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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

A Response to Dr. Heiser's Critique of the Gap Theory

We've discussed the Gap Theory previously (and its importance to proper interpretation of a number of truths), but I'd like to post a quick response to this Michael Heiser clip wherein he rejects it. 

 Here are links to previous, related blog entries:

In regard to the content and premise put forth by Dr. Heiser, I'd just say that not all Gap Theory adherents teach that the fossils were formed during the Gap. I personally believe the fossils were formed during Noah's flood (but I don't think it's terribly important). In any case, Dr. Heiser doesn't seem terribly familiar with the full biblical argument (and he gets the scripture reference wrong). If he is familiar with the full argument, he doesn't do it justice.

He bases the bulk of his argument on the word translated "was" in Genesis 1:2. As we will see, I believe "was" is not a proper translation of the Hebrew (nor can it be). But even with the word "was," we have the whole witness of scripture which witnesses to a Gap and great destruction between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The Plan of God and the implications for the ages is seen in a proper understanding of Genesis 1.

And the earth was [became, Hebrew: hâyâh] without form [tôhû], and void [bôhû]; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The word translated "was" in Gen 1:2 is "hâyâh" which clearly means to "become"

to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out
1a1a) to happen, fall out, occur, take place, come about, come to pass
1a1b) to come about, come to pass
1a2) to come into being, become
Strong's Concordance
A primitive root (compare H1933); to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary): - beacon, X altogether, be (-come, accomplished...)

Heiser references scripture, but fails to quote it. He refences the context, but does not give it. Be your own judge. He references Isaiah 34:11 for some reason, but the proper reference is Isaiah 45:18

"Thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens;
Elohim himself that formed the earth, and made it;
He hath established it,
He created it not [
tôhû]." [i.e. not empty]

He likes the NKJV, so here it is there:

For thus says the Lord,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it [empty or a waste],
Who formed it to be inhabited:
I am the Lord, and there is no other.

Heiser also references Jer 4:23, but only points to the darkness and seeks to justify it. His argument is that God "hides in the darkness" Yet we need to read the entire passage.

I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void;
And the heavens, they had no light.
24 I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled,
And all the hills moved back and forth.
25 I beheld, and indeed there was no man,
And all the birds of the heavens had fled.
26 I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness,
And all its cities were broken down
At the presence of the Lord,
By His fierce anger.

The land became "without form and void" because of the Lord's "fierce anger." This is not simply God dwelling in dark secrecy, this is a display of God's destruction because of sin in his anger. Thus, we have verse 3 in Genesis 1 starting with "let there be light." The heavens "had no light" as a result of God's anger. These are parallel, biblical ideas.

Darkness is very much connected to judgment.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.

-Exodus 10:21-22 

This truth has relevance to our redemption. Paul recalls this calling of light ("let there be light") out of "darkness" as a picture of own re-creation in the Lord. The Lord in Genesis 1 commanded light to shine out of darkness which parallels calling us out of "darkness" (judgment) into his glorious light. 

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

-2 Cor 4:6

He has called Israel out of her darkness and judgment under the law into the light of his promises.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light...

-1 Peter 2:9

Satan (Lucifer) was in Eden before Adam. He was there in blessing and perfection. So, we must conclude that he either fell sometime before the creation of Gen 1:3 or sometime after Day 7. 

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

-Isaiah 14


You were the seal of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
Was prepared for you on the day you were created.

14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers;
I established you;
You were on the holy mountain of God;
You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
Till iniquity was found in you.
-Ezekiel 28

If this is Lucifer in the Garden with Adam after Day 6, then he was doing all these things in Eden in perfection. God was done creating Day 6, so Lucifer had to have already been created. Do we want to place Lucifer, in perfection, in Eden after Day 6? If that is so, when was his fall?

And [the Lord Jesus Christ] said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

-Luke 10:18 

This could be prophetic (Rev 12:9) or it could be a reference to the casting out of Satan to earth after Genesis 1:1. I only include it for your consideration. All of the "very good" creation (including all in Eden) came out of the darkness of Genesis 1:2. If what was created in Genesis 1:1 includes the darkness, can we say it was "good?" This in not a conclusive argument, just part of the whole. When we interpret scripture, we must consider the implications of our concluisons.

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
-Genesis 1:31; 2:1-2


We then must look at Peter's testimony.

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. -KJV

`Where is the promise of his presence? for since the fathers did fall asleep, all things so remain from the beginning of the creation;' -YLT

This cannot be Noah's flood since the context is all things continuing "from the beginning of the creation." So, we have "the heavens" which "were of old" and the "earth" "perished" [Thayer's, Strong's Mounce's: to destroy) in water. The flood of Noah was obviously after the creation. This "destruction" of the earth  was before the current creation, thus things NOW continue as they have from that beginning.

The first heavens and earth were not created void [empty] as we have seen (Is 45:18). The earth became without form and void, in darkness, in God's fierce anger when Lucifer was judged (Is 45:18; Jer 4:23), etc.

That first earth was destroyed 2 Peter 3:6

The following possibility is included for your consideration, it is speculation on my part... I'm not fully convinced of this, but... I believe we live in the second earth and second heavens and there will come a day when we have the "new heavens and the new earth" which will be the third heavens and the third earth (as such).

You don't have to hold to the Gap Truth, it's not necessary for either "Life through his name" (John 20:3-31) or for fellowship, but Heiser is a bit sloppy here, in my opinion. I think there is much truth to be understood when we recognize the Gap. And having time between verses in not unbiblical.

The Gap of Time in Isaiah

Dr. Heiser contends (or at least implies) there is no biblical basis for large gaps in verses. Let's see how the Lord Jesus Christ "rightly divided" a verse into two timeframes separated by thousands of years:

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Do you see it? Isaiah was being fulfilled in their hearing with the Lord in his earthly ministry... but was all of Isaiah 61 being fulfilled? No. What is the other half of that final verse in Isaiah?

and the day of vengeance of our God

That coming day was not yet here when the Lord read Isaiah in the synagogue, so he stopped reading mid-verse. It is part of a future judgment and the restoration of Israel in the land. This verse is split by thousands of years. The passage continues and clearly speaks of future events.

And they shall build the old wastes,
they shall raise up the former desolations,
and they shall repair the waste cities,
the desolations of many generations.

5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
and the sons of the alien [foreigner] shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord:
men shall call you the Ministers of our God:
ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.

Thus, another GAP of 2000 years or so in seen in Isaiah 61, as taught by the Lord in Luke 4 (despite the Hebrew in Isaiah). There are other examples of gaps of time in statements in scripture. Dr. Heiser's presumptuous arguments do not stand up to scrutiny, in my humble opinion. 

And when we fail to see the Gap (and the related "overthrow" and "overflow" of the earth, we will not rightly divide or understand when the scriptures speak of "the foundation of the ages [world]." And if we fail to see the overthrow and overflow, we will not understand the current calling from "before the foundation of ages" against the callings "since the foundation of the ages.