The Bible says:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 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. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Genesis 1:1-3:
When you read this, you see some interesting things pre-existing the light God created light on day 1 of creation. There was an earth that was “without form and void” and there was water that the “Spirit of God moved upon”.
How long was the earth without form and void? How long did this water exist? Some suggest this could have been millions of years, explaining the supposed geologic age of
the rocks we find today.
But does the Bible allow this kind of idea?
Without Form and Void
In prophecy, we’re told that the earth will be without form and void again:
“I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.” Jeremiah 4:23-27
This will be the state of the earth between the time that Jesus comes a second time, and the final destruction of the wicked at the end of the millennium. During this time, the earth will be desolate—not a living thing on it except Satan and his angels. They will be bound to this earth for 1000 years to consider the results of their rebellion.
The earth will be existing as a desolate, lifeless, rocky wasteland. Something like the moon or Mars.
This is how the earth was before God created light, or perhaps more like one of the moons of Saturn—covered by a liquid ocean. But for how long was it like this? For months? Years? Millions of Years?
When Was the Earth Itself Created?
There are two ways to read Genesis 1:1-5:
- Either verses 1 and 2 are a kind of introduction and summary of the entire chapter “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. The earth exits for some unknown millennia without form and void, and then day 1 begins in verse 3.
- Or verses 1-5 and everything in them happened on day 1.
So let’s look at which of these possibilities the Bible allows.
First, we need to remember that Christ created everything—including the heaven and the earth:
John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
There was nothing that He didn’t create in the beginning.
Not only that, He didn’t build the earth on preexisting matter:
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3.
So when did He create the watery earth without form and void? Exodus 20 makes that clear—here we have not the words of a prophet, but God’s own testimony, written by His own finger in His own words telling us how it happened:
Exodus 20:11: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.”
The heaven and the earth had to have been created within the 24 hour period that was the first day, for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.
So then Genesis 1:1-5 are describing what happened on day 1. It went like this:
In the beginning—on day 1—God created the heaven and the earth. That was the first thing He did on day 1.
The Bible says He chose to first create a dark heaven with no light and an earth without form and void.
Then He said, “Let there be light and there was light.”
Psalms 33:6: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. ”
Exodus 31:17: “In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”