In my last post I alluded to the fact that prophetic passages often have gaps that can span several millennia. After making that statement I realized that these gaps may have provided some rationale for the popular Gap Theory of creation.
Do the gaps in prophetic passages have any relation to the modern “Gap Theory”? The Gap theory is a reaction of compromise to the Uniformitarian views of Hutton, Lyell, and Darwin, of the nineteenth century. One might argue that since there are gaps in prophetic passages, that God may have placed similar gaps in passages of historical narrative, like Genesis 1. Is there any truth to this hypothesis?
First, lets examine some prophetic passages and see if there are gaps there.
Jesus, when speaking of fulfilment of prophecy actually does show us that there can be gaps in these passages and they can even show up in the middle of sentences;
Luke 4:17 “And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. 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 hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
Notice the end of verse 19. Now compare that to the original passage of Isaiah 61;
1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;”
Notice that Jesus stopped in the middle of a sentence. The little word “and” comprises a gap of at least two thousand years. The day of vengeance of our God is a reference to the Tribulation period, which will occur immediately before Jesus’ return to set up His millennial kingdom on earth. This hasn’t happened to date, and is a yet future event.
This phenomenon is not limited to Isaiah 61, but can be demonstrated in other passages of Scripture.
Zechariah chapter 11 as a prime example of a prophetic passage which skips through several different prophetic time periods in one chapter. Verses 1-2 appear to be referring to the Psalm 83 war, an End Times war.
1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. 2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down.
Verse 3 appears to refer to another war, possibly at another time. Usually the word “Jordan” in Scripture refers to the river, but this passage may actually be a reference to the modern nation. If this is the case it could be a reference to the Psalm 83 war, but I personally think it goes ever farther in the future to Armageddon itself:
3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.
Verses 4-6 appear to refer to the time Israel was scattered among the nations. A skip back by several thousand years. While it could be a reference to the Tribulation, the fact that the Lord says “I will not deliver them” would seem to indicate a skip back to the scattering of Israel among the nations, shortly after Isaiah’s time:
4 “Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not. 6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour’s hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them”.
In verses 7-10 the prophet appears to be taking on the identity of the Antichrist! The three shepherds he, cut-off in one month, appear to represent the three kings the Antichrist destroys in Daniel 7:8, and the breaking of the covenant in verse 10 appears to refer to the time when the Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, in Daniel 9:27. While it could possibly still be connected to the scattering of Israel, yet God does not break His covenants. This makes me think of another person.
7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock. 8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. 9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another. 10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.
Then in verses 12-13 we have a beloved prophecy about Jesus and his betrayal by Judas, a prophecy that skips back some two thousand years from the previous verses.
12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
In Verse 14 the prophet goes back even farther in time to the split between Israel and Judah which occurred long before Isaiah was born, unless it is prophetic of another split in Israel in the future, which I doubt. I would think that it is more likely a reference to the fact that many Israelites did not join up with the Jews, but went to other parts of the world, like Pakistan and Afghanistan, and converted to Islam.
14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Then in verses 15-17 the prophet once again goes forward in time to concentrate on the Antichrist. This time he focuses on a wound the Antichrist will receive, where he loses the use of one arm, and his right eye is blinded. This appears to be the result of the fatal wound he receives in Revelation 13:3-14. Evidently, when the Antichrist is “resurrected” he will be crippled from that time on.
15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. 16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. 17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
Here are the related passages from Revelation 13.
3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast
12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live
So, this chapter has some 5-7 jumps backward and forward in time! My point is that it really is impossible to understand prophetic passages without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The human mind can’t follow the skips and turns, and u-turns, that many of these passages take, not without help anyway.
So do these provable prophetic gaps mean that there could actually be similar gaps in Genesis 1, between the creation days?
I don’t think so. God views all of history at once and so this would explain why prophecy skips around a lot. It is viewed from God’s perspective, watching all of history as a whole. Historical narrative is written from the perspective of one who is watching the events described in time, as it happens. In other words historical narrative must be chronological. If there are gaps the author will tell us about them.
The life of David is a good example of a historical narrative with gaps. You can read about David’s life in the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, as well as many of the Psalms. If you read continuously you could read everything recorded about David’s life in one day. The bible only records the highlights of his life, but there were many years of normal, day-to-day business of life, which is not recorded.
So how do we know how long David lived? It tells us;
4 “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah.”
Any gaps in the story of David’s life fit within the seventy years he lived.
So, once again, how do we know that there aren’t gaps in the Genesis 1 account of creation? Moses tells us;
“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:11)
When reading the Genesis account there are no gaps in the narrative. Using the plain-sense, literal understanding of the passage one would never understand that there were gaps, because the author did not intend for His readers to see gaps there. Moses did not see gaps there, and no-one, until Lyell and Hutton, ever saw gaps there either.
Every day is delineated by the phrase “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” In other words God defines “day” as a time period with one evening and one morning. There is no room in Genesis one for gaps, or for million-year-long days.
Besides this there are other impossibilities there which would indicate gaps are impossible. In verses 9-13 we have the water running off the land and the creation of plants, during day three, then in verses 14-19 we have the creation of the sun, moon, and the stars, in day four! If there was a million, or billion year gap, between these days you would have plants existing for millions of years without the sun. Now that is a miracle!
Of course since God created light on day one, and the sun and moon on day four, the light for the morning and evening on the first three days would have had to come from God Himself.
So let’s think about the scenario that the Gap theorists, and other Old Earth theorists want us to believe. The earth existed for millions, or perhaps billions, of years, with God playing around on its surface, really without any plan. Giving life to an amoeba in one place, and tweaking a gene here, and there, in a lackadaisical fashion, really without plan or purpose. Given the amazing progress of the human race in the last hundred years, the God of this view is not very intelligent. Actually I guess I’ve strayed into the territory of the theistic evolutionists.
The Gap theorists would have us believe that God spent a day creating stuff, and then waited millions, or billions, of years before doing something else. What a lazy God! Work a day, and spend a billion years taking a holiday! The dream of every trade-unionist!
While attempting to harmonize the large number of fossils in the rock layers with Scripture, this theory attempts to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. The vast majority of the fossils are explained by the Genesis flood, which was a world-wide flood. Not only is rapid burial and fossilization the best answer to the vast amount of fossils, it is the only answer that makes any sense. Animals that die and are left on the surface are eaten and disintegrate in a very short time. Rapid burial in a mineral rich environment is the only explanation that fits the facts. In other words long ages are not necessary.
The other problem with this idea is that, at the end of the creation week, God said: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Gen 1:31) If the garden of Eden was built on the bones of billions of dead creatures, God’s statement would have been a lie. This is a problem Gap theorists, Day Agers, and Theistic Evolutionists have in common. How could it be “very good” for God to have built His creation on the bodies of billions of dead things?
Furthermore, God’s statement that all that He had created was very good, also applied to the angels. This means that Lucifer had not yet fallen. Those who postulate a pre-human civilization on earth have nothing to stand on.
The bible is also very clear that death was brought onto the earth by man. If animals had existed and died for billions of years without the presence of man on earth, then these statements are a lie, and God can’t blame death on man. This is the whole point of the attacks on the creation account. Satan wants to undermine the gospel of Jesus Christ. By destroying the foundations he is able to destroy the entire building, in the minds of those who believe him.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12)
“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:21) (Adam brought death upon us, Jesus brings life)
Paul’s statements above, indicate that he accepted the literal, plain sense understanding of Genesis 1, which means that not only did he understand that sin and death came from Adam, but he didn’t see gaps in the record either. There was no death of any creature, before Adam sinned.
These ideas are actually a fulfillment of prophecy themselves. 2Tim 3:5 says this about many professing Christians of the last days, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away“. These people, while allowing that there might actually be a God, degrade him to less than human status with their theories and hypotheses. This is the God who spoke the world into existence, and is the master programmer of DNA. He doesn’t need us to create the “Kingdom of God on earth”, he is quite capable of doing it Himself!
Getting back to our original question then; Do the gaps in prophetic passages have any relation to the modern “Gap Theory”? The answer is that it is a misapplication of demonstrable gaps in prophetic passages, that do not apply to historical narrative passages.
For more information on Creation, Evolution, and other related origins theories, see the following links:
Written by Dan Knezacek