So, What is the "Gap Theory"? It is a theory (more like a principle) that between the verses of Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 there was an unknown period of time in which Lucifer (AKA Satan) ruled over a "Pre-Adamic" earth consisting of angels, people, nations of people, and other creatures. After his revolt and fall from grace this world became exceedingly sinful and wicked. It was possibly genetically corrupted by Satan and his angels in order to destroy God's creation and ultimate plan for the human race.
Eventually God, out of anger with Satan's actions, caused a catastrophic destruction of the earth and all of its inhabitants, possibly with a meteor or something of that nature, resulting in a flooded, darkened world described by the Bible as "without form and void". The Bible does not detail this possibility because it is not a history book, it is an instruction book on how to live for God and an explanation of the creation, fall, and eventual restoration of man's relationship to God. That was the "nutshell version", now let's get down to business.
I'll be quoting quite a bit of scripture in this post and introducing some Hebrew words and their associated definitions. The quotes will be from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible and I will not differentiate the KJV italicized words (words added by KJV translators for clarity). Hebrew words will be shown in parenthesis.
Somewhere in the dateless past, God created the heaven and the earth from nothing, ex-nihilo, from non existent material, out of thin air so to speak. This is made clear by the Hebrew word "bara" in Genesis 1:1
"In the Beginning God created (bara) the heaven and the earth"
The Hebrew word "bara" means absolute creation, creation from nothing. This is in contrast with another Hebrew word, "asah" which means to make or mould from existing material. Please note as well that the word heaven is singular and not capitalized, this means the "heaven" referred to here is the immediate atmosphere surrounding the earth.
In the early Jewish Masoretic texts written from the 7th to the 9th century B.C., immediately after the word "earth" is an article of punctuation called a "rebhia". It was a dis-junctive accent (or participle) that prompted the reader to pause for reflection, suggesting a change in the train of thought. Please note this for the discussion on Genesis 1:2 coming up now:
"And (waw) the earth was (hayah) without form (tohu) and void (bohu); and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters".
The Hebrew language does not differentiate between "and" or "but", they use the word "waw", letting the context and accent determine whether it is to be rendered "and" or "but", so depending on the particular KJV translator (out of 70), it could be rendered either way. Since the "rebhia" at the end of verse 1 is a dis-junctive (non-connective) accent then we should assume the "waw" to be rendered "but" instead of "and".
The next Hebrew word we get to is "hayah" which has been translated as "was". The word "hayah" has been rendered "became" 67 times in the Old Testament (Gen 2:7, 19:26, 20:12, 24:67 for example) and has also been rendered as "becamest", "become", "come to pass", and "came to pass". Since the context of verse 2 is still dis-junctive to verse 1 we will use the word "became" in the place of "was".
Finally, we come to "tohu" and "bohu", Hebrew words that mean pretty much the same thing. The word "tohu" means desolation and wilderness, and "bohu" means empty and void. At this point we can thus render Genesis 1:2 as:
"But the earth became without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
Early church Fathers like the Jews in Alexandria, Josephus, Tertullian, and Clement also rendered the first word of this verse as "but".
This suggests that something catastrophic happened to the earth to make it "without form and void", besides, we know that God is perfect in all his ways and does not create things in this fashion. Some would suggest that this was an initial creation of the earth and sky into usable material, and that God had to "tweak" his creation in the succeeding verses; let's see if scripture supports this view.
We will start with 2 Peter 3:5-7 which says:
"For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world (kosmos) that then was, being overflowed with water, perished (apollumi): But the Heavens and the Earth, which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgement and Perdition of ungodly men".
Peter says several things of importance here. God created the world by his words long ago, the earth was in the water and protruding out of the water, then the world (kosmos) was overflowed with water and perished (apollumi). The word "kosmos" means the world and all inhabitants. The word "apollumi" means fully destroyed. Peter is not speaking of the Noahic flood here because there were survivors of that flood as we well know from scripture. It is probable that he is speaking of some ancient, non-disclosed event. Notice also that Peter says there is a willful "ignorance" of this fact.
The best proof in exercises of Biblical exegesis is supporting scripture. Lets turn to Isaiah 45:18 which says:
"For thus saith the Lord that created (bara) the Heavens; God Himself Who formed (yatsar) the Earth and made (asah) it; He has established it, He created (bara) it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else."
Well, there you go, I call that support. As I stated before, "bara" is creation from nothing. The new words here are "asah" which means to "make" in the broadest sense, and "yatsar" which means to mould from existing material. Note that Isaiah is emphatic that the earth was not created in vain and was formed to be inhabited.
Now let's check scripture from another prophet, Jeremiah 4:23-26 states:
"I beheld the Earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the Heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the Heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the Presence of the LORD, and by His fierce anger."
In addition to being a prophetic view and a warning of what was in store for Judah and Jerusalem, it is also a perfect recollection of Genesis 1:2. The importance is that it shows the reason for the chaotic state of the earth as described in Genesis 1:2 - The Presence and anger of the LORD!
What could have happened to make God angry enough to bring destruction upon his creation then turn around and restore the earth and try it again?
Here is where it gets interesting; lets go to Isaiah 14:12-17 which says:
"How are you fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the North: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet you shall be brought down to Hell, to the sides of the pit. They who see you shall narrowly look upon you, and consider you, saying, Is this the man who made the earth to tremble, who did shake kingdoms; Who made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; who opened not the house of his prisoners?"
This scripture addresses the future Antichrist and details the fall of Lucifer from his original position as the anointed cherub that covereth. This is obvious because he names Lucifer and calls him "son of the morning"; this is Satan, of which the Antichrist will be the human incarnation of. Because of pride and self righteousness, Lucifer had determined that he would be like God and would ascend above the heights of the clouds. They are both described as one who weakens nations, shakes kingdoms, and destroys cities.
It appears that Lucifer (Satan), before he revolted, while he was still true to God, was given dominion over the original Pre-Adamic earth, which included angels, people, nations of people, other creatures, and cities. During this revolt, one third of the angels in heaven went with Lucifer.
Are there more scriptures to support this story? Now we turn to Ezekiel 28:12-19 saying:
Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. You have been in Eden the Garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created. You are the anointed Cherub who covers; and I have set you so: you were upon the Holy Mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you, By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned; therefore I will cast you as profane out of the Mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering Cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you. You have defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes upon the Earth in the sight of all them who behold you. All they who know you among the people shall be astonished at you: you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more."
This scripture gives a "lamentation" against the King of Tyrus, however the description given can only be applied to Satan - No king of Tyrus was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (he may of thought he was). We know Satan was in Eden, the garden of God, because that is where he successfully tempted Eve and Adam. Verse 14 calls him the "Anointed Cherub who covers" and says he was on the Holy Mountain of God. He was perfect until iniquity (evil, perverseness, unjustness, unrighteousness, wickedness) was found in him, causing his fall from grace.
We can deduce from the preceding scriptures that Satan (Lucifer) had dominion over a populated earth in which he ruled from Eden, that he had access to God, being allowed to travel up to and down from the throne freely. His evil nature caused him to revolt, taking a third of all the angels with him (Rev 12:4,9) to the earth where they took to the task of making God's creation a wasteland, and most likely used various methods to genetically corrupt man and beast as well.
Starting in verse 3 of Genesis Chapter 1, the new earth is restored as indicated by words like "asah" (made from existing material) and "dasha" (to sprout). Verse 11 indicates that the seeds of plants and trees were already in the ground.
Take note that after every creative action is complete, save one, God saw "that it was good". Verse 6 is the exception; when making the firmament, dividing the waters, and making the sky he does not say "that it was good" This is because when he destroyed the original earth that was corrupted by Satan and his angels, the souls of all the inhabitants had no other place to go but into the heavens above the earth. They became the "principalities and powers of the air", "the rulers of the darkness of this age", and the "spiritual wickedness in high places" we were warned about in Ephesians 6:12. Hence, God could not say "that it was good".
It is believed by many scholars and early church fathers that demons are the disembodied spirits of some of the inhabitants of the "Pre-Adamic" world I have been describing. Any human beings in this Pre-Adamic world would most likely have been involved in Satan's revolt and obviously destroyed during whatever catastrophe God used. We know that demons are around us looking for human bodies to inhabit or depress - this could explain where they come from.
According to earlier scripture from Peter, the way in which the earth became "formless and void" was by water and this is confirmed in Genesis 1:2. The earth and sky had basically become one mass of watery darkness, causing the earth to cool, evidencing an ice age that entombed large quadrupeds and winged creatures that we recognize as dinosaurs, possibly part of the animal kingdom or genetic chimera's present in the Pre-Adamic age. Satan does all that he can to destroy God's creation, especially mankind.
When God created Adam and Eve, he told them to go and "replenish" the earth, intimating that it had been populated before. It's instructive that God used the exact same words to Noah after the great flood of his day.
Why is this "Gap Theory" important at all? Many people have a problem with the veracity of the Bible and Christianity in general because science has taught them the two cannot co-exist. They are told that evolution is fact and that creation is fiction, when in fact, science has yet to disprove anything from the Bible.
They ask, how do you explain dinosaur fossils? How can you say that the earth is only 6000 years old?
My answer is that the "Gap Theory" explains it all, science can be supported by the Bible, and those who have always looked to science for the answers but have an open mind, might be swayed towards scripture and have a chance to be saved. That is important.