Wednesday, May 29, 2019


The Genesis Gap

Tokyo Dinosaur Museum

The dinosaur skeleton in the foreground of the picture above is a Mamenchisaurus. There have been a number of skeletal remains of this dinosaur species found throughout China, the earliest being discovered in Sichuan Province in 1952 during construction of a highway. This massive earth roaming creature in its adulthood reached an astonishing 115 feet in length. The graphic below compares the various fossil remains of a number of different age Mamenchisaurus specimens that have been discovered, providing a comparison to the size of man.


Following is another image from within the Tokyo museum that demonstrates the scale of this massive creature.

From America to Australia, from the Himalayan Mountains to the deserts of Arabia, even in the frozen wasteland of Antarctica, fossils of extinct species of animals have been found that dwarf any animals that exist today. The giraffe and elephant are tiny in comparison. An African Bush Elephant averages 4.9 tons in weight, with the maximum weight being 10 tons. The giraffe may reach a weight of 2 tons. The size and mass of the elephant and giraffe is impressive when compared to man, but they seem relatively puny when compared to many of the larger dinosaurs. The fossil remains of the Argentinosaurus have led to an estimate of the creature’s weight at 73 tons, more than seven times the mass of the largest elephant.

Reconstructed Argentinosaurus

The Pterosaurs, or flying lizards, also were of remarkable size. Hatzegopteryx is estimated to have had a wingspan as long as 39 feet. The similarly sized Quetzalcoatlus is estimated to have had wings approaching 36 feet in length. That is the equivalent of six 6' tall men lined up end to end. It is also more than three times the length of the largest wingspan of any bird alive today. The Wandering Albatross is the current record holder and can have wings as long as 11 feet 6 inches.

Quetzalcoatlus Size Comparison

Fossil records from all across the world indicate that there existed a tremendous variety of great creatures in large numbers. New species are being discovered all the time, and the vast majority of fossils likely reside in places that man cannot readily access, such as buried beneath the sea floor.

Back in the 1990s I was teaching a Sunday School class of youth. I brought with me a variety of small plastic models of dinosaurs and set them on display in front of the students. I asked them where in Bible history they would place the dinosaurs. Other than speculation that the behemoth and leviathan that God described in the book of Job were some form of dinosaur, there is no Biblical mention of any such creatures existing on this present earth. If such animals had existed concurrently with mankind, they would have posed a very great threat. Yet there is no Scriptural account of man having to contend with these great creatures. The Old Testament describes David slaying a lion and a bear. The lion is frequently mentioned as among the fiercest and most deadly adversaries of man. There is no mention of mankind having to contend with creatures as great as Pterodactyls, Tyrannosaurs, Triceratops, and the various massive Sauropods.

An additional issue that I raised with the students in my class was that both creation scientists and evolutionary scientists agree that there is strong evidence that the earth was once largely covered in ice. It is estimated that much of the earth’s surface was covered in ice a mile thick. Huge glaciers moved across the earth’s surface, scouring out valleys, moving huge stones hundreds of miles, and leaving deep deposits of fertile soil in places like America’s Northern Midwestern states.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park in California. While there I saw evidence of the massive glaciers that carved out Yosemite Valley from solid rock. I took the following photograph as I stood atop “Glacier Point.” The name of this location points to the evidence one can see below. Across the valley wall, one can observe the telltale signs of huge glaciers that scarred the rock face as they moved through the valley. You can see where the glaciers gouged the rock face in the photograph I took below.

Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point

I posed the question to the students in my Sunday School class, “Where in the history recorded for us in the Bible can we place the ice age(s) that this world has experienced?”

Another geologic oddity is observed in the discovery of ocean fossils in mountainous regions of the earth. How did the fossils of ocean dwelling creatures end up embedded in rock in mountains that are thousands of feet above, or thousands of miles removed, from the nearest ocean?

Crinoid Fossil (a marine animal) Discovered in Indiana in the Heart of America

The Bible provides a continuous history of this planet from the creation of the first man. The Bible also provides us with a very accurate understanding of how long it has been since Adam was created. Numerous genealogies are listed, many of them giving the ages of individuals when sons were born to them, that allow for a precise calculation of the length of time mankind has resided upon this planet. From the creation of Adam to Christ a period of approximately 4,000 years elapsed. From Christ to the present day, mankind has experienced another 2,000 years of history. It can be reasonably established from Biblical evidence that man has been present on this globe for the past 6,000 years.

What the Bible does not record are any ice ages that occurred simultaneously with the existence of mankind. Neither does the Bible provide any evidence that dinosaurs roamed the earth since the time of Adam’s creation. Some in attempting to find some explanation for the presence of dinosaurs on an earth that they have been taught is no more than 6,000 years old have looked for some extinction event that could explain why dinosaurs are absent from the historical account of the Bible. The only Biblical extinction event that presents itself to the minds of most readers is the flood of Noah. Consequently, some have theorized that the dinosaurs were not taken aboard the ark, but perished in the great flood that inundated the world at that time.

This explanation does not stand up to scrutiny. The Biblical account of Noah’s flood declares that Noah took some of EVERY kind of animal upon the earth with him on the ark. The only distinction that Yahweh made between animals at the time was that the clean animals were taken aboard in groups of seven, while the unclean animals went onboard in twos.

Genesis 7:2-3, 8-9
You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth... Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.

If dinosaurs existed at the time of the flood of Noah, and Yahweh had intended to wipe them out, He would certainly have stated something about the matter. Yet, the Bible speaks nothing of any animals in existence at the time being singled out for judgment. When God formed the present creation in six days He declared all of it to be good. If the dinosaurs were part of the six days of creation, we are left without explanation as to why God changed His mind about them.

It was a blessing that the Father led me to an explanation of these difficulties when I was still in my youth. In the late 1970s and early 1980s I was introduced to the writings of Watchman Nee, a Chinese minister who was very active in teaching in the 1930s to 1950s. He was subsequently arrested by the Communists and sent away to prison where he eventually died. This Chinese martyr had a very keen mind that sought out understanding of the things of God. I found his teachings to be of great help to me in my early Christian experience. Watchman Nee’s teachings disclosed to me a number of doctrines that I had never encountered in the Baptist churches of my childhood. In one little book titled The Mystery of Creation, I was introduced to what is commonly known today as “the gap theory.” Following is an excerpt from that writing.

The general concept among Christians regarding the first chapter of Genesis is that the very first verse is a kind of general introduction or premise, and that the works which are done in the six days to follow explain it. In other words, they take the words “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” as the subject of Chapter 1. The writer of Genesis, so they speculate, outlines what he intends to say in the first sentence and then proceeds to explain it in detail. Having mentioned when God created the heavens and the earth, he then continues by telling what condition the earth is in and how God day after day creates light, air, earth, plants, animals, and so forth. Such is the popular view as to how Genesis 1 narrates the creation story and how the universe was created out of waste and void. Yet those who study carefully the first chapter of sacred Scripture deem this interpretation to be erroneous...

In the original Hebrew, this initial verse of the first chapter of Genesis contains seven words which carry within themselves a sense of independence. These divinely revealed words do not say that in the beginning God “formed” or “made” the world out of certain raw materials. No, the heavens and the earth were created. This word “created” is “bara” in the original. So that in the beginning God bara the heavens and the earth. This word “bara” is used three more times in Genesis 1 and 2: (1st) “And God created [bara] the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind” (1.21); (2nd) “And God created [bara] man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (1.27); and (3rd) “And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created [bara] and made” (2.3). To “create” is to “call the things that are not, as though they were” (Rom. 4.17). These sea-monsters and living things not only had physical bodies but also had an animated life within them. They therefore required a direct creative act of God. Thus it is only reasonable that the Scriptures should use the word “created” rather than the word “made” in these passages. In similar manner, though man’s body was formed out of the dust of the ground, his soul and spirit could not be made out of any physical material, and hence the Bible declared that “God created man in his own image.”

In the first two chapters of Genesis three different words are used for the act of creation: (1) “bara”- calling into being without the aid of pre-existing material. This we have already touched upon; (2) “asah”- which is quite different from “bara,” since the latter denotes the idea of creating without any material whereas “asah” signifies the making, fashioning, or preparing out of existing material. For instance, a carpenter can make a chair, but he cannot create one. The works of the Six Days in Genesis are mainly of the order of “asah”; (3) “yatsar”- which means to shape or mold as a potter does with clay. This word is used in Genesis 2.7 as follows: “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground.” Interestingly, Isaiah 43.7 illustrates the meaning and connection of all three of these words: “every one that is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yea, whom I have made.” “Created” signifies a calling into being out of nothing; “formed” denotes a fashioning into appointed form; and “made” means a preparing out of pre-existing material.

The words “In the beginning” reinforce the thought of God creating the heavens and the earth out of nothing. There is really no need to theorize; since God has so spoken, let men simply believe. How absurd for finite minds to search out the works of God which He performed at the beginning! “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God” (Heb. 11.3). Who can answer God’s challenge to Job concerning creation (see Job 38)?...

To understand the first chapter of Genesis, it is of utmost importance that we distinguish the “earth” mentioned in verse 1 from the “earth” spoken of in verse 2. For the condition of the earth referred to in verse 2 is not what God had created originally. Now we know that “God is not a God of confusion” (1 Cor. 14.33). And hence when it states that in the beginning God created the earth, what He created was therefore perfect. So that the waste and void of the earth spoken of in verse 2 was not the original condition of the earth as God first created it. Would God ever create an earth whose primeval condition would be waste and void? A true understanding of this verse will solve the apparent problem.

“Thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else” (Is. 45.18). How clear God’s word is. The word “waste” here is “tohu” in Hebrew, which signifies “desolation” or “that which is desolate.” It says here that the earth which God created was not a waste. Why then does Genesis 1.2 state that “the earth was waste”? This may be easily resolved. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1.1). At that time, the earth which God had created was not a waste; but later on, in passing through a great catastrophe, the earth did become waste and void. So that all which is mentioned from verse 3 onward does not refer to the original creation but to the restoration of the earth. God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning; but He subsequently used the Six Days to remake the earth habitable. Genesis 1.1 was the original world; Genesis 1.3 onward is our present world; while Genesis 1.2 describes the desolate condition which was the earth’s during the transitional period following its original creation and before our present world.

Such an interpretation cannot only be arrived at on the basis of Isaiah 45.18, it can also be supported on the basis of other evidences. The conjunctive word “and” in verse 2 can also be translated as “but”: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, but the earth was waste and void.” G. H. Pember, in his book “Earth’s Earliest Ages,” wrote that

the “and” according to Hebrew usage—as well as that of most other languages—proves that the first verse is not a compendium of what follows, but a statement of the first event in the record. For if it were a mere summary, the second verse would be the actual commencement of the history, and certainly would not begin with a copulative. A good illustration of this may be found in the fifth chapter of Genesis (Gen. 5.1). There the opening words, “This is the book of the generations of Adam,” are a compendium of the chapter, and, consequently, the next sentence begins without a copulative. We have, therefore, in the second verse of Genesis no first detail of a general statement in the preceding sentence, but the record of an altogether distinct and subsequent event, which did not affect the sidereal [starry] heaven, but only the earth and its immediate surroundings. And what that event was we must now endeavour to discover.

Over a hundred years ago, Dr. Chalmers pointed out that the words “the earth was waste” might equally be translated “the earth became waste.” Dr. I. M. Haldeman, G. H. Pember, and others showed that the Hebrew word for “was” here has been translated “became” in Genesis 19.26: “His wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” If this same Hebrew word can be translated in 19.26 as “became,” why can it not be translated as “became” in 1.2? Furthermore, the word “became” in 2.7 (“and man became a living soul”) is the same word as is found in Genesis 1.2. So that it is not at all arbitrary for anyone to translate “was” as “became” here: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, [but] the earth became waste and void.” The earth which God created originally was not waste, it only later became waste...

We do not know when God created the heavens and the earth, nor do we know how long was the period after the original creation that the desolation described in verse 2 occurred. But we do believe that the original, perfect creation must have passed through many many years before it became waste and void. Such a long period would be enough to cover the so-called pre-historic age. All the years which geology demands and all the so-called geologic periods which it distributes among those years can fall into this time frame. We do not know how long the earth underwent change nor how many changes there were before it became waste and void because the Scriptures do not tell us these things. Yet we can affirm that the Bible never states that the age of the earth is but six thousand years in length. It merely shows that the history of man is approximately six thousand years old. By understanding the first two verses of Scripture, we can recognize that there is no contradiction between the Bible and geology. The attack of geologists against the Bible is merely beating the air. How marvelous is the word of God.
[Source: Watchman Nee; The Mystery of Creation]

This doctrine presented by Watchman Nee was greatly divergent from what I had been taught in the Baptist church. Yet, even at that young age I had developed habits of testing new teachings carefully. I got out my Strong’s Concordance and checked the definitions of the words in dispute. I verified for myself whether the conjunction “and” that ties verses 1 and 2 of Genesis together could be translated as “but.” I also checked to see if the Hebrew word rendered as “was” in verse 2 had been translated as “became” in other verses. I found that every statement made, every argument set forth, in the words above by Watchman Nee were in fact true. The most common teaching of the Genesis account of creation follows the pattern set forth by the King James Bible.

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.

The phrasing here leads the reader to conclude that God originally created the Heaven and the earth formless and void and covered in darkness. Beginning in verse three we then read of God forming the earth and all it contains into a habitable planet. Yet, those who translate the book of Genesis from Hebrew to English could have just as readily set forth the words in the following manner.

Genesis 1:1-2
In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth. But the earth became formless, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

I checked every Bible verse that Watchman Nee cited, following the pattern of the faithful Bereans who looked to the Scriptures to see if what they were being told was true. I looked at the second chapter of Genesis to see if in fact the KJV translators had rendered the Hebrew word hayah as “became.” I found that they had done so.

Genesis 2:7
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became [hayah] a living soul.

I also looked up this Hebrew word’s definition in Strong’s Concordance.

hayah (haw-yaw); a primitive root; to exist, i.e. be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary):

Why did the KJV translators render this word as “was” in Genesis 1:2 when they knew it could bear the meaning of “become,” or “come to pass”? That is not a difficult question to answer. I explored the subject of translation inconsistencies in depth in the writing titled Yahweh’s Book. Men translate according to their understanding. If they believe the earth was originally created by God in a formless and void state, then their belief will influence their translation decisions. The KJV translators, however, had an even greater obstacle with which to contend. King James had given them a list of fifteen rules to follow in producing their Bible translation. One of the rules stated that they could not render any words into English in a way that would contradict the orthodox teaching of the Church of England. They were therefore constrained by the doctrine of the church, whether that doctrine was true or false.

Doctrinal beliefs within the church tend to ebb and flow. What is considered orthodox to one generation is often abandoned by the next. Most present day Christians are unfamiliar with the ruin/reconstruction doctrine, having never been taught that there is a gap of indeterminate length indicated between the first two verses of Genesis. Upon hearing it, many view the doctrine with suspicion. They assume that this must be some new and heretical doctrine.

There is a division between Biblical creationists today. Some are young earth creationists. They believe that the entire creation is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. They hold to the present majority view of Genesis verses 1:1-2. They allow for no gap to exist. They refuse to entertain any notion that the earth as we presently know it may have been judged and destroyed in an age before Adam, and that it could be much older than 6,000 years.

There is another group who are at present in the minority who perceive a gap between the earth’s first creation, and its re-creation whose account begins in the 3rd verse of Genesis. Both hold to a literal six day account of the creation, but differ on other matters. Those who hold to the ruin/reconstruction doctrine of the creation are able to allow for the existence of dinosaurs on that more ancient, original earth. When it was judged and destroyed, so too was all life on the planet. They also are able to account for past ice ages, for when God judged the earth and sealed it up in darkness, blocking the light and warmth of the Sun, this could very well be what precipitated a global ice age.

Since the Bible does not tell us how long the original earth existed before it was destroyed, and it does not tell us how long it lay in a state of being formless, void, and covered in darkness, those who hold to the ruin/reconstruction doctrine find no difficulty in allowing for various geological ages to have passed.

If there were no more to the matter than it being possible to translate “and” as “but,” and “was” as “became,” we might all just stop now and take a vote as to which rendering we think is the more plausible. This would be a very poor way to establish truth, and it would likely devolve into a matter of personal opinion, a mere popularity contest. Yahweh, however, has not left us without further evidence to test this matter. Before I present that evidence I want to address some of the criticism of the ruin/reconstruction doctrine.

Young earth creationists frequently refer to the ruin/reconstruction doctrine as “the gap theory.” The employment of the word “theory” instead of the word “doctrine” reveals their bias in the matter. There is a tendency for men to seek to control the language in which ideas are discussed in order to favor their view of a matter. We see this in the struggle over abortion. Those who are defenders of life in the womb prefer to call themselves “pro-life,” but their opponents have labeled them as “anti-abortion.” The prefix “anti” carries a negative stigma. It paints the person as someone who is seeking to restrict another person’s freedom. This is blatant hypocrisy, for their can be no greater curtailment of a person’s freedom than to murder them while they are still in the womb. It is similarly disingenuous for young earth creationists to speak of their “doctrines” while labeling opposing views as “theories.” They are all doctrines.

One of the false charges made by young earth creationists against the ruin/reconstruction doctrine is that it is of fairly recent origin and is merely an attempt to reconcile evolutionary theory with the Bible. I have read the oft repeated charge that Thomas Chalmer’s Bridgewater Treatise that popularized this doctrine in the mid 1800s was the starting point of this doctrine. The claim continues by asserting that the ruin/reconstruction doctrine was devised as a way to find some agreement with geologists who were beginning to present evidence for a much older earth.

These charges by opponents of “the gap theory” are false on multiple levels. Those who teach a Genesis gap are no more likely to be evolutionists than those who do not. I personally believe in a literal six days of creation. Nor do those who perceive a gap to be indicated believe that the geologists are correct in their varied claims of the earth being hundreds of millions, or billions of years old. They simply allow that a gap of unspecified length exists in the Biblical account. Most Bible teachers who are advocates of the ruin/reconstruction doctrine do not pretend to know how long a gap is indicated, and they do not look to science to provide the answer.

Additionally, the ruin/reconstruction doctrine did not begin with Thomas Chalmers in the 1800s, nor did it arise as a response to scientific claims of a much older earth. It is an ancient doctrine. One of the most scholarly and well documented treatises in defense of the ruin/reconstruction doctrine was authored by Arthur C. Custance. His book is titled Without Form and Void and can be read in its entirety free of charge online. The evidence he presents makes it inexcusable for young earth creationists to parrot the charge that “the gap theory” is a relatively new doctrine. Arthur Custance demonstrates the great antiquity of the doctrine among both Jews and Christians. Arthur Custance did prodigious research into this subject, and is very rational in his presentation.

To me, this issue is important, and after studying the problem for some thirty years and after reading everything I could lay my hands on pro and con and after accumulating in my own library some 300 commentaries on Genesis, the earliest being dated 1670, I am persuaded that there is, on the basis of the evidence, far more reason to translate Gen. 1.2 as "But the earth had become a ruin and a desolation, etc." than there is for any of the conventional translations in our modern versions.
[Source: Without Form and Void, Arthur Custance]

I won’t repeat the extensive Hebrew grammatical evidence that Custance presents on this subject. Those who are interested can view his book online.

Custance reveals that the ruin/reconstruction doctrine was held among the Jews as far back as the time of the apostles. He also cites references from among the early church fathers who taught this view.

Origen, for example, who lived from 186 to about 254 A.D., and to whom the original languages of the Bible were very familiar, has this to say in his great work, De Principiis, at Gen. 1.1: "It is certain that the present firmament is not spoken of in this verse, nor the present dry land, but rather that heaven and earth from which this present heaven and earth that we now see afterwards borrowed their names." And that he saw verse 2 as a description of a "casting down" of the original is borne out quite clearly by his subsequent observation that the condition resulted from a "disruption" which is best described, he suggests, by the Latin verb dejicere, ‘to throw down.’
[Source: Ibid]

This doctrine has waxed and waned within the church. Few Christians today realize that as recently as the 1950s the ruin/reconstruction doctrine found wide support in American and European churches. One online encyclopedia provides the following statement.

“In fact, with one prominent exception, virtually all of the leading creationists of the 1920s endorsed either the Day-Age or Gap Interpretation of Genesis. The exception was Seventh-Day Adventist teacher and amateur geologist, George McCready Price, who followed Adventist Prophet, Ellen G. White, in limiting the history of life on earth to about 6,000 years. Price attributed most fossil-bearing rock formations to the geological disruptions of the Biblical flood.”
[Source: Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia]

Arthur Custance expresses a similar view to that which has led me to write this present book. He makes mention of the importance of a Christian having a correct understanding of foundational teachings.

The importance of establishing its intended meaning does not stem from the fact that if it is interpreted in one particular way it can then be used to resolve certain apparent conflicts between the Mosaic cosmogony and modern geological theory. Its importance stems from the fact that it is a foundation statement; and the foundation statements of any belief system are the more critical as they lie nearer the base of its structure. An error at the end of a long line of reasoning may be very undesirable but it is much less dangerous than an error at the beginning. And in the first three chapters of Genesis we have the basic facts upon which are erected the whole theological superstructure of the Christian faith. Uncertainty here, or misinterpretation, is likely to have repercussions throughout the whole of the rest of the system of belief.
[Source: Without Form and Void, Arthur Custance]

With this in mind, I entreat the reader to patiently consider the Biblical evidence for a much older earth that was at some distant point destroyed until the God began the work of reconstruction that is described from Genesis 1:3 and forward. The first argument I would present is taken from a citation from a book published by J. Harris in 1847 titled The Pre-Adamite Earth.

"Now, that the originating act, described in the first verse, was not meant to be included in the account of the six Adamic days, is evident from the following considerations: first, the creation of the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth days begins with the formula 'And God said'. It is only natural, therefore, to conclude that the creation of the first day begins with the third verse where the said formula first occurs, 'And God said, Let there be light'. But if so, it follows that the act described in the first verse, and the state of the earth spoken of in the second verse, must both have belonged to a period anterior to the first day..."

If this explanation is a little unclear to you, I will attempt to clarify the author’s point. Each of the six days of creation has a specific work attached to it. For example, of the second through sixth days we read:

Day Two
Genesis 1:6
Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."

Day Three
Genesis 1:9
Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.”

Day Four
Genesis 1:14-15
Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.”

Day Five
Genesis 1:20
Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens."

Day Six
Genesis 1:24
Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"

Seeing that the description of each day has a specific work attached to it, and that each day’s work begins with the words “Then God said,” it is textually consistent to expect that the work of day one also begins with this same expression.

Day One
Genesis 1:3
Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

This fact reasonably leads to the conclusion that the first two verses of Genesis are speaking of events that preceded the six days of creation. At some time prior to day one of creation, Yahweh had created the heavens and the earth, and they had subsequently become formless and void and covered in darkness.

This leads into a second point in favor of the ruin/reconstruction doctrine. We are told that God did not establish the lights in the heavens until day four. The Bible does not say God created (bara) the heavenly bodies on day four, but the sense is more of God arranging them to “separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years.” Those familiar with Biblical astronomy and the testimony of the constellations and stars in the heaven, will understand how they proclaim the story of man’s fall and redemption. The Bible tells us that the stars are given for this purpose.

Psalms 19:1-4
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. Their utterance has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

That the ancients recognized the constellations, and perceived messages from God in them was observed long before the magi read the heavenly declaration that the King of the Jews had been born in the time of Christ. The book of Job is among the oldest books of the Bible, and it speaks of a number of constellations. It also speaks of the ancients having a knowledge that God had once sealed the earth in darkness, commanding the sun and stars to no longer give light to the planet.

Job 9:5-9
It is God who removes the mountains, they know not how, when He overturns them in His anger; Who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; Who commands the sun not to shine, and sets a seal upon the stars; Who alone stretches out the heavens, and tramples down the waves of the sea; Who makes the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south...

This Scripture describes perfectly the doctrine of the ruin and reconstruction of the earth. The mountains were removed in God’s anger. The earth was overthrown and the sun and stars commanded not to shine. When did this occur, since Job is one of the most ancient books of the Bible? There is no account of such an event from the time of Adam’s creation. It must have occurred before Adam. The sun and stars were still in the heavens, but God placed a seal upon them that they might not give forth light.

Is it not puzzling that God would say “Let there be light” on Day One if the sun and stars did not exist until Day Four? This is a problem for those who deny that the heavens and earth already existed, having suffered the effects of a divine judgment. The natural act of God on the first day of the reconstruction of the heavens and earth is to remove the curse of darkness. He therefore removes the seal that He has placed upon the sun and stars as He declares “Let there be light!”

Since God is beginning a new work, and it involves new creatures, and a divine plan for their perfecting as sons of God, it is fitting that on Day Four He should rearrange the heavenly bodies to perfectly declare the glorious plan and the work He will accomplish. His arrangement was so perfectly ordered that thousands of years later, at the right moment, heavenly signs would be observed to mark key events in His work among the new creation. The star declaring the Savior’s birth appeared at the precise time for the wise men of the East to perceive its message. Some thirty years later the sky was darkened at the very hour that the Son of God was offering up His life on the cross. Christ also prophesied that the heavens would announce His return at the end of the age.

Luke 21:25, 27
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars... And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Even as God had to reorder an earth that had been made waste and void and covered by water, He had to reorder the heavens that they might serve as signs, and for seasons, and to give light upon the earth at the proper time. This ordering of the heavens was on Day Four, but its initial work had to begin with God removing the seal He had placed upon the heavens that they might once more give forth their light upon the earth. This was accomplished on Day One.

One of the most profound Biblical evidences of the ruin of the initial earth is observed in the description that is given to the earth in verse two of Genesis.

Genesis 1:2
But the earth became formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep...

We have three descriptors here of the earth’s condition. It was formless (tohu). It was void, or empty (bohu). It was sealed in darkness. If we could find these same three descriptors in another passage of Scripture, and this passage spoke of Yahweh judging and destroying the earth, then we could reasonably conclude that these words are also used in Genesis chapter 1 to describe an earth that had been judged. Does such a passage exist? Yes, it does.

Jeremiah 4:22-28
“For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form (tohu), and void (bohu); And the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of Yahweh, by His fierce anger. For thus says Yahweh: “The whole land shall be desolate; Yet I will not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black, because I have spoken. I have purposed and will not relent, nor will I turn back from it.”

In this passage the prophet Jeremiah is pronouncing Yahweh’s judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem. Because of the wickedness of the people, He has determined to make the land a desolation. The very same descriptors found in Genesis 1:2 are found in this passage speaking of the ruin God will bring upon the land of His people. Can there be any clearer evidence that the earth described in Genesis 1:2 has suffered the judgment of Yahweh? Not just one, or two, but all three of these signs of judgment are found in both passages of Scripture.

What could account for the destruction of the first earth? What was the transgression that caused Yahweh to turn a habitable planet into a wasteland and to seal it up in darkness? That topic will be explored in the next chapter.

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Sunday, May 26, 2019



The Bible speaks much of the beginning of things. In understanding beginnings we are able to properly understand both the physical and spiritual world about us. If we do not properly identify beginnings our beliefs and doctrines will invariably be distorted. During the years in which I have labored as a minister to the body of Christ as a teacher I have encountered many erroneous ideas about the beginning of things. Some of the beginnings that God has given us information about so that we might be established in truth are:

The beginning of the creation of God.

Revelation 3:14
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this...

The beginning of the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.

The beginning of sin.

I John 3:8
The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.

The beginning of murder and lying.

John 8:44
"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.

There are Bible teachers who are promoting errant doctrines and false understandings of these beginnings. They have fallen short of rightly dividing the word of God. I frequently have occasion to converse with members of the body of Christ whose minds have been misled by indiscriminately feeding upon that which is false. I am not seeking to cast stones at such ones.

Many people come to the Lord through the evangelistic efforts of Christians who are members of churches that have long ago fallen away from an understanding of truth. People tend to trust those who led them to the Lord. Those who are babes in Christ often lack discrimination in that which they are imbibing. They lap up whatever Biblical instruction is given to them, not suspecting that it is tainted.

Some years ago I read a tragic story of a newborn baby who died in a hospital when a nurse mistakenly grabbed a container of saline water thinking it was nursing formula. Any adult who tasted the saline water would have recognized what it was at once, and would have rejected it. The baby, however, did not have its sense of taste developed and eagerly devoured the solution. The small infant died as a result of saline poisoning, an excess of salt in the body.

What I have found to be true in my life, and that of a great many other sons and daughters of God, is that once we began to mature spiritually we started to test the things that were being fed to us by our pastor, Sunday School teacher, parents, or other individuals who acted as teachers. Having personally been brought up in church from the time I was a young child, I innocently imbibed many doctrines that I never suspected contained error. I trusted the adults in my life. I had no reason to suspect that they were teaching me things about God, the world, and Yahweh’s kingdom that were not true.

Consequently, I spent many years of my later life testing what had been delivered to me in my physical youth and spiritual immaturity. I found that a great many things, including some important foundational doctrines, had been delivered to me in a highly adulterated state. As I began to be taught of God, and to apply myself to a pursuit of truth, I was at times shocked by the great disparity between what I was taught in my youth and what God was teaching me as an adult.

Many people stumble at this point. If their hunger for truth, and a desire to stand approved before God, does not exceed their regard for the people around them, the traditions that are dear to them, and the continued fellowship of men and women in the church, they will often balk when they encounter teachings that contradict what they first received. Additionally, if a person has a pride of knowledge, they will be hindered from casting off their errant beliefs. It requires humility to be corrected. The proud do not like to receive instruction, or to admit that they once held to error.

As a Bible teacher with an Internet audience, I frequently encounter people who disagree with the things I am teaching. Quite often their beliefs are traceable back to their upbringing in a particular church, or denomination. People frequently form strong emotional bonds to doctrines. They associate their beliefs with a respected minister, or beloved saint. They may remember their experiences in a particular church with much fondness. Some view it as an attack when another Christian calls into question any of the doctrines that were imparted to them.

Many times I observe people getting quite emotional when they express their disagreement with something I am teaching. One might think I had insulted their parents, a beloved pastor, or their best friend. Christians need to recognize that even the best intentioned and sincere individuals can, and often do, pass along false doctrines to others. The motive of the person teaching error need not be malicious. I suspect most do so in ignorance, and often with great fervor of conviction. It is quite possible, however, to have zeal that is not in accordance with knowledge (Romans 10:2).

Because of people’s strong emotional attachments to their beliefs, and the anger that arises in their soul when they encounter teaching that is contrary to what they have previously received, I frequently find myself urging those who write to me to exercise the fruit of the Holy Spirit, while ruling over their fleshly passions.

Galatians 5:22-24
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

It really is not possible to make progress in God’s kingdom apart from exercising the fruit of the Spirit. If a Christian does not manifest the patience to listen intelligently to what another is saying, they cannot benefit from what is shared. If a man or woman is not humble, they cannot be taught. Therefore, I entreat those with disagreements to clothe themselves with the Spirit of Christ. Carnal believers who are irascible, quick to speak and slow to hear, condemn themselves to remain fixed in error.

If you find that some of the things I share in this series relating to beginnings are contrary to what you were taught by others, I exhort you to manifest the patience to intelligently consider what is shared. I entreat you to pray to the Father, asking Him to disclose to you truth and error and to lead you in the path of understanding. I fully anticipate that many, indeed most, readers have been taught something different. (I was.) It will require patience on your part to search the Scriptures, laying aside all bias. You will have to rise up in spirit and rule over any emotions that are stirred up due to a personal affinity to an individual, group, church, denomination, or to a doctrine itself. If your goal is to apprehend truth and walk in the understanding and wisdom of God, you should do well.

As important as truth is, I believe it is even more important that believers demonstrate love for one another. The apostle Paul wrote:

I Corinthians 13:1-2
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge..., but do not have love, I am nothing.

If you or I possess truth, or an understanding of the mysteries of God, but fail to communicate with others in a spirit of love, we have become nothing more than a discordant noise in God’s ears. He is not pleased when men speak truth while their attitude is devoid of love. We are commanded to “speak the truth in love.”

Accurately Identifying Beginnings

Not long before Christ’s crucifixion and ascension, He spoke to His disciples about His departure. He disclosed to them that He was going to send to them the Holy Spirit who would bear witness of Him. He then added:

John 15:27
You will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

What beginning did Christ refer to in this statement? Those familiar with the Gospel accounts will rightly infer that Yahshua was speaking of the beginning of His earthly ministry when He called forth twelve men to walk with Him. Would we not err greatly if we concluded that Christ was speaking of His beginning, the beginning of the creation, or the beginning of the world? This may seem a simple question. I have chosen this particular verse because I do not believe there will be too much controversy from readers as to its meaning.

If you are like me, and have concluded that Christ is in fact speaking of the beginning of His earthly ministry when He called forth twelve disciples to walk with Him, I would ask you how you can be sure of this? What if someone challenged you on this point? How would you demonstrate that your understanding is the right one?

I would suggest that there are a number of ways to do so. A good place to begin would be looking at the statement itself to see if it lends itself to other interpretations. In this instance I would allow that it does indeed do so. The wording of the sentence itself does not clearly identify the specific beginning of which Yahshua was speaking. Just by the phrasing itself we could not rule out the possibility that Yahshua was speaking of any number of possible beginnings. Following are some variant meanings.

You will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning (of my earthly ministry).

You will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning (of My existence in heaven).

You will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning (of the creation).

You will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning (of the world).

Seeing that the sentence itself does not clearly identify the beginning Christ had in mind, a next step would be to look at the word translated as “beginning.” We could see if it is only rightly used in a particular way. Having looked up the word we would have to conclude that it does not help us to resolve this matter.

A next step might be to check the context of the passage in which these words of Christ were spoken. If we see evidence that He was speaking about the beginning of His time with the disciples on earth in this passage, or we find other evidence that would point to the beginning to which He was referring, the matter might be easily settled. Following this course, we actually find some help. Here is the passage with a little more context.

John 15:26-16:5
“When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do, because they have not known the Father, or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”

We see in this larger portion of Scripture that Yahshua is speaking of the Holy Spirit and of His disciples bearing witness of Him to mankind. What they are bearing witness of is His identity as the Hebrew Messiah, the ministry He conducted, the life that He lived, and the words that He spoke. We can deduce this from the gospels, for this is indeed what they focus upon. Additionally, in the book of Acts we find Christ’s disciples bearing witness of what they had seen and heard while walking with Christ. There are also some very clear statements in other books such as the following.

I John 1:1-3
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life... what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us...

John clearly states here that he is testifying of that which he has heard, seen with his eyes, and touched with his hands regarding the Son of God. John is identifying experiences in this mortal life. With these words of John we are able to confidently assert that the beginning that Yahshua was referring to in John 15:27 was the beginning of His ministry when He called twelve disciples to walk with Him, that they might experience daily life and ministry with the Son of God.

One other thing we could do is to look for similar statements, or parallel passages, that might shed light on this matter. For example, we could look to Luke’s opening statement from the Gospel account he penned.

Luke 1:1-4
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Note that Luke tells us that he is writing an account “of the things accomplished among us.” He is not writing of things that occurred before the creation of the world. Luke’s account is a terrestrial one. It is focused on the life and ministry of the Son of God on the earth as He dwelt among mankind. There are other Bible passages that affirm this same truth that the disciples of Christ were called to bear witness to what they beheld during their earthly sojourning with the Son of God.

I John 4:14
And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

John echoes the words of Christ in the gospel that he penned. He states that the disciples “bear witness” to Yahshua. He specifically says the witness is of that which they “beheld.” John does NOT say that the disciples beheld Christ in ages prior to His coming to earth, or that they walked with Him in realms that are celestial before this present age. The disciples of Christ bore witness to what they beheld when the Son of God walked among them.

Yahshua Calling His Disciples

I want to point out that it was necessary to look beyond the immediate context of John 15:27 to properly resolve this question of what beginning Christ was referring to. If we had looked too narrowly at this passage, we might have come up with some very strange interpretations. Someone might have used this verse as a proof text to declare that the disciples existed with Christ in heaven before His earthly ministry. Some might use it as evidence to suggest that the Bible teaches reincarnation, or the pre-existence of the soul. If they look at no other Scriptures they could very well build a case to suggest that this was in fact what Christ meant when He said His disciples had been with Him “from the beginning.”

You may say, “Joseph, isn’t it obvious that Christ was speaking of His disciples being with Him from the beginning of His earthly ministry? Surely no reasonable person would suggest otherwise.” A search of the Internet reveals that some are misconstruing Christ’s words here, using them to build a case for the pre-existence of the soul. Having failed to properly identify the “beginning” to which the Son of God was referring, they are falling away into error.

My purpose in sharing these things is to demonstrate that there is a danger of misinterpreting the meaning of the Scriptures if we fail to consider the entire counsel of the Bible. It requires patience, an intimate acquaintance with the Bible, and a heart that yearns after truth, to rightly divide the word of God. Any Scripture, or portion of it, can be wrested out of its context and used to assert a false understanding. These wrong understandings in turn serve as the foundation for false doctrines.

In the ensuing chapters I am going to address some of the beginnings spoken of in the Bible. I will seek to lay a solid foundation for accurately understanding the truths of God’s kingdom.

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Joseph Herrin
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Thursday, May 23, 2019


The Apprehension of Truth

In posting the previous chapter of this book I have anticipated some objections that may be raised to what has been set forth. In trying to keep each post to a reasonable length it becomes untenable to attempt to address in one writing every concern, question, or objection to a doctrine as profound and far reaching as the relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe a good beginning was made in the previous chapter. I will now proceed to build upon that foundation.

I encourage those to whom this teaching is new to search the Scriptures as did the noble Bereans, to see whether the things being declared are true. Truth does not fear scrutiny. It is error that must ever hide in the shadows, and it is falsehood that does not assent to being questioned. In your searching you must not fail in diligence. Do not be content to grasp only that which is on the surface. You must dig deep to discover what lies beneath.

One of the most irresponsible things we could do is to reject a teaching out of hand, saying, “That is not what I have been taught. What you are sharing offends me.” It is common to view with fear that which contradicts what we have received as the orthodox view of the church, especially if it was communicated to us by someone we admire. I have experienced this emotion myself, but I have listened to that still, small voice that told me to hear before I judge, and to test all things before rejecting them.

Perhaps you were taught that God the Father created the heavens and the earth and it troubles you to hear it taught that all things (other than the Son Himself) were formed by the Son of God. In the preceding chapter there were numerous Scriptures cited in support of this teaching. The skeptical reader should examine each verse to see if it truly says what this Bible teacher is declaring. They should also look for other Scriptures that may affirm, or refute, the conclusions shared. If they had done so, they may have come across the following passage.

Hebrews 1:1-2
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.

These words of one of Christ’s apostles very succinctly summarize the role of the members of the godhead in the creation. The translation above does contain an inaccuracy. The word “world” is translated from the Greek “aion” which means “an age.” A more literal translation would say “through whom also He made the ages.” This is in fact the meaning that Young’s Literal Translation, The Amplified Bible, and other Bibles bring forth. Rendering aion as age does no harm to the point being made, for we see the Son being the agent through which the Father is creating all things. I would further suggest that “the ages” encompass all that is contained within them, including the heavens and the earth and all their inhabitants.

The Father can be said to have formed the creation, but He did so through the agency of the Son. As John testified, nothing came into being apart from the Son. The great truths of Scripture do not stand alone on one verse, or one statement. A truth may be declared in one passage, but additional insight is obtained in other Scriptures. We must take the entire counsel of the word of God and form a comprehensive view of truth where all the various passages complement one another to form a harmonious whole. If we find a passage that contradicts, then we have either understood verses incorrectly, or there may be a translation error. Translation errors are abundant in Scripture, for men translate according to their understanding, an understanding that is often faulty.

Fitting All the Pieces Together

In the previous chapter we looked at a number of Scriptures that reveal that the Son’s being and existence is subordinate to the Father. The Son of God did not always co-exist with the Father. The Bible reveals that at some point the Son was generated from the Father. He is the “monogenes” of the Father, the only direct generation of God. In contrast, the Bible reveals that God the Father has always been. He is the self-existent One.

The Son is not self-existent. He came forth from the Father. As one considers what the terms Father and Son mean, and what is entailed in being “born,” they will see that it would be inconsistent to speak of Yahshua as the Son and firstborn of God while holding to the view that His existence and beginning is identical to that of the Father. How can Christ be the “firstborn” of the Father and always have existed with Him?

Being born implies that one had a beginning and arose out of another. You are the offspring of your father and mother. You had a definite beginning. We can debate whether your beginning was at the moment of birth, the moment of conception, or whether you existed further back as the seed of your father and ancestors. We could even suggest that your beginning lay as far back as the thought of God before the earth was formed, for the Bible says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...” (Jeremiah 1:5), and “And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (“Revelation 13:8). What is indisputable is that, in your bodily form as a descendant of Adam, you had a definite beginning.

The same is true of the Son of God. Perhaps He always existed in the mind of the Father. Yet even as a thought does not take on substance until a man exhales his breath and forms a word that others can hear, so too there was a definite point in time when Yahweh breathed out His Spirit and formed “the Living Word.” That Yahshua is a part of the creation of God is plainly stated in the Bible.

Revelation 3:14
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this...

Colossians 1:15
And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.

Hebrews 1:5
For to which of the angels did He ever say, "You are My Son, today I have begotten Thee"?

Of God the Father no similar statement can be made. There was not a day in which the Father was begotten. He was not generated by another. He always has been. He is the great I AM.

Isaiah 43:10
Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.

Part of the confusion that exists in the church today regarding the Son of God’s origin and beginning comes from a lack of patient and careful consideration of the Scriptures. There are a number of passages of the Bible that declare the Son to be one with the Father.

John 10:30
“I and the Father are one.”

Some have assumed that this statement means that there is no difference between them. Such a conclusion does not stand up to scrutiny. Most assuredly there are differences between them. One is the Father. The other is the Son. One is called Yahweh. The other is called Yahshua. One is Spirit whom no man has ever seen at any time, the other was incarnated in the form of man, and the disciples saw Him, handled Him, and spent several years of their lives walking with Him. Furthermore, we have Christ’s own confession that the Father is greater than Himself.

John 14:28
“You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.

None of these truths diminish the honor and glory of the Son of God. Christians need not be afraid that acknowledging the Son as subordinate to the Father, and the first creation of the Father, in any way is a denial of His preeminence, or of His identity as God.

On the other hand, I have had conversation with numerous individuals over the course of my ministry who deny that Yahshua is God. It was not atheists making this claim. It was men and women who profess to be Christians. The views on this are many. Some claim that the Son of God is the same being as the archangel Michael. Others who are non-trinitarian in their beliefs, deny that Yahshua could be God, for the Bible says there is only “one God.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-5
“Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one!

I Timothy 2:5
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Yahshua...

Some who oppose the trinitarian view would point to the verse above from Timothy and confidently assert that only the Father is God, and Christ is a man, albeit a glorified man. This reveals the error of focusing too narrowly on a single passage of Scripture. For a doctrine to be true it must accord with the entire testimony of the Bible. There are numerous passages that attest to the truth that Christ is God.

John 1:18
No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

John 20:28
Thomas answered and said to Him (Yahshua), "My Lord and my God!"

Philippians 2:5-7
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Yahshua, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Titus 2:13
Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Yahshua.

If we would walk in truth we must not neglect those Scriptures that serve to refute some doctrinal belief we have adopted. There are men and women who are zealous in their contention that the Father and the Son are in every way identical to one another. To the other extreme there are those who declare that Christ is not God at all. Both positions are proven false as we apply ourselves to “rightly divide the word of truth.”

I am in no way intending to criticize those who have sincere objections that hinder them from being able to accept specific truths. The world is a very confusing place. There are a myriad of voices declaring a plethora of contrasting and often incompatible beliefs. The church itself is fractured into thousands of denominations that are largely divided along doctrinal lines. As I demonstrated in the writing Yahweh’s Book, even our Bibles are leavened throughout with error. Yahweh has not preserved the Bible without error anymore than He has preserved the body of Christ without error. This may seem to some to be a bad thing, but it is in an environment of error, deception, and lies that Yahweh is best able to prove those who are lovers of truth, and to cause His people to exercise themselves in the pursuit of the same.

I have observed a similarity in the zeal of some who are offended at the teaching that reveals that the Son of God is a creation of the Father, and the zealousness of those who are offended when they hear it declared that there are contradictions in the Bible. I understand the reaction. Some believe that teaching that Christ was created by the Father is an attack on the Son of God’s divinity. Similarly, some believe to describe the Bible as anything other than perfect and inerrant is an attack on God or Christianity. When strong emotions are aroused people tend to lose their ability to reason. Fear and anger are hindrances to the apprehension of truth.

An example of the errors in the Bible is readily observed in books of the Bible that parallel one another, but differ in their accounts. The books of Kings and Chronicles give accounts of similar things, but contain differences. The same is true of the Gospels, particularly the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I will cite a couple of examples.

Describing the Bronze Laver, also called the Molten Sea, that Solomon had constructed to hold water for the ceremonial washing of the Levitical priests, the book of I Kings and the book of II Chronicles differ by a third in its capacity.

I Kings 7:26
And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.

II Chronicles 4:5
And the thickness of it was an handbreadth, and the brim of it like the work of the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received and held three thousand baths.

Similarly, we see a discrepancy in the number of days that passed from the time Christ was said to have taken Peter, James, and John up to the mount of transfiguration.

Mark 9:1-2
And He was saying to them, "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power." And six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves.

Luke 9:27-28
"But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God." And some eight days after these sayings, it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went up to the mountain to pray.

These types of errors are not uncommon in the Bible. What are we to attribute them to? Did the Holy Spirit inspire the original writers of these books to present contradictory information? Have these writings been altered over the millennia as scribes copied and re-copied the Scriptures? Are there errors in translation that can account for these differences? Certainly the role man has played in copying and translating the Scriptures has led to the introduction of a great many errors. In the case of the above two examples, it would be very easy for a scribe, or a translator, to change one number to another by accident.

There is another type of Bible error of which those who seek truth must be aware. It is an error of understanding. When the Bible is translated from one language to another those laboring to produce a copy of the Scriptures must not only have an understanding of the original languages of the Bible, and the language to which it is being translated, they must also understand the truths contained in the Bible. It is common for a single Hebrew or Greek word to bear a diversity of meanings. If a translator does not have an accurate understanding of what is being declared in a Bible passage, he/she will find it difficult to identify correctly which meaning a Hebrew or Greek word was intended to convey. This is a very problematic issue. A man could be the foremost Hebrew or Greek scholar of his day and, not understanding the truths of the Bible, he would frequently err in bringing forth a translation.

As an example of the wide divergence of meaning that men can derive from a single verse, let us look at the following Scripture.

I Timothy 1:17
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I Timothy 1:17
And to the King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only wise God, [is] honour and glory - to the ages of the ages! Amen.

Comparing this verse in the King James Bible with the same verse in Young’s Literal Translation, we find that very different information is conveyed. Is the King “eternal” or is He the “King of the ages”? The KJV translation places the emphasis on the King Himself. The word “eternal” becomes an adjective to describe the King. Young’s Literal Translation places the focus upon the duration of the King’s reign. The words “eternal” and “ages” are widely divergent in meaning. Eternal means without beginning or end, yet the word “ages” speaks of that which has a definite beginning and a recognized end point.

There are other marked differences in information conveyed in these two translations. Who is right, or are either of them correct? The problem we find here did not arise as much from a misapprehension of the Greek language as it did from a difference of doctrinal views. The KJV translators were charged to not derive any interpretation of the Scriptures that would upset the orthodox teachings of the Anglican Church of which King James was the titular head. (This present series cannot address the doctrine of the ages of creation at length. Those who are interested in pursuing the subject further will find it set forth at some length in the book God’s Plan of the Ages.)

I chose the above verse as an example of contradictions that exist between Bible translations because it bears directly on the subject of the attributes of the Son of God. Identifying the King as Yahshua, we find one Bible attributing to the Son an eternal existence while the other does not. We have already read in a number of Bible passages that the Son was “born,” He is the “beginning of the creation of God.” Therefore, a contradiction arises when we read in the KJV Bible, and numerous other translations, statements that ascribe to Yahshua an eternal character. We find this same contradiction among Bible translations of the following Scripture:

Hebrews 1:8
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Hebrews 1:8
And unto the Son: 'Thy throne, O God, [is] to the age of the age; a scepter of righteousness [is] the scepter of thy reign;

Is the Son’s rule “for ever and ever,” or is it “to the age of the age”? These are very different expressions. The KJV rendering indicates that there will be no end to the Son’s rule. Once again the translators have rendered the Greek word “aion” as “for ever” while Young renders it more accurately as “age.”

I have found that people are often not convinced by arguments based upon the meaning of a Greek or Hebrew word. This is understandable, for very few Christians today, myself included, can lay claim to being advanced scholars of these ancient languages. How then are we to know which translator has done the better job? The way many Christians resolve the issue is to accept the word of their pastor or some trusted friend. Many saints adopt whatever view that they have been taught from early on to be correct.

There is a better way to resolve a matter. Contradictions such as these can be settled as we become conversant with the entire testimony of the Bible. This is one reason it is important for Christians to independently study the word of God. If you have applied yourself to the study of the Scriptures then the Holy Spirit is able to bring to mind other passages that will lead to understanding. For example, as I consider the verses above, desiring to know what is the proper interpretation, my mind is quickened to the following passage from Paul’s address to the Corinthian believers.

I Corinthians 15:24-28
Then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.

The apostle Paul reveals that the reign of Christ will have an end. At some point in the distant ages the reign of the Son will have accomplished its purpose of subjecting all things to the Father. When this is accomplished, all rule and authority will be abolished. The Son’s reign will also come to an end as all things are subjected to the Father and He becomes “all in all.”

People of God, as we look to the entire counsel of the Scriptures to inform our judgment we are able to see that Christ had a beginning as the firstborn of the Father. We are told He is “the beginning of the creation of God.” The Son is ancient of days, but He is not eternal. He has a beginning, and his rule will have an end when He has subjected all things to the Father. It is therefore inaccurate to describe the reign of the Son of God as “for ever and ever.” His reign will be to the end of the ages. It is also incorrect to describe the Son as “the King eternal.” Robert Young has translated the passage properly for us when he rendered it as “the king of the ages.”

Many more examples of this type of conflict and resolution, leading to a harmonious view of the whole of Scriptures could be cited, but I will mention only one more that a reader mentioned after the previous chapter was posted. He asked me about the testimony found in the following Scripture.

Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Once again we find a verse that is conveying information about the Christ that contradicts with that which is revealed elsewhere. How can the Son of God be rightly described as “Eternal Father” if He has a beginning, and His reign will come to an end at the end of the ages? How would we test the matter? How do we arrive at truth?

My intent in this writing is to do more than supply the reader with answers to doctrinal difficulties. My desire is to demonstrate to the reader how to resolve doctrinal difficulties. There is a proverb that states, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” I would much prefer to teach the people of God how to arrive at truth for themselves than to tell them what truth is.

The place to begin is always to pray, for Yahweh is the possessor and guardian of all truth. There is nothing that is hidden from His sight. He has also admonished His people to seek Him if they lack wisdom, or need understanding.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

John 16:23
“And in that day you will ask Me (the Son) no question. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name.”

It would be presumptuous of any man to think that he can arrive at spiritual truth apart from the aid of God the Father. At the same time, we would be negligent if we asked Yahweh to instruct us and then neglected to apply ourselves to the study of the word of God. We should invite our heavenly Father to guide us in our study of His word.

How might we begin to test Isaiah 6:9 to see if our English translations that describe Christ as “Eternal Father” are correct? A good place to begin would be to see what Hebrew word lies behind the word “eternal.” We could look up the word in Strong’s Concordance where we would find this entry:

ad; from OT:5710; properly, a (peremptory) terminus, i.e. (by implication) duration, in the sense of advance or perpetuity...

This leads us in turn to another Hebrew word, Strong’s number 5710, from which this word is derived.

adah; a primitive root; to advance, i.e. pass on or continue; causatively, to remove; specifically, to bedeck (i.e. bring an ornament upon):

Perhaps these definitions are a bit cryptic. James Strong had a pretty good vocabulary. He used many English words that are relatively obscure today. What after all is a “peremptory terminus”? The word peremptory signifies that which is definite, unable to be challenged, and unchangeable. The word terminus refers to an end point. Together they describe something that has a definite end point, either a beginning, or an end, or both, that is fixed. This describes very well an age, or any period of a fixed length. It does NOT accord well, however, with the word “eternal.”

The Study Light Forum has an entry for this Hebrew word. On it they list a Greek equivalent word. These equivalent words are at times obtained by looking for quotations of Old Testament passages that are cited in the Greek New Testament, for these quotations are in abundance. An equivalent Greek word may also be found by looking at ancient versions of the Old Testament that exist in the Greek language. The Septuagint is an example of one such Greek translation. Although these word equivalents cannot be considered conclusive, they do show how ancient Greek speaking people understood Hebrew words. (Bear in mind that they too translated according to their understanding and were prone to err.)

The Greek word equivalent for “ad” that is listed on the Study Light Forum is “aion.” This is the same word we have looked at in a number of New Testament passages. We saw that the KJV Bible was rendering aion as “eternal” or “for ever” while Young’s Literal Translation was consistently interpreting it as “an age.” The definition of aion as “an age” accords very well with the “proper” meaning of the Hebrew word “ad” as defined by James Strong. It is a duration of time with a “peremptory terminus.” In other words, it indicates a span of time that has definite end points.

As we look at other passages where this Hebrew word is used, we find that the KJV translators ascribed to it a range of meaning. Following are a couple examples.

Job 20:4-5
Knowest thou not this of old (Hebrew “ad”), since man was placed upon earth, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?

“Eternal” would not be a suitable English word to use to translate this Hebrew word in the verse above. We would not say “Knowest thou not this of eternity...

Another instance of this word is in the following verse:

Psalms 104:23
Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until (Hebrew “ad”) the evening.

Keep in mind that Strong’s Concordance tells us that the proper meaning of this word refers to a “peremptory terminus” or a definite end. We can see then how this word was employed in the original Hebrew of this verse. Men work “until” a certain end, which in this verse is identified as “the evening.” Men do not work perpetually, or eternally.

The King James translators most often rendered this Hebrew word as “for ever.” Yet, we must question whether they have done well in doing so in all instances. Following is one example.

Numbers 24:20
And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever (Hebrew “ad”).

Following is how the New KJV translates this same verse.

Numbers 24:20
Then he looked on Amalek, and he took up his oracle and said: "Amalek was first among the nations, but shall be last until (Hebrew “ad”) he perishes."

Again, the word until carries with it an understanding of something coming to a peremptory terminus. Amalek was prophesied to exist “until he perishes” (comes to a peremptory end). It would appear that the NKJV has done a better job of expressing the proper meaning of the Hebrew word.

We have seen that there is a range of meaning that can be ascribed to this word. We have seen it properly employed to mean “old,” or “until” some indicated end. Could Isaiah 9:6 be translated differently, in a manner that accords well with the proper meaning of the Hebrew word “ad,” and at the same time find a harmony with the testimony of the rest of Scripture? It certainly can. Following is one possible translation.

Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Ancient Father, Prince of Peace.

The Bible does describe the Son of God as ancient. We have already read that the Son of God existed before the heavens and earth were formed. He is described elsewhere as “ancient” of days.

Micah 5:2
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Brothers and sisters, I wish to assure you that I have no interest in leading you astray. I recognize that people have very strongly held beliefs about the Son of God. It is a very sensitive issue to many to be presented with thoughts about the identity of the Son of God that are contrary to what one was raised to believe. Many have been taught that Christ is no different from the Father. Some have heard it repeated ad infinitum that He is eternal. My desire is to cause you to look to the entirety of Scripture to see what is testified about the Son of God.

When you do so you will find clear statements that the Son had a beginning, and His reign will have an end. You will find that the Father is declared to be greater than the Son. These truths must be reconciled with the rest of the Scriptures. When you encounter contradictions in the Bible, as you surely will, it is requisite that you tarry until you resolve the contradiction. Exercise patience. Demonstrate that you are a skillful workman who is able to rightly divide the word of truth. Look to the Father to guide you.

If you would be established in truth, you must labor to clear away all the confusion, deception, and lies, that are characteristic of this dark and evil age in which we live. The rewards are worth the effort. Press forward brothers and sisters. The truth awaits you.

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