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indefinite period between the initial beautiful creation described In Genesis 1:1 and the earth becoming waste and void In verse 2 has been called, sometimes disparagingly, "the gap theory." The Idea was attributed to Thomas Chalmers in the 19th century and to Cyrus Scofleld In the 20th.

Yet this Interpretation that the earth "became" waste and void has been discussed for close to 2,000 years, as pointed out by the late Arthur Custance in his book Without Form and Void: A Study of the Meaning of Genesis 1:2.

The earliest known recorded controversy on this point can be attributed to Jewish sages at the beginning of the second century. The Hebrew scholars who wrote the Tar-gum of Onkelos, the earliest of the Aramaic paraphrases of the Old Testament, rendered Genesis 1:2 with an Aramaic expression Dr. Custance translates as "and the earth was laid waste" (1988, p. 15). The original language evidently led them to understand that something had occurred which had "laid waste" the earth, and they Interpreted this as a destruction.

The early Catholic theologian Origen (186-254), in his commentary De Principiis, explains regarding Genesis 1:2 that the original earth had been "cast downwards" (Ante-Nicene Fathers, 1917, p. 342).

In the Middle Ages the Flemish scholar Hugo St. Victor (1097-1141) wrote about Genesis 1:2, "Perhaps enough has already been debated about these matters thus far, if we add only this, 'how long did the world remain In this disorder before the regular re-ordering ... of It was taken In hand?' {De Sacramentis Christianae Fidei, Book 1, part 1, chapter 6). Other medieval scholars, such as Dlonysius Peavius and Pererlus, also considered that there was an Interval of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

According to The New Schaff-Herzog Ency clopedia of Religious Knowledge, the Dutch scholar Simon Eplscopius (1585-1643) taught that the earth had originally been created before the six days of creation described In Genesis (1952, Vol. 3, p. 302). This was roughly 200 years before geology embraced an ancient origin for the earth.

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How did the earth become "without form, and void," as described in Genesis 1? Through a careful study of the Scriptures, we can glean some information about earth's history before the Genesis account.

These numerous examples show us that the idea of an Interval between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 has a long history. Any claim that It is of only recent origin—that It was invented simply as a desperate attempt to reconcile the Genesis account with geology—is groundless.

Perhaps the best treatment on both sides of this question Is given by Dr. Custance In his book. He states: "To me, this Issue Is important, and after studying the problem for some thirty years and after reading everything I could lay my hands on pro and con and after accumulating In my own library some 300 commentaries on Genesis, the earliest being dated 1670, I am persuaded that there is, on the basis of the evidence, far more reason to translate Gen. 1:2 as 'But the earth had become a ruin and a desolation, etc.' than there Is for any of the conventional translations In our modern versions" (p. 7).

a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, 'All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish'" (Luke 4:5-6).

Jesus resisted this temptation but did not dispute the assertion of Satan's present authority, even later calling him "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). He is elsewhere called "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4).

It is no accident that in Genesis 3, shortly after God created Adam and Eve, Satan appeared on the scene as the serpent in the garden. The earth was—and still is—his domain. He had been cast down to the earth before man's creation took place. As noted in the account of the temptation of Christ, Satan had received authority over the earth. He then rebelled against God in a battle in which he was cast down to the earth, as Christ recounted. (To learn more, download or request our free booklet Is There Really a Devil?)

The earth is Satan's realm. The book of Job records God asking Satan, "From where do you come?" Satan's reply was, "From going to and fro on the earth and from walking back and forth on it" (Job 1:7).

How the earth became waste and empty

In Genesis we do not see details of the awe-inspiring initial creation, the creation well before Adam and Eve about which angels sang for joy. And we do not read how that creation came to be in chaos—"without form and void."

The text, though, does offer clues. Notice that the New International Version has a marginal notation regarding the translation of Genesis 1:2, set here within brackets: "Now the earth was [or possibly became] formless and empty ..."

Does God reveal elsewhere in His Word how the earth came to be in this disorderly state, "formless and empty"? He gives us some telling hints in the book of Isaiah. "For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18).

The Hebrew term rendered in vain here is from the same word translated "without form" in Genesis 1:2. Yet here Isaiah records God as saying He did not originally create the earth in this condition. Other scriptures, such as Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23, describe

The World Before Man: The Biblical Explanation similar devastation on the earth using the same words translated "without form, and void" in Genesis 1:2. There is no doubt that these words describe the earth as being empty, void, a wasteland.

The Genesis account simply does not provide all the details. But the Bible as a whole fills in other parts of the story. The missing pieces are given in other scriptures, which tell us of Satan's rebellion against God. They describe his attempt to overthrow God and that as a result of a great supernatural battle, he was cast back down.

We see what appears to be a parallel situation in Revelation 12:7-9, which describes an attempt by Satan to overthrow God shortly before Christ's return: "And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

Yet God has allowed Satan to retain authority over this present world. Satan even offered Jesus the opportunity to share rulership over the earth under him.

You can see that, when we examine the whole of Scripture, we find a great deal more information that illuminates and explains the Genesis account.

Earth renewed and restored

Consider another section of Scripture in which God inspired a psalm revealing more about His creation. "O Lord," the psalmist writes, "how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions . . . You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth" (Psalm 104:24, 30).

The surface of the earth needed a renewal when God created the present life-forms we see around us. So what does the fossil record depict? It shows a series of fossilized life-forms in layered deposits scattered in the earth's crust. Man as we know him, made in God's image with enormous creative and spiritual abilities, has left written records that take us back a little more than 5,000 years.

This is a tiny span compared with what most scientists consider the age of the earth and stars to be based on their research. Man, in an incredibly short time, built the pyramids—which to this day defy imitation. Man has traveled to the moon and sent spacecraft to

66 Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?

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