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October 3, 2017 / Pastor George Fike

Formless and Void

Sixth in the series Adam to Abraham

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. (Genesis 1:2)

Tohu va bohu  תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ

This is a rare construction – a play on words, found elsewhere only in Isaiah 34, where it speaks of God’s prophesied destruction of Israel’s enemy, Edom.

He shall stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness. (Isaiah 34:11 ESV)

Some have seen this language on chaotic emptiness and presumed that after God created the universe, the angelic rebellion took place and God’s earth was collateral damage.  They read it as “the earth BECAME formless and void.” In what is referred to as the “Gap Theory,” they place this widespread destruction between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 – therefore a period of countless time BEFORE the creation week – a convenient gap in which to insert all the dinosaurs and fallen angels, so that God could clean it up in a week before the new tenants – Adam and Eve – arrived. I see this as an unnecessary and unwarranted construct popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible et al to refute fossil evidence of a prehistoric world.

The simplest explanation is also one backed by science. The primal earth was uninhabitable. It awaited the hand of the Creator to prepare it for its function – the proving ground of humanity.

The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters…

Here we have the first introduction to the Holy Spirit, joining the Father and Son in creation.  We don’t know exactly what He is doing in this scene. The Amplified Bible says: The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. Eugene Peterson in The Message paraphrased it: God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. I tend to prefer this sense of it. It reminds me of Jesus’ words as he approached Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37)

The Spirit was no doubt foreseeing what would come, preparing to administrate God’s perfect plan for the problematic people he would painstakingly place in this mess of a world. He knew the pain that would ensue – that we sometimes decry as unfair and unnecessary – but God sees as birth pangs before His children are born into a better world. Please read here.

We often cry out:

“This is not what I thought my life would look like. I honestly don’t recognize me anymore. What a wreck I’ve made of it! I just feel so empty.”

Yet the Spirit of God still hovers over the vast floodwaters of my shipwrecked soul. He knows there is solid ground deep beneath its troubled surface. He patiently rests on us until the solidity of God’s purpose emerges from our chaotic emptiness. But He never leaves us unattended.

The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17


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