The Expanse

Lately, we have considered the details of the first day of creation, when God spoke into existence the whole sum and substance of unformed matter of the heavens and the earth, and followed with shining His light upon it, marking the first 24-hour day by the period of darkness (night) and the period of light (day). Day one is certainly a challenge for us to wrap our minds around as it describes a situation for the heavens and the earth that is unlike anything we’ve seen before. The latter days of the week of creation are much easier to picture as God designs the things we understand today: trees, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, creatures, and mankind. But before those things, we see yet another challenging picture on day two and part of day three.

Day two and the first part of day three are all about the placement of water. On day one, all of earth’s matter was suspended in water. In the next two days, God will be moving this water into appropriate places to make way for dry land.

“Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.” (Genesis 1:6-7)

To the Hebrews, the word “firmament” originated from the idea of a sheet of metal that was hammered out flat. This flat material served as a solid surface base or support for something. In the case of the firmament, the Hebrews viewed the sky as a solid support for the waters above. On day two, God removed a mass of water from the earth and moved it above the earth. In between the watery earth and the waters above it, was an airy expanse (firmament), which God called “heaven” (Genesis 1:8). Although we tend to call this area “the sky”, the bible locates the clouds of water to be in “heaven” (Psalm 147:8; Matthew 24:30). The Hebrew word “heaven” is also translated as “air” in Genesis 1:28, and is not only the location of the clouds of water but also of the birds in flight. But to complicate matters, the term heaven is also applied on day four to the location of the sun, moon, and stars. I believe any confusion could be cleared up when considering that, on day one, God created “the heavens” in plural. Thus, there are multiple expanses above the earth that delicately separate various parts of the created spaces. This leads me to another point of discussion; are the waters that God separated from the earth the clouds? Or does this have to do with more than the clouds? I don’t know. There is water in outer space; in fact, scientists recently found a cloud of water 30 billion miles away that contains 140 trillion times the amount of water in the earth’s oceans. So, it is possible that more water was pulled from the earth and into the greater expanses, but I tend to fall back on the view that Genesis 1:6-7 describes how God formed the clouds of the sky, due mainly to the fact that the Genesis record tends to speak of creation as it pertains to this earth and the things in the sky that can be witnessed with the human eye (sun, moon, stars). We know that there is much more to the creation of God than just the points highlighted in Genesis 1, such as the creation of many other galaxies, and the creation of spiritual beings, like the Angels.

On day two, God separated nearly 5 billion gallons of water from the earth and suspended them above the earth. If somehow all the water in the sky fell at once as precipitation over the entire earth, would we need another Noah’s ark? No, all the water in the sky would only amount to an accumulation of 1 inch over the earth’s entire surface. This may be a cause for concern for us who acknowledge the worldwide flood in the days of Noah, when the floodwaters reached 15 cubits above the mountain tops (Genesis 7:19). But this is no cause for concern; for one, there is too much evidence that a universal flood did in fact happen, such as the same layers of now hardened mud that were moved from one continent to the next and buried what is now a fossil record of creatures that saw an immediate burial that preserved them unto this day. Today, we can see hardened rock layers from soil that originated in Mexico and was thrown all the way up the United States and into Canada. No local flood can accomplish such chaos. But where did all this violent water come from? The bible reveals that it came from two sources: rainfall and the fountains of the deep (Genesis 7:11). This is an important link to how God designed heaven and earth. As we’ve already studied, all the water that was removed from the surface to design the sky happened on day two, but the earth was still entirely underwater. It is not until day three that God gathered the waters and fixed them into their own place so that dry land appeared. This means that the earth has enough water hidden away by God to completely cover the earth’s surface, even without the use of the water in the sky. Yes, and recent science has definitively proven this fact. Under the surface of American soil alone, over 400 miles under our feet, resides a massive ocean contained within the rocks of what is called the transition zone (the layer that divides the upper and lower regions of the mantle). The extreme pressures and temperatures in this layer allow for the water to burst from the rock if it only had somewhere to go. Under U.S. soil, this deep ocean contains enough water to cover the entire planet, except for a few mountaintops, but surely this watery layer of rock doesn’t reside only under the U.S., but it likely wraps around the globe. Consider what the psalmist wrote concerning the creation of the world: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalms 33:6-9). Notice that the psalmist speaks of both the waters of the seas becoming heaped together and the deep water that God laid into storehouses. More of God’s storehouses for deep waters are the earth’s sub-sea reservoirs. It is estimated that 120,000 cubic miles of freshwater are buried beneath the seafloor off the coasts of North America, China, Africa, and Australia. So, there can be no doubt that God made great reservoirs of deep water to allow dry land to appear, and, during Noah’s day, God broke open various reservoirs from the abundant subterranean abyss, violently releasing water that destroyed the world; making the earth appear similar to its appearance on day one and two of creation.

It is important to note the spiritual story that God is telling in the creation, just as we considered last week the significance of “let there be light”. Here, we see that all life was born out of a watery grave of emptiness and void, and the gospel message does not neglect these important properties of the spiritual life of a new creation in Christ. A new creation is made in Christ when we behold the light of Christ’s word, and bury the old man of sin in water, to be reborn out of the water into life.

Article by Tanner Campbell