Timothy S. Morton
The Genesis Gap Theory is a doctrine that claims there was another "earth" before this one where Lucifer reigned as a king until his pride in thinking he could place himself above "the stars of God" caused him to be expelled and the universe destroyed with water. The theory insists the creation of Genesis 1:3-31 is a recreation on the rubble of the previous earth.
Is this a sound Bible doctrine? Is it even scriptually possible? There is one verse that appears to clearly say it isn't and we will look at the arguments both for and against.
Before one can effectively compare Scripture with Scripture he needs to establish some basic study principles. Below is a list of common sense principles that should be used to develop any Bible doctrine.
For a more thorough examination of these principles with examples, we highly recommend the reader see our article How To Determine True Bible Facts.
Now lets use the above basic and well established principles to examine some key Genesis Gap claims.
First, lets gather some facts,
These are all explicit statements and thus indisputable Bible facts to a Bible Believer.
Now consider a statement made in the same immediate context about the Lord's creation.
"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." (Gen 1:31)
This is an explicit statement made within the immediate scope and context of all God's creation activities. Now notice the clear and straightforward conclusions of fact one can derive from this and the previous facts,
For "every thing" to be "very good" there can be no hint of corruption, judgment, or negativity in the entire chapter. There must be no Devil, no curse, no judgment, and no sin or even the remnants of sin. "Every thing" is deemed to be "very good" by the righteous creator in heaven.
This simple, explicit statement as it stands, which can be understood by a first grader, blows a hole in the gap doctrine a mile wide. It decimates the claim Lucifer and other spirits were cast down and the world destroyed before Gen 1.2. It destroys the argument that "darkness" is a result of sin and judgment. If there was a fallen Devil and his evil hoard in any heaven or earth, or the universe enveloped in the judgment of darkness, then the Lord could not call "every thing" he made "very good."
Those who believe in a gap cannot allow this simple and straightforward meaning to stand. They insist the Devil existed at this time and was present in creation so they must find a way to reconcile their claim with this explicit truth. What are the reasonable and scriptural methods one can use to challenge the Genesis 1:31 statement? We will examine five.
The first way to possibly challenge the statement of Gen 1:31 is to find another explicit statement within the same context that modifies or makes an exception with it. For instance, in Gen 2:16 the Lord says,
"...Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:"
Here the would "every" is used and without subsequent modification or conditions this explicit statement would stand; "every" tree could be eaten from. However, the next verse says,
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Gen 2:17)
This explicit, same context statement places a condition or exception on the previous statement and thus modifies it. There are several such statements in the Scriptures...but Gap Theorists have not produced any explicit, creation context statements that modifies or restricts Gen 1:31.
The second way to challenge the verse is to dispute the context. Some gap theorists try this route and claim the statement in Gen 1:31 only applies to to the sixth day of creation. This claim is dubious on its face. From the ancient Hebrews to the present day Gen 1:31 has been understood by essentially all to refer to the whole creation week. This understanding fulfills another key principle of Bible interpretation, "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense," and it makes perfect sense for the statement to apply to the whole chapter because of the very clear words "every thing he had made." There is no hint that the scope of the statement should be limited. Also notice the word "behold" in the verse. This is another difference from the previous "good" decrees. It shows an added emphasis on everything the Lord saw, and on the decree.
Furthermore, since the Lord had only made ONE additional thing since His last "good" proclamation (Adam), it would be very peculiar to say "every thing" for only one new thing created. The Lord does not make linguistic mistakes, thus according to all accepted principles of interpretation and hermeneutics, the "very good" proclamation must encompass "every thing he had made" unless a proof to reduce its scope it provided.
Others will concede the "very good" statement covers the whole week but only includes things made from Gen 1:3 onward. Anything made previously must be excluded. They insist on this so they can slip the creation and fall of Lucifer/Satan in before verse 2 and then pretend God didn't declare him "very good." As any objective person can see, this is simply a manipulation of the text. Do they actually expect a person to believe that Satan and his demons could fill the "high places" with their "spiritual wickedness" (Eph 6), and the Lord still say "every thing" He created was "very good"? Furthermore, are the "waters" in vs 2 not good? Is the "deep" not good? The straight-forward picture Gen 1:31 presents is of God beholding "every thing" He had made, not just some things. There is no sound contextual or explicit reason to limit the extent of these words.
The burden is upon the gap theorists to prove why "every thing" does not mean everything.
Note: Another avenue some gap theorists will take deals with the "darkness" of verse 2. They build an elaborate scheme showing how darkness is negatively portrayed throughout most of the Bible and then insist by implication the darkness of verse 2 must be negative as well. They insist verse 2 is a negative verse showing the result of sin and judgment instead of a positive verse dealing with creation. This argument is heavily flawed as we show in our article, The Deception of Darkness. They make the fatal error of confusing the symbol with what it symbolizes.
What the gap theorists neglect to mention in this context is darkness is a result of creation as well. The Bible specifically says God created darkness (Isa 45:7), and He did so when he created the physical reality. Much to the gap theorist's chagrin this pertinent fact places it under the scope of Gen 1:31. Darkness is "very good." Notice how the darkness is carried over verse 3 and found in verses 4 and 5. This is the same darkness. According to the gap theorist's claims, since this same darkness still exists and is the dominant and default state in the universe (along with coldness), the whole earth and universe is still surrounded by the results of that supposed ancient judgment of God. In what rational scenario could that situation be called "very good"?
Genesis 1:31 is a very difficult verse for the gap theorists to overcome. The simple fact is the words do not allow a Satan, Devil, or universe enveloped in judgment (darkness) to be in existence without God confusing good and evil. True, the "host" or inhabitants of heaven were around then, but "every" one of them was "very good." As we have seen the gap theorists have to resort to desperate measures to try and salvage their claims. The power and authority of one very clear and explicit statement easily dominates any contrary notion. Again, the burden is upon on them to prove that "every thing" does not mean precisely that.
The third possible argument against Gen 1:31 could be a challenge to the meaning of the words by claiming they are ambiguous or unclear, but as it is often found in the Scriptures, these words are clear and simple. No gap theorist I know of has tried to dispute the obvious meaning of "very good" or "every thing" except a few may make a last ditch desperate claim to limit the scope of "every." But, again, this attempt falls flat.
The word "every" is first found in Gen 1:21 where it says, "And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth...." We know God did create "every living creature" thus we see the extent of "every;" it means "every thing" within the scope of creation. The word "good" is first found in Gen 1:4 referring to light. No limit on "good" hinted either. "Good" can be a very strong term, even stronger than "righteous." In fact, the Lord said "There is none good but one, that is God" (Mat 19:17). You can't get any more emphatic than that.
A few gap theorists will try the last ditch measure of confounding the terms. For instance, your author has encountered people who say,
"The Lord did not make Satan so he doesn't count in the proclamation of 'very good.' Instead, God made a cherub named Lucifer who later turned into Satan."
That has to be one of the most contrived and forced arguments ever made to support an alleged doctrine. Who can say such a thing and expect to be taken seriously? The logical response to such nonsense is if God did not make or create Satan, who did? They will say God did make the being of Lucifer/Satan, but he did not make him the way he became (evil) after his fall, that is, with pride and sin. In relation to this they will also say God did not make the "without form and void" state of the earth in 1:2 either. Again, if He didn't, who did?
Obviously, since God created all things He did create the being known as Satan. To try and claim that since Satan sinned (as Adam later did) after his creation that that somehow negates God creating Him defies reason. Even if Ezekiel 28:15 applies to Lucifer/Satan, which says, "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee," it is said AFTER the iniquity is found in him, but God still says He created him. These types of extreme, desperate arguments do not speak well of any alleged theory. If it really is a sound doctrine, all these contrived arguments would be unnecessary.
Another extreme tactic some gap theorists may use is to try and bamboozle the gullible by throwing a bunch of irrelevant, circumstantial "evidence" into the mix. They will say things like, "When was Lucifer/Satan created?" "How do you account for his fall?" "When did the demons come about?" "How did sin get into the world?" "Where do you put Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28?" And on and on. All of these questions have nothing to do with any statement found in Genesis chapter 1. The gap theorists try to insert them into their alleged gap, but since they cannot even prove a gap exists, all their claims are moot.
Its the same with the "darkness" claim mentioned above. They try to overwhelm the reader with the negative uses of darkness in the Scriptures suggesting that a large number of indirect, implicit, non-context statements can overcome a clear, explicit, in context statement to the contrary. Any thinking reader can see right through the scheme. No amount of implicit statements, types, anti-types, symbols, or figures can negate or limit ONE explicit Bible statement! If they can, then your salvation may be in jeopardy!
Another possible challenge is to claim an explicit statement is a figure of speech and should not be taken literally. There are many figures of speech in the Scriptures. They are an effective method of communication in many cases, but there is not a hint of Genesis 1:31 being a figure of speech.
The first obvious figure of speech in the Scriptures is found in Genesis 3:5, 7 with the term their "eyes shall be opened." When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree it gave them the knowledge of "good and evil" or as a figure opened their "spiritual" eyes to the truth of evil. It would be ludicrous to say their physical eyes were literally shut since their creation, especially since Eve "saw" that the tree was "good for food" (Gen 3:6), thus the opening of their eyes speaks of a truth being opened or revealed to them.
Nevertheless, there is no figure in Genesis 1:31. The verse is to be taken literally.
The last possible challenge someone could make to try and overthrow the obvious meaning of Gen 1:31 would be to challenge the method of reasoning. That is, they claim explicit statements should not be regarded the highest expression of truth. This would be an irrational and ignorant claim. To regard inferences from implicit statements at the same level of expression as explicit statements would render all statements as suspect, and one could not know anything for certain.
For example, there is a classic case in the Scriptures of some believers wrongly inferring a belief from something the Lord said,
Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? (John 21:22-23)
The "brethren" wrongly inferred Peter would not die, but Peter corrects them by reminding everyone that the Lord's words were a conditional statement that started with "If I will...." Should a statement like this be placed on the same level as and explicit, declarative statement like John 5:24?
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
The answer is obvious, the implicit statement can be misunderstood; the explicit one is clear. If some try to weaken an explicit statement to the level of implicit so their private doctrine can be inserted, they weaken every statement in the Scriptures.
We have only examined one explicit verse and it has essentially destroyed the claims of the gap theorists. The statement is so clear and plain that one must have an ulterior motive to try and overthrow it. The statement simply will not allow anything that is not "good" within the scope of creation. It does not say a gap is not possible, only that anything that happened before, during and after any alleged gap must be "very good."
Note: It is ironic that Gen 1:31 does not forbid the original reason Thomas Chalmers developed the Gap Theory: to make time for the geologic ages, but it does forbid the current Fundamentalist gap claims of a universal destruction and fall of Lucifer with his "devils." It is quite clear the Fundamentalists have "overextended" themselves.
Nevertheless, it is irrational and irresponsible for any believer to insist the alleged Genesis gap is a proven Bible fact in light of such strong evidence against it. No matter what other evidence one may present to support it, this single in context, explicit statement throws a monkey wrench into the whole idea.
The Genesis Gap is a prime example of a doctrine based upon inferred beliefs and implicit statements. It essentially has no explicit Bible statements to support it. Its proponents insert there inferences from Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, 2 Pet 3, and a couple other places into Genesis 1:2 it seems because they cannot find any better place to put them. They insist Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 refer to the fall of Lucifer who they consider to be the same being as Satan, and this also is an inferred belief. There is no passage that explicitly states they are the same being; it is only surmised, and as we saw in John 21:22-23 what one infers from implicit statements can be completely wrong.
In view of the above if Gap Theorists want to give their claims legitimacy, they should scriptually answer the following questions,
Without explicit Bible statements that prove the possibility of their contentions, the Gap Theory remain just that, a mere speculative theory that has very weak Scriptural support.