First, a disclaimer. While I hate to choose sides on a divisive issue within Christianity, I’m going to present this argument from an Old Earth Creationist model. For those who are unfamiliar, this doctrine (otherwise known as the “Gap Theory”) rejects the idea of the Bible literally telling us that the universe was created in seven days 6,000 years ago and agrees with science on the age of the world. It claims that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is a gap of untold billions of years, when most of Earth’s natural history took place. It places the pre-Cambrian age all the way through the days of the dinosaurs (the Mesozoic era) before the Garden of Eden.
The biggest problem Young Earth Creationists have with this is that it places death before Adam. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12). The Bible does seem very clear on this: how could death of plants and animals precede the curse brought by Adam?
I’m not trying to knock down a strawman here. I have watched Kent Hovind’s DVD series and read Ken Hamm’s essays on Answersingenesis.org. I want to fairly represent the Young Earth Creationist argument while also defending the viewpoint I find more compelling.
But let me explain further. After scanning the scriptures, we can attest to two things: on the third day, God created dry land out of the water. From Genesis 1:2, we can see that the whole Earth, which was “void, and without form, and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” was covered in water. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
We can connect this with II Peter 3:5-7: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. Two different worlds are described: “the world that then was, being overflowed with water” versus “the heavens and the earth, which are now.”
Now what does this have to do with the fall of Lucifer? Some critics have been quick to point out that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 refer to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, respectively. This is true, but their prophetic statements transcend any earthly kings and use the comparison to Lucifer to explain his origins: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations (Isaiah 14:12)! The name “Lucifer” means “light bearer:” the Bible describes him as the most beautiful angel created and worship leader of heaven.
But he served another purpose that is often overlooked according to Ezekiel 28:13: Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Lucifer’s covering with beautiful stones mirrors the Levitical priests of the Old Testament. If you recall from Exodus, Aaron had to wear a breastplate with 12 stones into the tabernacle, each representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. This means that Lucifer also acted as a sort of high priest before God. We know this scripture isn’t just referring to the king of Tyre because clearly that king was never in Eden.
But verse 14 adds further: Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Lucifer was an “anointed cherub” that “covered” the earth. At this time, this planet was clearly placed specially in the universe in the only environment that could support life. The head angel was given the honor of being in charge over the world, a custodian of sorts.
According to scientists, Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. In its early stages, it was a hellish place, covered with extreme heat, lava, and boiling water. This matches Ezekiel’s description of Lucifer walking in the midst of the “stones of fire.” But scientists don’t agree on when the first life forms existed. According to some findings near Canada, some microscopic single-celled bacteria could have been here as far as 3.9 billion years ago, though this isn’t conclusive.
Either way, we can determine that fossilized microscopic life did exist more than a billion years ago. But fossilization cannot happen without death, meaning that the earliest fossils indicate when death first occurred.
I propose that Lucifer’s rebellion was what caused death in the ancient world. Just like Adam’s sin introduced mortality into this age, Lucifer’s sin introduced it into the previous. Since he was the anointed cherub over planet earth, the consequences of the highest angel attempting to exalt himself above God’s throne were catastrophic. Life continued in a constant battle for survival. As organisms grew more advanced, predation became a reality. It’s clear from the fossil record, especially during the age of the dinosaurs, that the prehistoric world was brutal.
To see how this doesn’t contradict scripture, one must examine original Biblical words. Greek or Hebrew terms could have multiple meanings in modern English translations. For example, “world” can translate to either the literal planet Earth, or Greek “eon,” which refers to a vast span of time. Romans 5:12 and II Peter 3:5-7 both translated “world” from kosmos. Adam may have brought sin into this era, but he clearly was not present in the prehistoric world Peter was describing, meaning someone else brought sin into the ancient cosmos.
This theory also allows for the existence of primates and hominids before the Garden of Eden, sometimes referred to as pre-Adamites. These apelike creatures and Neanderthals wouldn’t have had souls; and contrary to popular belief, no genetic be linked has established them as our evolutionary ancestors. Despite their best efforts, Darwinists still haven’t unraveled the mystery of where modern man came from, and any evidence tracing us further back than 13,000 years ago is sparse at best.
This is for a particular reason. About 13,000 years ago, the Ice Age came to a sudden and dramatic end after a devastating event known as the Younger-Dryas extinction. No one knows the cause for this transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene era, but an asteroid impact is the likely culprit. Evidence for this mass extinction appears in ancient animal graveyards around the world; it also has been proven that the world was temporarily covered in water due to the impact. Some have mistaken this for Noah’s deluge, but it’s far too early; more than likely, this is Earth in its state where Genesis 1:2 picks up.
It’s entirely possible that this mass extinction was caused by Lucifer finally being cast down to Earth, bringing a third of the angels with him. God wiped out all life when he arrived, then rebuilt it from scratch in the Genesis narrative.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: something doesn’t add up. If Lucifer’s rebellion started more than a billion years ago, and ended about 13,000 years ago, does that mean it lasted for a billion years or more? As I said in last week’s blog, we don’t know how long Lucifer was the exalted angel in heaven, or how long it took for the seed of rebellion to grow in him. Was it trillions of years? His defeat only occupies a few scriptures. Could it really have taken billions of years for God to defeat him?
This is where things get interesting.
In the movie Interstellar, Earth’s ecosystem is breaking down and won’t be able to support life much longer. Matthew Mcconaughey’s character is sent on a mission to deep space to find another habitable planet for humans. In one of the worlds his team explores, time and space move at a different rate than on Earth. Due to technical difficulties, they’re unable to escape for three hours, and when they get back to the space station, over 20 years have passed! He receives heart-breaking messages from Earth that his children have grown up and lost all hope of ever seeing him again.
This phenomenon, known as time dilation, is based on an actual scientific theory. It is within the realm of plausible astrophysics that time moves at different rates in other galaxies (you can read more about this by following the link in the sources). In other words, a few hours of time on Earth could equal millennia on another planet, and vice-versa.
But now remember something else I brought up last week: God and heaven are outside of the physical universe, meaning they are not bound by the laws of space and time within the universe. This multiplies the time dilation factor by an infinite possible amount. This is also Biblical:
Psalm 90:4: For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
II Peter 3:8: But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Revelation 19:9: And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
After the Rapture, the Bride of Christ (the church) is called into heaven and joined as one with the Lord Jesus. What follows is the marriage supper, which lasts during the duration of the seven-year Tribulation on Earth. But a supper actually last seven years? Who knows? It may seem to only last a few hours for those who are there, while seven years have passed on Earth. Time is relative.
So who knows how long in heaven Lucifer’s rebellion lasted? We can deduce that it began at least a billion years ago, when death first started on our planet. However, the war could have only lasted what seemed to be a few hours, days, weeks, or months. It doesn’t really matter.
Much of this is hard to process; as I said last week, our minds are tuned into the time and space of our world. But I am satisfied that we have found a workable model to synchronize the Biblical narrative of Lucifer’s rebellion with geologic and cosmological history. I also feel that we have solved the intriguing puzzle of how sin could have first entered in the perfect and holy eternal environment of God’s presence in heaven. As time goes on, scientific discoveries are helping with progressive revelation of scripture, not contradicting it!
-Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1943. Copyright renewed in 1980 by Arthur Owen Barfield. First Touchstone Edition 1996, Simon & Shuster Inc. Pages 49-50.
-Kaplan, Sarah. “Oldest Signs of Life on Earth May Be in 3.95 Billion-year-old Rocks.” WashingtonPost.com. September 28, 2017. Accessed January 27, 2018. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/09/28/oldest-signs-of-life-on-earth-may-be-in-3-95-billion-year-old-rocks/?utm_term=.201cdb2e11d4>
-Johnson, Gaines R. “Understanding the Biblical Difference Between the Words World and Earth.” Kjvbible.org. Accessed January 27, 2018. <http://kjvbible.org/theworlds.html>
-Johnson, Gaines R. “Life Forms Just Before End of Ice Age and After Seven Days of Genesis.” Kjvbible.org. Accessed January 27, 2018. <http://kjvbible.org/lifeform.html>
-“Time Dilation.” Phy.olemiss.edu. Accessed January 27, 2018. <http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/HEP/QuarkNet/time.html>