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Without Form and Void

Have you ever wondered why the Bible starts out the way it does? Think about it. Our perfect God begins creating something out of nothing, and it sounds… well, ominous. Verse one is fine:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

Then in verse two, instead of seeing a perfect creation in the works with descriptions like light, majesty, high and lifted up, emanating from the hand of God, we see this:

And the earth was 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.

Genesis 1:2

Honestly, this is not what I’d expect. This has a bent of darkness… darkness almost as if with a touch of evil. God through Moses uses a few words that convey certain meanings that describe the less than perfect conditions at the onset of creation. Consider these definitions or metaphorical uses:

  • Without form = confusion, wasteland, place of chaos
  • Void = emptiness, a ruin

(there’s a wordplay in without form and void in the original Hebrew, tohuw and bohuw)

  •  Darkness = misery, destruction, sorrow
  •  Deep = abyss, grave
  • Waters = danger, violence (water can also have pleasant meanings, depending on use)

It’s almost as if God starts in a hole and works His way out of it… doing a bit, day by day, fashioning the earth, each day better than the last and calling it good as He proceeds. But it doesn’t seem so good in verse two. Why is that?

A couple of notes here… it is interesting that the first thing that God spoke into existence He called good, and that is the light. He didn’t call the dark good, nor did He speak verse two into existence with all of it negative connotations, and, as a matter of fact, He separated the light from the darkness.

Another item to consider is in Jeremiah 4, where God is showing considerable frustration with the nation of Israel:

I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light.

Jeremiah 4:23

This is a direct correlation to Genesis 1:2… note the similarities if not the direct quote. Both verses paint a picture of discord and dissonance that is not in line with the essence of God, especially at the onset of creation.

Again we ask, why the seeming doom and gloom at the very beginning of creation?

Perhaps Lucifer’s fall occurred before the creation began, as we know it anyway. Look at what God said in the first several verses of Job 38. He is questioning Job about the creation, and says in verse seven:

…when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy…

Job 38:7

This gives us the impression that the angels (morning stars/sons of God) watched the creation week and approved of it with enthusiasm. If the angels celebrated God’s creation as it was happening, then they existed beforehand. And if they existed before Genesis 1:2, who is to say that Lucifer didn’t fall before this? It’s possible. And it makes sense that he quickly began working on Adam and Eve as he was probably quite envious that God would make ‘adam in His image, knowing that through God’s plan man would eventually be held in higher esteem than the angels.

If Lucifer wasn’t fallen by verse two of creation, then perhaps God is using the creation as a pattern standard of conveyance of meaning to be used elsewhere in the Bible. Early in the chapter you see discord, then water being separated by dry land, then goodness, and this is done in a way that can be compared to the flood, Moses at the Red Sea, and Joshua entering the promised land. In each instance, the pattern repeats based on the first verses established in Genesis. Take the time to look at all of Genesis chapter one through the metaphorical lenses and it seems more and more possible that God is dividing the holy from the unholy.

The creation seems to have had a rocky start. But God fashioned it and along the way He called it good, then very good. It’s no different today. Today we are born into a good yet corrupt creation, but it is very good when we overcome through the work of our savior Jesus… and the angels rejoice!