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6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse1 in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made2 the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven.3 And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Is earth the center of the universe. For most of earth’s history men simply assumed that yes it was. Men following in the steps of Galileo insisted that no it wasn’t. Most astrophysicists today would probably say that the question is moot since there is not objective reference point, however considering the vastness of space it is rather ridiculous to think that we and our planet is of any real importance.
God’s word agrees that universe is so vast that man is insignificant, but man is not lost in that vastness. Regardless of whether of the earth’s position in the universe it is clear that man is at the center of God’s heart.
There are two things about these verses that might be confusing.
- This division of waters
- This word firmament
I’m happy to discuss these things in more detail with anyone who has questions, but for our purposes today I’ll simply summarize.
With regard to the division of waters, God is simply describing the division between that which is beneath us and that which is above us. He created the earth beneath us, although at this point there was no dry ground. He created the atmosphere and everything beyond it, although at this point there are no planets and stars.
Notice that the division is man, that which is above us and that which is below us. That doesn’t mean the sun revolves around the earth, but it does mean that God is giving the account of creation from man’s point of view. Man is symbolically at the center even if not literally.
Regarding the word firmament, it is quite clear from scripture that this word refers to the sky, and everything beyond. The newer translations have the word expanse in place of firmament. The older translations have reasons for using firmament, but the word expanse is the better translation.
God created the earth for us to live on and the expanse for us to live under, and that expanse is vast.
If any of you have been to a planetarium or watched one of those programs on TV you may have seen their attempts to portray how vast space is. They often begin with the earth and zoom out to show how small the earth is compared to the solar system. They continue to zoom out more and see how the solar system is barely a spec in the galaxy. Then the galaxy is reduced to a pinpoint of light amongst its neighbors. Then even that large cloud of galaxies becomes a spec and that becomes another spec. In the end the earth is only a spec of a spec of a spec of a spec of a spec.
This is the expanse, a world which implies a vastness we can never grasp or appreciate. God’s word implies this same vastness. When God is talking to Abraham. He talks about the stars:
Genesis 15:5 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
If we look up at the sky, we see quite a few stars. If God were to challenge us to number them, we might think that would be a tough job, but we could possibly do it. However, God continues:
Gen 13:16 “And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.
We could possibly count the stars we can see with our eyes, however, to make sure we get the point God talks about the dust of the earth. Counting the stars we can see, possible, counting the grains of dust just in our yard out here, not possible, now think of all the grains of dust in all the earth. This is a number God says is similar to the stars in the sky. We read the same thing in Jeremiah:
Jer 33:22 `As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me. “
This is the expanse, the vastness of space which God created on the second day. This vastness might well make us wonder about our place in God’s creation. How can man claim to be anything in such emptiness. But God’s word reassures us we are not lost.
Psalm 8:3-5 3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? 5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 8 reminds us that yes indeed, the expanse, the vastness, the unimaginable depths of space, should mean that man is forgotten. It should mean that man is insignificant to God, but that is not the case. Rather instead of forgetting about man, God has visited Him and crowned Him with glory and honor, through the person of Jesus Christ.
God has visited us in the person of Jesus Christ. He still visits us in the word and sacraments. In the person of Jesus He gave honor to men that we don’t deserve.
The vast expanse does indeed teach us how small and insignificant we are, but when we hear from God’s word His promises to hear our every prayer and even to visit us in the person of Jesus Christ and in His word we marvel at the greatness of his love for such insignificant people
We have a tendency to forget who God is and what He has done. We have a tendency to think the world revolves around me. We act this way in our prayers. God give me what I want. God why won’t you listen to my prayer. Who cares if my neighbor wants rain, I want to go to the beach today.
When Jesus teaches us to pray, our daily needs are the least important part of the Lord’s prayer. What we want, our will doesn’t enter into it at all, only “Your will be done.” No matter how angry or mistreated we feel, we are taught to pray, forgive. Forgive me and forgive them. The world does not revolve around us, despite what we think.
Yet despite how selfish and self-centered our prayers there is not a single prayer that we have uttered which God has ignored.
Isaiah 45:4-5 4 For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
In the vastness of space God still knows us each by name.
Day two reminds us that we are nothing. That our arrogance is absolute sin. God loves us anyway, despite our attitude God hears our prayers through Jesus Christ.