In the Beginning

In the beginning, God created the heaven 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 moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. And God saw the light; that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters and let it divide the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament, which divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. (Genesis 1:1-8)

The Story Behind The Story

I’ve quoted this portion of the creation account from the King James since that’s the way most of us first heard it. Some of the modern translations are a little easier to read but this one is most familiar, and frankly, none of the translations I’ve seen is really clear.

The first verse is OK, but a quick lesson in Hebrew is helpful. The Bible uses three Hebrew words to describe creation events.

Bara literally means to create and always refers to a direct work of God. It’s the word used in verse 1.

Asah means to make something from something else, and

Yatsar means to form or fashion something as with modeling clay.

Both bara and asah are used in Genesis 1:26-27 when speaking of Man’s creation, and all three are used together in Isaiah 45:18 concerning Earth.

Shamayim, translated “heaven” in  Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:8-9 speaks of a firmament separating waters above from those below, meaning the visible arch of the sky; Earth’s atmosphere.

Verse 2 is a horse of a different color. Many scholars believe the verse should actually read, “but the Earth became formless and void, an uninhabitable ruin.” Apparently, combining a strict use of grammar with clarifying passages elsewhere leads to a hint of some sort of judgment between verses 1 and 2 that left the Earth in a shambles, an uninhabitable ruin. The controversy revolves around two issues;

1) whether the Hebrew requires an active (became) rather than passive (was) form and

2) the Hebrew words tohu and bohu, translated formless and void.

These words are found only in Genesis 1:2, Isaiah 45:18 and Jeremiah 4:23). In the Isaiah passage the Lord reveals that He didn’t create the world in vain (the Hebrew is tohu) but formed it to be inhabited, thus supporting the idea that it became an uninhabitable ruin. And in a vision Jeremiah saw Earth when it was formless and void (tohu and bohu) in the context of a judgment.

The Gap Theory

Viewed this way, the first 2 verses would go something like this. In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. As you would expect of God, everything He created was complete, perfect and beautiful, ready for habitation. But then something caused a judgment that left the Earth an uninhabitable ruin for who knows how long. It was dark and wet and cold, but the Spirit of God never left the scene, and after some extended period of time, God said “let there be light.” And so what we know as the Creation account actually began in verse 3.

This view, known as the Gap Theory, solves the so-called “old earth young civilization” problem, and reconciles several other issues between creationists and scientists, but what could have caused such a judgment?

Where Did They Come From?

Some rabbis contend that the way the first letter was formed in the first Hebrew word of Genesis 1 warns us that nothing preceding it can be known.

But there are hints that can lead us to informed speculation. For instance, in Job 38:7 we see the angels shouting for joy at the Genesis 1 creation events. Where did they come from?

In Genesis 3 “the shining one” in the form of a serpent tempts Adam and Eve in the garden. When was he created?

And in Isaiah 14:12-20 and Ezekiel 28:11-19 we read of a rebellion and judgement in Heaven.

The King James identifies the one rebelling in Isaiah as Lucifer, and from Ezekiel we learn that he was created as an anointed cherub, in charge of the guardians of the Throne of God, and a visitor in the Garden of Eden. Surely these are references to the rebellion, judgement and fall of Satan, events that began before the creation of man and conclude at the end of the Millennium. Could they have also brought about a pre-Adamic judgement of Earth? Many informed scholars speculate just that.

Next time we’ll look at the length of each creation day, discover why the Jews have always begun their day at sunset and learn when time began. Stay tuned.

Now you know the adult version.