Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #10 of Genesis chapter 1 and I will read Genesis 1:6-8:
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 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. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
We saw earlier in our study that God created the waters on the first day. It said in Genesis 1:2:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
On that first day God divided the light from the darkness. There was darkness and God said, “Let there be light,” and He divided the light from the darkness.
Now, again, God is going to “divide” and it is the same Hebrew word, Strong’s #914, that was used in verse 4 when God divided the light from the darkness. But, in this instance, God is going to divide the “waters” from the “waters.” He created and there was water in that creation. There was water all over the earth and now God is going to bring about a separation or division of the waters. We do not normally think of this when we think of the creation, but God plainly says that there was water and He divided the waters. He brought about the division of the waters by creating a “firmament” in the midst of the waters, so the firmament was what divided the waters.
The Hebrew word translated as “firmament” is Strong’s #7549. This particular word is found about 17 times in the Old Testament. Nine times it is found in Genesis, chapter 9 and it is found in other places that we will look at in a little while. It is only translated as “firmament,” so we are not helped. Sometimes when a word is translated as a few different English words, it can help us to get a better idea of the definition. Even though this word is only translated as “firmament,” it comes from a another Hebrew word that is Strong’s #7554, which is translated as “stretched out” or “spread out” or “spread forth.” We will look at a few places where this word is found. This word is found in Psalm 136:6:
To him that stretched out the earth above the waters: for his mercy endureth for ever.
It also says in Isaiah 42:5:
Thus saith God JEHOVAH, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
One more place this word is used is in Job 37:18:
Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?
God “spread out” the sky. It is the expanse of the firmament. We saw in an earlier study where God speaks of stretching out the heavens like a tent for the “sun” to dwell in or as a tabernacle for the sun. This is the idea. It is as if God just started spreading the heavens and pushing them further and further out and they were formed. The formation of these heavens are the “firmament.” We know this definitely because it tells us in Exodus 1:8:
And God called the firmament Heaven…
Again, the word for “Heaven” is a plural word in the Hebrew, so it should say, “And God called the firmament Heavens.”
The word translated as “firmament,” Strong’s #7549, is also used in Psalm 19:1:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
This is an example of Hebrew parallelism. The first part of the verse says, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” and then the second part of the verse just restates the same truth in a different way when it says, “and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” We saw that the heavens are the firmament. So the heavens declare His glory and the firmament shows His handywork. It is saying the same thing in two different ways and that is how it is with many verses in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms. So we know the “firmament” is the “heavens.” The heavens would be the sky above and it would also be the heavens of deep space where the stars are located. The word “firmament” is found in Daniel 12:2-3:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
The “brightness of the firmament” are the stars that shine in the heavens, so “firmament” can refer to the sky above us and deep space where the stars reside. So when God says, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters,” He is saying that when He created the heavens He brought about a division of these waters. Some water remained on the earth or even below the earth, as we can see in Genesis 1:7:
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.
There is no mistaking what is being said here. This language indicates that on the second day of creation God brought about this separation of waters and He placed a large amount of water above the heavens. Just think about how much water there is on the earth and in the oceans. Just one of the several oceans would be an enormous amount of water. A large percentage of the earth’s surface is water, so it is a great quantity of water. The language shows that God divided the waters. God said in verse 6, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters.” The word “midst” indicates it is in between and the word “midst” is translated as “half” in at least one place. It is a word associated with time as “midnight,” as midnight divides the day. It indicates an equal separation or equal division of waters, so that would imply that there was an enormous amount of water that was placed above of heavens as well as an enormous amount of water that remained below the heavens. It was a tremendous amount of water that God later used to flood the earth. It had to be a great amount because the water rose to 15 cubits above the highest mountain. The waters came from the heavens where they had been held in store by God until the time of the flood when God opened the windows of heaven. That is the language of Genesis 7:10-12:
And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
The windows of “heavens” were opened and the deluge took place. There was waters unimaginable. Of course, we have never seen the amounts of water that came upon the earth in the time of Noah because prior to that point those waters had been kept “above the heavens” since day two of creation. Those waters had not touched the earth so much until the proper point in time when, at the time of the flood, God brought those waters. Perhaps these waters were out in deep space. We are not sure how God kept them above the earth, although it does say in Psalm 148:1-6:
Praise ye JEHOVAH. Praise ye JEHOVAH from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of JEHOVAH: for he commanded, and they were created. He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
Since God says He has established them forever, we recognize that there is a spiritual meaning involved concerning the sun, moon and stars and the waters above the heavens. Those waters do relate to the Word of God which does endure forever and ever. This is not a problem for the child of God as we recognize the deeper, spiritual meaning. Yet, historically, God created a creation that had incredible amounts of water and He created a firmament to divide the waters above from the waters below and the earth operated that way for thousands of years. The flood did not occur until 6,023 years after creation in the year 4,990BC and the things we are reading about in Genesis, chapter 1 took place in 11,023BC, so for over 6,000 years the waters existed “above the heavens” as well as “below the heavens.” Certainly, there would have been many benefits and blessings as a result of having that canopy of water above the heavens. There is a good possibility that it was one of the reasons that mankind lived longer before the flood, as it formed a type of protection from the sun, and so forth. I am not sure, but I do know that when we read the first few chapters of Genesis and its genealogies we see that men lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. Noah was 600 years old at the time the flood came and then he lived for 350 years after the flood, dying at age 950 years. But not long after the flood the descendants of Noah began to live for much shorter periods of time (by hundreds of years). The lifespan of individuals decreased dramatically after the flood as compared to individuals that lived prior to the flood. There could be other factors, but one major reason had to be that water canopy that was placed above the firmament. It certainly had to have had some beneficial effects for the life expectancy of the peoples of the earth and for the earth itself.
But then God brought these waters into the path of the earth at the time of the flood. This was all by design because God had told Noah 120 years earlier to build the ark. Noah worked on the ark for 120 years and then God said, “Yet seven days,” knowing all along that this “collision” would take place between the earth and the waters above the firmament. God also opened up the waters of the deep to bring all this water upon the earth and to destroy everything with the breath of life (outside the ark). God did this in His plan of “times and seasons” and we will read about this flood in later chapters in Genesis.
Interestingly enough, scientists have recently discovered evidence of water in other parts of the universe. They have discovered evidence of waters on Mars and other planets. What is the explanation? Of course, they theorize that there must have been life there long ago and then something happened and there is no longer life there. Yet, the answer is found right on the pages of the Bible with the account of the flood. God brought that enormous amount of water into the pathway of the earth. It would have had impact on Mars and other planets that had been brought into the neighborhood of the water, so there would have been evidence of it there, as well as evidence of enormous impact upon the earth, like the Grand Canyon, and so forth.