In The Beginning
We are introduced to the account of the creation of the earth in Genesis 1:1-2. In Genesis 1 we see what the often misunderstood creation account really says.
Genesis 1:1-2 (NIV) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 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.
Scholars propose that Genesis 1:2 can or should be translated Now the earth became without form and void… as opposed to the common rendering the earth was without form and void… Many consider that the Hebrew word hayeh must be translated was and thus assume the earth was created in this disorderly way.
However, as seen in many Bible helps, both of these translations of the term hayeh, as was and became, are possible.
Gleason Archer, professor of Biblical languages, writes in his book, A Survey of the Old Testament, Introduction, 1974, pg. 184.
It should be noted in this connection that the verb was in Genesis 1:2 may quite possibly re rendered became and construed to mean And the earth became formless and void. Only a cosmic catastrophe could account for the introduction of chaotic confusion into the original perfection of Gods creation. This interpretation certainly seems to be exegetically tenable…
In a footnote Archer adds, Properly speaking, this verb hayeh never has the meaning of static being like the copular verb to be. Its basic notion is that of becoming or emerging as such and such or coming into being …
You might ask, Why is significant?
This is significant because it provides for the earth being possibly millions of years old; the Bible then agreeing with science and the fossil record.
The first statement in this account, in Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. refers to Gods initial creative act. No exact time is given as to when this took place. What is evident from comparing this passage with other Scriptures, is that between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 something must have happened to render the earth formless and empty as seen in verse 2.
Comparing this with other Scripture, such as Isaiah 45:18 we see that God create the earth to be empty, but formed to be inhabited. Isaiah 45:18 (NIV) For this is what the LORD says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other.
This then indicates there likely was a time difference, possibly a vast time difference, between the original creation described in verse 1 and the time leading to the creation of man, beginning with verse 2.