Without Form, And Void

Posted by on Apr 1, 2012

Without Form, And Void

“Without Form, And Void”

Scripture Text: Genesis 1:2

By Pastor Mike Withem
First Baptist Church
Ranson, West Virginia

Introduction:

A. As many of you know, there has been an effort in recent years by some who claim to be “Bible-believing” Christians, to reconcile the Bible (biblical) account of creation with evolutionary thinking, which asserts that the earth is actually billions of years old.
1. For example, as I alluded to last Sunday morning, there are those who believe in what has come to be called “Theistic Evolution.”
2. In other words, they believe that God created the heaven and the earth, however, they also believe that He used the evolutionary process and that He took billions of years to do it.
3. This concept can be accurately described as the MOSIAC-DARWINIAN THEORY, because it attempts to bring together and unify two irreconcilable beliefs.
4. Again, the reason that some who claim to be “Bible-believing” Christians have embraced this ridiculous belief is because they are attempting to reconcile the Bible with evolutionary thinking which asserts that the earth is billions of years old.

B. By the way, can I say something here?
1. Rather than trying to reconcile the Bible, or rather than trying to bring the Bible in line with the thinking of modern man, shouldn’t we be trying to bring what we think in line with what the Bible says (teaches)?
2. Isn’t the Bible our STANDARD?
3. Isn’t the Bible our AUTHORITY?
4. Isn’t the Bible our BENCHMARK when it comes to what we believe, not only about creation, but about everything else as well?
5. (Illus.- I can illustrate it like this. When you get your bank statement each month and you sit down to reconcile your checkbook, do you reconcile your checkbook with your bank statement, or do you reconcile your bank statement with your checkbook? Someone asks, “What’s the difference?” There’s all the difference in the world. Let me put it like this, when you are looking at both your bank statement and your checkbook, which of the two is your standard, which of the tow is your authority, which of the two is your benchmark, when it comes to determining your true financial situation? The answer, of course, is your bank statement. If they don’t match up, you change the numbers in your checkbook to match your statement, NOT the other way around.)
6. Well, the same thing is true when it comes to the Bible.
7. If what you believe does not match up with the Bible, you change what you believe so that it lines up with the Bible, NOT the other way around.

C. Now, this morning, I want us to focus our attention on yet another example of how some try to reconcile the Bible (bring it in line) with evolutionary thinking, which asserts that the earth is billions of years old.
1. It’s called the “GAP THEORY.”
2. It has also been called the “RUIN-RECONSTRUCTION THEORY.”
3. While it does not incorporate the process of evolution, it does bring the Bible in line with evolutionary thinking by asserting that the earth is billions of years old.

D. Let us begin by looking at…

I. The Gap Theory Explained.

A. While there are slight variations of this theory, all of the variations include the following elements.

B. First of all, the Gap Theory asserts that Gen. 1:1 refers to the original world that was created by God, perhaps billions of years ago.
1. Of course, we know nothing about this event, other than what is recorded in Gen. 1:1.
2. We know that God created it, but we do not know how He did it, nor do we know the order of events or exactly what was created.
3. We are left totally in the dark and either have to guess about these things, or look to evolutionary geologists to give us answers.

C. The Gap Theory also asserts that after the original world was created, that God made the archangel, Lucifer, administrator of His creation. (In other words, He gave him charge over all of His original creation.) Of course, there is NO biblical evidence to support this.

D. The Gap Theory also asserts that when Lucifer rebelled against God, the original world that God had created was RUINED as a result of God’s judgment.
1. Some actually believe that God used a flood to judge the world, which they refer to as “Lucifer’s Flood.”
2. While the Bible does tell us about Lucifer’s rebellion and his subsequent fall, it says nothing about God judging the world at that time.
3. Now the Bible does tell us that God judged the world in Noah’s day (flood) and that He will once again judge the world at the conclusion of the millennium (fire), but there is nothing about a judgement that took place when Lucifer rebelled.

E. Finally, the Gap Theory asserts that the subsequent work that God did in six days, was not the creation of a new world, but rather the recreation of an old world.

F. Now this raises a question, “Why would anyone come up with a theory that clearly has no basis in the Word of God?”
1. By the way, do you know WHO came up with this theory?
2. It wasn’t Darwin, or any other evolutionist.
3. It was actually a Scottish Christian theologian by the name of Thomas Chalmers, who holds the distinction of being the first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.
4. A few years later, C.I. Scofield, included the Gap Theory in his notes and it’s popularity grew.
5. Now why in the world would Christian theologians, men who claimed to believe the Bible, come up with and spread a theory that has absolutely no basis in the Bible?
6. Well, it just so happens that it was about that same time that Darwin’s theory of evolution became universally accepted by the scientific world.
7. You can say what you want to, but the Gap Theory, because it inserts millions, if not billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, was clearly an attempt by some Christian theologians to appease the non-Christian evolutionists of their day.

G. And so, we see the Gap Theory explained. Now I want us to look at…

II. The Gap Theory Argued.

A. Those who are proponents of this theory do have their arguments (we will look at five, this morning).
1. For example, ONE of their arguments is that the Hebrew word translated “was” in Genesis 1:2, can also be translated “became.”
2. The King James Version says, “And the earth was without form, and void;”
3. Proponents of the Gap Theory say that the word translated “was,” in some cases, can be translated “became.”
4. Of course, they say that the reason the earth “became” without form and void was because of God’s judgement on Lucifer.

B. A SECOND argument that they use is that the phrase “without form and void” in Gen. 1:2 is only found in one other place in the Old Testament (Jer. 4:23), which clearly speaks of judgement and destruction.

Jer. 4:20,23, “Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled:…I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.”

C. A THIRD argument that they use is that it is highly improbable that God, the Author of light, would have originally created a world in darkness, which is generally used in Scripture as a symbol of evil.

Gen. 1:2, “…and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

D. A FOURTH argument that they use is the use of the word “created” in Gen. 1:1, and the use of the word “made” in some of the following verses.
1. Gen. 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
2. Gen. 1:7, “And God made the firmament,”
3. They make a distinction between these two words, saying that the word “created” implies a new creation (creating something from nothing), while the word “made” implies a recreation (making something over again).

E. A FIFTH argument that they use, and the last one that we will look at this morning, is that the phrase “replenish the earth” found in Gen. 1:28 implies that the earth was once filled but now had to be filled again.

Gen. 1:28, “…and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,”
F. And so, those are the arguments for the Gap Theory.
1. Dual meaning of the Hebrew word “was.”
2. The context of the phrase “without form and void” in Jer. 4:23.
3. The fact that “darkness” sometimes symbolizes evil.
4. The use of two different words, “create” and “made.”
5. The fact that God commanded Adam and Eve to “replenish” the earth.

G. Now that we have looked at the Gap Theory argued, I want us to refute those arguments, by looking at…

III. The Gap Theory Refuted.

A. Let’s look at these five arguments one at a time.
1. First of all, the argument that Hebrew word “was” can also be translated “became.”
2. While I am most certainly no Hebrew scholar, I did find out that the Hebrew word used here (hayah) is found 264 times in the first five books of the Bible alone, and 258 of those times it is translated “was.”
3. Only 6 times is it translated “became,” and in each of those cases, unlike Gen. 1:2, the context clearly shows that a change of state has occurred.
4. And so, this argument really doesn’t hold any water.

B. Now let’s look at the second argument, the argument that the only other time you find the phrase “without form and void” is in Jer. 4:23, where it clearly speaks of God’s judgement.
1. Again, I am no Hebrew scholar, but I did find out that the two Hebrew words used here (tohuw & bohuw) simply mean “empty” and “uninhabitable.”
2. Of course, at this stage of creation, the earth WAS empty and uninhabitable, but you have to remember that you are not looking at the finished product.
3. (Illus.- When a building contractor begins construction of a house, the first thing he does is dig some footers and pour the foundation. The house, of course, is inhabitable at this point. But, again, you have to remember that this is not the finished product. Come back in a few months and you will find a beautiful finished home most likely inhabited by a very happy family!)
4. And so, again, this argument doesn’t hold water.

C. Now let’s look at the third argument that says it is highly improbable that God, the Author of light, would have originally created a world in darkness, which is generally used in Scripture as a symbol of evil.
1. This argument is very easy to refute.
2. The “darkness” that prevailed upon the earth during this early stage of creation was NOT spiritual darkness, but rather physical darkness, and there is nothing inherently evil about physical darkness.
3. In fact, the Bible says in Psa. 104:19-20, “He (God) appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.”
4. And so, again, this argument doesn’t hold water.

D. Now let’s look at the fourth argument that makes a distinction between the word “created” in Gen. 1:2, and the word “made” that is found in the following verses.
1. Now to be truthful, these are two different words in the Hebrew (bara & asah), however, if you will study all of Gen. 1 carefully, you will see that both of these words are used synonymously throughout the chapter.
2. For example, notice Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 1:27.
3. Gen. 1:26, “And God said, Let us make (asah) man in our image, after our likeness:”
4. Gen. 1:27, “So God created (bara) man in his own image, in the image of God created (bara) he him; male and female created (bara) he them.”
5. And so, clearly, while these are different Hebrew words, they are used interchangeably throughout all of Gen. 1.

E. We are now down to the fifth and final argument for the Gap Theory, which says that God’s command to “replenish the earth” found in Gen. 1:28 implies that the earth was once filled but now had to be filled again.
1. What about that?
2. Again, I am no Hebrew scholar, however I did some research and discovered that the Hebrew verb (maleh) used here simply means “to fill” with no suggestion of repetition.
3. For example, notice Gen. 1:22, “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill (maleh) the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.”
4. This is the exact same word, however, here it is translated “fill.”
5. And so, again, this argument doesn’t hold water.

Conclusion:

A. Now all of this raises a very important question.
1. If the Gap Theory is so indefensible, so easily refuted, then WHY do many professing Christians today both believe and promote it?
2. One creationist gives the following answer: “The gap theory is popular because it appears to present an interpretation of Genesis that does not radically challenge the evolutionary timetable of geology.” (Monty White)
3. A very well known theologian gives this answer: “Many professing Christians have embraced the Gap Theory because uncounted millions of years could be conveniently tucked into that bottomless hole which is thought to exist between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Thus, the Gap Theory may be viewed in part as an attempt by some to appease the evolutionists of our day.” (H.L. Willmington)

C. Do you remember what I said earlier?
1. When it comes to what we believe, the Bible is our…
-standard,
-authority,
-benchmark.
2. Rather than trying to bring the Bible in line with the thinking of modern man, we should bring what we think and what we believe in line with what the Bible clearly teaches!