When Did Satan Fall? A Critique of the Gap Theory—Part 4
October 6, 2019
Dr. Andy Woods
“Father, we’re grateful for today and grateful for Your grace upon us. We’re grateful for Your mercy. I do ask that You will be with us during Sunday school as we look in Your Word and try to understand the doctrine of angels better. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”
And God’s people said, “Amen.”
All right. Good morning, everybody. Let’s take our Bibles and open them to Genesis 1:1-3. We’ve been looking at this doctrine of satanology, and part of that doctrine is the original state of Satan and his fall. We’ve looked at some verses that help us with that. And part of that whole discussion involves trying to understand, “Exactly when did Satan fall?”
One of the popular beliefs out there is Satan fell in the so-called gap between verse 1 and verse 2 of Genesis. We’ve been taking a look recently at the whole subject of the gap theory. I’m not talking about a clothing store.
We’ve actually had a gap in our study of the gap theory. I think last week was a congregational meeting, and the week before I wasn’t here. So, all things being equal, I’d love to finish that stuff on the gap theory this morning.
We start off with a definition of the gap theory. Let’s read Genesis 1:1-3, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”
So, according to the gap theory you have original Creation brought into existence in Genesis 1:1. That’s the world that was, according to the gap theory. And then that’s the world that got marred allegedly by Satan’s fall (which supposedly took place at the end of verse 1 but before the beginning of verse 2). And there could be millions or billions of years between those two verses, according to the gap theory.
Verse 2 then—when it talks about “formless and void” and all of these kinds of things—is a description of the judged world, the world that God judged through a flood because of Lucifer’s rebellion. Then once you get down to verse 3 through the end of the chapter you basically have a description of the renovation of the wrecked world. That’s basically what’s called classical gap theory.
The reason I’m even bringing this up is not to just go on an excursus on the gap theory. It’s relevant because a lot of people place the fall of Satan in the gap. So, that involves an analysis of the gap theory. We went through—and I think try to be very fair—the evidence favoring the gap theory. Then we went through responses to that evidence.
Let me sort of highlight one thing that I don’t think I was too clear on. It has to do with verse 2, and it has to do with the verb HAYAH. I know you guys have been thinking about that verb all week, right? It says, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth. The earth was…” Now, gap theorists want that verse to mean “the earth became (not was) formless and void.”
They think it became formless and void because of Satan’s fall that happened before that verse started. One of the points I try to make is when you look at the identical sentence structure of the translation “the earth became,” that identical structure is only used a couple of other places in the Old Testament. One of the places it’s used is in Jonah 3:3 which says, “So Jonah arose and went according to the word of the Lord.”
Now Nineveh [same grammatical structure] was an exceedingly great city.” Now, you’ll notice that when Jonah arrived there, Nineveh didn’t become an exceedingly great city. You see that? Nineveh was already an exceedingly great city before Jonah even got there.
You have the same thing over in Judges 8:11. It’s the same grammatical structure and it says, “Gideon went up by the way of those who lived in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the camp [same grammatical structure] when the camp was unsuspecting.”
So the camp didn’t become unsuspecting when Gideon got there. The camp was already unsuspecting before Gideon got there. Therefore, I think to translate Genesis 1:2 as “the earth became” is very, very tenuous. I mean, nowhere else in the Bible in the Old Testament do you have that same grammatical structure. I think what it’s saying is the earth was—not became because of Satan’s rebellion.
So, that’s a little bit of review when we were in point number 3. I wanted to highlight that because I’m not sure how clear I communicated that when we were in that section. Now we move into part number four where we’re going to conclude with some remaining problems with the gap theory. I’ve given you four already, you might recall.
Follow me over to Genesis 2:3-4. This is a summary statement. God is summarizing what He did during the Creation week. Notice what it says in Genesis 2:3-4, “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” You see that there? As God is looking back on the seven days of Creation, He doesn’t say, “I renovated the earth—fixed the earth—in the six days of Creation,” but “I created and made during the six days of Creation.”
Verse 4 says, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were [not renovated but] created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.” So, the way the Bible describes the six days of Creation, it’s not a “fixing up” of what got broken. It’s a creation. Not a “re-creation,” but a creation.
God brought the heavens and earth into existence in the six days. That’s what the Bible is teaching. And the gap theory is saying, “No, that’s not true. What God did is He renovated what got broken in the six days.”
You have the same thing over in Exodus 20:11—same author, Moses. Didn’t Moses write the first five books of the Old Testament that we call Torah, or Pentateuch? And Moses in his second book summarizes what God did in the six days of Creation. “For in six days the Lord [What? Not renovated—not fixed—but] made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
So, you’ll notice “heavens and earth”—which is a description of everything—is something that God Himself not fixed in the six days of Creation but brought into existence in the six days of Creation. So, the heavens and earth were not created before the six days of Creation.
I bring that up because the gap theory is saying the opposite. The gap theory is basically saying that in the six days of Creation, God is fixing what got broken (or renovating). And that’s not what the summary statements—looking back on the six days—teaches. So that becomes another problem with the gap theory.
Let me give you a further problem with the gap theory if I could. Where does evil come from? I mean, how exactly did evil enter into our cosmos—enter into our universe? The Scripture, I think, is very clear on this point. The Scripture traces all death and chaos in humanity, the animals, and Creation not from some luciferian rebellion before Adam was ever in existence. The Bible is very clear that evil entered our world through the sin of Adam. Okay?
Notice if you will, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” Now notice this very clearly: death came after Adam. Death came as a result of Adam’s rebellion.
Prior to Adam’s rebellion in Genesis 3, death was a nonexistence in our world in the human race. Now, think about this for a minute. The gap theory (and theistic evolution for that matter) is saying “Oh, no, no, no! Death was always part of the equation.”
In the terms of theistic evolution, it was part of how God evolved humanity into our forebears through constant death—survival of the fittest. And in the case of the gap theory, you’ve got a whole civilization of animals. And some, like the late Merrill Unger, taught a pre-Adamic race that were wiped out because of Lucifer’s rebellion. Then God, in the days of renovation, brought Adam into existence on day six.
Theistic evolution says, “God used evolution.” I mean, evolution is bad enough, but let’s blame it on God—that’s theistic evolution. And in the gap theory model, you’ve got death in existence before Adam. You’ve got death occurring before Adam ever came on the scene. And I just want to make the point that your Bible says the exact opposite! You do not have death—ever—anywhere—until Adam’s rebellion in Eden.
Notice that Romans 5:12 says virtually the same thing, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Now it’s very clear here that death entered the world through one man. Who would that one man be? Well, it would obviously be Adam.
This is very important to understand, because when you evangelize people and the Holy Spirit brings people across your path (evangelistic opportunities) and you want to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ, one of the questions you’re going to face is, “Well, you say God is a God of love, and my grandmother (or mother, or father, or husband, or wife, or son, or daughter) just got hit by a car or died of cancer. How could you tell me that God is a God of love when all these terrible things are happening in our world?”
And we actually have an answer for that. The answer is that those evil things were never part of the design of God; those are the consequences of the creation’s rebellion against God.
Theistic evolution has no answer, because they believe God used the process of survival of the fittest—constant sin, terminated by death—to evolve the human race. And I’m troubled a lot by the gap theory, because the gap theory will place death in a pre-Adamic race (if they believe that) or in the animal world before Adam ever existed. And your Bible teaches you 100% the opposite!
Now, here’s the little game that’s played. They say, “Well, yeah, that’s true; death came into the world through Adam’s sin, but that was spiritual death. That was not physical death.” So that allows them to have death prior to Adam’s sin.
Notice 1 Corinthians 15:21-22. What’s the comparison here? The first Adam is being compared to the Last Adam. And in the Last Adam we’re all going to receive a resurrected body which won’t experience what? Death. So, the whole point here can’t be just spiritual death. There’s a physical death part of this.
Now, I’m not denying the fact that spiritual death came into existence… You know what I mean by spiritual death: we’re alienated from God (Ephesians 2:1). We don’t have a relationship with God without the Savior. We have to be born spiritually.
I mean, I’m not denying the fact that spiritual death was part of Adam’s rebellion. The human race began to die spiritually. But that’s not everything that God is explaining here. Physical death only became a reality with Adam’s rebellion. When God created our world there was no physical death in it. That’s why the early animals and humans were herbivorous—not carnivorous. They were vegetarian, so to speak. They weren’t meat eaters. Because if they were meat eaters, there would be death, right?
In order for me to go over to Longhorn Steakhouse this afternoon (my wife’s not around, so I can do all that kind of stuff while she’s gone), they’ve got to kill an animal (right?) to feed me my steak. Now, hopefully they do it a little bit earlier in the process before I get to the restaurant. But no death to an animal—no steak!
So, when humanity is carnivorous you have to have death. But what you have at the beginning is man (and animals for that matter) are herbivorous; they are vegetarian and not carnivorous. And that’s a really important point. A lot of people want to water that down. But that actually is a big deal, because it’s an explanation as to why God created a world without death in it.
In fact, when Adam and Eve sinned in Eden God took the loin coverings and clothed Adam and Eve. Obviously, He took those loin coverings from an animal that had to be killed, right? (I don’t think the loin coverings just fell out of the sky.) That was your first act of death—physical death in God’s universe. And God used that to illustrate how serious it was what Adam and Eve had done. But prior to that point in time, prior to Adam’s rebellion, you don’t have physical death.
Genesis 1:29-30, “Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant [see that?] yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so.”
When did man, then, become carnivorous? Not until after the flood. It’s not until after the flood that the rules change. God now says, in Genesis 9:3, “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you.” But that’s pretty late in the game, Genesis 9; that’s post flood. That was never part of the original design. This came into existence as a repercussion (or a consequence) of Adam’s sin.
Genesis 2:16-17 says this, “The Lord God commanded the man [this was the original instructions in Eden], saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely [easiest job description I’ve ever read, actually]; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it…” Now, that’s tricky right there, “in the day you eat of it.” I think a better translation of YOM with the preposition is not “in the day you eat of it,” it’s “when you eat of it.”
God is not making a statement, necessarily, that they are going to die that exact day physically. And I could show you other places in Hebrew Bible where YOM plus the preposition is better translated “when.”
“But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for when you eat from it you will surely die.” So, obviously, death didn’t exist when this command was given.
Now a lot of people say, “That’s just spiritual death. That’s not physical death, because death was already part of the package prior to the rebellion of Adam and Eve.” The Hebrew word for death is MUWTH. That word is used in the Old Testament 791 times. Guess what it means 791 times? Physical death! It never means simply spiritual death. Certainly, spiritual death is part of it, but that’s not what the emphasis here is; this is on physical death.
When you slip over to Genesis 3:19 it becomes very clear when God begins to articulate the judgments as a result of Adam and Eve’s fall. “By the sweat of your face You will eat bread [that’s why you’ve got to go to work Monday morning], Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” Now, is that talking about just spiritual death? Obviously not! It’s talking about decaying and going right back into the dirt from which we came.
So, every single human being when they are conceived and then born into this world begins to physically die. Right now we are in the process of dying. Did you know that? Even though I tried to look good this morning—combed my hair, took a shower, put my tie on—I’m living in a decaying corpse, and so are you.
If you don’t believe me, I have a challenge for you. When you get home today, take out your high school yearbook pictures and compare your modern-day driver license. And you’ll say, “Oh my goodness!” Obviously, there is a decay that’s going on.
In fact, I remember recently getting my haircut at Supercuts and looking down on the ground, and all the hair was gray! I immediately thought, “That could not be my hair!” I praise the Lord that at least I’ve got hair to turn gray—a lot of people are a little bit further along in the process than I am. I’m not mentioning any names here, of course. But the fact of the matter is that it’s a shock that we’re dying. It’s a shock to look at the ground and realize that really is your hair and it didn’t used to be gray; it used to be a different color.
What is being revealed here is physical death. It’s very obvious! And this statement wouldn’t make any sense, would it, if death were already part of the package? That’s why it’s very, very difficult, biblically, to place physical death prior to Adam’s sin.
Slip over to Genesis 5 for a minute. We have a genealogy. Look at what it says in Genesis 5:5. We have this nice genealogy from Adam to Noah. It says in verse 5, “So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.” Wow! Then you drop down to verse 8, “So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died.”
Drop down verse 11, “So all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years, and he died.” Verse 14, “So all the days of Kenan were nine hundred and ten years, and he died.” My goodness, I’m seeing a pattern here. Verse 17, “So all the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred and ninety-five years, and he died.” Verse 20, “So all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died.”
Now I like Enoch because he walked with the Lord and the Lord took him. Whoa! He got exempted from the curse of death! That’s the hope of the Rapture, right? Paul says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” Maybe we’re that generation that won’t have to go through the prospect of physical death. I’m up for that! Are you guys up for that? Enoch is a type, if you will, of the Rapture of the church.
Verse 27, “So all the days of Methuselah [Methuselah is the guy who lived the longest] were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.” This continues into Genesis 5:31, “So all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and he died.” It’s very obvious that this whole chain of death comes into existence because of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden.
This is not dealing with spiritual death. You can’t take Paul’s statements that “through Adam all died” and say, “That’s just spiritual death because death in the animal kingdom (or even in a pre-Adamic race) was already part of the package.”
Notice Romans 8:19-22. What messed up our world, exactly? “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility [that’s why it’s in the state of travail and groaning], not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope.” And now Creation is in a state of slavery to corruption. The Creation there is personified as groaning and suffering child pains right up until now.
The Creation itself (in this personification) can’t wait for the return of Jesus to roll back the curse so Creation can be what it was always meant to be in God. But right now it’s in the state of travail. It’s in the state of groaning.
Now, who put it in that state of travail? Not the Creation itself! Not death before Adam! Not Lucifer’s rebellion before Adam ever existed! But it was put in that travail by “him who subjected it,” a very clear reference, I think, to Adam.
Sometimes in church we sing—I think wrongly—songs like, “This is my Father’s world.” Think about that song for minute. I get what the song’s trying to say. This is my Father’s world in the sense that we’re in God’s creation. But when you look at death (and cancer, and drive-by shootings, and violence, and heart attacks, and all of the horrific things that happen to people) this very much is not the Father’s world.
This is a world in a state of travail because of Adam’s sin! It always links everything back to Adam’s rebellion. And the gap theory is basically saying—along with theistic evolution—that God built the Garden of Eden that we know about on the wreckage and remains of a prior civilization that got wiped out through Lucifer’s rebellion. I’m sorry, but as I keep looking at these Bible passages, the Bible is saying the exact opposite! You don’t have death anywhere in existence prior to Adam’s sin.
I think one of the reasons it gets on my nerves a little bit—it gets under my skin a little bit when people change the order—is that Jesus came into the world to remove the curse of death. Did He not? I mean, that was His whole point in coming. Hebrews 2:14 talks about how He came into the world to remove the prospect of death—that entity that’s kept us in bondage our whole lives, kept us in fear.
Jesus came into the world to get rid of that curse. And somehow the sacrifice of Christ doesn’t really seem that significant anymore if God already had death as part of the picture before Adam’s rebellion. So, think very carefully about Adam and death and what you are doing with those. Because you are dealing with—to some extent—the heart of the gospel itself.
Another basic problem I have with the gap theory is the fact that it keeps saying “good” in the Creation week. I’m not sure it would say that if the Creation week is a renovation of a prior civilization that’s already been destroyed and judged.
Back to Genesis chapter 1. Notice, if you will, Genesis 1:4-9. “God saw that the light was good; [Wow!] and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”
Genesis 1:12 says, “The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.” Verse 18 (very end of the verse), “God saw that it was good.” Verse 21 (very end of the verse), “God saw that it was good.” Verse 25 (very end of the verse), “God saw that it was good.” Every Creation day ends with the expression “evening and morning.” First day, second day, third day that literary pattern is repeated.
And every time you end a Creation day God says, “it was good.” Then finally you get down to Genesis 1:31 which is the very end of the six days of Creation, and it’s a summary statement. It says, “God saw all that He had made, and behold [now He doesn’t just say “it was good.” He says it was what?], it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Notice what you have here is two superlatives. What is a superlative? It’s like saying “the ultimate, the zenith.” It’s like saying “Holy of Holies.” We’re not just talking about a holy place when we say “Holy of Holies”; we’re talking about the ultimate holy place.
When Solomon calls his Song of Solomon “The Song of Songs,” and Solomon wrote a lot of Proverbs and songs. What he is saying is, “This is not just a song; this is the ultimate song!” And what you have here are two Hebrew superlatives. “God saw all that He had made,” that would be everything, right? Angels, heaven and earth. When God looked back on everything that He had brought into existence on the six days, He doesn’t just say here, “It’s good.” He uses a second Hebrew superlative. He says, “It’s very good. It’s the ultimate in goodness.”
You look at statements like this, and you look at the repetition of “good” (the Hebrew word TOV), and you say, “How could this be a re-creation or a renovation of a judged world?” I mean, this is a very strange description of a renovation of a judged world when God is saying “It is very good.”
So, the reality of the situation is our world was not built on the remains of a former world. Our world was not built on the debris and wreckage of some pre-Adamic civilization, or preexistent animal race, or anything of that nature. That’s not what the Bible is teaching.
Another problem with the gap theory is Adam’s Creation. Adam came into existence on day six. The Bible teaches that Adam’s Creation occurred at the very beginning of Creation—and not after most of the Earth’s history had transpired. In other words, as long as Creation has been around, Adam has been around.
Adam came into existence in a very short time (day six) after the heavens and earth were brought into existence. That is the exact opposite of evolution. Evolution basically says over billions of years of the survival of the fittest the human race evolved. And finally Adam climbed out of the primordial soup millions and billions of years after this long process of the survival of the fittest.
The gap theory is basically saying, “You have a prior Creation. Lucifer’s fall and God’s judgment wrecked it. Millions of years—billions of years—between verse 1 and verse 2, and then God renovates everything. Then He gets around, finally, to creating Adam on day six. So, according to theistic evolution, and gap theory, Adam comes into existence after most of the Earth’s history had already transpired. But that is not what your Bible teaches!
What your Bible teaches is as long as Creation has been around, Adam has been around. Where am I getting this from? I’m getting it from Matthew 19:4 where Jesus is answering a question about divorce and remarriage. “And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them…’” Who is “them”? Adam and Eve!
“‘…He who created them from the [what?] beginning.’” You don’t have a scenario where you’ve got a beginning…billions of years…and then Adam finally shows up. Adam is in existence from …the…beginning. Mark 10:6, I think, is a little bit clearer, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.”
Now, again, there are all these games that people play. They want the Creation story to fit their gap, or they want it to fit theistic evolution (or whatever). They basically try to argue that “from the beginning” is the time of Adam’s creation—not the Creation of everything. But when you do an exegesis of the phrase “from the beginning,” it always means from the very beginning—from the beginning of everything.
Mark 13:19, “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation.” There’s the exact expression (I’ve got it in Greek there), “from the beginning.” That’s not talking about something that goes back a million years, or a billion years after original Creation. That’s talking about something that goes back—a statement that Jesus makes in comparison—to the very beginning.
You have the same thing there in 2 Peter 3:4, “from the beginning of Creation.” “‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’ ” There is almost the same identical Greek phrase there: APO DE ARCHES KISTEOS. It’s talking about the very beginning. Not the time of Adam’s Creation; from the very beginning of Creation.
We are told that Abel (Adam’s son) existed (Luke 11:50-51), “from the foundation of the world.” This is one of the challenges I was facing when I was involved with (I think I shared with you) theistic evolution. I graduated from the public-school system. I thought evolution was a scientific fact. Because that’s what they told me. And the school system wouldn’t lie to me, would they?
I mean, ever since kindergarten they’d show me all these pictures of the Missing Link. And I didn’t really realize at the time—when I was 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years—that that whole picture is an artist’s rendition off a single bone that they found somewhere. (It was a monkey with rickets, they discovered.) But they took that little bone, and they turned it into this whole artist’s rendition. And I thought evolution was true!
Then I got saved. And guess what? God doesn’t just fix your mind right away. Did you notice that? You drag a lot of bad thinking into your Christian life. That’s why the Bible says (Romans 12:2) that we ought to do what with our minds? Renew them! Have them transformed through truth.
So, I thought, “Well, if evolution is a fact, and now I’m a Christian and I believe in Genesis…” I was always trying to mix the two together—theistic evolution. The problem is, the more you try to mix them together the more they separate. It’s like oil and water. I was trying to put death before Adam. I was trying to put most of human history in existence prior to the existence of Adam, and every time you turn around the Bible is saying the exact opposite.
So, at some point you have to figure out, “Let’s see, I don’t think my teachers were there when everything started billions of years ago. But I think God was there. So, whose opinion do I trust?” I decided to trust God. And I moved away from theistic evolution. Theistic evolution and gap theory make Adam a latecomer, but that’s not what your Bible says.
What are some other problems with the gap theory? Another problem with it is Lucifer’s rebellion would really not explain long ages in the fossil record. I showed you a couple of weeks ago that that’s one of the reasons the gap theory became popular, because it’s a way to explain the idea that the fossil record is the result of billions and billions of years.
I don’t accept the idea that the fossil record came into existence through a cataclysmic deluge—called Noah’s flood—and I think there’s evidence in the fossil record to indicate that, because animals are fossilized while one animal is consuming another. Animals are fossilized when an animal is digesting something, and that doesn’t to me look like that happened over billions of years.
The way it looks to me is they were going around with their business—and boom!—the judgment hit cataclysmically and suddenly. So, an awful lot of things in the fossil record can be explained through cataclysm, like the strata that was formed because of the eruption at Mount Saint Helens on rocks.
The Institute for Creation Research pulled a fast one on the evolutionists. They sent it into the evolutionist lab and said, “How long did it take this strata to develop?” And the evolutionist laboratory came back and said, “Oh, that took a million years or a billion years,” when it just happened in 24 hours. Because Mount Saint Helens was a sudden, cataclysmic event.
The reason the gap theory becomes popular—as I tried to share with you—is it allowed people to buy into an interpretation of the fossil record over billions of years. You just put your fossil record at the end of verse 1 and the beginning of verse 2 of Genesis. You cram it all there! Now I can believe in an old earth Darwinist slow interpretation of the fossil record—and I can believe in Genesis. See that?
The problem is, the gap theory is self-defeating because it blames all of these things on Lucifer’s alleged rebellion. How long did it take Lucifer to rebel? Billions of years? No! Lucifer’s rebellion, I would think, would happen instantaneously. And the judgment would happen instantaneously. And if those events are that instantaneous, then how can I use them to explain a process of billions of years of the fossil record allegedly accumulating at the end of verse 1 of Genesis 1 and the beginning of verse 2? You see, the whole gap theory itself, when you actually think about it, begins to collapse on itself.
Another problem with the gap theory is that the gap theory basically teaches there were two floods. Notice 2 Peter 3:6 which says, “through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” I was listening very carefully to Chuck Missler, who I generally like. But towards the end of his life he went back into the gap theory. And I listened very carefully as he was teaching this passage, and he made the point of “which flood?”
“Through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” He would say, “Which flood is that?” Because in gap theory thinking, there are two floods, right? You have Lucifer’s rebellion between verse 1 and verse 2 of Genesis 1 and God judging Lucifer’s rebellion. That’s why verse 2 begins with water, in their thinking. So that was flood number one.
Then, as you continue on through biblical history, you have flood number two that we are most familiar with, the Noahic flood (Genesis 6. Genesis 7. Genesis 8. Genesis 9). So, by our way of thinking, the world that we’re living in has already gone through two upheavals: Fall and flood. In gap theory thinking, the world we’re living in has gone through three upheavals: Lucifer’s flood, the Fall of man, and the Noahic flood.
The problem is, whenever the flood is ever described in the Bible—outside of this verse here—it always refers to the Noahic flood. I mean, the Bible, as far as I know, knows absolutely nothing of two floods. 2 Peter 2:5 describes the flood there. You see it? “He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” But it mentions Noah, doesn’t it? A preacher of righteousness with seven others.
By the way, I’m interpreting 2 Peter 3:5 by the author’s use of the same concept of a flood in his two letters. That’s what I’m doing here. And when Peter, who wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter, mentions the flood elsewhere, he only knows of a Noahic flood. By the way, why is it that the Apostle Peter spoke more about the flood than any other apostle or Bible writer? He was a fisherman.
In our concept of divine inspiration where the old prophets of God penned God’s Word (what we call divine inspiration), we don’t believe that God took over their personalities and subsumed their personalities. He respected who they were, He respected their gifts and their styles and their temperaments as they recorded God’s message, and that’s what we call dual authorship. So, we believe in a human author of the Scripture and a divine author of Scripture.
Was the Scripture written by men? Or was it written by God? And the answer would be, “Yes!” Right? Because God, in the miracle of inspiration, guided them to pen God’s message to lost man in perfection—without error—in the original manuscripts, but God never took over who they were. He used their personalities, He used their gifts, He used their backgrounds, He used their temperaments, He used their writing styles, and we don’t have a problem with that.
That’s why you have Peter talking about water in the flood more than any other biblical writer because he likes water. I mean, his livelihood was a fisherman. That was his trade. You get into Luke, who wrote Luke and Acts, and Luke talks more about the prenatal activities of Jesus and John the Baptist than any other writer. Why would Luke do that? He’s a doctor. He’s a physician (Colossians 4:14).
In fact, in Acts 1 it talks about the suicide of Judas. It said that Judas hung himself—and we think the rope broke. He hung himself over a cliff; his body tumbled down across the ravine, down those sharp stones. And Luke says, “falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.” I look at that and say, “Why did he have to tell me that? I don’t need to know that!” Well, it makes sense if you understand who Luke was; he was a physician.
So Peter is talking a great deal here about the flood. And every time he mentions the flood elsewhere, he connects it to Noah. He does it there in 1 Peter 3:18-21, “in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”
Jesus, when He spoke of the flood (Matthew 24:38-39), connected the flood with Noah and the ark. This idea of “which flood are you talking about because there are two floods—a Luciferin flood and a Noahic flood,” I think people are reading into the text stuff that’s not there.
Another problem with the gap theory… Judy Cunningham brought this up on day one. And I said, “You’re very prescient because I’m covering this on the last day.” She wanted an answer to this question right out of the gate. Judy is kind of like that; she was one of my students. Love Judy! But she is on the inquisitive side. Amen? All right, I shouldn’t do that. I shouldn’t out people like that, should I? “Why would God judge the entire earth because of the sin of one angel?”
In gap theory thinking you have Lucifer’s rebellion and subsequent judgment which destroyed a whole civilization. Depending on what variation of the gap theory you’re listening to, it destroyed even a pre-Adamic race. Now why would God destroy an entire race, or a civilization based on the sin of an angel, instead of their own sin? You see that?
You see, when God brought the judgment in the days of Noah, He brought it because of their own sin. You see their own sin in Genesis 6. It says that violence was over the earth (Genesis 6:11-13); corruption was over the face of the earth. And God was pretty darn patient, don’t you think? He waited 120 years! 120 years is what? That’s half the lifespan of the United States of America. So, God is long-suffering with people.
You read about the conquest under Joshua—how the Joshua generation went into Canaan and they wiped out everything. They wiped out the Canaanites, and God specifically told them to wipe out the women and to wipe out the children. Because if you don’t do that, and if you don’t get things taken care of right away, it’s going to come back and bite you. And they obeyed God about 95%.
So what happened? They left a few Canaanites in the land who arose and eventually enticed God’s people. And you have 800 years there of the cycles of disobedience leading to the Babylonian deportation. We say, “Wow, how easier it would have been on them if they had done exactly what God said right out of the gate!”
But don’t be too hard on them because we’re kind of like that aren’t we? God says, “Hey there’s a sin pattern in your life; I want you to deal with this under My power.” “I’ll put that off for next year! That’s next year’s News Year’s resolution—not for this year.” And we’re deceived into thinking that we’ve got sin under control only to discover that we become its slave. And we think, “Wow, how much easier it would have been if I had just done what God told me to do right out of the gate!” So don’t dog pile too much on the Joshua generation.
But when God told them to go into Canaan and wipe out everything, He had given them (do we realize this?) 400 years of a chance to repent. You’ll find the number 400 years in Genesis 15:13-16. So, in the cycles of judgment God is extremely long-suffering. He waited 120 years in the days of Noah and 400 years in the days of the Canaan conquest. And that’s how God is.
But with the gap theory what you’ve got is an annihilation through judgment of an entire civilization. We don’t even know what their sin was—it was because of something a single angel did. And that seems to me to be out of proportion with everything we know of the character of God.
Genesis 18:25 says, concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” So my final problem with the gap theory is it seems kind of out of proportion to God’s character.
With all of that being said, I’ve tried to give you what I think is the wrong way of understanding Genesis 1:1-3. And let me quickly give you what I think is the right way to understand it. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’.”
How do we understand this? Genesis chapter 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” is God’s original Creation in its formless state. But the original matter is brought into existence. Then, when you drop down to verse 2, that original Creation in its unfilled, unformed state is described through three circumstantial participles. It’s not saying anything is wrong with Creation; it just hasn’t been filled and formed yet. And that is what’s meant by “formless and void,” “darkness was over the surface of the deep,” and “the Spirit of God was moving on the waters.”
As I’ve tried to talk you through some of these things, it’s not talking about judgment there. It’s like taking a piece of clay and putting it on a potter’s wheel. Now we know that that skilled potter is going to do something with that clay. He’s going to make it into a cup, or a vase, or something very beautiful, something very attractive. But it hasn’t been shaped and formed into that yet. There’s nothing wrong with the clay; it’s just in an unfilled and an unformed state. And I think that’s how to describe verse 2; it’s not a description there of judgment.
Bernard Ramm, concerning the words TOHU and BOHU, “formless and void” says, “In the case of tohu and bohu…it is equally admissible to consider these words as referring to the unformed nature of the earth before God impressed upon it His creative will. A marble block and a crumbled statue are both formless. The former is in a state which awaits a form and from that formlessness emerges the image. When God made the earth He made it like a marble block out of which He would bring the beauty of the world.”
Go to the Hebrew lexicon BDB, Brown-Driver-Briggs, and look up TOHU and BOHU. Yes, TOHU and BOHU can mean judgment somewhere else in the Bible—we’ve talked about that—but it can also mean formlessness, emptiness, lacking a purpose. Not evil; just not patterned the way God is going to turn it into. TOHU reads that way. BOHU can be emptiness. That’s how Bernard Ramm is understanding it. And that’s how I’m understanding verse 2; I don’t see verse 2 as a judgment.
Genesis 1:3-31 is now the Potter is shaping and forming and molding what was brought into existence. And He adds something new to the design in the six days of Creation. There is no renovation of anything that was broken. He’s filling and forming. He is shaping and He is populating. And that’s what begins to happen in verse 3 where God says, “Let there be light.” And that’s what’s happening all the way through the Creation week.
It’s interesting that in days one, two, and three He shapes; and in days four, five, and six He populates. Day one: light. That sort of harmonizes with day four where now He puts the luminaries in the sky to be the source of light. Day two: water and sky. Day five: Let’s put some animals in the sea and some birds in the sky.
Day three: land and vegetation. Let’s create some animals to eat the vegetation and let’s create man, day six. So, day three goes with day six. Day one goes with day four. Day two goes with day five. This is my way of thinking about the Creation day. You may see it a little differently, and that’s fine. But I don’t really see this as some sort of renovation of a judgment. This is simply the Creator shaping and populating.
All of that being said, I really don’t think Satan fell in between verse 1 and verse 2 of Genesis 1. I don’t think Satan fell in eternity past, either, because he fell to the earth. So when exactly did Satan fall? I place the fall of Satan after Genesis 1:31 because God says, “it was very good.” It’s very, very difficult for me to believe that God looks back and calls everything, in the Hebrew superlative, “very good,” yet Satan had already fallen and deceived a third of the angels.
Things weren’t just good on the ERETS (earth); they were good in the SHAMAYIN (the heavens). But obviously you have a fallen Satan in Genesis 3 taking the form of a serpent, right? So sometime after Genesis 1:31—but before Genesis 3—is where I put the fall of Satan.
Now, this is a minority view. Okay? But it is held by a lot of people, like the late Renald Showers, who writes, “When did Satan fall away from God? We noted earlier that sin was nonexistent in every part of God’s creation, including the angels, through the end of the sixth or final day of creation (Genesis 1:31). Satan’s fall therefore took place after the end of creation. However, Satan was evil by the time he came to earth to tempt man to fall away from God (Gen. 3). These things prompt the conclusion that Satan’s fall took place in the interval between the end of creation and the fall of man.” After Genesis 1:31, before Genesis 3:1.
Now, is this a part of the Sugar Land Bible Church Doctrinal Statement? Do you have to believe this to be a member of the church? No. But I felt I needed to give you which way I lean on this. Would I go start a new denomination over this? Not necessarily. But you need to know the angle I’m coming from as I try to teach the Bible.
How long was that interval? I mean, how much time is there between Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3? We’re never told. That’s an undisclosed amount of time. That’s where you put the fall of Satan. It must have been quite short because when God created the first man and woman, He commanded them to be fruitful and multiply through Creation, but there was no human conception until after the fall of man. I don’t know if it was a terribly long time, but that’s where the fall of Satan takes place.
And I think the fall of Satan relates to the jealousy that he incurred as a result of the authority that God gave Adam and Eve over Creation. He does that on day six. Doesn’t He vest them with authority? And Lucifer in the heavenlies says, “Wait a minute. I’m the top dog.” And perhaps that precipitated the fall of Satan.
That ends our discussion of satanology and the gap theory. We’ll try to do Q&A next time. I apologize, but I just wanted to get this finished. We’ll take some questions on that next time. Then we’ll move into demonology. Let’s pray.
“Father, we’re grateful for Your Word, Your truth. You’ve given us not a lot of details but enough to wrestle with. Help us as we all work through this individually to get Your mind on all things. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”
And God’s people said, “Amen.”