The title of this week’s post is a very common question generated after taking a quick glance at this site’s homepage. As the blurb states, my new novel, Epoch Dawning, started out as a piece of fiction attempting to explain the Gap Theory (TGT), only to take on a different life of its own.
Before I get into discussing definitions, let me just state that this idea represents a minuscule component of biblical revelations, and is a theoretical concept. TGT has nothing to do with any person’s walk of faith and a devout person can enjoy a wholesome existence without ever knowing what the theory is. My copy of the Bible is 1900 pages long and the texts described here about TGT are a whopping 3 pages, or 0.15% of the total. Taking the Bible as a whole, one can easily see TGT’s relevance in the grand scheme of things. The Word consists of so much more, and has much more to offer those who take the time to digest its message.
The “gap” is defined as the unspecified duration of time that transpires in between the first two verses of the Bible, Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. Genesis 1:2 states, “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.”
(As an aside, the Bible also talks about the beginning of God himself, and that verse at the start of the book of John begins the same way. But, I digress …)
I know, you don’t get it—where’s the infamous gap?
Well, the Bible goes on to describe God as a perfect, virtuous, divine being, without sin or defect; as such, he would never create or form something that starts as broken, tarnished, in sin, or under judgement (since humans did that on their own). Basically good comes from good; evil does not come from good. The key to understanding the gap then is the phrase “formless” (in Hebrew “tohuw”, meaning to lie waste; a desolation; a worthless thing) and void (in Hebrew “bohuw”, meaning to be empty; a vacuity; a ruin, emptiness), a phrase which is used in that exact context in only one other place in the Bible—in the book of Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 4:23 the prophet says, “I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void …” In this verse, the prophet laments and voices his agony over the pending destruction of his beloved homeland (Judah) and his people (the Israelites). This destruction was inevitable, and came as the result of a perpetually sinful and disobedient people who refused to listen to the warnings and lived lives lacking faith, righteousness and responsibility.
With that background, we can view Genesis 1:2 in a clearer light. First, there was the definitive start of our entire universe when God created everything. This was the ultimate beginning. Then, there’s a gap. Next, something then happened which placed our planet in judgement as a result of an egregious act, or a series of acts (never explicitly specified), thus making the earth “formless and void”. At this point, God decides to start fresh and then initiates our (human) beginning. The creation story picks up from there. We know from the last paragraph that God would never create something already tarnished or under judgement, so something had to happen in the gap, corrupting whatever was there, and thus bringing judgement on the world itself.
There are however, three other glimpses in the Bible that give the reader a very small peephole to look through, allowing them to see what events actually did transpire prior to our beginning. The first is in Isaiah chapter 14, where the King of Babylon is used as a metaphor for Lucifer, the “star of the morning” and his desire to be like God, with the former’s subsequent fall and thus being “thrust down” to Sheol (hell). The second is in Ezekiel chapter 28 verses 12-19, where the prophet uses symbolism and speaks through the King of Tyre to describe an “anointed cherub” who started out blameless but then became “filled with violence” and “corrupted by wisdom”. The cherub then sinned, and was cast out from the mountain of God. Finally, in the Book of Jude, the author talks about “angels who did not keep their own domain” and abandoned their properly assigned jobs in order to pursue their own interests.
All of this being said, TGT has one distinctive advantage: harmonizing what we know about biblical history and scientific facts about the universe. If TGT is true, this neatly entertains the proven fact that the earth and the universe are billions of years old, and many forms of carbon dating and fossil evidence demonstrate structures (Stonehedge), pseudo-people (Homo Erectus), animals (dinosaurs), and many other things existing well before the standard biblical timeline allows. All of this, and more, simply transpired “in the gap”. None of this lessens the power or the relevance of the written Word, but it does give us some insight into our world and allows us not to ignore what can be proven about the physical realm, while, at the same time, fully accepting spiritual truth.
Curious? Intrigued? You can always pick up a copy of Epoch Dawning to discover more …
Dr. C.H.E. Sadaphal