"In the beginning God created the heaven 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." (Genesis 1: 1-2).
How the original earth became waste and empty - "without form and void?"
In Genesis we do not see details of the awe-inspiring initial creation, the creation well before Adam and Eve about which angels sang for joy. And we do not read how that creation came to be in chaos—”without form and void.”
The text, though, does offer clues. Notice that the New International Version has a marginal notation regarding the translation of Genesis 1:2, set here within brackets: “Now the earth was [or possibly became ] formless and empty . . .”
Does God reveal elsewhere in His Word how the earth came to be in this disorderly state, “formless and empty”? He gives us some telling hints in the book of Isaiah. “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18).
The Hebrew term rendered in vain here is from the same word translated “without form” in Genesis 1:2. Yet here Isaiah records God as saying He did not originally create the earth in this condition. Other scriptures, such as Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23, describe similar devastation on the earth using the same words translated “without form, and void” in Genesis 1:2. There is no doubt that these words describe the earth as being empty, void, a wasteland.
The Genesis account simply does not provide all the details. But the Bible as a whole fills in other parts of the story. The missing pieces are given in other scriptures, which tell us of Satan’s rebellion against God. They describe his attempt to overthrow God and that as a result of a great supernatural battle, he was cast back down.
We see what appears to be a parallel situation in Revelation 12:7-9, which describes an attempt by Satan to overthrow God shortly before Christ’s return: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Yet God has allowed Satan to retain authority over this present world. Satan even offered Jesus the opportunity to share rulership over the earth under him.
In closing, I will draw your attention to some key facts that caused the Psalmist some concern when he declared: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard".
For a moment consider the following:
(1) We live on a mass of earth that weighs trillions and trillions of tons yet it floats effortlessly in space.
(2) That earth turns at a constant speed of 1000 miles per hour, but we don't feel it because we are not only moving at the same speed, but the size of the earth makes it feel as if we are turning much slower.
(3) Water, as we know it, normally assumes the shape of the object it occupies, yet the water on earth defies all understanding of how water normally behaves. The scientists will say its gravity - but in truth, the fact that the seas obey the boundaries and shore lines can only be explained through divine creation and the hidden laws that God has put in place.
(4) The earth - with all its abuses - continues to serve man and provide a habitat with seasons, life, and yes, profound mystery.
(5) The greater universe as we know it, to include the planets, and the stars, is so vast that man has only just begun to understand that it is truly boundaryless!
When we examine the whole of Scripture, we find a great deal more information that illuminates and explains the Genesis account of creation by God.