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The Gap Theory

A Review and Grammatical Critique

From Cosmos to Chaos, and Cosmos Again

Where wast thou
when I laid the
foundations of the earth?

declare, if thou hast understanding.
Who hath laid
the measures thereof, if thou knowest?

or who hath stretched the line upon it?
Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?
or who laid the corner stone

When the morning stars sang together,
and all the sons of God shouted
for joy?
to Job, Job 38:4-7
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

The Gap Theory, as known amongst and designated by Bible
teachers, students and some scholars, proposes that an indeterminate period of
real time, constituted of millions, if not billions of years, existed between
Genesis 1 verse 1, and Genesis 1 verse 2. Many Bible-believing Christians have
held to this theory of the Genesis creation account. As paleontological science
began to assert itself upon the understanding of human origins during the early
1800s, a science that proposed millions, if not billions, of years for the
development of life on this planet, Christian scholars and teachers began to
propose different ways of looking at the Genesis account. First, they
offered the idea of progressive creation; that is, that one day in the Genesis
account equaled an age of millions of years. Such a theory, and those like it,
is obviously at odds with the plain language of Genesis’ opening chapter (i.e.,
days one, two, three, etc., solar days after the fourth day, and the Sabbath
day). But second, other fundamental Christians, in order to reconcile
the presumably immense periods of time inferred from earth’s geological strata
and the death indicated by the fossil record, suggested the novel idea that
between the Bible’s two opening verses a unspecified period of time existed, a
“gap” that could accommodate the fossil and geological evidence.
Adherents to the Gap Theory
Though earlier proposed by the Scottish theologian Thomas
Chalmers (1780–1847), Bible scholar G.H. Pember (1836-1910) adopted the Gap
Theory. He wrote: “The beginning [Genesis 1:1] refers, of course, to the first
existence of that with which the history is concerned, the heaven and the
earth.”[1] He later contrasted Genesis 1 verse 1 with verse 2 with
these remarks:
It is thus clear that the second verse
of Genesis describes the earth as a ruin; but there is no hint of a time [i.e.,
the gap] which elapsed between creation and this ruin. Age after age may have
rolled away, and it was probably during their course that the strata of the
earth’s crust were gradually developed. Hence we see that geological attacks
upon the Scriptures are altogether wide of the mark…. There is room for
any length of time between the first and second verses of the Bible
Earliest editions of The Scofield Reference Bible
also popularized the Gap Theory among Bible-believing Christians during the
first half of the 20th century. Before stating that Genesis 1:3 (Let
there be light
…) does not imply “an original creative act,”
that study Bible notes:
The face of the earth bears everywhere
the marks of a catastrophe. There are not wanting intimations which connect it
with previous testing and fall of angels.
So into a millions-of-years-time period between Genesis
verse 1 and verse 2, the Scofield study Bible placed the fall of angels and the
death and destruction evidenced by the fossil record in earth’s strata. During
most of the previous century, The Scofield Reference Bible, with its
advocacy of both the Gap Theory and Dispensationalism, influenced many fine
Bible teachers who in turn taught God’s Word to thousands of other believers.[4]
The Gap Theory was (is) viewed as a sort of reconciler by which any conflict
between the literalness of the Genesis record and the “assured” assertions of
evolutionary-geological science can be reconciled. But is the Gap Theory an
accurate reflection of what the Bible, in its original Hebrew language teaches?
Or is it a convenient insertion of a time gap between the opening verses of
Genesis, an insertion that is grammatically and semantically unsupported and
therefore intrudes upon the meaning of the Hebrew text? This question this
paper will attempt to address.
In my understanding, several linguistic and grammatical
issues need to be explored to see if the biblical Hebrew language validates the
belief that a time period of millions, if not billions, of years resides
between Genesis 1 verse 1 and verse 2. In this analysis and in order, we need
to look at the words “In the beginning” (One compound Hebrew word, re’shiyth). As the prophet Moses communicated, was the beginning absolute
or relative?
[5] Second,
the word “created” needs to be understood (Hebrew, bārā’). Can it mean
to create out of nothing, creatio ex nihilo, or does it mean to fashion
out of something?
Third, the conjunction “and” needs attention
(Hebrew, wāw). Is the sense of the conjunction circumstantial and
explanatory (i.e., “now the earth was without form and void”) or
disjunctive (i.e., “but the earth became without form and void”)? Fourth,
the verb “was” needs to be understood (Hebrew, hāyâ). Does the verb
communicate the sense of “was” or “became”? And finally, the meaning of
the phrase “formless and void” (Hebrew,
tōhû wāwbōhû), especially as it relates to the verb “was,”
needs to be identified. Does the phrase “formless and void” necessarily imply
the emergence of evil and a corresponding divine judgment that follows the
creation statement of Genesis 1 verse 1?
The interplay of these
linguistic and grammatical features all bear upon whether or not the Hebrew
text communicates that a real time period existed between Genesis 1 verse 1,
and verse 2. We proceed to unpack the linguistic-grammatical features of these
two verses to see if they teach there’s a gap between Genesis’ opening verses.
“In the Beginning”
There are those like ancient Rabbis Rashi (1040-1104) and
Abraham ibn Ezra (1089-1164), who suggest that Genesis 1:1 is a subordinate
statement to the following acts of creation narrated in Genesis 1:3-2:25. In
other words, the attention of the opening verses of Genesis ought to be more focused
upon God saying, “Let there be light!” than “In the beginning God created….” A modern edition of the Jewish Torah evidences this emphasis as it
translated Genesis’ opening verses like this:
When God began to create the
heaven and the earth—the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the
surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—God said, ‘Let
there be light’; and there was light.
[6] (Emphasis added. Also see New
English Bible
and Good News Bible.)
As the translation indicates, the beginning envisioned (“Let
there be light”) is relative (i.e., “when”), not absolute. But for
syntactical-grammatical reasons, the Jewish commentator Umberto Cassuto
(1883-1951) informs us that if verse 1 were subordinate to the rest of the
creation account beginning in verse 3, verse 2 would have been constructed
differently.[7] He therefore concludes that verse 1,
…is an independent sentence that
constitutes a formal introduction to the entire section, and expresses at the
outset, with majestic brevity, the main thought of the section: that in the
beginning, that is, at the commencement of time, in the remotest past that the
human mind can conceive, God created the heavens and the earth.
The Definite Article “the”
Others argue that for lack of a definite article “the
(Hebrew, ) prefacing the word “beginning” (Hebrew, re’shiyth) in the Hebrew text, the
Genesis author was not envisioning an explicit beginning, (i.e., “In the
beginning,” as English translations phrase it). This indicates that the
Pentateuch’s narrator (whom Jesus stated was Moses, Mark 10:2-9) did not view
“beginning” in an absolute, as the beginning, but as a

However, this objection crumbles in light of Isaiah
46:9b-10a, where the Lord declares to Israel, “I am God, and there is
none like me, declaring the end from the beginning.” (Emphasis
added.) In verse 10a, the Hebrew text places the word “beginning” in the
emphatic position, before the word “end,” an emphasis not preserved by English
translations. When combined with the preposition “from” (Hebrew, mêm), the clause literally reads:
“declaring from beginning (Hebrew, mêm + re’shiyth) end.” So as spoken by the Lord
through the prophet, the beginning is viewed to be as absolute as the end, even
though no definite article marks either one of those real time occurrences.[9]
In short, the definite article is not needed to mark “the beginning” to have
been definite or absolute.
The Preposition “in”
In contrast to arguments that Genesis 1:1 records a relative
beginning, we note that in one compound word (preposition + noun) the verse
literally states, “In beginning” (Hebrew, bêt + re’shiyth). Among other uses, the preposition “in” (Hebrew, bêt)
can apply “to [definite] time” (i.e., “And they [the Philistines] afflicted and
crushed the sons of Israel that [i.e., “in (bêt) that year”] year,”
Judges 10:8, NASB).[10] So when the preposition bêt is combined
with the root word “beginning,” there can be no doubt that Genesis 1:1
communicates “the very first and initial [and absolute] act of the creation of
the cosmos.”[11] So as communicated by the clause which opens Genesis,
the beginning” is absolute, not relative.[12]
At a point before time, nothing existed. By creating
something out of nothing, the transcendent God Elohim began time, matter
and space. Out of nothing He brought the material universe into existence
(i.e., creatio ex nihilo). This simple yet profound statement regarding
the subject of origins is foundational to everything else in the Bible. If
Genesis 1 verse 1 is viewed to be anything other than an absolute beginning,
then matter is king. And pantheism and nature worship, a worldview held among
eastern religions, results. And if “the beginning” recorded in Genesis 1 verse
1 is not absolute as regards the natural universe we inhabit, then is “the
beginning” begun by the Christ (John 1:3, 10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians
1:16; and Hebrews 1:2) also relative and not absolute? The answer to this
question looms large over the doctrine of the Christ.
“God Created”
“God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis
1:1). The word Hebrew word bārā’
(create) “may mean ‘ex nihilo, but it may also mean ‘to fashion or make of
existing material’.”[13] Obviously, if in Genesis 1:1 the word create
means to “make,” then any beginning envisioned was not absolute, but relative
to whatever material may have preexisted God’s formation of the heavens and the
earth. But if bārā’ can
mean to “create out of nothing” then the beginning pictured was absolute. So what
is the sense of the word bārā’
in Genesis 1:1?
A couple of points
argue that Genesis 1:1’s beginning was absolute. First, bārā’ is
used exclusively to describe the activity of God when He creates and/or
constructs something new. A
lthough there are other verbs which may be
employed to describe acts of creation (i.e., in Isaiah 45:18, Hebrew words bārā’, yātsar, ‘āsāh are used one after the other; and
Genesis 14:19, qānāh), “bārā’ distinguishes itself by being used exclusively
of God.”
[14] To Israel the
Lord later rehearsed His absolute creation of all things when He said: “
am the Lord that maketh (‘āsāh) all things; that
stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.”
(Isaiah 44:24, KJV). Elohim is the absolute God, and therefore any
beginning begun by Him is absolute. And second,
the verb bārā’ is telic; that is, it finds meaning in the
consummation of a process (like high school graduation), and therefore can only
refer “to a completed act of creation.”[15] That God began and ended
creation could only be true if His creation was absolute and out of nothing. Note:
in general, gap theorists, unlike Unger, agree with creation science that the
beginning pictured in Genesis 1:1 is absolute, not relative.[16]
A Gap: Before Genesis 1:1
Whereas, to accommodate the geological ages, most gap
theorists put “the gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 2, Merrill F. Unger
(1909-1980), a well-known Old Testament scholar who taught at Dallas
Theological Seminary, uniquely placed “the gap” before Genesis 1:1. For “cogent
reasons,” he stated that Genesis 1:1-2 pictures “a relative rather than
an absolute beginning.”[17] To him the geological ages and the
catastrophic events inferred the fossil record belonged to a time frame before
Genesis 1:1. “The chaos [pictured in Genesis 1:2]” states Unger, “was the
result of God’s judgment upon the originally sinless earth.”[18] To
him, Genesis 1:2 describes “the earth’s condition [one of ruin] when God began
to recreate it.”[19] God had to recreate the heavens and the earth
because before it was “the theater where sin began in God’s originally sinless
universe in connection with the revolt of Lucifer (Satan) and his angels (Isa.
14:12-14; Ezek. 28:13, 15-17; Rev. 12:4).”[20] In his view, like those
advocating a post-Genesis 1:1 gap, a pre-Genesis 1:1 gap is necessitated in
order to reconcile “the earth’s great antiquity and man’s comparative late
appearance on earth.”[21]
A Gap: Between Genesis 1:1 and 2
Whereas to accommodate the geological ages Unger put “the
gap” before Genesis 1:1, gap theorists place it between Genesis 1
verse 1 and verse 2. They want to distance the statement of absolute creation
in verse 1 from the chaos they infer to be evident in verse 2. They do so by
rendering a translation of verse 2 something like this: But the earth became
formless and void
. Thus what is described as beginning in verse 3 (Let
there be light
.) becomes “a divine makeover” of creation. The Genesis
record is one which states original creation (verse 1), the ruin of that
creation by Satan and his hosts (verse 2), and reconstruction of creation
(verse 3 and following). That’s why the Gap Theory is often referred to as the
ruin and reconstruction theory. The question therefore becomes, do the syntax
and semantics of the Hebrew language justify such a scenario? No, they do not,
and here’s why.
The Conjunction Wāw: Connective or Disjunctive?
The word “and” (Hebrew, wāw) normally connects “both
words… and sentences.”[22] The
connective/circumstantial/consecutive sense of wāw between verse one and
two is obvious for three reasons. First, it fits the category in which
the wāw (“and”) is normally used. The wāw connects the former
statement with the following. Second, given that the last word of verse
1 is earth and the first word of verse 2 is earth, the
connective-consecutive sense of wāw is obvious. Elohim “created…
the earth” and “the earth was.” And third, the verbs of both
verses (verse 1, “created,” and verse 2, “was”) occur in the qal stem
(i.e., simple, straightforward action) and the perfect tense (i.e., a completed
action or state of being). What was completed in verse 1 was also viewed as
completed in verse 2. Additionally, the wāw consecutive frequently
“couples two verbs in such a manner that the first, indicating the general
character of the action [God created], receives its closer definition in the
second [now the earth was]….”[23] Regarding this, John Sailhamer
states that, “the conjunction at the beginning of 1:2 shows that 1:2-2:3 is
coordinated with 1:1 rather than appositional.”[24] This grammar
strongly suggests that verses 1 and 2 belong together, and what the wāw
has joined together gap theorists ought not to separate. Thus, the NIV
translates verse 2 as follows: “Now the earth was formless and
empty” (Emphasis added, Genesis 1:2).[25]
The Verb Hāyâ: “Was” or “Became”?
Proponents of the Gap Theory point out that the verb “was” (hāyethā)
could also be translated “became.” After its original and pristine state of
creation, the earth changed into chaos. In the aftermath of divine judgment,
earth “became” a wasteland. But the coordinating tenses (both perfects) in
verses 1 and 2 indicate that the description of verse 2 attends that of verse
1. Had the narrator desired to separate the state of the earth as described in
verse 2 from verse 1, he might have employed an imperfect form of the verb hāyâ
indicating that the earth had become something that God was going to correct
during the subsequent days of creation.[26] But in order to
definitively serve notice that the earth that “was” became formless and
void, the writer could have (should have) inserted a preposition to mark the
Oops! A Missing Preposition
To signal that an original and pristine creation of Genesis
1 verse 1 became something different in verse 2, Moses could have placed the
Hebrew preposition lāmed (Hebrew, le) before the words
“without form and void” (Hebrew, tōhû wāvōhû). As the earth had changed
to become something different from what God created in Genesis 1:1, the
addition of this preposition would have indicated the “result of a
transformation or change.”[27] The lāmed would have
marked “a transition into a new state or condition.”[28] This
construction would have marked out that for some unspecified reason the earth
had moved toward becoming other than originally created in verse 1 (i.e., it became
without form and void.). An outline of Hebrew syntax observes that insertion of
the preposition le in such a construction “is very common with the verb hayah [i.e., “was,” Genesis 1:2, KJV] in the meaning ‘become’.”[29]
An example of the preposition lāmed marking
such change can be observed when God took a rib from Adam’s side and made a “[le’ishshah] woman” (Genesis 2:22). The
lāmed (l + Masoretic vocal shewa) highlights that
God made Adam’s rib into something other than another rib, into a woman.
Another example is seen when Isaiah indicts those who set arbitrary moral
standards. “Woe unto them” the prophet said, “that put [exchange] darkness for
[le] light, and light for [le] darkness; that put bitter for [le]
sweet, and sweet for [le] bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). Though common in the
Old Testament, no such preposition marks it out that earth became anything
other than what God originally created in Genesis 1:1. The absence of the
prepositional marker indicates that verse 2 should therefore be taken as
explanatory of or circumstantial to verse 1. As Dr. Ross notes: “The
construction at the beginning of verse 2 rules out a sequence between verses 1
and 2, making a translation of ‘became’ for the verb improbable.”[30]
To my understanding then, verse 2 describes the circumstances
involved in God’s original creation. “The clauses in Genesis 1:2 are taken in a
neutral sense, implying only raw materials from which God formed the earth as
we now know it.”[31] Unformed and unfilled, time, matter and space were
a chaos of emptiness and darkness before God organized, energized and filled
the mass (dark matter?) He brought into existence in Genesis 1:1.
Creation: “without form, and void”
As gap theorists understand them to be, troubling words
reside in Genesis 1 verse 2. They are “without form, and void” (Hebrew, tōhû
), “darkness” (Hebrew, hōskek) and “the deep” (Hebrew, tehôm).
Because of their negative connotations elsewhere in the Old Testament, the
words do not seem appropriate in describing something God just created. As
Pember wrote of the word tōhû (i.e.,
vain, a waste place, empty, chaos):
“This word… cannot… be
descriptive of the earliest condition of the earth.”[32] Therefore,
because verse 2’s description of earth does not fit a template of God
originally creating “good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, and 31), gap
theorists find cause to separate the chaos implied in verse 2 from the
cosmos inferred in verse 1
. Certainly, God would not create a primordial
mess like verse 2 describes. As the Lord spoke through Isaiah (in a verse
Pember cites as evidence to support the Gap Theory):[33]
For thus saith the Lord that created
the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established
it, he created [bārā’]
it not in vain
[tōhû], he formed it to be inhabited: I am the
Lord; and there is none else.
(Emphasis added, Isaiah 45:18)
So the Gap Theory can not only be viewed as an attempt to
coordinate the geological and Genesis records, but also to exonerate God as
having created anything like the chaos pictured in verse 2. Ironically, this is
inferred despite the fact that earlier in the same chapter the Lord states:
I am the Lord, and there is
none else, there is no God beside me… I form [yātsar] the light, and create [bārā’] darkness: I make [‘āsāh]
peace, and [I] create [bārā’]
evil []: I the
Lord do all these things
. (Isaiah 45:5, 7)
In light of the statements in this same chapter, are we to
view the prophet’s assessment of creation (that the Lord “created [bārā’] it not in vain [tōhû],”
Isaiah 45:18) to be in conflict with the Yahweh’s statement (“I… create [bārā’] evil [],” Isaiah 45:7)?[34] I
don’t think so.[35] Fact of the matter is, Isaiah 45:18 provides
commentary, as we shall see, on the meaning of the word “vain,” on the primal
conditions Genesis 1 verse 2 describes.
An Uninhabited Wilderness
To begin with, “formless and void” (Hebrew, tōhû wābōhû)
is a hendiadys; a figure of speech which describes the condition of earth by
using two words. Additionally, the repeated words are similar in sound, a
figure of speech known as paronomasia, or rhyming words.[36] The
words have been variously interpreted to mean, “formless waste,” “void and
vacant,” or “unformed and unfilled.” In comparison to the word tōhû
(twenty occurrences), the word bōhû is rare in the Old Testament (three
times), and occurs in combination with tōhû (Genesis 1:2; Isaiah 34:11;
and Jeremiah 4:23). Thus, as they sound similar and occur together, the words’
meanings may interface. And to discover that meaning, we go back to Isaiah
45:18 to see how the prophet explains the meaning of tōhû.
The prophet stated: “For thus saith the Lord that created [bārā’] the heavens…”
This statement obviously alludes to Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created
the heavens and the earth” (NASB). In continuing the allusion, the prophet
states that God “formed” (yātsar),
“made” (‘āsāh) and “established” (kûn) the earth. Then as
regards the Lord’s creation of the earth, Isaiah states in two phases: “[the
Lord] created [bārā’] it
not in vain [tōhû]” and “he formed [yātsar] it to be inhabited [yāshab]” (Isaiah 45:18).[37]
NOTE: It’s obvious in the text that the word that’s appositional to the
word “vain,” the antonym “inhabited,” defines the meaning of “vain” [tōhû].
Simply put, the Lord did not create the earth to be uninhabited (Genesis 1:2)
but to be inhabited (Genesis 1:11-12, 20-28).[38] In this context,
there is no implication that tōhû needs to refer to divine judgment. It
simply means “uninhabited” (Compare Deuteronomy 32:10; Job 12:24; Psalm 107:40;
Jeremiah 4:23-27.).
The meaning of tōhû also provides clue to the meaning
bōhû because the words are combined by a conjunction “and” (wāw),
they sound alike, and their feed off from each other. So the very Isaiah text
which Pember used to evidence the Gap Theory teaches quite the opposite. This
example may explain why Cassuto opined that, “it is profitless to compare other
passages in which either of the words tōhū or bōhū occurs” since
these other passages are “only an allusion, without further explanation” of
Genesis 1 verse 2.[39]
Genesis’ Literary Structure
So the phrase “formless and void” serves with Genesis 1
verse 1 as a prelude to the creation account and gives no indication that
divine judgment has occurred. In the literary flow, the phrase indicates that
as regards planet earth, Elohim was about to form the unformed and fill
the unfilled. As W.H. Griffith Thomas (1861-1924) observed:
It is noteworthy that… adjectives
“formless” and “empty” seem to be the key to the literary structure of the
chapter. The record of the first three days refers to the heaven and earth
receiving their “form,” and the record of the last three days to the filling-up
of their “emptiness.”
In Genesis 1 verse 1, Elohim created the substance of
the universe out of nothing. Genesis 1 verse 2 provides commentary on the state
of the earth, the condition of which God was going to rectify during the
subsequent six days of original creation. During the first three days of
creation God created light, by a firmament separated the terrestrial from the
celestial, and caused the appearance of dry land. Darkness and the deep no
longer ruled the planet. God had begun to “form” and “fill” the earth that we
The first three verses comprise a unified and magnificent
introduction to the beginning of the heavens and the earth, the emphasis of
that beginning falling upon the earth in verse two which was originally
“formless and void.” As Cassuto describes the flow of Genesis’ introductory
Just as the potter, when he wishes to
fashion a beautiful vessel, takes first of all a lump of clay, and places it
upon his wheel in order to mould it according to his wish, so the Creator first
prepared for Himself [He created His own matter out of nothing.] the raw
material of the universe with a view to giving it afterwards order and life. In
this chaos of unformed matter, the heaviest materials were naturally at the
bottom, and the waters which were the lightest, floated to the top. This apart,
the whole material was an undifferentiated, unorganized, confused and lifeless
agglomeration. It is this terrestrial state that is called tōhū and bōhū.
In the Genesis description of creation the Hebrew language
does not communicate that there existed an unspecified period of time between
Genesis 1 verse 1 and verse 2. Though he inserted his gap of time before verse
1, Old Testament scholar Merrill Unger (1909-1980) did write that, “In forming
a unit, verses 1 and 2 must not be separated from verse 3, for they constitute
an introduction to what transpired during the seven days.”[42]

As has been shown, indicators show this to be the case. First,
the conjunction “and” which prefaces verse 2 is continuative, not adversative. Verse
2 describes the condition of earth contemporary with, not subsequent to, verse
1.[43] The earth “was formless and void.” It did not, for reason of
divine judgment, “become” so. Second, no preposition (Hebrew, le)
prefaces the phrase “formless and void” to signal a change that earth had
become in that condition. In the Hebrew, this preposition, when combined with
the verb “to be,” is commonly used to indicate that something changes into
something different or opposite. And third, the word “void” (Hebrew, tōhû)
as indicated in Isaiah 45:18 means, as it does in other Old Testament passages,
“uninhabited.” As Genesis 1 verse 2 states, Elohim did not create earth,
unlike other bodies in our solar system, to be uninhabited. So subsequently God
created plant, ocean, animal and human life to inhabit earth. In
straightforward language, this is what the opening of Genesis states. Insertion
of a chaotic time period between Genesis verse 1 and verse 2 to accommodate
the geological ages of evolutionary science, explain the ruin of this
planet by Satan and his hoard of fallen angels, and account for the rise
of ancient mythologies is arbitrary. In short, the grammar does not support the
gap. Genesis’ six days of creation is not a record of God’s “make
over” of a previously ruined creation.
Among contemporary Christians there’s a lot of conversation going on
about worship. But as we know, worship cannot occur in a vacuum. Certain
truths need to be acknowledged in order for worship to be genuine.
Jesus has told us that those who would worship must worship “the Father
in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him”
(John 4:26). One of the great truths to be acknowledged in genuine
worship is that God is the Creator and we are His creatures. When
this truth is infringed upon (Read Romans 1:19-25.), then men become
unthankful and vain in their imaginations. Their foolish heart becomes
darkened (Remember God said, “Let there be light” and Jesus said, “I am
the light of the world.”) and they proceed to exchange the “glory of the
incorruptible God” for “an image made like to corruptible man, and
birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” So when humans deny
the Creator, their worship, no matter how much passion they might gin
up, becomes void.

One of the great ironies current among contemporary
evangelicals is that though they are passionate about worship they are
not equally embracing of the truth that God is the utter and absolute
Creator. Rather, they either flirt with or/and embrace, more or less,
the science of evolutionary theory. To them, God is kind of a creator
(small “c”). They worship without truth. Unlike the creatures in
Heaven—they’re called creatures because in the presence of the Creator
they know they’re creatures—many contemporaries do not believe the first
words of Scripture, “In the beginning God created…” But in Heaven,
as the following scene indicates, they do.

And when the living creatures give
glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives
forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on
the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast
their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God,
to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and
because of Thy will they existed, and were created
Revelation 4:9-11, NASB
[1] G.H. Pember, Earth’s Earliest Ages: and Their
Connection with Modern Spiritualism, Theosophy, and Buddhism
(Grand Rapids,
MI: Kregel Publications, 1975): 28.
[2] Emphasis added, Ibid. 32.
[3] Rev. C.I. Scofield, The Scofield Reference
Bible: The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments, Authorized Version

(New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1909): 3, Footnotes 4 then 3.
[4] In addition to Pember (1836-1910) and C.I.
Scofield (1843-1921), gap theorists have included Ethelbert W. Bullinger
(1837-1913), Clarence Larkin (1850-1924), Arthur Pink (1886-1952), Harry Rimmer
(1890-1952), M.R. DeHaan (1891-1965), Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960), Finis
J. Dake (1902–1987), and Jimmy Swaggart (1935-    ). Currently, belief in the gap theory is
experiencing a revival through the teachings of Thomas Horn, L. A. Marzulli,
Chuck Missler, Chris Putnam and others.
[5] It’s been said that no one is in a position to
criticize the Creation because no one was there when it happened. So if nobody
was around, how did Moses know about it? Fair question…. My belief is that
just as the biblical prophets were able to predict events hundreds, even
thousands of years ahead of themselves, so God revealed to Moses His account of
origins to counteract the pagan mythologies. In other words, Moses served as a
prophet in reverse. He “predicted”, to use an oxymoron, the past.
[6] The Torah: The First Five Books of Moses
(Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1962): 3.
[7] In general, Cassuto tells us that in the
continuing narrative of verse 2, the verb “was” (hayah) would either preface “earth” (i.e., “was the earth
without form and void”) or have been eliminated (“and the earth without form
and void”). See U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis, Part I:
From Adam to Noah
(Jerusalem, Israel: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew
University, 1961): 19-20.
[8] Ibid. 20.
[9] Literally, the Hebrew word order of Isaiah 46:10a
reads: “declaring ‘from’ beginning end,” something English versions (declaring
the end from the beginning) do not indicate. The word order “from beginning” (mêm + re’shiyth) emphasizes an
absolute beginning like that of Genesis 1:1, despite the absence of the
definite article “the” (Hebrew, ).
[10] Francis Brown, The New
Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon with an Appendix
Containing the Biblical Aramaic
(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers,
1979): 88: I.5.
[11] William White, “rō’sh, 2097e,” Theological
Wordbook of the Old Testament
, R. Laird Harris, et al., Editors (Chicago,
IL: Moody Press, 1980): 826.
[12] “The primary meaning is ‘first’ or ‘beginning’
of a series.” Ibid.
[13] Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the
Old Testament
, Volume I (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1981): 5. Unger
illustrates his point: “Man, for example, was not created out of nothing, but
out of the dust of the earth (1:26; 2:7).”
[14] Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary,
with Cathi J. Fredricks (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001): 59. Ross also
notes that, “The word bārā’
is used exclusively for the activity of God….” Allen P. Ross, Creation
and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of the Book of Genesis

(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988): 728.
[15] Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis, 58, footnote
[16] Waltke does not affirm that Genesis 1 verse 2 is
part of the record of God’s absolute creation of this planet. He writes:
“Chronologically, this must describe the state of the earth prior to verse 1,
as it would be a contradiction to represent the creation as formed cosmos and
the earth as unformed.” See Genesis, 60. With all due respect, verse 2,
as I see it, is not a contradiction but a description of the special created
mass and substance of which the unformed and unfilled earth was a part.
[17] Unger, Commentary, 5.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Brown, Hebrew and English Lexicon, 252: 1.
[23] Ibid. 253-254: 2.b.b.
[24] John H. Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as
Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1992): 82. Sailhamer then illustrates the coordinate and
explanatory role of the conjunction (waw) from Genesis 2:4-5 where Moses
described: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were
created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. Now [waw
consecutive] no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the
field had yet sprouted.”
[25] I am aware that the NIV proposes a marginal
translation “became.”
[26] The imperfect indicates “incomplete action,
whether in the past, present of future
.” See Gary D. Pratico and Miles V.
Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan, 2001): 130.
[27] Andrew Boling, “1063 le,” Wordbook of
the Old Testament
, Volume I, 463.
[28] Brown, Hebrew and English Lexicon, 512.
[29] Ronald J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline
(Buffalo, NY: University of Toronto Press, 1967): 53.
[30] Ross, Creation and Blessing, 721.
[31] Ibid. 718.
[32] Pember, Earth’s Earliest Ages, 32.
[33] Ibid. After citing Isaiah 45:18 as proof to the
point that the Lord did not create earth a tōhū, E.W. Bullinger
(1837-1913) deduces: “Therefore it [i.e., the earth] must at, and after some
subsequent period of unknown duration, have fallen into ruin which the second
verse [Genesis 1:2] declares and describes.” See E.W. Bullinger, Figures of
Speech Used in the Bible: Explained and Illustrated
(Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Book House, 1968 reprint of 1898 edition): 252.
[34] Such mixed word occurrences may explain why
Cassuto states that “it is profitless to compare other passages in which either
of the words tōhū or bōhū occurs.” Cassuto, Genesis, 22. Word
meanings are not ironclad throughout the Old Testament, but rather their
semantics must be ascertained by the surrounding context and grammatical
syntax. For example, bārā’
can mean to create out of something already extant (Isaiah 41:20), or as in
Genesis 1:1, to create out of nothing.
[35] Ortland comments: “Isaiah is not saying that God
sins. That’s our problem. But the strategies of God include within their scope
everything that happens as God pursues his redemptive purpose in this world.
Evil is not outside God’s control. He uses it without being dirtied by it.” See
Raymond C. Ortland, Jr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners (Wheaton, IL:
Crossway Books, 2005): 299.
[36] See Bullinger, Figures of Speech,
307-308. According to Bullinger, the poetic rhyming words may synonymous
or of varied signification. If so, then to discover the meaning
of tōhū is to elucidate in part a corresponding meaning of bōhū,
and vice versa. Thus, if tōhū means “uninhabited,” then so also might bōhū
nuance a shade of that meaning.
[37] Note again the rhyming (paronomasia)
words yātsar (formed) and yāshab
(to be inhabited).
[38] Youngblood observes: “But Isa 45:18… goes
on to say that God ‘formed (the earth) to be inhabited,’ thereby assuring the
readers that tōhû was not his ultimate purpose in creation” See Ronald
F. Youngblood, “thh, 2494,” Wordbook of the Old Testament, Volume
II, 965.
[39] U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of
Genesis, Part I: From Adam to Noah
(Jerusalem, Israel: The Magnes Press,
The Hebrew University, 1961): 22.
[40] W.H. Griffith Thomas, Genesis: A Devotional
(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1946): 29.
[41] Cassuto, Genesis, 23.
[42] Unger, Commentary, 5.
[43] “Verse 2 in the Hebrew is apparently
circumstantial to verse 3.” See Ibid. 5.

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