A Firmament Made. Series; Lessons on Genesis

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

May 7, 2013
Commentary on the Book of Genesis
By: Tom Lowe

Topic #A: An Account of Creation. Gen. 1:1-2:7.

Lesson I.A.2: A Firmament Made.
Scripture: Gen. 1:6-8.

Gen. 1:6-8. (KJV)
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And 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.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And 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.

This is the record of the second day of creation; the creation of the firmament. “God said, Let there be a firmament”—the Hebrew word for firmament is raqia, meaning air spaces. We are sure that God did not only command it and someone else did the work, because in the next verse the Holy Spirit adds, “And God made the firmament.” The Psalmist said the firmament was the work of His fingers—“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained” (Psalms 8:3; KJV). He had frequently gazed at the heavens with astonishment, and he could not keep from being affected by the skill, design, and power, displayed in their creation. He must have been under their spell when he asked, “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain” (Psalms 104:2; KJV). “Light” is used here as a figurative representation of the glory of God.

All parts of the earth were covered by water; but now, for the first time, a separation was produced where a confused mixture of the two had previously existed. Moses describes the purpose God has for this vastness, which was to divide the waters from the waters; but this has caused a great deal of difficulty for some people. Admittedly, these words appear opposed to common sense, and quite hard to believe, that there is a huge amount of water above us in the heavens. Rather than accept the word of God little men will resort to symbolism and philosophizing to offer an explanation that doesn’t include God at all. As for me, there is nothing in these words of God but the visible form of the world. Those who want to make something more of it and turn to astronomy, or another of the little-known arts and sciences, can take their false conclusions elsewhere, because the ideas they embrace by faith is not in accordance with the writings of Moses. We can see the clouds suspended in the air and floating over our heads, and yet, they leave us space to breathe. We know that the rain is naturally produced by the clouds; but the deluge which thankfully occurs on rare occasions shows how rapidly we might be overwhelmed by the bursting of the clouds, unless God willed it to stop. David was so impressed by the concept that he counted it among His miracles, and called upon the celestial waters to praise God—“Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, And you waters above the heavens!” (Psalms 148:4; NKJV). Therefore, since God has created the clouds, and assigned them a region above us, it should not be forgotten that they are restrained by the power of God, who prevents them from gushing forth with sudden violence and swallowing us up, as it did in the days of Noah. There is currently no other barrier to oppose them than the air we breathe, which would easily give way unless His word prevailed, “let it divide the waters from the waters.”

What does that mean? “Let it divide the waters from the waters.” Well, it means that God first divided the waters perpendicularly. There is water above us and water beneath us. Between them God placed a firmament; something stretched out and spread like a curtain, tent, or canopy; the Scriptures often refers to it as “stretching out of the heavens”—“… who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain” (Psalms 104:2; KJV), and by “heavens” is meant the air. Psalm 19:1 calls it the "firmament" from the word which the Greek interpreters use, because it is fixed, lasting, and durable: and it is called an expanse because of its wide extent, reaching from the earth to the third heaven; the lower and thicker parts of it form the atmosphere in which we live and breathe; the higher and thinner parts of it, the air in which birds fly, and the ether or sky in which the sun, moon, and stars are placed; since all these are said to be in the firmament or expanse—“And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth” (Gen 1:17; KJV). The prophet Amos called these layers the stories in the heavens—“It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.” One Bible scholar gave what may be the best analogy for the firmament or expanse: “the beating out as of a plate of metal," suggesting the function of a shield, which is appropriate when one remembers that the earth would have been destroyed long ago by showers of meteorites (the same as the moon) had it not been for the protection of our atmosphere. This single creation should cause men to be in awe of God’s creation, when it is remembered that millions and billions of tons of water are constantly suspended in the atmosphere in the form of clouds; and of course being much heavier than the atmosphere, only an act of creation could have accomplished such a thing. The patriarch Job marveled at this wonder: “Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?” (Job 37:16; KJV).

I read that in the Hawaiian Islands, five inches of rain fell in Honolulu in just a very short time—in a matter of minutes. In one place over two hundred inches of rainfall in a year. Brothers and sisters, there is a whole lot of water up there if two hundred inches of it can fall! Well, that’s what God did. He divided the waters above from the waters which are beneath.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

“And God called the firmament heaven.”
It is the visible heaven, the pavement of the holy city where God dwells. God is said to have his throne above the firmament—“And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it” (Ezek 1:26; KJV). The pure oriental sapphire is one of the most beautiful and dazzling blues that can be imagined. I have sometimes seen the heavens assume this illustrious hue. The human form above this canopy is supposed to represent the Lord Jesus who, in the fullness of time, was revealed in the flesh. Daniel wrote, “thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule” (Dan 4:26; KJV). God has chosen to reside in the heavens; the heavens, therefore, are said to rule. Job asked this question, “Is not God in the height of heaven?...” (Job 22:12; KJV). Yes, he is, and when we pause to gaze at the stars, we should be led to think about our Father who is in heaven. The height of the heavens should remind us of God’s supremacy and the infinite distance there is between us and him; the brightness of the heavens and their purity should remind us of his glory, and majesty, and perfect holiness; the vastness of the heavens, their encompassing of the earth, and the influence they have upon it, should remind us of His immensity and universal providence.

And the evening and the morning were the second day.
“The evening and the morning” made up one twenty-four day, which was another natural day. The body of light, created on the first day, may have again moved around the chaos during that period of time; or else the chaos had rotated around its own axis in that time; and that revolution produced a second day’

It should be noted that we do not read, “And God saw that it was good,” at the end of the second day, as we do at the end of days 3-6. The reason some Jewish writers give, is because the angels fell on this day; but I believe Jarchi gives a better explanation, which is, because the work of the waters was not finished; it was begun on the second day, and perfected on the third. It is interesting that he used the phrase twice on the third day.

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