Cosmos: Making Heaven and Earth

Part 4: What Was the Firmament?

Once the initial universe was created by the will and purpose of God (Revelation 4:11), the triune Godhead now began “making” and “shaping” the heavens and the earth into an organized and functioning cosmos in preparation for the life that would be created on Days Five and Six. What does the Bible say about the firmament?

Cosmos Making Heaven and Earth

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. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. (Genesis 1:6-8)

Cosmos: Making Heaven and Earth

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The Firmament of the Cosmos

Day Two of creation involved the making (‘asah) of the “firmament” and the “dividing” of the waters. “Firmament” comes from the Hebrew raqiya and is usually translated “expanse” in more recent Bible versions. The Hebrew term clearly means an “extended surface” or a “thin, stretched-out space.” This raqiya is inserted in the “waters,” causing them to be divided. Some of these waters were to be situated above the raqiya, with the remainder staying below.

Peter speaks of “the earth standing out of water and in the water” (2 Peter 3:5), and the prophet Isaiah reveals to us that as God sat above the circle of the earth, He “stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22).

Elsewhere in the Old Testament, raqiya is often used to describe different “expanses.” The “speech” and “knowledge” of the Creator are openly declared in the “firmament” (Psalm 19:1-2).

Ezekiel describes a “firmament” above the heads of the cherubim that was like a “sapphire” supporting the throne of God (Ezekiel 1:26; 10:1). Daniel tells us that the wise will shine like the “brightness of the firmament” and the “stars” (Daniel 12:3).

Obviously, the Hebrew term is meant to be descriptive rather than nominative. Raqiya is a “thing” that God made, but it is more often used as an adjective to describe how it is used. Perhaps that is why God specifically named the raqiya “heaven” (Genesis 1:8).

While the specific naming of the “expanse” is designated as “heaven” during the activity of the second day, the Old Testament uses the proper name “heaven” over 400 times and in several different ways.

  • It is used of both the solar system and the starry universe when God describes the “lights” that He develops on Day Four (Genesis 1:14-17). This broad and inclusive use is common, both in our normal speech and in the Old Testament.
  • It is used of the atmosphere in which the birds are to fly “above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens” (Genesis 1:20). The birds “of the air” are mentioned an additional 16 times in the Old Testament.
  • It is used by God Himself during His discourse with Job to describe the stars and galaxies of the universe: “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, Or loose the belt of Orion? Can you bring out Mazzaroth in its season? Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth?” (Job 38:31-33).
  • It is also used specifically of the sun and moon (our near solar system). “Then Joshua spoke to the Lord…‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’…So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven” (Joshua 10:12-13).

Stay tuned for Day Three of the creation week.

Question: How does this view of the cosmos impact your witness to unbelievers? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

[Post adapted from Six Days of Creation.]


Part 1: Introduction to the Six Days of Creation

Part 2: Only God Can Create

Part 3: The Tri-Universe and the Nature of God

Additional Study Resources:

Want to dig deeper into the study of the cosmos? Click on the links below:

In the Beginning: A Study of Genesis

In the Beginning - cosmos

Study Outline: Creation – Days 2-4

cosmos Days 2-4

Why Origins Are Important

Why Origins Are Important - cosmos

5 Reasons Why God’s Purpose for Creation Excludes Evolution

5 Reasons Why God's Purpose for Creation Excludes Evolution - cosmos

Recent Creation Is Important

Recent Creation Is Important - cosmos

Download my FREE eBook 5 Reasons to Believe in Recent Creation here!

Free e-book email 2 recent creation - cosmos

Heroes and Villains of the Bible Podcast:

More Study Tools:

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