The Gap Theory Once Again
I have posted before regarding what is usually called “the Gap Theory” (link here for one of my previous posts) which is one of four basic theories regarding the creation account in Genesis chapter 1. I will be the first person to admit that it is critical for any believer to correctly interpret the creation account. In fact I believe that how a person interprets the two books of Genesis and Revelation determines how that person will interpret all of the books in between! That being said I will also admit that I am disappointed with how Christians treat each other when debating/arguing/yelling over this doctrinal point. I am going to present the Gap Theory as the theory I believe to be the correct one (I will provide a link at the end of this post which summarizes the four views). I only know of one pastor who believes in the Invisible War (aka Angelic Conflict) who no longer holds to the Gap Theory and that is Charles Clough.
Once again the premise of the Invisible War is that Satan has rebelled against the Creator (God) in his desire to “become as the most high.” God has allowed the rebellion but will certainly prevail once it is conclusively proven that only God’s way is just and provides for the happiness and security of all creation.
If I was hearing about the Invisible War for the first time I would wonder “when did this rebellion occur?” The answer to this question is between the first and second days in Genesis chapter one. Here is a quote from Pastor Barnhouse:
On the one side of the abyss stands the phrase, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” We come to the other side and read the second verse as it is found in the King James Version: “And the earth was without form and void, and darkness covered the face of the deep.” The revisers in both the English and American revisions, not satisfied with the terms “without form and void,” have given us the better translation, “waste and void,” though the RSV has gone back to the King James rendering. Still another translator interprets the Hebrew as “a wreck and a ruin.” In French there is a common expression which translates our idea of topsy-turvy: it is tohu-bohu — an expression transliterated from the Hebrew of this second verse of Genesis. These are the words which various translators have rendered “without form,” “void,” “waste,” “desolate,” “empty,” “wreck,” “ruin.”
Just here the importance of the comparative method of Bible study is seen. In Isaiah 45:18, we read that God did not create the world as it is found in the second verse of Genesis: “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 tohu . . .” Here is the same Hebrew word as in the second verse of the Bible. It is a formal statement: God did not create the earth as it is portrayed in the description that has commonly been called chaos. The great French Catholic translator, Abbe Crampon, boldly renders it thus: “He hath established it Himself and did not make it as a chaos [Qui l’a fondee Luimeme et qui n’en a pas fait un chaos].” It is noteworthy that the Revised Standard Version has adopted this reading. “He did not create it a chaos.”
The Invisible War
I would like to provide the King James Version of the passages Pastor Barnhouse is quoting:
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form [tohu], and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
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 [tohu], he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
Back to Pastor Barnhouse:
This categorical statement is sufficient to prove beyond any shadow of doubt that the first and second verses are separated by an interval. We might read the two verses from Genesis and the one from Isaiah as follows: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth — though God most certainly did not create it that way — became a wreck and a ruin, and darkness covered the face of the deep.”
That is a very controversial statement indeed but one I believe to be correct. I would also like to add a quote from the book of Job which indicates to me that Satan’s rebellion had not occurred yet when God created the world:
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
This passage does say that all of the sons of God (angels) shouted for joy when the the foundations of the earth were laid. Would fallen angels have shouted for joy when God created the earth? I do not see how. Every glorious achievement by God is an indictment against those who rebelled against Him.
This post is getting long even though I have just scratched the surface of this topic. I do want to provide two resources for anyone who would like to read about this in more detail:
- Gary Kukis is exegeting the Book of Genesis at his web site and provides a summary of the different creation theories (link here). Those theories being: Literal 6 Day Creation, Day Age Theory, Gap Theory, Modified Gap Theory.
- Gary Kukis uses a lot of the work from Bob Luginbill’s Ichthys web site. Luginbill does an extensive study on the Gap Theory here. Bob Luginbill does some very good work but I wanted to put in a disclaimer here in that I don’t agree with everything he teaches. Bob Luginbill is what I would call a true Arminian (as opposed to what a Calvinist would call an Arminian) in that he believes a person can lose their salvation.
I hope my readers find this as interesting as I do!