Most commentators I’ve read seem to agree that the early verses of Genesis presents us with a world that had been thrown into chaos by the sin of a third of the angelic realm. Thus Genesis 1 describes the world at the beginning of God’s work 23 formlessas being “formless and void.” Most commentators agree that it was the result of sin in the heavenly realms. Jeremiah looks at his world and uses the same language to describe what he sees because of the sin of God’s very own people. He writes in Jeremiah 4:23, “I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.”

Following the opening verse in the Bible “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth,” the earth is described as being without form and void. Bullinger is famous for his work identifying all the figures of speech in the Bible. He thinks this phrase “without form and void” from Genesis is the “…very first Figure employed in the Bible. And it is used to call our attention to, and emphasize, the fact that, while the first statement refers to two things, ‘the heaven and the earth’; the following statement proceeds to speak of only one of them, leaving the other entirely out of consideration. Both were created ‘in the beginning.’ But the earth, at some time, and by some means, and from some cause (not stated) became a ruin:—empty, waste, and desolate; or, as it is expressed by another Figure (Paronomasia, q.v.), tohoo and bohoo.” God did not create the earth without form and void. Isaiah makes that perfectly clear in Isaiah 45:18. It says, “For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place.  He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos.” Being without form and void is clearly the description of the results of sin. According to Bullinger Genesis chapter 1, “The whole chapter exhibits a parallel between this work, and that ‘new creation’ which takes place in the case of every one who is born again of the Holy Ghost, and has the new man created within him.’[1]

Frank Borman, Commander of Apollo VIII (the first manned ship to orbit the moon), sent this message to earch from 240,000 miles away, “For all the people of earth, we have a message we would like to send you: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 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. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.… And God saw that it was good.” He closed his transmission to earth with this prayer: “Give us, O God, the vision which can see love in the world in spite of human failure. Give us the faith to trust Thy goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness. Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts, and show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.”[2]

q.v. Which see.

[1] Ethelbert William Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (London; New York: Eyre & Spottiswoode; E. & J. B. Young & Co., 1898), 251–252.

[2] William J. Federer, Great Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to Their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions (St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch, 2001).