The Gap Theory
Picture taken from The Greatest Book on Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin
Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
God created Satan, angels, other creatures (including dinosaurs) that lived on the earth
Satan and his angels rebelled against God
God put down the rebellion and judged the earth so that . . .
Genesis 1:2 - Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep
A Brief History of the Gap Theory (Taken from Unformed and Unfilled by Weston W. Fields, p.40-43)
1814 - Dr. Thomas Chalmers of Edinberg University first proposed the Gap Theory of Genesis 1:2
Dr. Chalmers felt he could make room for the vast expanse of time which the geologists of his day (e.g. Charles Lyell 1797-1875) were demanding.
At the same time, he thought he could still maintain a literal interpretation of the Creation account.
1917 - The Scofield Reference Bible (first edition) enormously popularized the Gap Theory by describing it in a footnote (on Genesis 1).
Probably no reference Bible has ever been as broadly distributed in the English speaking world.
Unfortunately, the inclusion of this footnote led many to believe that the Bible itself teaches the Gap Theory.
Objections to the Gap Theory
God Calls Creation Good
Genesis 1:31 - God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-- the sixth day.
God Made Everything in Six Days
Exodus 20:11 - For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them .
No Scriptural Support
(e.g. Carefully examine the note in the Scofield Reference Bible)
The Gap Theory in the Scofield Reference Bible (Quoted from The Scofield Reference Bible, 1917 footnote on Genesis 1:2)
Jeremiah 4:23-26, Isaiah 24:1 and 45:18 clearly indicate that the earth had undergone a cataclysmic change as the result of a divine judgment. The face of the earth bears everywhere the marks of such a catastrophe. There are not wanting intimations which connect it with a previous testing and fall of angels. See Ezekiel 28:12-15 and Isaiah 14:9-14, which certainly go beyond the kings of Tyre and Babylon.
Scripture References Expanded:
Ezekiel 28:12-15 - Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
Isaiah 14:9-14 - The grave below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you-- all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones-- all those who were kings over the nations. 10 They will all respond, they will say to you, "You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us." 11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you. 12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."
Jeremiah 4:23-26 - I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger.
Isaiah 24:1 - See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants
Isaiah 45:18 - For this is what the LORD says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other.
An Examination of Scofields Gap Theory References in Context
Jeremiah 4: 23-26 - First note the surrounding context (text in blue was not referenced by Scofield):
Jeremiah 4:3-31 - This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem . . . Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done-- burn with no one to quench it . . . Your towns will lie in ruins without inhabitant . . . "In that day," declares the LORD, "the king and the officials will lose heart, the priests will be horrified, and the prophets will be appalled." . . . proclaim it to Jerusalem: 'A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah. They surround her like men guarding a field, because she has rebelled against me,'" declares the LORD. . . Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins . . . "My people are fools; they do not know me . . . I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger. This is what the LORD says: The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely.
This passage is not referring to Gods judgement of an original creation. This passage is Jeremiahs dramatic description of the judgement that God is about to bring on Judah.
Isaiah 24:1 - Again, note the surrounding context:
Isaiah 24:1-3 - See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants--it will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word.
This passage is referring to a future judgment not a past judgment of an original creation. The world described in this passage is not some past creation, but the world as we know it.
Isaiah 45:18 - For this is what the LORD says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Note this passage does not say that the earth became empty because of a rebellion that occurred between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2! It simply says that when God created the earth, He intended for it to be inhabited. Note that God commanded man to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28).
This prophecy in Isaiah was given to comfort Judah regarding her impending judgment. Isaiah prophesies that while the cities of Judah will become empty and uninhabited under Gods judgment, He will later restore them (cf. 44:26). After all, God is the one who formed the earth, and He did not create it to be uninhabited.
Look at what Isaiah says just a few verses earlier where he makes very similar statements about Jerusalem:
Isaiah 44:24b-28 - I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, . . . who says of Jerusalem, 'It shall be inhabited,' of the towns of Judah, 'They shall be built,' and of their ruins, 'I will restore them, . . . He will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid." ' . . .
Now compare this with: Isaiah 45:18 - For this is what the LORD says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: I am the LORD, and there is no other.