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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, December 29 2022

The world before man - The biblical explanation

As mentioned earlier in this issue Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." It might seem as if this verse describes the beginning of everything, but God later reveals details of events and conditions that took place earlier.

The early chapters of Genesis do not reveal details of the awe-inspiring initial creation, about which angels sang for joy, before Adam and Eve were created (Job 38:4-7), and we do not read how that creation came to be “without form and void." However, God gives us some telling hints how the earth came to be in this disorderly state in the book of Isaiah.

A key to understanding why the earth was "without form and void" involves understanding what happened to some of the angels. Lucifer was a great angel who rebelled against God: "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High'" (Isaiah 14:12-14).

Jesus Christ, who was the "Word" alongside God at the creation (John 1:1-3), tells us: "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven," describing how Lucifer, who became Satan (meaning Adversary) at his rebellion, was cast down from heaven—to the earth (Luke 10:18). However, Satan retained his authority on earth, as was made clear when Satan tempted Christ: "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world… And the devil said to Him, 'All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish'" (Luke 4:5-6). Jesus resisted this temptation but did not dispute the assertion of Satan's present authority, even later calling him "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). He is elsewhere called "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Whatever length of time was involved, perhaps millions or billions of years, the angels were created and lived before the creation of Adam and Eve and the days of the renewal of the earth described in Genesis. It does seem that Satan's rebellion happened after the earth had passed through the dinosaur age. Then, geologists agree, something dramatic occurred between the age of reptiles and the age of mammals.

As the famous paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson once remarked: "The most puzzling event in the history of life on the earth is the change from the Mesozoic Age of Reptiles, to the... Age of Mammals. It is as if the curtain were rung down suddenly on a stage where all the leading roles were taken by reptiles, especially dinosaurs, in great numbers and bewildering variety, and rose again immediately to reveal the same setting but an entirely new cast, a cast in which the dinosaurs do not appear at all, other reptiles are supernumeraries and the leading parts are all played by mammals of sorts barely hinted at in the previous acts" (Life Before Man, 1972, p. 42). This apparently reflects the change from the pre-Adamic world to the world of man. Certainly there are smaller reptiles in our world, but they are insignificant in comparison to those that existed in the previous age.

This is not the only "ancient earth" explanation available, but it seems to make the most biblical sense. It accepts the literal 24-hour days of the creation (or re-creation) week and, at the same time, allows room for an indefinite period before the creation of mankind that could include the dinosaurs and previous eras.

Jesus Christ has assured us that when He returns "there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light" (Mark 4:22). Instead of wandering through the chaotic, confused maze of the theory of evolution, we should look to God's Word for assurance.