Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #4 of Genesis, chapter 1 and I will read Genesis 1:1-5:
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. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
As we have seen, God created the heaven and the earth. He spoke and brought the heaven and the earth into existence. Notice that it is “heaven,” singular, but at later points in the Bible we will read of “heavens.” As we continue reading in Genesis 1, we will see how God starts with the “heaven and the earth” and then He creates “heavens,” (plural), as there is the heaven where the birds fly and there is the heaven of deep space where the stars are located. The Bible also speaks of a “third heaven,” which is in the spiritual realm of the kingdom of heaven, but at first God created the “heaven and the earth.”
Now let us move onto Genesis 1:2:
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.
Initially, God created the earth and it was “without form, and void,” and will look at these Hebrew words translated as “without form” and as “void,” but we can get the idea from this statement that God created the “substance” or the “matter.” He created the earth as though it were clay or Play-Do and, at first, it was “without form and void,” but then He is going to work with this substance and create everything He will do later. That idea would not be too far from the truth of what God did.
Let us look at the Hebrew word that is translated as “without form.” It is one Hebrew word, translated as “without form” and I would pronounce it as “to-hoo” and it is Strong’s #8414. We are going to look at several places where this word is found and it is translated several different ways.
It says in Deuteronomy 32:9-10:
For JEHOVAH'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
The English word translated as “waste” is the Hebrew word translated as “without form” in our verse in Genesis. Since it goes on to say “howling wilderness” and the first part of the sentence says “desert land,” we can get the picture. It is an empty wilderness. There are no trees. There are no lakes or rivers of water. It is just a dry, desert land without anything but dust and dirt. It is a “without form” howling wilderness.
We find the same Hebrew word used in Job 6:18:
The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish.
The first part of this verse reminds us of Isaiah 56:6, where it says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” Man turns from the commandments of God and commits sin. Then it says, “They go to nothing, and perish.” The phrase “go to nothing” is a translation of the same word translated as “without form” in Genesis 1, verse 2. They go to that which is “without form” and they perish. Now that is interesting because this word has so far been translated as “waste” and as “go to nothing.”
The same Hebrew word is also used in Job 26:7:
He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.
You probably guessed that our word is translated here as “empty place.” So, it would state that He stretches out the north over “without form.” We are going to keep looking.
In Isaiah, chapter 24 it is translated another different way. This is the chapter where God describes the day of wrath, Judgment Day, in verse after verse. It details the earth as it comes under the judgment of God. It says in Isaiah 24:10:
The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in.
The word translated as “confusion” is the same Hebrew word. We can understand it to say, “The city without form is broken down.” I do not understand the significance of this word in all these places, but this is how we can come to define a word in the Bible. We compare Scripture with Scripture and we note how God uses the word. As we go along, we should be building a definition from the Bible.
We can now see that this word is translated as “waste” in regard to a wilderness; it is translated as “go to nothing” when men perish; it is translated as “empty place” and as “confusion.”
There is another place it is used in Isaiah and it is another chapter that describes Judgment Day. It says in Isaiah 34:8-11:
For it is the day of the JEHOVAH'S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever. But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.
Again, it is the word “confusion” or we could say “the line of that which is without form, and the stones of emptiness.” It is a difficult verse to understand and, at this point, we are not trying to understand this verse, but we are trying to understand Genesis 1:2, where God says He created the earth and it was “without form and void.”
The Hebrew word translated as “void” is only found three times. The first time it is found is in the verse we are looking at and the second time it is found is in Jeremiah, chapter 4. Jeremiah, chapter 4 also has both the word “without form” and the word “void.” We are going to read a bit of the context, so we can get a feel for what God is saying. In the Book of Jeremiah, God is primarily pronouncing judgment upon Judah, historically. In turn, Judah is representing the New Testament corporate churches of the world. It says in Jeremiah 4:19-23:
Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is bitter, because it reacheth unto thine heart. My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet? For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
Let me stop here. Notice verse 23. It is in the context of God’s judgment upon His own people. Spiritually, we understand that God’s judgment on Judah is an historical parable pointing to the judgment that began at the house of God at the end of time at the time of the Great Tribulation period. We are fully aware that this time has come and gone, as the Great Tribulation was a 23-year period that began May 21, 1988 and it ended on May 21, 2011. Over that 23 exact years (or exactly 8,400 days) God brought judgment at the house of God and this is what Jeremiah is pained about, historically. It was a judgment upon his own people and that is why in verse 22 God says, “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding.” A little later in the Book of Jeremiah, God makes this statement in Jeremiah 8:7: “Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of JEHOVAH.” As it said earlier, “They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge,” and this was certainly true of the corporate church at the end of the world, the churches of our day are extremely wise to do evil.
There are all kinds of theologians that have written books that lay out various doctrines that are false and, therefore, evil. The churches are full of “other gospels,” like how people can know they are saved by speaking in tongues, falling over backwards or by accepting Christ. None of these things are true and, therefore, they are evil. The churches go the extra mile to justify their evil doctrines and to justify making people that are not qualified to be their deacons and elders and pastors. They try to justify their doctrines and they are wise to do evil, but God says, “But to do good they have no knowledge.” To do good, in this case, would be to follow truth and to follow what the Bible actually teaches in regard to salvation or in regard to the Sunday Sabbath, and so forth. They lack knowledge to do good and, in that context, Jeremiah said, “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form and void.” It is the identical statement to what it says in Genesis 1, verse 2, during the original creation. Why is that? Why does God use the same words here in Jeremiah, chapter 4? Remember that the word “void” is only found in Genesis 1:2 and here in Jeremiah 4:23 and it is only found a third time in a verse we already looked at in Isaiah 34. We were looking then at the Hebrew word, Strong’s #8414, and we went to Isaiah 34, verse 11. We noticed that this chapter is describing Judgment Day and God spoke of stretching out upon it the “line of confusion” and the word “confusion” was the same word as “without form.” It so happens that the Hebrew word “bo-hoo,” Strong’s #922, is also found in Isaiah 34:11:
But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.
Again, this describes the world under the wrath of God, where “fire and brimstone” is falling and none shall pass through it for ever and ever; that is a reference to God Himself as He has departed the world in the sense of salvation. This language is fairly common. When we see phrases like “waste howling wilderness” or “desert,” we often find unclean birds mentioned. We see that with Babylon in the Book of Revelation and we see that in Isaiah 13 regarding Babylon, another chapter describing Judgment Day. God pictures a world under His wrath as a habitat for unclean birds or fowls. Again, it says, “But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.” The English word “emptiness” is a translation of the Hebrew word “bo-hoo” and it is found only three times in the places mentioned and we wonder why at the beginning of creation God says that it was “without form and void.”
Let us go back, again, to Jeremiah 4:23:
I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
Then go to Jeremiah 8:24:
For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
Twice in this context, God says the heavens had no light and the heaven above are black. We understand why because we have spent a lot of time studying this issue. We went, verse by verse, through Revelation, chapter 8 where God speaks of judging the “third part” of the sun, moon and stars. Let me read Revelation 8:12:
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
We have seen that the “third part” is a reference to the corporate church and when God smote the “third part” of these things it is pointing to the judgment upon the churches when He put out the light of the Gospel when judgment began at the house of God. Then Revelation, chapter 9 is the transition from judgment on the churches to the judgment on the entire world and it speaks of the sun and the air being darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. It is the complete sun and not just the “third part” because it is typifying God’s wrath upon the entire world and, therefore, the whole sun is dark.
We find in Jeremiah, chapter 4 that the earth is without form and void and they had no light. Now let us go back to Genesis 1:2:
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.
The original condition of the earth was that it was “without form, and void” and it was in complete “darkness.” It was not until verse 3 that God said, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light,” but before that when the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep it matches the condition, spiritually, of what God did to the churches when He put out the light of the Gospel. He darkened the light of the sun, moon and stars within the congregations and He made their heaven dark and He returned them to a condition that was at the very beginning of time and this creation. Likewise, in Isaiah 34:11, it is describing the judgment upon the world. To confirm this, look at Isaiah 34:1:
Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.
Then look at Isaiah 34:4:
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
This is the context of God pouring out His wrath in the day of JEHOVAH and it is the context which leads to Isaiah 34, verse 11 where we find the two words translated as “without form” and “void.” Let us compare this to Revelation 6:12-14:
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together…
This is very definitely the same type of language and this tells us that Isaiah 34:4 is describing the darkness in the heavens above, just as Jeremiah 4 mentioned that the light of the heaven was dark and the heavens were black. Here, again, in Isaiah 34:11, God stretched upon it the line “without form” and the stones which were “void.” Both the “line” and “stones” point to the Word of God, but we do not have time to look at that in this study. When God stretches a “line” it involves measuring something against the Word of God or the Word of God is making a declaration concerning something. Likewise, it is the same case with the “stones.” The Ten Commandments were written on two tables of stone. Often, stones represent the Word of God. So, it is the stones that are “void” and the lines are “without form” and it represents God’s Word causing something to be “without form” and “void,” just as it was in the beginning. The Bible says that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word spoke and created that which was “without form” and “void,” the earth at its very beginning.
We will see how this might have some significance in our next Bible study.