The Berean Expositor
Volume 14 - Page 131 of 167
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Tohu and Bohu.
pp. 59 - 62
Scripture opens with the words:--
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1: 1).
The Hebrew sentence contains seven words and twenty-eight letters. To the student
of Scripture acquainted both with the Scripture symbolism of numbers and also with
Bible Numerics this simple fact will speak with no uncertainty. Seven stands for spiritual
perfection. Strange as it may at first appear, the whole of Scripture appears to be divided
into three parts, the first part being compressed into one verse (Gen. 1: 1), the second part
spreading out over the remainder of Genesis and the rest of the Bible up to Rev. 20:, and
the third portion being the first five verses of Rev. 21: where the new heaven and new
earth appear. This threefold division is found in II Pet. 3: 5-10. Rotherham translates
verses 5 and 6 thus:--
"For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth on
account of water and by means of water compacted by God's word, by which means the
world that then was, with water being flooded, perished."
This passage takes us back to Gen. 1: 2. We again quote Rotherham's version:--
"Now the earth had become waste and wild, and darkness was on the face of the
roaring deep, but the Spirit of God was brooding on the face of the waters."
The words which Rotherham translates "waste and wild" the A.V. renders "without
form and void". The Hebrew words are tohu va bohu. These two words, at the threshold
of the ages, imply the need for redemption and explain in some measure its character.
While the words tohu and bohu occur separately in several places, they occur together in
but two other passages. Before turning to these two passages however we will obtain
positive testimony to the relation of Gen. 1: 2 with verse 1. In other words, we will
allow Scripture to determine for us whether Gen. 1: 1, 2 teaches that by a long process of
evolution cosmos emerged out of chaos, or that after the primal creation came an
overthrow out of which by Divine creative power the present order was made.
Isa. 45: 18 records the words of God Himself on the subject. Who should know
better as to the question of creation than "The Lord that created the heavens"? or "God
Himself that formed the earth and made it"? or "He that hath established it"? This is
what He declares: "He created it NOT TOHU". That statement settles the meaning of
Gen. 1: 2. It became so. We shall have occasion to return to this passage for other facts
presently, but we first of all seek the illumination that comes from the two occurrences of
tohu and bohu together. The first occurrence is Isa. 34: 11. Let us observe the
context. The nations are addressed in the opening verse, and are told that