit (Acts 1:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
E. Who strengthens you?
- The Father (1 Peter 5:10).
- The Son (Phil. 4:13).
- The Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:16).
F. Further evidence for the one God being the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- The Old Testament usage of the word “one.” The Hebrew word, Echad describes a united one, or compound unity. (Strong’s Concordance).
* Examples where the word “one” is used as a compound unity.
- A husband and wife become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).
- The people are one (Gen. 11:6).
- The Lord our God is one Lord (Deut. 6:4).
G. The simplest way to see the work of God revealed from Scripture is:
- The Father is the fullness of the Godhead invisible (1 Tim. 1:17).
- The Son is the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9).
- The Holy Spirit is the fullness of the Godhead acting immediately upon the believer (1 Cor. 2:9-12).
- The Father authorized all of creation, the Son implemented creation, and the Spirit energized and accomplished the work of creation.
Let me end with an encouraging thought about the Spirit of God hovering over the world today. I don’t believe that the Lord is done wanting to hover, or move, or work in our world today. I believe God wants to work with each one of us who believes in Him. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Isn't it interesting that Jesus uses this same idea and concept of a hen hovering over her own chicks because of her protective and providing character? I don’t believe that Jesus used this illustration by chance. Remember this is the same idea we looked at in Deuteronomy 32:11 where God said, “As an eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young.” I believe that Jesus uses this example, because He wants to establish clearly in your mind that He wants fellowship with you. He wants to be near you to provide for you and protect you. I’m confident that He wants to hover over your life, because He wants to have real fellowship with you. But the question is, are you willing? I see many believers today who are living independently from the Father, and have no real concept of how the Holy Spirit wants to live inside them and empower their daily life. If you don’t sense the Spirit’s work inside of you, turn to Him today and yield yourself to Him. Allow the Spirit to have full reign inside you. Invite Him to come and fill you to overflowing. Jesus said, “all you needed to do is ask” (Luke 11:13). Don’t miss His hovering over you and moving inside of you! Remember God’s promise in Isaiah 45:5, God said, “I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me.” What a promise is that! The Lord was taking care of you long before you ever knew Him. Let Him gird you up, fill you, and strengthen you today!