My Musings – Separation of light from dark (last Sunday’s blog), is something we can observe and thus is easier to understand than today’s blog, the separation of waters above form the water’s below. But never underestimate the ability of God to reconcile science to His Word. It just takes time for the wisdom of man (current scientific theories) to catch up to a right understanding of the Word. He’s got all the time in the world.
Let There Be An Expanse – The Hebrew is alternatively translated “expanse, firmament, vault.” It is that element that divides heavenly [atmospheric] waters from terrestrial [liquid] waters. The ancients believed the sky was a dome that separated the [terrestrial] heavens above the sky from the earth below. The view that the sky was a solid dome was common in the ancient Near Eastern cosmology shared by the biblical writers. There are, in fact, two “domes” encircling the earth.
The first “dome,” the ozone layer, is one of the layers of the stratosphere (the second layer of the Earth’s atmosphere), which is a mass of protective gases clinging to our planet. Both oxygen and ultraviolet light was required to form the ozone layer. Since there are no other planets with oxygen in our solar system, this makes an ozone layer unique to Earth. Before the existence of the ozone layer, life was restricted to shallow water [the fifth day]. This is because water shielded harmful radiation. When ozone started protecting Earth from deadly UV rays, life could finally diversify on land [the sixth day]. The ozone layer has a primary function of absorbing ultraviolet sunlight. The absorption of ultraviolet rays has many effects, such as atmospheric temperature regulation and protection of biological entities.
The second “dome,” called the Van Allen belts, are a pair of dynamic regions of trapped radiation, separated by a void and held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field. They protect the planet from the radiation of space and the effects of solar weather. Without Earth’s magnetic field, these cosmic storms and high energy particles would strip away our atmosphere, destroying our cellular structure and evaporating our oceans in the process. “Luckily” for us, we have our magnetic shield (the magnetosphere) to protect us from most of these harmful particles. When the charged particles come into contact with the magnetosphere, they don’t disappear; they are merely deflected around the planet, forming what we call the Van Allen belts.
To Separate The Water Under From The Water Above – On the first day, God separated light from dark. On day two, God began to form the earth by means of a second act of separation – the waters above from the waters below. An expanse—the atmosphere—was placed in the midst of the waters, thus separating the clouds above from the condensed water below. The separation of the water made a distinction between the waters that are now wrapped up in the clouds and those that cover the sea, the waters in the air and those in the earth. This suggests that previously there had been a dense moisture enshrouding the earth, but not covering the earth.
It is theorized that Hydrogen was the first atom to form after the Big Bang, followed by Helium and a small amount of Lithium. These basic atoms often fused together to make heavier atoms (like oxygen). When hydrogen atoms came in contact with oxygen atoms, water formed in thick layers of ice on rocky objects (comets, asteroids or meteoroids) that were swirling around the cosmos. Assuming water did not exist on Earth or any other planet at the birth of the solar system, it has been speculated that the water must have “flown in” from the outer reaches of the solar system, riding on comets, asteroids or meteoroids.
Though scientists have scoffed at the idea of water above the firmament, there is vast amounts of water “stored” in outer space. Recently, astronomers discovered the largest (140 trillion times all the water in the earth’s oceans) and farthest (12 billion light years away) reservoir of water ever detected in the universe in a distant quasar. There is also water vapor in the Milky Way, although the total amount is 4,000 less than in the quasar.
God Called The Expanse Sky – Though the Hebrew word can mean “heaven,” it refers in this context to “the sky.” The atmosphere is an important part of what makes Earth livable. It blocks some of the Sun’s dangerous rays from reaching Earth. It traps heat, making Earth a comfortable temperature. And the oxygen within our atmosphere is essential for life. It is the only known planet with these conditions.
My Advice – Never bet against the inerrancy of God’s Word. It is simply amazing that the account in Genesis was simple enough to be grasped by early man, and complex enough to confound even modern man best theorizing.
- All Scripture references, unless otherwise indicated are from the New International Version, 1984.
- Hamilton, V. P. (1995). Genesis. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, p. 11). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
- Major Contributors and Editors. (2016). Firmament. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- Smith, J. E. (1993). The Pentateuch (2nd ed., p. 53). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.
- Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 4). Peabody: Hendrickson.
- Ross, A. P. (1985). Genesis. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 29). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ge 1:8). Biblical Studies Press.