Without Form and Void

Genesis 1:1-3 In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
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.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

In verse one is the creation of the heavens and earth. Then in verse two the earth is without form and void. Something happened to cause this state of wasteness and emptiness. It seems quite evident that the earth was not created without form and void. This is brought out further by the fact that the verb “was” in verse two in the original language would be more accurately translated “became” – the earth became without form and void. Then in verse three God says, “Let there be light.” So we have creation, destruction, and a Word from God to bring forth something new.

The Hebrew words for “without form” and “void” are tohu vabohu, which literally means “wasteness and emptiness”. These two words are found together in only two other places in the Old Testament: Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23. Isaiah 34 is speaking of the judgments of God coming upon Idumea (Edom). Jeremiah 4 concerns the devastation of Judah and Jerusalem. The same type of judgment probably brought the results we see in verse two of our text.

Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Man left to his own devices will always wind up in this state. We saw it happen over and over again in the Scriptures; it was a continuous cycle. God brought the flood in Noah’s day because of the wickedness of man. He destroyed the nation of Israel for the same reason. He judged Judah and led them into captivity because of their wickedness. There are numerous more examples of such judgments in the Bible. Man’s nature is wickedness. God blesses man and he stands upright for a while and then his nature pulls him down. Think of all the revivals that have come during the Church Age. A revival comes and over a period of time man’s wicked nature pulls him down and he needs to be revived again. Revivals are always temporary. We do not need another revival. We need to be born of God; we need a change of nature. Until our human nature is conquered by God, there will always be the downward pull.

There is a positive side to our text concerning creation, chaos, and light. Paul enlightens us about this in his epistle to the Corinthians.

II Corinthians 4:6-7 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

The darkness of our earthen nature is the earth without form and void, but God speaks a Word and says, “Let there be light.” The living Word of God shines in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. In the chaos God speaks and new life comes forth. The Lord is aware of the complexities of our nature. Man’s makeup is like the promise land of Canaan; there are many nations in it. If the Lord was to bring judgment on all of them at once, we would be devastated beyond repair. I will not drive them out from before you in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against you. By little and little I will drive them out from before you, until you are increased and inherit the land. Exodus 23:29-30.

At the proper time God will bring judgment upon a certain area of our human nature and out of the chaos He will speak a Word, “Let there be…” and new life will come forth. Every time God wants to bring us into a new level of His life there is first chaos when you feel like you are without form and void. Then He speaks a Word and new life comes forth.

Copyright © 2006 by Henry DuBose