“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.”
Two elderly ladies sought my attention after the meeting.
“Good evening,” I said, turning to them. “I hope you enjoyed the presentation”.
“You were wrong about the age of the earth,” said one of them, who I will call Mrs. Smith. “If you read Genesis 1 properly, you will see that God made the world, and then, later, the earth became formless and void. That doesn’t sound very good. Something went wrong. There was a gap between the first two verses of millions of years.”
I had mentioned during my talk about the semantic range of the Hebrew word hayah, showing that it should be translated as was, unless there was a clear contextual reason to translate it as became.
While Mrs. Jones listened intently and silently, Mrs. Smith simply changed gears. “The Bible calls God ‘The Ancient of Days’. Six thousand years isn’t very ancient!”
“I beg to differ. I think 6,000 years is extremely ancient. When I look at Stonehenge, I don’t think to myself ‘that was only built about 4,000 years ago; it’s practically brand new.”
At last Mrs. Jones boiled over. “But, but, but ‘So-and-So’ says there is a gap, so there must be!” She named a very well-known TV preacher.
What else was there to say? I tried to be polite – “If So-and-So says one thing, and the Bible says another, then I am going to believe the Bible rather than So-and-So.”
And with that, they turned and walked away.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to be gentle in the way that I speak to people. But also make me truthful, and make me stand on the truth of your word. Amen.
Ref: Fields, W. (2005), Unformed and Unfilled (Green River, AR: Master Books). Image: CC BY 2.0.