Genesis 1:1-2:3 God Creates Our World Part 10
Genesis 1:1-2:3; God Creates Our World
We continue the discussion of the firmament that God created in Genesis 1:1-2:3, on the second day of creation, above which He put all of the excess water on the earth, as an important step in His recreation of the earth for man. Read Part 1
Paul H. Seely persuasively argues for this view of the firmament; see Extended Note H, “The Bible and Science.” I’LL INCLUDE SOME EXTENSIVE EXCERPTS FROM WHAT PAUL SEELY SAID ON THIS TOPIC FROM EXTENDED NOTE H (in the Appendix of the original 273 page paper. I believe this is very important, and interesting):
Excerpts from “The Three-Storied Universe” by Paul H. Seely (“Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation,” March, 1969):
The relationship of science to Scripture is this: “The Bible gives redemptive truth through the scientific thoughts of the times without ever intending that those scientific thoughts should be believed as inerrant” (page 18). I agree that God accommodated some scientific details to the ancient viewpoint (including the idea that the earth is stationary and the sun rotates around the earth; the idea that the stars are smaller than the moon and the earth; and the idea of a solid firmament that we are discussing), but His word teaches us many things related to science that we desperately need to know, that He is the Creator of everything that exists in both the spiritual and the physical dimensions, for example, and that He created Adam and Eve as the first humans. The truth about God’s creating everything that exists out of nothing (and that most of what so-called science in our day teaches about the evolution of life, or humans, or animals is gigantic error) is theological truth too.
“It seems that in reaction to unbelief [especially referring to attacks on the Bible coming from Christians, or so-called Christians], the current shibboleth [speaking of a test for Christians, especially Christian leaders, to prove that they are orthodox (see Judg. 12:6)] of would-be theological orthodoxy is, ‘The Bible is inerrant whenever it touches on matters of science’ ” (page 18). A major purpose for Seely in this article is to show that this “shibboleth” is a mistake. It is rather easy for sincere, intelligent Christians to get out of balance in one direction, or another; we desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches.
Seely discusses the “firmament” in some detail in this article. One of his main points is that the viewpoint of the Bible is that the firmament is solid. He points out, for one thing, that the ocean above the firmament spoken of in Gen. 1:6, 7 requires a solid firmament. He also mentions that Ezek. 1:22-26 are an important cross-reference in that the same Hebrew noun used for the firmament in Gen. 1:6, 7 is used of a solid firmament in those verses written by Ezekiel. He also refers to Job 37:18 to confirm this same point.
I’ll quote a few sentences from what Seely says under the heading, “Waters Above the Firmament.” “The deep ([Hebrew] ‘tehom’) of Genesis 1:2 is divided in Genesis 1:6, 7 into two bodies of water. The body of water below forms the earthly sea (Genesis 1:9); and the water above, since it is the other half of the ‘tehom’, forms a heavenly sea. … …the opening of the windows of heaven allows a great deal of water to be poured out on the earth. (Genesis 7:11)
Secondly, the water is above the firmament. (Genesis 1:7) Catastrophists and other science-Scripture harmonizers are forever putting this water below the firmament. [[We should make every legitimate effort to harmonize what the Bible says with modern science. But Seely is concerned (and I believe in most instances rightly so) that many Christians are spending a lot of energy and creating a lot of heat trying to force a harmonization between things that cannot be harmonized (for example, some of the ancient scientific viewpoints reflected in Genesis chapter 1 with our more accurate scientific knowledge of the universe).]] This water, so far as the Bible is concerned, is on the far side of the sun, not between the sun and the earth” (page 20).
I’ll quote part of what Seely says under the heading “Other Evidence.” “Although extra-Biblical concepts are not absolute proof of what the Bible idea is, it is significant that the ancient world thought of the sky as a solid dome above the earth or as solid concentric spheres in which the heavenly bodies were implanted [and in on (very much including our own) that the Bible is His book, a unique book. Those who begin to open their hearts to the God who is there and to examine the Bible always find that it reveals the things men need to know, including the fact that He (and He alone) can save from sin, spiritual death, darkness, Satan, and eternal judgment.
The fact that the Bible is filled with prophecies, many of which have already been fulfilled, is sufficient to demonstrate that this is God’s book – there is no book like it. ((I had a footnote: For a discussion regarding the fact that prophecies in the Bible confirm that God is God and the Bible is His book, and for a listing of some of those prophecies, see pages 8, 9 of my paper on selected passages from the book of Isaiah on my internet site. As discussed there, God frequently makes the claim that He, and He alone, is able to give such prophecies and then bring to pass the things prophesied.)) Those who open their hearts to God and His Word will find more than sufficient confirmation that He is real, that the Bible is true, and that He will meet the deepest needs of their hearts and lives.
God calls people to submit to Him in repentance and faith. Faith in Christ isn’t a leap into the dark (it is a leap into the arms of the God of the Bible, a leap in accordance with His Word), but repentance and faith involve the heart and require going beyond logical evidence that will satisfy the intellect. God wants/demands our hearts – and He won’t settle for less.]] (17) God placed them [the sun, moon, and stars] in the expanse [firmament] of the heavens to give light on the earth, (18) and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. [[Genesis 1:14-19 build on Gen. 1:2-8, and the interpretation of Gen. 1:14-19 given here builds on the interpretation of Gen. 1:2-8 given above. Having a more literal translation for the key words in the center of verses 14 and 18 will be helpful: “to separate [or, distinguish (Hebrew verb “badal”)] between [Hebrew preposition “bayin”] the day and [“bayin”] the night” (Gen. 1:14); “to separate [or, distinguish (“badal”)] between [“bayin”] the light and [“bayin”] the darkness” (Gen. 1:18). ((I had a footnote: As discussed above, and with the confirming evidence given in Extended Note E (I quoted much of this confirming evidence above, under the word “darkness” of Gen. 1:2), the dominant use of the Hebrew verb “badal” throughout the Old Testament (and all-the-more-so since the Hebrew preposition “bayin” was used here in Gen. 1:14, 18, as it was in Gen. 1:4, 6, 7 and other verses of the Old Testament) rather strongly favors seeing a separation of things that must be separated, and kept separated, like the holy from the unholy, and the good from the evil.)) Although it isn’t as obvious here in 1:14-18 as in 1:2-5, I believe there is a symbolic component for the words “light,” “darkness,” “day,” and “night” here in 1:14 and 18 too.
((I had a five-paragraph footnote:As we discussed above, physical light and darkness were undoubtedly included along with the strong symbolic/spiritual component of the light and darkness of Gen. 1:2-5. Here in Gen. 1:14-18 there is some obvious emphasis on physical light in that the “lights/luminaries” that God created on the fourth day were created, for one thing, “to give [physical] light” on the earth. Nevertheless, it seems that the far-more-important symbolic/spiritual component of light and darkness are included here too (building on Gen. 1:2-5).
Apparently we can say that at least one reason God chose to create our world with a daytime, nighttime cycle (speaking of physical light, darkness, daytime, and nighttime) was to provide His people with a constant reminder of the all-important reality that apart from God’s kingdom of light, there is the all-too-real kingdom of sin, Satan, darkness, and death. (These evil things haven’t been abolished yet, but Jesus Christ will abolish them from God’s kingdom soon. They have already been defeated through His atoning death.) It seems that God went out of His way in the Mosaic Law, which was the foundation for the old covenant (which in turn provided the foundation and framework for the new covenant), to provide His people (all who had ears to hear) with constant reminders of the reality of sin, Satan, darkness, and death. (The creation account of Gen. 1:1-2:3 was part of the Mosaic Law, and part of the Old Testament. It was not written for people who were limited to the information contained in these verses.)
Not only was physical death a constant reminder of sin and its penalties and consequences under the old covenant, but God clearly showed in the Mosaic Law that physical death was an enemy, something that was not good, something that was unclean and defiling. (Death is still called an enemy in the New Testament [1 Cor. 15:26; 2 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 20:14; 21:4].) It was not part of God’s good creation. If the sons of Israel came in contact with death, they became defiled, unclean; they were to be excluded from the camp of the people of God for seven days until they had been cleansed through the ashes of a sacrificed red heifer. (See Numbers chapter 19.) For those Israelites who had been set apart by God in a special sense, like the priests (see Lev. 21:1-4), and much more so for the high priests (Lev. 21:10, 11), or for those with a Nazarite vow (see Num. 6:6-12), to come in contact with death was a more serious matter and must be avoided (as far as it was possible). Such reminders of sin and its penalties and consequences were designed by God to help humble His people and to help motivate them to put Him and His Word first place in their hearts and lives and to fear sinning against Him.
We will finish the five-paragraph footnote in Part 11. We finish this paper in Part 11.
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
The last few years I have done a lot of writing. I have written four books ("Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ"; an e-book, "Righteousness, Holiness, and Victory Over Sin," which serves as a good introduction for the paperback book; "The Mid-Week Rapture: A Verse-by-Verse Study of Key Prophetic Passages"; and "Introduction to The Mid-Week Rapture." The e-books are easier to read and should be read first, but the paperback books contain a lot of information not contained in the e-books. All the books are available at amazon.com.
I have written a large number of papers, most of them dealing with foundational Christian issues. Most of them are available at karlkempteachingministries.com. I also have been doing some radio broadcasts the past 5 years.