THE GAP THEORY
The Gap Theory is found in at least four places in scripture. Twice in Daniel, once in Isaiah and once in Genesis. All four of these places have caused much controversy among Bible students. By not recognizing the gap of time found in these places, many scholars have had to "adjust" the literal meaning of what's written. We'll take a look at the two places in Daniel first.
There are three time periods mentioned in Daniel 9:24-26. First we see 70 weeks. This totals 490 years. But in verse 25, it lists two time periods that only total 69 weeks , seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. Immediately Daniel goes on to tell us something about those two periods. During the first seven weeks, 49 years, the rebuilding of the city, "the street and the wall" is to take place. Then it tells us what will happen after the sixty-two week, 434 year period. But the last week of seven years seems to have been lost. In the second part of verse 26, and especially in verse 27, we start to hear things about the Antichrist that we know haven't yet happened. This lack needs reconciling. That's where the Gap Theory comes in.
The Gap Theory is the explanation given to reconcile the fact that Daniel prophesies 70 weeks of years, but that all the prophecies haven't come true, or rather didn't come true in the time allotted, 490 years.
The Gap Theory says that there is a Gap of time between the 69th and the 70th week. And that the 70th week is the time of the Great Tribulation. Jesus' quoting out of Isaiah is a solid confirmation for the existence of a gap of time. Most Historicists have insisted that the 70th week came right after the 69th, but can't come up with events that fulfill the prophecies. They can't find an Antichrist that did all the things prophesied about him that were to happen in the 70th week of years.
For instance, they can't find a man who, in the seven year period after the death of Jesus, made a peace pact with Israel, allowing the restitution of sacrifices, then breaks his pact after three and a half years. The sacrifice was already ongoing and wouldn't be stopped until more than thirty years later when Titus conquered and razed Jerusalem in 70 AD.
To start, we should consider the events rather than the time period of the prophecy of Daniel in chapter nine. We're looking for the fulfillment of Bible prophecies that can narrow down our position as related to the beginning of the Great Tribulation.
Therefore, we'll not focus on the 70 weeks to try and figure out when they are, but what is prophesied to happen. This is not the usual way this material is studied. Most folks want to pin down a date so badly they miss some crucial evidence in the argument for the Gap theory. They have to know exactly which edict starts the prophecy of the 70 weeks. Is it Cyrus', Darius' , or one of Artaxerxes ' decrees that begins the 490 years? Does the time start at 539, 519, 457 or 444 BC? That date, while capable of being determined, can only effect the 490 years of the prophecy by some one hundred years. There must be a way to reconcile the other 1900 years 'till now. The issue isn't, "When did the prophecy begin to count down the 490 years," it is rather, "Did the prophesied events come to pass." This is a pivotal point. One that Jesus confirms when he reads from Isaiah in the synagogue.
Daniel says ion verse 24 that SEVEN things will take place before the end of the prophecy. Did these seven things happen yet? GOD determines that He will:
· 1-finish the transgression-which one? Some transgression, OK. ALL, no. YES/ NO
· 2-make an end of sins--I just sinned yesterday. NO
· 3-make reconciliation for iniquity--Christ did that. YES
· 4-bring in everlasting righteousness--OK, only in that His righteousness is, but I
· sinned today. YES/NO
· 5-seal up the vision-We haven't seen lots of prophesied events. NO
· 6-seal up the prophecy-Same as above. NO|
· 7-anoint the most Holy--If this is the 4th Temple, as is said, NO
Daniel's not much of a prophet, is he? 490 years after the prophecy was to begin, somewhere around 40 AD, only one strong and two questionable fulfillments are evident. Moreover, he's had an additional 1900 years to make up for it, but has still come up short. Oh well, I guess those guys that say Daniel was written in 150 BC were right. Not! There's only one reconciliation for the 490 years. The Gap theory. Haven't we seen other prophecies that weren't absolutely consecutive?
The second confirmation of the Gap theory can be found also in Daniel, chapter eleven. It's in this chapter that we get such immaculate detailing of historical events that, as mentioned above, scholars are led to believe that someone other than Daniel wrote the book.
After being provoked by the Medo-Persians, Alexander conquers them, and the rest of the world. He dies, in verse four, and his kingdom is split in four, by his generals, not his sons. We then get a detailed history of two of the general's activities, as portrayed by the King of the North (General Seleucus) and the King of the South (General Ptolemy). They war back and forth, successors taking their places. Cleopatra is even in there, until verse 21. Beginning with verse 21 we can't find fulfillment anywhere in history, except partially. This last "person" who stands up, "a vile person," does many things that have no evidence in history. Antiochus Epiphanes fulfills much of the prophecy, but falls short of many of it's elements. His intricate peace talks with Egypt, and Daniel's other condition of uprooting three countries, are two examples that rule out Antiochus. The fact is, that the prophecy concerning the person from verse 21 on has not been fulfilled; regardless of Daniel's 490 years. There must be a gap of time between verse 20 of chapter eleven and verse 21. Before we leave Daniel, Let's look at some other gaps.
Dan 2:40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
Dan 2:41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
This gap is self-evident. We know that the fourth kingdom is Rome. But we can't find in history this fifth kingdom of clay and iron. The context shows that this is the kingdom of the Antichrist, which hasn't' happened yet. There is a gap of time between the Roman Empire and the Antichrist's kingdom.
A little less clear, but just a detailed account of chapter 2 is verses 7 and 8 of chapter 7.
Dan 7:7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.
Dan 7:8 I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.
The "iron teeth" is the fourth, the Roman Empire, out of which the "little horn", the Antichrist will come. Since we know that the Antichrist has not yet come on the scene, we know that there MUSST be a gap of time between Rome and the "little horn.
In chapter 8, Daniel says the same thing only in more detail. The goat is Alexander. His kingdom is broken up and out of one of the four parts comes that same little horn. But from the description of what he does, we know that he hasn't arrived yet. There is a gap of time between the establishment of Alexander's four generals' kingdoms and the appearance of the Antichrist.
Dan 8:8 Therefore the he goat waxed very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven.
Dan 8:9 And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.
Now let's take a look at Ezekiel. This is a little harder to see because the gap is in reverse.. He starts out talking to the king of Tyre. But then he switches to someone who was in the Garden of Eden, which couldn't possibly be that king of Tyre.
Eze 28:12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Eze 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.
Now to Jesus and Isaiah, the third example of a gap. Here's what Luke records in verses 16-20 of chapter four:
16-And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17-And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, found the place where is was written,
18-The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
20-And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
Then in verse 21 Jesus says, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
And well you might say that this prophecy by Isaiah was fulfilled. Only if you use the prophecy read by Christ. Jesus did all six of those things. Isaiah was some prophet. Everything Jesus said was true. BUT, he didn't say ALL of it! ! ! Go to Isaiah and read the REST of the prophecy.
This is the part that got the Jews in trouble. They expected their Messiah to do the rest of the prophecy; Jesus DIDN'T.
Verse 2 of Isaiah 61 is where Jesus stopped IN MID-SENTENCE! ! You'd think that any Proper reading of the prophecy would continue to the end of the thought. But no, Jesus stops just before an "and."
2- To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, (this is where Jesus stopped, because he couldn't go on)
AND the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all the mourn;
3-(still part of the same train of thought) To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."
NOW we're finished with the prophecy. Not before.
The day of God's vengeance and the deliverance of the Jews is yet to come. And notice how the time is fixed by the following verses which describe events that we know to take place in the Millennium.
Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Isa 61:4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
Isa 61:5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
Isa 61:6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
This, then, is the third "proof" of the Gap theory. God says that two is an adequate witness. Some in-depth study will turn up more evidence for the Gap.
Besides, some of my more superficial study of other theories that try to make sense out of the 490 year puzzle shows that dates and events have to be tortured to make the prophecy true, or descriptions must be "spiritualized" or symbolized to make them fit.
Let's look at the most controversial application of the Gap Theory, Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
First, we'll look at Jeremiah 4:23-27.
Jer 4:23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.
This verse describes exactly what Moses said the earth was like in Genesis 1:2.
Jer 4:24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.
Jer 4:25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.
Jer 4:26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
Jer 4:27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
Verses 24, 25 and 26 are the reasons for verse 23. Because of catastrophic earthquakes, the earth became the "without form and void," It became that way from what happened in 24-5-6.
But the critical part is in verse 24. This all happened when there "was no man". When there was an earth, and it had cities, but there was no man. This shows that there was an earth and there were beings that used cities, but the whole thing was destroyed in some cataclysm. At some time, an inhabited earth, without any men, was destroyed and became a "waste and a desolation."
Those are the exact Hebrew words used by Moses in writing Genesis 1:2. The word "was" is also used to mean "became." The earth "became" without form and void.
This means that there was an earth in Genesis 1:1 that became "without form and void", over which the Spirit of God hovered. There is a gap of time between the original creation of the earth, in Genesis 1:1, and the beginning of the re-creation process, starting in Genesis 1:2.
The Gap theory is a Tough Nut. It seemingly goes against the "literal" quality that we want out of scripture. But then Paul reminds us that the glass is too dark to make out Reality in detail.
The Gap Theory is the only way to reconcile some of the most controversial parts of the Bible.
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