‘Harbingers Daily’ misleads about ‘old earth’ as the ‘gap teaching’ is not a modern invention

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The Protestant Harbingers Daily posted the following:

July 24, 2022

A common refrain from Christians who have accepted secular interpretations in origins science relating to either deep time geology, biology, or cosmology (the supposed evolution of living things over billions of years) is “But how could all of those brilliant scientists possibly be wrong?” …

Because no credible scientist (regardless of their worldview) would ever agree to practicing science according to consensus. Many people need to understand that much of what is considered commonly held belief in science today was initially rejected by a majority of scientists for years before eventually being accepted as true. …

Interestingly, prior to approximately 200 years ago, virtually no Christian theologian would have held to an old earth or theistic evolutionary position as these beliefs simply weren’t available in the interpretive marketplace regarding the Genesis account. https://harbingersdaily.com/for-compromising-christians-science-is-in-the-drivers-seat-not-scripture/

Harbingers Daily is correct that no credible scientist believes one must practice science by consensus.

Harbingers Daily is also correct that prior to 200 years ago, those who espoused Christianity were not pushing theistic evolution.

However, Harbingers Daily is misleading about theologians who professed Christianity not holding “to an old earth.”

In the early second century, we have this from Papias, who claimed to know the Apostles:

Papias thus speaks, word for word: To some of them [angels] He gave dominion over the arrangement of the world, and He commissioned them to exercise their dominion well. And he says, immediately after this: but it happened that their arrangement came to nothing. (Papias. Fragments of Papias. From the Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord. Chapter VII. Antenicene Fathers)

Yes, the angelic realm and universe were created first, then many angels rebelled. This is what the Bible teaches.

In the 20th century, the late French Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie Danielou wrote something related to that:

Andrew of Caesrea tells us the Papius taught that God had conferred on certain angels the task of administering the Earth, and that they betrayed that trust. (Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, p. 47).

This would be related to fragment VII, written c. 611 A.D., though Cardinal Danielou did not refer to it.

Why is this of interest?

While the teaching about angels has been taught in certain Churches of God for some time, it is not a teaching that the Greco-Roman Catholic or Protestant churches tend to hold to.

As far as the Church of God goes, in the second century, Theophilus of Antioch wrote:

This Eve, on account of her having been in the beginning deceived by the serpent, and become the author of sin, the wicked demon, who also is called Satan, who then spoke to her through the serpent, and who works even to this day in those men that are possessed by him, invokes as Eve. And he is called “demon” and “dragon,” on account of his [ἀποδεδρακέναι] revolting from God. For at first he was an angel. And concerning his history there is a great deal to be said; wherefore I at present omit the relation of it, for I have also given an account of him in another place. Theophilus. To Autolycus, Book II, Chapter 28. Translated by Marcus Dods. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe.Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885)

While we do not have Theophilus‘ history from “another place,” what he wrote above is consistent with the view that the angels were created before the formation starting in Genesis 1:2.

Notice what the Book of Job shows God said:

4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, 7 When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:4-7)

Scriptures about angels provide additional support for the ‘gap’ position–and Church of God theologians have long understood about the angels and creation.

Now, notice a claim about a Protestant theologian who popularized the gap theory in 1814:

It was definitely Thomas Chalmers, a divinity professor at the University of Edinburgh, who popularized the gap theory. He first lectured on it in 1814 and attributed it to Episcopius:

My own opinion, as published in 1814, is that it [Genesis 1:1] forms no part of the first day— but refers to a period of indefinite antiquity when God created the worlds out of nothing. The commencement of the first day’s work I hold to be the moving of God’s Spirit upon the face of the waters. We can allow geology the amplest time . . . without infringing even on the literalities of the Mosaic record. . . .

[Bixler, 1986, pp. 86-87]

(McIver T. Formless and Void: Gap Theory Creationism. Creation Evolution Journal (8)3, 1988: p. 6)

Episcopius was a 17th century Roman Catholic bishop. Charles Darwin was born February 12, 1809 and had not written books on evolution by then. He started writing about natural selection in the 1830s, and his Origin of Species book did not come out until November 24, 1859.

Furthermore the Hebrew Scriptures, and the some of the Jews also, support the “old earth” position.

Genesis 1:1 has the ‘In the beginning statement” and Genesis 1:2 has the “chaos and void” statement.

There is a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. This doctrine has been called the Gap Theory.

A while back, The Temple Institute (a Jewish group) had the following in its newsletter:

“In the beginning”

(Genesis 1:1)

Tishrei 26, 5779/October 5, 2018

“In the beginning… “ A lot of things happened in six days. Between “chaos and void” to “be fruitful and multiply,” an entire world came into being.

“In the beginning,” or to be more true to the exact Hebrew grammar employed, “In the beginning of… “ In the beginning of what, we are not told.

Yes, there was a gap starting with chaos and void.

Although Harbingers Daily claims its news is “Biblically Understood,” it has overlooked aspects of the Bible on this and other matters.

First of all, the Hebrew of the Masoretic text (which is the correct text and Harbingers Daily accepts that), shows there is a pause/gap symbol between the first and second verses of Genesis. Notice the following explanation:

Furthermore, in the Masoretic text in which Jewish scholars tried to incorporate enough “indicators” to guide the reader … is one small mark which is technically known as Rebhia which is classified as a “disjunctive accent” intended to notify the reader that he should pause before proceeding to the next verse. Such a mark appears at the end of Genesis 1:1. This mark has been noticed by several scholars including Luther. It is one indication among others, that the waw (וּ‬) which introduces verse 2 should be rendered “but” rather than “and,” a disjunctive rather than a conjunctive. (Custance AC. Without Form and Void. 1970, pp. 18-19)

This shows a gap, not a conjunctive connection, between verses one and two, therefore verse one is NOT an explanation of verse two as some wish to believe. Since Martin Luther also noticed it, that shows it was still known in the 16th century.

So we see that, anciently, there is an actual gap symbol between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis. And that instead of Genesis 1:2 beginning with “And” like the KJV and Douay Rheims have, it should begin with “But.”

Now, one anti-Gap article asks, “WHY CAN’T WE JUST BELIEVE THE BIBLE?” It then refers to the biblical gap view as an “imagined theory” and claimed it was based on non-biblical evidence (Closing the Gap. co-written by Brian and Kenneth Hoeck for Truth On The Web Ministries. http://www.truthontheweb.org/gapclose.htm accessed 07/23/18), yet it failed to mention that there is an actual pause/gap in the Masoretic text of scripture.

And a correct translation of the Bible makes the point more apparent.

Let’s now see two translations of something else in the Bible:

28 And God blessed them; and God said unto them: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ (Genesis 1:28, Jewish Publication Society Tanakh 1917)

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28, KJV)

The Original Douay OT (1610) also teaches to “replenish the earth, and subdue it” (though the version I checked uses old English spelling, like “fubdew it”).

To replenish (Strong’s word 4390, transliterated from Hebrew into uwmil°uw) means to “restore (a stock or supply of something) to the former level or condition.” There would be no reason to “replenish” if there had not been a previous time when the Earth existed.

Furthermore, consider that this was the same command (with the same Strong’s word 4390, transliterated from Hebrew into uwmil°uw) God gave Noah after the Great Flood:

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. (Genesis 9:1, Jewish Publication Society Tanakh 1917)

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. (Genesis 9:1, KJV)

Adam was told to replenish as Noah had.

Now, did any old Jewish writings outside the Bible point to some type of gap?


Here is something from an old Jewish source:

The ancient work known as The Book of Light or Sefer Hazzohar, sometimes simply Zohar was traditionally ascribed to one of Akida’s disciples, a certain Simon ben Jochai. In this work … there is a comment on Genesis 2:4-6, which, though difficult to follow, reads thus:

These are generations of heaven and earth. … Now wherever there is the word ‘these’ the previous words are put aside. And these are the generations of the destruction which is signified in verse 2 of chapter 1. The earth was Tohu and Bohu. These indeed are the worlds of which it is said that the blessed God created them, and destroyed them, and, on that account, the earth was desolate and empty. (Custance, p. 20; see also Nurho de Manhar. Library of Alexandria. The Sepher Ha-Zohar, Or, The Book of Light: Bereshith to Lekh Lekha, Chapter VIII)

So, there is a Jewish work which supports a type of ‘gap’ understanding of Genesis 2.

Here is a slightly different version of that work from the late first century/early second century:

“These (aleh) are the generations (children or races) of the heavens and the earth” (Gen. xi., 4). It has been stated that in every passage of Scripture that the word aleh occurs, there is no connection with what precedes it. This is the ease with the passage just quoted. Its logical reference and connection is with the words “tohu,” and “bohu” (without form and void) in the second verse of Gen. i. There are those who say that the Holy One created worlds and then destroyed them. Why were they destroyed? Because, as the Scripture says, “the earth was tohu and bohu,” indicating the state of former worlds before their destruction. (Nurho de Manhar. Library of Alexandria. The Sepher Ha-Zohar, Or, The Book of Light: Bereshith to Lekh Lekha. 1900-1914, pp. 127-128)

(Note that the above author meant Genesis 2:4, not 11:4 as an editor improperly added the ‘x’ instead of ‘i’ by accident as ‘aleph’ is not in Genesis 11:4, but is in 2:4.)

Thus, it should be clear that no later than the second century A.D. some version of the gap theory was documented.

As far as worlds go, while scripture does not teach that multiple worlds were destroyed (unless we are talking about what happened to the Earth after Satan and during the Great Flood, notice what the New Testament teaches:

3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

More than one ‘world,’ more than one ‘age’ (the Greek is aioónas) was framed/repaired (the Greek is katartizo) by God.

The Onkelos Targum is a Jewish document, also dating from the late first or early second century (the Jewish Targums, essentially paraphrases usually in Arabic date from that period). Here is a report about it:

“Among the early Jewish writings there are a number of Aramaic paraphrases of the Old Testament. The oldest of these so-called Targums is that of Onkelos, which is confined to the Pentateuch. According to the Babylonian Talmud, Onkelos was a proselyte who was the son of a man named Calonicas, and was the composer of the Targum which bears his name, which he in turn had received from Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua, both of whom lived toward the end of the first and the beginning of the second century A.D. However, in the Jerusalem Talmud the very same thing is related by the same authorities (and almost in the same words) of the proselyte Aquila of Pontes, whose Greek version of the Bible was much used by the Greek-speaking Jews down to the time of Justinian; so it is sometimes argued that Onkelos is but another name for Aquila. Aquila Ponticus was a relative of the Emperor Hadrian, living in the second century A.D. Thus even if Onkelos is not an absolutely authentic figure, the works attributed to him must still be placed very early in the Christian era.

In dealing with the first chapter of Genesis, Onkelos gave the following Aramaic paraphrase of verse 2: W’are’ah hawath tsadh’ya In this passage, the composite verb form (tsadh’ya) means ‘was destroyed,’ being the Aramaic form of the verb to be (hawath) with the feminine passive participle of the verb tzadhah, which means ‘to cut’ or ‘to lay waste.'” – Arthur C. Custance, The Doorway Papers, Vol. 6, Part 3, Ch. 3, p. 3 (as cited in Old Earth, Old View at http://www.dispensationalfriends.org/articles/envoldview.html accessed 08/02/18)

So, this is another early document supporting at least aspects of the gap theory.

Here are some comments from the later Babylonian Talmud:

‘And the earth was without form and void.’ There seems to be some reason for the earth’s despondency, as though she was aware of her lot beforehand. (Genesis Rabba 2. p. 59 http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/tmm/tmm07.htm accessed 08/02/18)

“Other worlds were created and destroyed ere this present one was decided on as a permanent one.” – Genesis Rabba 3 (as cited in Old Earth, Old View at http://www.dispensationalfriends.org/articles/envoldview.html accessed 08/02/18)

The idea that there was some type of a gap was NOT simply a modern idea to deal with evolutionists as various anti-gap writers have claimed.

Here is something that the late Pastor General of the old Worldwide Church of God, Herbert Armstrong, wrote about this:

It will come as news to most readers that angels were created before the earth and the physical universe were brought into existence. Job 38:1-7 shows the angels shouted for joy when God first created the earth. It is stated in both Genesis 1 and 2 that the earth was created at the same time as the entire physical universe. …

Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning [of the physical universe] God created the heavens and the earth.” These are material and physical.

As previously stated, in the Authorized Version will be found the word heaven in the singular. But this originally was written by Moses in Hebrew. And in the Hebrew the word is in the plural–heavens–thus including not only our earth, but the entire material UNIVERSE.

It is therefore indicated that at that time–after the creation of angels–the entire universe was brought into existence at the same time as the creation of our earth. I find strong indication of this in other biblical internal evidence, and also it is definitely stated in Genesis 2:4.

The Perfect Creation

The original Hebrew words (the words written by Moses) imply a perfect creation. God reveals himself as Creator of perfection, light and beauty. Every reference in the Bible describes the condition of any completed phase of God’s creation as “very good”–perfect.

This first verse of the Bible actually speaks of the original PHYSICAL creation in its entirety–the universe–including the earth, perhaps millions of years ago–as a perfect creation, beautiful and perfect as far as its creation was a finished, completed work. God is a perfectionist!

In Job 38:4, 7, God is speaking specifically of the creation of this earth. He said all the angels (created “sons of God”) shouted for joy at the creation of the earth. This reveals that angels were created before the creation of the earth–and probably before the material universe. The suns, planets and astral bodies are material substance.

Angels are individually created spirit beings, composed solely of spirit.

It will come as a surprise to many to learn that angels inhabited this earth BEFORE the creation of man. This passage from Job implies it.

Angels on Earth Sinned

Other passages place angels on earth prior to man.

Notice II Pet. 2:4-6. First in time order “angels that sinned.” Next in time sequence, the antediluvian world beginning with Adam, carrying through to the Flood. After that, Sodom and Gomorrah. …

Angels inhabited this earth before the creation of man.

It is revealed in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, that God placed the archangel Lucifer, a cherub, on a throne on the earth. He was placed there as a ruler over the entire earth. God intended him to rule the earth by administering the government of God over the earth. And the government of God was administered on earth until the rebellion of the sinning angels.

How long these angels inhabited the earth before the creation of man is not revealed. It might have been millions–or even billions–of years. More on that later. But these angels sinned. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4). …

By this angelic sin, Lucifer became Satan the devil and his angels became demons.

God is Creator, Preserver and Ruler.

Satan is destroyer!

So, now we read in Jude 6-7: “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

Now back to Genesis 1:1-2. Verse 1, as stated above, implies a perfect creation. God is the author of life, of beauty, of perfection. Satan has brought only darkness, ugliness, imperfection, violence. Verse 1 shows the creation of a perfect, if unfinished earth, glorious and beautiful. Verse 2 reveals the result of the sin of the angels.

“And the earth was [became] without form, and void.” The words “without form, and void” are translated from the Hebrew tohu and bohu. A better translation is “waste and empty” or “chaotic, in confusion and in a state of decay.” The word was is elsewhere in Genesis also translated became, as in Genesis 19:26. In other words, the earth, originally created perfect and beautiful, had now become chaotic, waste and empty, like our moon, except earth’s surface was covered with water.

David was inspired to reveal how God renewed the face of the earth: “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth” (Ps. 104:30).

A Surprising Truth

Now another surprise for most readers. Here is another bit of the missing dimension in knowledge, actually revealed in the Bible, but unrecognized by religion, by science and by higher education.

From verse 2 of Genesis 1 on, the remainder of this first chapter of the Bible is not describing the original creation of the earth. But it is describing a renewing of the face of the earth, after it had become waste and empty as a result of the sin of the angels.

What is described from verse 2 on, in the supposed creation chapter of the Bible, did occur, according to the Bible, approximately 6,000 years ago. But that could have been millions or trillions of years after the actual creation of the earth described in verse 1! …

When God placed angels–apparently a third of all (Rev. 12:4)–on the newly created, perfect, beautiful and glorious earth, he set over them, on a throne, to administer the government of God, an archangel–the great cherub Lucifer. …

What Caused the Angels’ Sin?

What caused the angels on earth to sin, to turn to lawlessness? Certainly the ordinary angels did not persuade this great superbeing to turn traitor. No, it was in him that iniquity was found. But, after how long? We don’t know. God does not reveal that! It could have been any number of years from one or less to millions times millions.

And then, even after Lucifer himself made the decision to rebel and try to invade God’s heaven to take over the universe, it is not revealed how long it took him to persuade all of the angels under him to turn traitor and follow him.

I know well the method he used. He uses the same method still today in leading deceived humans into disloyalty, rebellion, and self-centered opposition against God’s government. First, he turns one or two to envy, jealousy and resentment over an imagined injustice–then into disloyalty. Then he uses that one or two, like a rotten apple in a crate, to stir up resentment, feelings of self-pity, disloyalty and rebellion in others next to them. And, as each rotten apple rots those next to it until the whole crate is rotten, so Satan proceeds.

If, in the government of God on earth today, the “rotten apples” are not thrown out early enough, they would destroy the whole government. But, once thrown out of the crate, they cannot do any more damage to those in the crate.

But think how long it must have taken the soured and embittered Lucifer to turn millions of holy angels into resentment, bitterness, disloyalty, and finally open and vicious rebellion. It could have taken hundreds, thousands or millions of years. This was all before the first human was created.

All this happened after the original creation of the earth, described in verse 1 of Genesis 1. Verse 2 of this creation chapter describes a condition resulting from this sin of the angels. The events described in verse 2, therefore, may have occurred millions of years after the original creation of the earth.

The earth, therefore, may have been created millions of years ago. But continue this passage in Ezekiel 28: “By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as proface out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy [remove] thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground…” (verses 16-17). (Armstrong HW. Mystery of Angels and Evil Spirits part of Chapter 2 in Mystery of the Ages, 1985).

Scriptures about angels provide additional support for the ‘gap’ position.

The Continuing Church of God recently put together a sermon related to the Gap Theory which is at its ContinuingCOG channel:


Must the Earth be less than 6000 years old? Was there a gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2? Was the Earth created without form and void? What are tohu and bohu? Does the second chapter of Genesis support the idea that the Earth was completed, hence indicating that there was a time it was not? Was the ‘gap theory’ produced to deal with Darwinism? Did angels have dominion over the earth and did they lose it? Does the Masoretic Old Testament provide direct support for some type of a gap? Did any ancient Jewish writers support a re-creation? Did any second century Church of God leaders teach any part of the gap theory? Did any Greco-Roman-Catholic saints teach the idea of a re-creation? What about Protestants like Martin Luther and Thomas Chalmers? What does the ‘Kolbrin Bible’ teach? Are there statements in the actual Bible that clearly support the gap doctrine? What are some of the arguments raised against the gap theory? Is the gap theory an early doctrine or a relatively new heresy? Dr. Thiel addresses these issues and more.

Here is a link to this sermon: Gap Theory: Doctrine or Modern Heresy?

That being said, no, in the Continuing Church of God, we do not believe that which is falsely called science above the Bible.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.  (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

4 … Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. (Romans 3:4, NKJV)

The Bible is true and is not in contradiction to real science.

The truth is that the Bible supports the “old earth” position that places like Harbingers Daily want to dismiss.

But a major flaw in Protestantism has long been for most to accept traditions above scripture.

That remains a problem with Protestantism today.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? Gap Theory? Does the Bible allow for the creation of the universe and earth billions of years ago? Why do some believe they are no older than 6,000 years old? What is the gap theory? Were the days of creation in Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 24 hours long? Here is a link to two sermons: Gap Theory: Doctrine or Modern Heresy? and Genesis, ‘Prehistoric man,’ and the Gap theory. Here is a link to a related article in Spanish: ¿Cuán vieja es la Tierra? ¿Cuán largos fueron los Días de la Creación? ¿Teoría de la brecha?
Is God’s Existence Logical? Is it really logical to believe in God? Yes! Would you like Christian answers to give atheists? This is a free online booklet that deal with improper theories and musings called science related to the origin of the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and evolution. Two animated videos of related interest are also available: Big Bang: Nothing or Creator? and A Lifegiver or Spontaneous Evolution?
Does it Make Physical Sense to believe in God? Some say it is not logical to believe in God. Is that true? Here is a link to a YouTube sermon titled Is it logical to believe in God?
Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God’s Existence Logical? Part II This short article clearly answers what ‘pseudo-scientists’ refuse to acknowledge. Here is a link to a YouTube video titled Is There Another View of Evolution? and another titled Quickly Disprove Evolution as the Origin of Life.

Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, did Martin Luther’s writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority? Statements from him changing and/or discounting 18 books of the Bible are included. Do you really want to know the truth? Here is a link to a related sermon: The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon. Here is a link to a partially related animation: Sola Scriptura or Tradition?
Christians: Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, Biblical instructions on living as a Christian This is a scripture-filled booklet for those wishing to live as a real Christian. A related sermon is also available: Christians are Ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences.

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