The Chaotic Earth


The Chaotic Earth

September 30th, 1956 @ 8:15 AM

Genesis 1:1-2

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.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 1:1-2

9-30-56    8:15 a.m.



I suppose there is not a university in the land outside of a few – not Christian because they do it in the Christian schools. They do it in the Christian school in this city – that is, the church-related school. I suppose there is not a university in the land outside of a few exceptional schools that does not give itself to ridicule and mockery when they turn to the first chapters of Genesis.  Our children, our young people who go to certain schools here in this city, listen to professors who refer to the stories in Genesis as being fables, myths, written way back when men’s minds were darkened by fear and superstition.

It doesn’t read like that to me.  Doesn’t read like a fable.  Doesn’t read like a myth, but they say it is.  You see, they are learned people.  That is, they think they are very learned.  In their judgments, they are very, very wise.  They are wiser than God.

So the professor sits in his chair, even in the so-called Christian university, and he gives himself to great guffaws and to loud ridicule at the stories here in Genesis.  And especially does he do that with regard to the Genesis story of the creation.  To him, that’s about the biggest joke he ever read.  That’s funnier to him than anything in the latest funny book.  That’s better comedy to him than what he hears over the radio or the television.  So he teaches our children that.

Now, it’s a strange thing.  I think one of the most tremendous impressions ever made upon me in my life was in Israel right after the Jewish people had won the only little corner of Jerusalem that is in their hands.  It’s Mount Zion.  It is the resting place, the tomb, of David. 

And at that time – it is not that way now.  This last year there they had changed it.  They’d made a visitor shrine out of it, a tourist center – but right after they had won that holy place, the tomb of David on Mount Zion, right after they had won it, the people had made a synagogue there.  And when I was there and stayed a while, some of those Jewish rabbis dressed like old-timey medieval rabbis. 

They had a copy of the Torah.  It was a large, large scroll.  It was that long.  It was that big around, and they were reading it together – had it unrolled out there on the table this Book of the Law, this Book of Genesis.  They had it unrolled, and as they would read, they would kiss the verses.  Then, after they finished their reading, they carefully rolled it together.  Then they kissed the scroll, the ends, the sides, all up and down.  Then they carefully placed the scroll on the inside of its jacket – its keeper, the sheaf – and all the tassels on the sheaf and the sides, from top to bottom, they kissed it.  Then lovingly, they deposited it in the ark above the tomb of David and closed it there against the time when they’d take it out and read it lovingly, endearingly, adoringly again. 

Can you conceive of a greater contrast in attitude than that toward this Book that I’m preaching out of at these 8:15 o’clock services? 

Now, this thing is unplanned by me.  I intended just to speak of it then go on.  I have a great, great, great many things yet to do, but I’ve got interested in this.  I never waded through this before. I never was taught it. I just took it for granted that maybe the professor had some reason to ridicule. 

As for me, I just took it by faith, but I never did look at it.  I never did see.  I never did read it really. 

Why, bless your heart. Moses lived thousands of years before the science of geology was born – thousands of years – but God’s Book says holy men of God, of which Moses was a prophet, spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit [2 Peter 1:21].  And the same God that wrote the geology in the strata of the rocks is the same God whose hands wrote the words here in the Book of Genesis.

And bless your heart, I am finding out – I never saw this before. I never heard of it before.  I am finding out in my studies – in the books I’m reading and pouring over these Scriptures – I’m finding out that the identical thing that you read in the rocks, you read in the Book of Ages: the same thing, the same story.  They don’t contradict each other.  They tell the same thing.

Now, we started last Sunday morning in the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, and it went like this:


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.

[Genesis 1:1-2]


Now, last Sunday we looked at that verse "God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was tohu wabohu"translated here "without form and void": waste, empty.  That’s what we read last Sunday.

Then over here in the forty-fifth chapter of the Book of Isaiah and the eighteenth verse, we read: "For thus saith the Lord that bara’ created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He bara’. . . " [Isaiah 45:18].  Now, there’s your word: "In the beginning God bara’bara’ Elohim eth hashamayim eth ha’eretzIn the beginning God bara’ the heaven and the earth" [Genesis 1:1].  Now, the same thing in Isaiah 45:18: "He bara‘ – He created it not tohu. He formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the Lord; and there is none else.’"

So, you have here in the beginning: "God bara created the heaven and the earth" [Genesis 1:1].  But here it says: "And the earth was tohu and bohu" [Genesis 1:2].  But over here in Isaiah, it says He bara – He created it not tohu wabohu [from Isaiah 45:18].  So there is something here, we say.  There is something here that demands an explanation, and that’s where we started last Sunday morning – finding that explanation.  Now, I’ve gone into it a lot deeper.  So let’s look at that. 

You have Isaiah saying here [Isaiah 45:18] that when God made this world – when He created it – He created it beautiful.  He created it wonderful.  He created it to be habitable.  He created it for the creatures who were going to dwell in it.  It was apparently, and we’ll find later on, certainly a beautiful and wonderful world.  But something happened.

Now, let’s look at that second verse there very carefully [Genesis 1:2].  "In the beginning bara’ ElohimGod created the heaven and the earth" [Genesis 1:1].  Now you have: "And the earth."  The Hebrew word for "and" is wa: waha’eretsha, "the;" erets, "earth." 

Now, that Hebrew word wa, translated "and" – waha’erets – that Hebrew word translated "and" also means "but" or "moreover."  I have a Septuagint Greek translation of the Bible that I use a great deal, and the Septuagint – now that’s the translation that the apostles used.  That’s the Greek Bible Jesus used.  The Septuagint is the translation of the old Hebrew Scriptures way back there in Egypt hundreds of years – I think over three hundred years before Jesus.

Now, the Septuagint translation of the Bible, the Bible that the apostles used, translates that ha de ge anDe: "but, but."  The Hebrew word is wa. The Greek translation of that word is de, "but."  So that word waha’arez can be translated "but" just as well as it can be translated "and." 

So let’s look at our verse:  "In the beginning bara‘ God created the heaven and the earth.  But – wa – but the earth now was . . . " [from Genesis 1:1-2].

Hayitah is a form of the Hebrew word "to be."  Hayah: the Hebrew word "to be" which is the basic verb of all languages.  The verb "to be": "is, was, were, am, are" – the verb "to be."  The Hebrew word "to be" is hayah

Now, the Hebrew has no word for "to become."  The word hayah is used for that word "to become."  The word hayah, the Hebrew word "to be," can be translated "to be, is, am, were, are," the verb "to be," or "to exist," or "to become," or "to come to pass."

Now, you have a great many versions, translations, of these Hebrew words, and I’ve copied several of them.  Here is the King James Version. The King James Version translates it: "And the earth was without form and void – tohu wabohu" [Genesis 1:2].  Now, the American Revised Version of 1901 translates it: "And the earth was waste and void."  Now the Chaldee translates it: "But the earth had become desert and empty."  The Septuagint translates it: "But the earth was unfurnished and empty."  The Vulgate translates it: "But the earth was dreary and empty."  The Aramaic, which was the Palestinian Scriptures that the people used in Jesus’ day – the Aramaic translates it: "And the earth had become ruined and uninhabited."

So if you were to take this verse, Genesis 1:2, and translate those Hebrew words as you will find it in most of the versions, this is it:  "But the earth had become desolate, ruined, and unfurnished, covered with water and shrouded with darkness, and the Spirit of God rachaph."  You have it translated in the King James Version, "moved."  The Hebrew word rachaph means "to flutter, to hover," and most of your versions will translate it "brood."  "And the Spirit of God rachaph – hovered, fluttered, brooded – over the face of the waters" [Genesis 1:2].

Now, it says there, Moses wrote here, that in the beginning God bara’, created, the heavens and the earth [Genesis 1:1].  Then he said: "But the earth had become waste, dreary, darkened, uninhabitable, void, empty, and the deep, deep waters covered the face of the earth, and the dark darkness of its clouded atmosphere shut out the rays of the sun" [from Genesis 1:2].  Now that’s what Moses wrote.

Now last Sunday morning, we took time out to exegete a Greek text.  And may I just summarize it before we go on?  In the third chapter of Second Peter, Second Peter corroborates Moses’ statement that this first earth was destroyed by water, by flood.  In the third chapter of Second Peter, it says:


 . . . by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment.

[2 Peter 3:5-7] 


Now, Peter writes there – you can see it in the Greek just so easily.  He’s got a contrast: "The then kosmos" – ho tote kosmos – the then world [2 Peter 3:6].  Then the next verse is hoi de nun ouranoi kai hē gē: "but the now heavens and earth" [2 Peter 3:7].

I told you that there is a Greek word for the inhabitable earth where men live, but this word is not that word oikoumenē which is the Greek word for the habitable world where people live.  But this word is kosmos.  You almost have – well, we do have an English word exactly, haven’t we?  Cosmos.  You have taken the Greek word bodily into English: the cosmos.  The then world, he says, was destroyed by water [2 Peter 3:6].  The now world, the one you now see, is some day going to be destroyed by fire [2 Peter 3:7].

Now, Moses said that exactly.  Moses said that the world that God made was waste, and void, and plunged into darkness by water [Genesis 1:2].  It was destroyed and perished by water.  Now, God’s earth that He made, this world that He made – made, created beautiful, made it to be habitable, made it all that God’s ingenuity could make it – a great cataclysmic, violent, tragic thing overwhelmed it and overtook it, and great convulsions and eruptions tore it apart, and the whole earth fell into death and dreariness.  Everything died.  It was a dead, dead planet.

And the great mass of smoke and cloud and darkness shrouding this earth brought upon it the day of the glacier – the Ice Age, the winter of the earth. Now, Moses says that prior to the creation of Adam, the earth was covered with water.  All right, geology says that prior to the advent of man in this world, the earth was covered with water.  I’ll show you.  Here are citations that I’ve copied from one, two, three, four, five, six – six great geological scientists.  You listen to them.

Here is James Dwight Dana [1813-1895].  Quote: "The accumulation of ice over North America must have been at least from four to five thousand feet thick with hundreds of feet of snow above this." 

All right, another one.  Alexander Auguste, a great Swiss-American geologist:  "During the greatest expanse of the ice fields, there was but few mountain peaks rising above them.  Where the mountains were below, six thousand feet, the ice seems to have passed over them entirely."

Here’s another one – Sir John Dawson [John William Dawson, 1820-1899], great Canadian geologist:


The drift of glacial deposits in eastern America

– Haven’t you been reading in your paper about a town built on a glacial drift, and the town’s about to sink down?  He says –

The drift of glacial deposits in eastern America necessitates the conclusion that, in the period of extreme refrigeration, the greater part of the land was under water, and such hills and mountains as protruded were little "Greelands," covered with ice, and sending snow glaciers into the sea.  As the glacial period advanced, this latter condition prevailed until the waters stood more than a thousand feet deep over the plains of Europe.

[Modern Science & the First Day of Creation, by Harry Rimmer, 1929]


Another one – Mantell [Gideon Mantell, 1790-1852]. "The phenomenon of glacial drift must have been effected when the present dry land was beneath the sea, and the sub-acquiesce currents and icebergs were in active motion."

Another one – Murchison [Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1792-1871].  "During the glacial period, the low countries of north Europe were covered by an arctic sea, in short," burying Switzerland.  " . . . must have been covered by waters that bathed the foot of the Alps." 

A last one – Page [David Page, 1814-1879]. "In the epic the mammalia" – those great mammals – "of the Tertiary period disappeared, and the land was submerged to the depth of several thousand feet."

How did Moses know that?  Thousands of years before geological science was born, Moses said that God’s world that He created was covered, destroyed, in darkness and in water [Genesis 1:2].  Why the ice?  Why the great glaciers?  Was because the darkness shut out the rays of the sun [Genesis 1:2-5].  That’s what Moses said.  That’s what the great geological scientist says. They talking the same thing.  The man that reads what God’s done in the rocks and the man that reads what God’s written in the Book – they say the same thing.

All right, now, let’s go to another one.  You have an unusual arrangement here in this first chapter of the Book of Genesis, this creation chapter.  You have an unusual arrangement here.  There are some things that God has done whereby Moses uses the word bara’, "create."  That word "create:" bara’.  Bereshith, "in the beginning," baraElohim, "created God" [Genesis 1:1].  "In the beginning God created" – bara’

That word bara’ is used fifty-five times in the Old Testament, and every time it is used, it always refers to miraculous, instantaneous creation – the creation out of nothing.  A thing is made to exist where nothing existed before: bara’, "to create."

Now, there is another word used here in the Book of Genesis, and you can pick out these words because the English translator of the King James Version was careful to translate bara’ by "create."  But the other Hebrew word they translate "make," and that’s the Hebrew word asahBara’: to make out of nothing.  Asah is the work of an artificer. 

Here’s a fellow that, being a skilled mechanic, puts a motor together. He buys him a cog here, and a wheel there, and a pin there, and screws on a bolt and nut here; and he puts it all together.  He’s an asah.  Here’s a woman that prepares a dinner.  She makes a meal.  That’s an asah.  An asah means to constitute, to put together, to assemble – to make out of materials that are already at hand.

Now, that’s what you will find here in the story of the Book of Genesis.  You will find God bara’.  He’s creating in this place and in that place [Genesis 1:1, 21, 27], but in all of the other places, He is asah  [Genesis 1:25-26, 31; 2:2]. He is assembling. He is re-making what God has already created.

Now, the word asah, to me, is sometimes used to refer to the works of bara’, but the word bara’ is never, never used to refer to things of asah.  When you find the word bara’, God has made something that never was before.  When you come to the word asah, He is merely re-arranging a thing.  He is re-constituting a thing.

All right, let’s look at the Book of Genesis here. "In the beginning God bara’ the heaven and the earth" [Genesis 1:1].  That is, He made it out of nothing. It was emptiness and space, and God spoke it into existence. Bara’: He created the heavens and the earth.

Now, you look.  He doesn’t use that word bara’ again until he gets clear to the twenty-first verse when it says God created those great whales and the living creatures that move [Genesis 1:21].  And he doesn’t use the word bara’ again until he gets to man where he says: "So God bara’ man in His own image, in the image of God bara’ He him; male and female bara’ He them" [Genesis 1:27].

The Book of Genesis here says that God created the first earth.  Then all of the rest of this in here, after that terrible catastrophe, the Book of Genesis says God re-constituted it.  He re-furbished it.  He re-made it.  Then when it comes to these animals, then He created them.  And when it comes to the man, He created him.

So the Book of Genesis would say this about the creation.  Those days there, the sun was up there in the sky.  God created that.  In the beginning, He created that sun and set it up there in the sky.  That moon: God bara’  it.  He made it and set it up there in the sky.  And the stars, God bara’ them.  He created them and set them up like jewels in the sky.  And the world, God bara’ it, and He created it and set it here in the sky.  But after that terrible catastrophe, why, God doesn’t create these things then. He just re-makes them and fashions them for this new work, this new earth in which He’s going to place the man He’s going to create.  For example: 


And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament

– this is the fourteenth verse –

of the heaven to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, and seasons, and days, and years:

And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth:" and it was so.

[Genesis 1:14-15]


And God asah – those lights were already up there. God asah two great lights. God arranged for two great lights: "the greater to rule the day, the lesser to rule the night: and the stars" [from Genesis 1:16].  Doesn’t say "He made."  

Don’t you have that in italics there – in italics in your Bible? "He made the stars also" [Genesis 1:16]. Isn’t that in italics?  That means it’s not in the original.  A fellow just came along, and he put that in there.  He just thought, "Well, I ought to put this in there." So he put it in there.  Well, don’t you pay any attention to those italicized words.  They’re not in the Bible.  Fellow just put that in on his own accord.  He just thought that looked pretty, so he just wrote that in there.

No. The Bible says: "And God asah."  He arranged those two great lights up there: the greater, called the sun, and the lesser, the moon, and the stars to rule the night [Genesis 1:16]. 

What God did when He rearranged this world, He took away that great, dark, heavy cloud and atmosphere that enveloped it and that brought on the Ice Age and the great glaciers and by which the world was ruined, and He took all that away.  And there God’s sun began to shine, and in the nighttime, there God’s moon and stars began to shine. 

And so the Lord went through all of His creation, day at a time.  First day, He did this. Second day, He did that. Third day, He did the other. And the fourth day, He did something else. And the fifth day, He rearranged this. And that’s the way that the creation story is told.

Well – ooh, I so greatly wanted to tell you how, possibly, God created the earth this morning, and I got just about three minutes ’cause we’re going to pick it up next Sunday morning.  And if I don’t ever – I still am in the first paragraph of the first address that I prepared, and this is the third one I’ve delivered.  I haven’t got down there to the real thing yet.  We just talking about the groundwork for it. 

We’ll pick it up next Sunday morning.  I’m going to do my best to prove to you that these days are twenty four hours – that God did it in an evening and a morning, the revolution of the earth one time.  That’s coming. 

I’m going to do my best to prove to you that this earth was an Eden when God created it in the first place, and He called it Eden.  God’s name for the earth was Eden.  And I’m going to try to prove to you that the ruler of this earth Eden was the archangel that covereth – the prince of this earth.  His name then signified all beauty and glory.  His name was Lucifer.  I’m going to try to prove to you that God made all of this glory and gave it into the hands of Lucifer, and he ruled over this, God’s creation. The sparkling of the jewels – the carbuncle, the emerald, all the glory God could make – He put it here and He called it Eden, and Satan was its prince, an archangel.

I’m going to try to prove to you that this terrible catastrophe that destroyed our earth was when sin and iniquity was found in God’s archangel Lucifer.  Then I’m going to try to prove to you that these six days here in Genesis are periods of time, an evening and a morning, in which God re-created the earth that was destroyed because of Lucifer.

Then I’m going to try to show you that Lucifer, when God had re-made this world that was destroyed because iniquity was found in him – I’m going to try to show you that Lucifer had then one great, venomous, vile, blasphemous ambition and that was to take away from man whom God made to have dominion over His new creation – to destroy that man and to destroy God’s second creation. And he did it when he came and began to lie in God’s new Eden. The Garden was not Eden; the Garden was in Eden.  Ooh, we’ve got to stop.  Tell you, what a sore knot, brother.  It’s interesting.  Oh, brother.

Now, on the first stanza of the first verse, while we sing the song, somebody you give his heart to the Lord.  Somebody you come into the fellowship of the church.  A family or one you, while we sing the song, would you come and stand by me?


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 1:1-2



Original creation of Genesis 1:1

1.    No dates

2.    Manner not
revealed in Scripture

Chaotic earth of Genesis 1:2

1.    Sin entered
before Adam and Eve

2.    Serpent

3.    Satan in Isaiah
14:12 and Ezekiel 28:12

4.    Only God knows
the amount of time between His original creation and when sin entered in