Copyright © 2002 James L. Melton
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1:1-2)
The “Gap Theory” has become a real subject of debate in fundamental circles. In fact, it is sometimes a subject which Satan uses to stir division among brethren. Many who teach this theory think of themselves as being a bit “deeper” in their Bible knowledge than the rest of us, when, in reality, there is nothing “deep” to it. Although I do not believe this issue should be a cause for division among Christians, I do believe one should be familiar with both sides of the argument.
The theory itself, not invented until the early 1800's, suggests that there is a “gap” of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Some sort of “pre-Adamite rebellion” involving Lucifer supposedly occurred in this time gap, which caused the earth to become “without form and void” due to God’s intervening judgment. This means that the events of Genesis 1:3 through 1:31 are actually part of God’s “RE-creation” of the original earth. This indefinite time gap allows the Bible to “agree” with the thousands of scientists who believe the earth to be billions of years old, rather than only 6,000 years old as the scriptures indicate. That is, God was supposedly in a real jam until men discovered the time gap of Genesis 1:2. Now, at last, the Bible and the “scientific” community can agree.
There are many problems with this theory as the forthcoming paragraphs shall reveal.
The Gap Theory is Unnecessary
For the past two hundred years Christians have been intimidated into believing that the earth is millions and billions of years old. Today it is believed to be about 4.5 billion years old. The Gap Theory was invented to bring the Bible in line with “science” by allowing an indefinite period of time for the millions and billions of years required by unsaved Bible-rejecting scientists.
The fact is that there is much evidence that the earth is only a few thousand years old, and Noah’s flood can explain any “evidence” which seems to indicate otherwise (rock formations, fossils, canyons, etc.).
As for the fall of Lucifer, this hasn’t fully happened yet (Rev. 12:7-9), and when it does, it won’t require 4.5 billion years (Luke 10:18). There is no legitimate need for a gap in Genesis 1:2.
“Without form and void”
The first problem with the Gap Theory is that it is based on a question, not a fact. The question is “Why was the earth without form and void in Genesis 1:2?” From this comes the reasoning that it must have became that way. Then the question “Why?” is asked. Then come the answers: a pre-Adamite rebellion; Lucifer’s fall; a flood; this is where the dinosaurs died, etc. The problem is that there is no point in asking the original question.
If I walk into my kitchen some evening about 5:00 p.m. and discover it to be “without form and void”, I am not going to ask my wife “Why is the kitchen without form and void?” I know why. She has JUST BEGUN preparing dinner. I must be patient and wait for her to finish. The meal will take form soon enough. I wouldn’t assume that the judgment of God had struck our kitchen just because it was in a mess.
It is God’s nature to work in a progressive manner. Even Adam was “without form and void” before God formed him into a perfect body. Later, he may have still felt without form and void until God provided him with a wife. No doubt, after only two weeks in his mother’s womb, Jesus was without form and void until the gestation period had ended and he was born a healthy baby. The God of the Bible works progressively. Of course the earth was without form and void in the beginning because God had not yet formed it! He was just getting started. To assume that the word “was” actually means “became” is to doubt God’s word. God didn’t say the earth “became” without form and void. He said it “was” without form and void.
Isaiah 45:18 is a favorite “proof text” used by the Gap Theorists: “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 words “in vain” are interpreted by the gappers to mean “without form and void.” So their reasoning is: God didn’t create the earth without form and void, so it must have became that way.
This is only reasoning, not Bible. The verse plainly says that God first “created” the earth and then he “formed” it. He created it in Genesis 1:1, and he then “formed” it after he created it. After he formed it, he then provided it with life forms. The whole thing is a process. None of this was done “in vain” because God had a purpose in mind from the very beginning.
When Did Lucifer Fall?
A careful reading of Isaiah 14:12-15 will reveal the fact that Lucifer’s fall is not yet complete. This is a prophecy of his fall, not a historical account. His actual final fall from heaven will not come until Revelation 12:7-9.
It is true that Lucifer did sin against God and become Satan (the adversary), but the Bible never says that this came about in some massive rebellion before the time of Adam. Ezekiel 28:13-15 makes it very clear when Lucifer sinned: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God . . . Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” When God looks back at the history of Lucifer, he looks no further back than Eden. Lucifer sinned and fell in Eden when he tempted Eve to be “as gods.” Before this time, everything was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). If Lucifer sinned in Genesis 1:2, then why did God say everything was “very good” when he summed up the creation in verse 31?
The gappers hold that a pre-Adamite rebellion arose and was destroyed by God before the time of Adam, yet this is contrary to God’s words concerning sin and death. Sin and death came WITH Adam, not before Adam! “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” (Rom. 5:12-14) “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:21-22) Sin and death before Adam? Not according to the Bible.
The gappers also claim that Exodus 20:11 supports their theory: “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.” Their logic is that God “made” the earth (out of existing matter) in six days, but he didn’t “create” it (out of nothing) in six days. This is taught with the assumption that “create” means to “create from nothing” and “made” means to have “made from existing matter”. The Bible never establishes such definitions for these words. Adam was “created” (Gen. 5:1), but not from nothing (Gen. 2:7). In Genesis 6:7 both words are used the same way. In Psalm 51:10 “create” means to “renew.” There is a creation in Psalm 102:18, but it isn’t from nothing. Other examples could be given. It is false to claim that “create” means “to create from nothing” and that “made” means “to have made from existing matter.” This logic is not consistent with God’s word. God made, or created, the heaven and the earth in six literal days.
Furthermore, it should be noted that Exodus 20:11 not only states that the heaven and earth were made in six days, but also “all that in them is.” This would include Lucifer and all the angels - after the first day begins, not before the first day begins. We know this is true because Ezekiel 28:15 speaks of Lucifer’s creation and says, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” Lucifer, the anointed cherub, was created on a DAY, not before the six days of Genesis 1 began. There is no gap in Genesis 1, only six DAYS beginning with verse 1.
What about “Replenish?”
God told Adam and Eve to “replenish” the earth in Genesis 1:28. The gappers claim that “replenish” means to “re-do” or “re-populate.” It is amazing how little study a person will do when their mind is made up! The first definition for this word in Webster’s 1828 is “to fill; to stock with numbers or abundance.” Only in some modern dictionaries does “replenish” mean to “re-do” or “re-populate.” If “replenish” means what the gappers claim, why didn’t God also use the word in Genesis 1:22? Genesis 1:22 says, “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.” If the earth had been populated before, why was “replenish” not used here? Answer: “replenish” and “fill” have the same meaning, and both come from the same Hebrew word.
In the Beginning
The Gap Theory holds that “the beginning” is Genesis 1:1, while the six days do not start until after the “gap” between verses 1 and 2. That is, Genesis 1:3-31 aren’t “the beginning.”
Evidently, Jesus didn’t subscribe to the Gap Theory. Adam and Eve weren’t created until the sixth day, yet Jesus said they were made “in the beginning” (Mat. 19:4; Mark 10:6). This statement alone “closes the gap.”
Also notice that Genesis 2:4 says that the earth and the heavens were created in a “day,” not before the first day began.
The Heavens and the Earth
A careful reading of II Peter 3:5-7 will make it clear that there have only been TWO sets of the heavens and the earth: the one that WAS and the one that exists NOW. This leaves no room for a Gap Theory because this theory demands more than two. The gappers believe that the heaven and the earth were perfect and then made without form and void due to a pre-Adamite rebellion. That’s one heaven and earth. Then a second heaven and earth existed until Noah’s flood. Since Noah’s flood, a third heaven and earth exists. II Peter 3:5-7 says there are only TWO, not three. There is one heaven and earth before Noah’s flood, and there is one now. So there is no room for a gap or a third heaven and earth.
Friend, don’t be fooled by the Gap Theory. God created the universe in six literal days. He didn’t need a time gap in order to get his work done. We need not compromise any of God’s words in the name of “science falsely so called”
(1 Timothy 6:20) “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:”