According to Gn 1:1, God created heaven and earth. Contrary to what most people think, God was not creating heaven and earth because they did not exist. Genesis is a promise regarding the re-creation of heaven and earth. What does this mean regarding the kind of heaven and earth God promised to create in Gn 1?
The heaven and earth obviously must exist before God fulfills his promise in Gn 1 to re-create heaven and earth. In the beginning, the earth is formless and empty (i.e., mixed), and heaven is filled with darkness. There is also darkness over the face of the waters (Gn 1:2). God is looking for a light in this darkness on the first day of creation. He finds that light and creates an expanse in the midst of the darkened waters on the second day of creation. On the third day, God gathers the waters to one place so dry land can appear (Gn 1:3-9). Heaven and earth were dark, formless, and empty on the first day, but the heaven God creates on the second day divides the waters under the expanse from the waters above it. On the third day, the earth produces grass and other seed-bearing plants as well as trees that produce fruit (Gn 1:1-13).
Again, God is promising to re-create heaven and earth. This is not referring to the heaven and earth from the first day, but the heaven and earth from the second and third days. According to Rv 21, the first heaven and first earth pass away and there is no longer any sea. This is why we see a new heaven and new earth being created in that passage. The first heaven and earth grow old and weak before passing away. They pave the way for the creation of the new heaven and earth.
Genesis 1 says that the earth was formless, empty, and dark before the first day of creation. Interestingly, Jer 4 says something very similar. This description of the earth is referring to the spiritual state of God’s chosen people after they have been destroyed by the enemies of God. According to 1 Thes 5, the sons of the evil one are referred to as sons of the night and of the darkness. The sons of God, on the other hand, are referred to as sons of the day and sons of the light because they have been created by the light of Jesus (Jn 8:12). In other words, the darkened heavens and formless earth on the first day of creation in Genesis are different from the heaven and earth created on the second and third days. Genesis is describing the destruction of the old heaven and earth and the creation of a new heaven and earth—the process of re-creation.
The disappearance of the darkened heaven and the formless earth on the first day is the same as the disappearance of sun, moon, and stars and the judgment of the earth that takes place in Rv 6. The re-creation of a new heaven and earth is the same as the re-creation of the 12 tribes of God’s kingdom that occurs in Rv 7. Genesis 1 is a figurative account of the process by which God re-creates his chosen people after they betray him and are destroyed. When the former heaven and earth betrayed God and lost their light, God hovered over the face of the waters to find a light in the world. At the time of the first coming, this light was Jesus (Jn 8:12; Jn 12:46). Since the family of Jacob was figuratively referred to as the sun, moon, and stars in heaven (Gn 37:9-11), Jesus and his twelve disciples were heaven and the earth was the flesh of their followers (Gn 2:7). Heaven represents God’s temple (Rv 13:6), and the earth represents its people.
The first day of creation (Gn 1:1-5) is a figurative description of the process of re-creation that is necessary because the first heaven and earth grew empty and dark. Revelation 13:3 says the whole world follows and worships the beast. Revelation 16 says God’s wrath is poured on the earth, which represents people’s flesh. Revelation 13:6 describes the tabernacle of God’s chosen people as heaven. Taken together, these passages indicate that the darkened heaven and empty earth are the tabernacle and people who betrayed God and the newly created heaven and earth are God’s new tabernacle and people.
Jesus proclaimed ancient truths (Gn 1) in parables (Ps 78:2; Mt 13:34-35). When the promised time comes, he reveals the true physical entities of the things he said in parables. Those who believe in the Bible will believe these words.