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?
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
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.]
Additional Study Resources:
Want to dig deeper into the study of the cosmos? Click on the links below:
- What Happened on the First Day of Creation?
The Days in Genesis 1 Were Literal 24-Hour Days
- God Made the Stars Also
Starlight and Time—Day 2 through Day 4
- God Created Life
Birds, Dinosaurs, Humans, a Day of Rest, and a Mandate from the Creator
Heroes and Villains of the Bible Podcast:
- Adam and Eve
- Episode 1: A Very Good Relationship Gone Bad – First Couple, First Heroes and Villains
- Episode 2: Pulling Back the Curtain on the Ultimate Villain – How the Spiritual Realm Impacts Humanity
- Episode 3: Satan’s Triple Threat Strategy – This Strategy Is Still Used Today
- Episode 4: The Pivot Point in Scripture – Consequences for Rebellion and Hope for Redemption
- Cain and Abel
- Episode 5: A Very Different Earth – Explore the Pre-Flood World of Cain and Abel
- Episode 6: Centuries, Cain, and Corruption – Sin’s Effects and Eve’s Hope
- Episode 7: Marriage, Family, and Sacrifice – Formation of the First Family and their Offering to God
- Episode 8: Brother’s Keeper – Arrogant Cain Murders Righteous Abel
More Study Tools:
- Article: Creation Worldview
- Article: Science Does Not Observe Evolution Happening Today
- Article: Genesis and the Gospel – From Rebellion to Salvation
- Article: Genesis Reveals the Character of God – Attributes of the Always Good Creator
- Article: The Truth about Genesis – Clearing Up the Controversy
- Photo: As Seen from Space
- Photo: The Universe Is God’s Canvas
- Photo: Creation Evidence: God Caused Order
- Photo: Genesis Inspires Worship
- Photo: Back to Genesis
- Photo: The Book of Genesis Is Probably the Most Important Book Ever Written
- Photo: Salvation’s Story Begins in Genesis
- Video: ICR Planetarium: Travel Through Space
- Video: Why Does Genesis Matter?
- Video: Did God Create Everything?
- Book: The Genesis Record
- Book: Guide to Creation Basics
- Book: Creation Basics & Beyond
- Book: The Book of Beginnings
- Book: The Henry Morris Study Bible
- Book: Exploring the Evidence for Creation
- Book: Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis
- DVD: Unlocking the Mysteries of Genesis
- DVD: Creation: A Bible Basic
- DVD: Created Cosmos