One such theory is the so-called "Gap Theory." Initially, I dismissed it as simply an attempt to compromise with the theory of evolution. But then I heard J. Vernon McGee teaching on the subject and I noticed other fairly sound sources teaching it.
As we saw in my most recent post, the Bible is not about eternity, it is about the ages. We have also seen many times how God chooses to hide some things in Himself and how he has revealed other things over time. Gen 1:1 is not about the birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection of the Lord. Those truths are unfolded over time. The disciples themselves didn't quite understand the ministry of the Lord until they had their understanding opened after his resurrection.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day... -Luke 24:44-46
We need not understand all that happened between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, but we can infer from the commentary of scripture (the best interpreter of scripture).
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. -Gen 1:1-2
Unfortunately, here in NKJV (as in a number of translations) we have the word "was" used when "became" is the better translation. That is, "the earth BECAME without form [to-hu] and void." This is not only a more accurate rendering of the Hebrew, it fits the witness of Scripture.
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [to-hu], he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. - Isaiah 45:18
It was formed to be inhabited, but it was not ready for Adam until God brought some order out if the chaos. Where did this chaos start? If the earth was not created "without form" how did it become without form? The answer seems to lie with Lucifer's prideful rebellion.
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy 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 thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. -Ezek 28:13-15
When we first meet Satan (the "Shining one") in Genesis 3, he is not "perfect" in his ways, although created that way. Iniquity was found in him, and that is what is brought chaos to the earth created for him (initially). Let's look at the New Jerusalem which comes down to the New Earth. The original earth lists 10 precious stones, the New Jerusalem lists 12.
The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. -Rev 21:19-21
We can see that there was a perfect earth (where in the universe, we do not know) which was the domain of Lucifer. His iniquity sent it into chaos. Out of that chaos (for how long, we do not know), God created the ages in which our father, Adam, was placed.
And there was no more sea. -Rev 21:2
The New Earth may reflect the original earth down to which the New Jerusalem comes. It has no sea. Water was used by the Lord to destroy wicked man in Noah's day, but could the original, perfect earth have been without water as well until Satan's rebellion?
We look to Peter's testimony as we examine this possibility.
For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. -2 Peter 3:4-7
We are tempted to see this as the Noahic flood which Peter references in his first epistle. But upon closer inspection we see the contrast, "but the heavens and the earth which are now." We know the coming new earth will be part of the "third heaven" (2 Cor 12:2). We have the earth that was then (Lucifer's domain), the present earth, and the third earth to come (the New earth).
The earth had a water baptism, it will one day have a baptism by fire. This chart by Clarence Larking gives us an overview of the history and future of the earth (I don't hold to the traditional Rapture, but that and other traditional datings do no harm to the point).
Note what we see in our passage from 2 Peter 3:
But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.We see the destructive power of both fire and water in the Lord's dealing with the child with the mute spirit in Mark 9:
So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him? And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”Two of the most destructive (if not the most destructive) forces on earth are fire and water.
Regardless of how we see Peter's reference, we know something cataclysmic happened to thrown the earth from tranquility and perfection into formless chaos. How long that period lasted and how it affected the entire universe, we only see some of the results. The earth could very well have been the center of the universe until Lucifer's rebellion. There is much we do not know about the ages before the ages of Adam. We dare not speculate too much, but it does bring balance to scripture (Genesis and Revelation) and it does answer some questions about evil and Adam's fate in the garden.