First of all, let's look at the passage in question. It states:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,” and there was light.'" (Gen 1:1-3, NIV)
If you are like me, you may have thought that God created the heavens and the earth before the creation week, and then they were in place as raw materials for Him to work with when He made everything else. You may have believed that the earth either became formless and void at some point after God created it, or that it remained in that state until the first day of creation when He created light. However, this is not what the text says, if we read the meaning directly out of it.
No Verse Divisions or Break in the Text
In the original Hebrew Scriptures there were no verse numbers to provide any break in this text. Moreover, there is nothing in the Hebrew grammar to indicate that there was any break in the narrative. As Dr. Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries points out in his article, How Genesis 13 Undermines the Gap Theory, in Genesis 1 "there are grammatical terms, called the waw consecutive and waw disjunctive." Essentially what we learn from these is that in 1:1 the narrative begins, then in 1:2 there is a disjunctive clause, which we can identify by the structure of the verbs. A disjunctive clause is a side-step or parenthetical remark that comments on what was just stated. The Scripture states, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Then in 1:3 there is a consecutive clause indicating that the narrative which began in the first sentence in 1:1 is now continuing. It's like saying in English, "And then..." The Scripture states, "And [then] God said, 'Let there be light,” and there was light.'" If you will consider that, it is a very good reason why there could not be a long gap between any of those verses.
No Death Before Adam's Sin
One reason why some people adopt the gap theory is to try to synchronize the Bible with the claims of modern science. Since scientists claim that the geological column (or layers of fossils) proves that the earth is millions of years old, they see the need to add a gap before the first day of creation to allow for a long period of time when another race of beings lived and died upon the earth. They feel this best explains how there could be fossils that are believed to be so old, dating to a time long before the period of Adam and Eve.
However, according to the apostle Paul, death came into the world as a result of Adam's sin. He states, "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." (Rom 5:12). This means there could be no death before the sin of Adam, hence no fossils.
Nothing Visible before the Six Days of Creation
However, for me the most compelling reason was that the Lord created everything in the natural, visible realm in six literal days, and his act of creating the heavens and the earth occurred during those six days.
We know the days of creation are literal, because at the end of each day of creation is says, "And there was evening and there was morning," then it says the number of the day, such as day one, the second day the third day, etc. We know that when an evening and morning pass by, we are talking about a 24-hour period or literal day.
Secondly, Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." If we say that God created the heavens and the earth before He began the six day creative week, we contradict the Scriptures. For they say that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth. Here are the passages where this is explicitly stated:
"Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven." (Gen 2:1-4)
"For in six days the LORD 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. (Exo 20:11)
"It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed." (Exo 31:17).
According to the apostle, all that we see in the visible realm was made out of that which is invisible. "By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible." (Heb 11:3). God did not make the heavens and the earth out of visible matter that He had previously created. It says He prepared the worlds by His Word and made that which is visible out of that which is invisible.
While the gap theory was taught in the early nineteenth century by a notable Scottish theologian named Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), it was Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, whose Reference Bible (Oxford University Press, 1909) helped to popularized it. However, more recently another man named Jack C. Scofield has written an article disproving the gap theory. He sums it up better than I can in his article called The Gap Theory of Genesis Chapter One, in which he states:
"The gap theorists would have us believe that a long break occurs between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and then in verse three the 're-creation' week begins. This reasoning would separate the 'creation of heaven and earth' from the rest of the week by some indefinite time period, and certainly then, by their own reasoning, the ‘heaven and earth' creation cannot be considered to be a part of the re-creative week which follows. There are some Scriptures which disagree with this logic, namely Genesis 2:1 to 4 and Exodus 20:11 and 31:17. These verses clearly include the creation or making of the “heaven and earth” within the six creative days. To insist on a creation of the “heaven and earth” separate from the six stated days does great injustice to these texts. It must be pointed out that the Genesis 1:1 statement is the only creative statement in the entire first chapter with reference to “heaven.” If we are to understand the words of the Exodus verses in the sense of their clear, plain meaning and common usage, then we must conclude that day one began with Genesis 1:1, and therefore no gap."
I hope that this has helped to explain why the gap theory cannot be true, according to the Word of God.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Deception" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm all rights reserved by the artist. Please view it on his official website, Inspired Art.
Author's note: I also recommend reading Understanding the Gaps in Scripture, Pope Validates Evolution and Big Bang Theory, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, The Origin of Sin, Satan, and Secular Music, The Rise and Fall of Lucifer the Musician. You can access the Home page of this blog for more articles on Truth and heresy, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org