Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
THE SECOND CREATIVE DAY
Gen. 1: 6-8
CONDITIONS DURING THE SECOND DAY. THE RAKIA-EXPANSE. LOGICAL ORDER OF THE SECOND DAY'S WORK. CREATION OF THE ATMOSPHERE. THE SECOND DAY'S CREATIVE PROCESS. CONTINUANCE OF THIS PROCESS DURING THE REST OF THE CREATIVE PERIODS ENDING WITH THE FLOOD.
HAVING discussed Gen. 1: 3-5, treating of the first creative day's work, in the last chapter, it is our pleasant task now to take up the study of the second day's creative work, which is described in Gen. 1: 6-8. In the outstart of our present study we will be assisted, if we have clearly in mind the condition of affairs as to our earth at the end of the first creative epoch, after the first canopy of earth's swaddling garments had fallen to the earth. The following is a general description of that condition. During the days of earth's 24-hour periods, as distinct from their nights, there was a very faint light penetrating to the earth from the sun's rays piercing through its six remaining canopies. From time to time the aurora borealis lighted up the scene, though this could occur either during the day or night (Gen. 1: 3-5). The entire earth was covered with water, which made its surface consist of a shoreless ocean (Gen. 1: 9, 10). By reason of the intense heat of the molten mass and of its coating of scum, which, in turn, was covered by a layer of slime deposited by the matter in the first canopy at the time of its fall, this shoreless ocean was boiling hot and discharged immense volumes of steam which densely filled the surrounding space extending from the surface of this shoreless ocean to the second canopy. It was the densest of fogs.
During the 7,000 years of the second creative day the amount of steam thus discharged by the hot water
gradually diminished as this water gradually lost its heat, which loss of heat was promoted in part by the "scum" ever thickening, through the addition of new scum being discharged from the molten mass onto the bottom of the already existing scum, in part through the covering of slime deposited upon the scum by the first canopy's fall gradually hardening first into mud, then into clay, and this, in turn, gradually hardening into stone, and in part through the shoreless ocean's contact with the cooler steam, fog and mist above it. Thus gradually the "scum" was cooling off during the 7,000 years of the second creative epoch, and consequently the boiling water increasingly threw off less and less steam. Thus there was no empty space between the water-covered earth and the second canopy—it being filled with steam, vapor, clouds and mist. This, then, was the condition of the earth and its immediate surroundings just after the end of the first creative day. And this is the point of departure of vs. 6-8, the basis of our present study. The point of arrival toward which the second day's work advanced was the creation of an empty space between the surface of earth's shoreless ocean and the bottom of the third canopy, and the filling of this empty space with air, as earth's atmosphere. It will be necessary to keep this point of departure and this point of arrival in mind, if we are properly to understand and appreciate the work that was performed on the second creative day, as described in vs. 6-8.
This work is spoken of in the A. V. as the creation of a firmament. The word firmament is a faulty translation of the Hebrew word rakia. The faulty translation of this word was first suggested and made by the Septuagint, the first of all Bible translations, which was begun in 283 B. C. at the command of Ptolemy Philadelphus, the Greek king of Egypt, who desired to have the Old Testament in Greek as a part of the Alexandrian Library. The Septuagint translates
the word rakia by the word stereoma, which in Greek means firmament. The Vulgate, Jerome's Latin translation of the Bible, renders it by the word firmamentum, from which our English word firmament is derived. The idea back of the word stereoma and firmamentum is that of solidity and strength; and the use of these words in the translation of the Hebrew rakia betrays heathen influence upon the translators of the Septuagint and the Vulgate. The heathen idea was the following: Surrounding the plane or sphere, which our earth was varyingly thought to be, was at a great height a metallic sheet, which was solid and strong. Above this sheet, which acted as a floor for their dwelling, the gods lived. Their abode was very bright, shining with a heavenly light. There were at various distances holes in this metallic sheet through which this heavenly light shone as so many reflections of the gods' light. These separate lights the heathen called stars, while they called the sheet itself, in Greek, stereoma, and in Latin, firmamentum. While rejecting some of the heathen notions connected with this stereoma or firmamentum, the translators retained the idea of the strength and firmness of a solid as the thing that was made in the sky on the second creative day. The translators of the A. V. accepted the thought of these two translations on the word rakia, and rendered it into English by the derivative of the Latin firmamentum, firmament, which, as seen above, is wrong.
An examination of the etymology and of the Biblical occurrences of the word rakia will prove that the word does not mean a solid with strength and firmness, but means an expanse that is permeable, and is used to mean the heavens in the sense of the sky, which of course is more or less empty space, having in parts of it air or atmosphere and in parts of it heavenly bodies, but is not at all a solid. This word occurs in the Bible 17 times. In some instances it is used literally, in the sense of the sky in its widest application, as including
the space and its contents above the earth's surface. In other instances it is used figuratively, in the sense of the powers of spiritual control. We will first cite its uses in its literal sense: Gen. 1: 6, 7 (3 times), 8, 14, 15, 17, 20; Ps. 19: 1 (its use here is both literal and symbolic); Dan. 12: 3. The following, in addition to its use in Ps. 19: 1, are its figurative uses: Ps. 150: 1; Ezek. 1: 22, 23, 25, 26; 10: 1. An examination of the main literal passages cited above will readily prove that the rakia was not a solid. In Gen. 1: 7 the rakia is shown to have divided the waters that were on the surface of the earth from those that were in the canopies above it. Until late in the second creative day there were six of such canopies which contained more or less water, the sixth being of pure water. The successive dropping of the last six through the successively enlarging rakia proves that it was not nor could it be a solid.
Again, Gen. 1: 14, 15 and 17 tell us that the sun, moon and stars shone in the rakia, which proves that it was not a solid. Their becoming visible as such on the fourth day occurred through the fourth canopy falling, as a result of which the rakia was extended upward to include enough space to make these bodies visible. We are not, however, to understand this to mean that these bodies were locally within the space cleared by the dropping of the first four canopies, but rather that they were then shining through to the earth with enough brightness to make them visible to a human eye, had one then existed. The language is used in an accommodated sense to show where these heavenly bodies would be in the rakia in its finished work, i.e., at the end of the fall of the seventh canopy, all of which proves that the rakia is not a solid. Gen. 1: 20, showing that the birds fly in the rakia, proves that it is not a solid. Ps. 19: 1-6, both in its literal and symbolic senses, proves that the rakia is not a solid. The parallelism of v. 1: "The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the rakia showeth His handiwork," proves that the Lord's heavens and rakia here are used synonymously, as they are so defined in Gen. 1: 8. In these heavens, i.e., rakia, Ps. 19: 4-6 proves the sun to be; hence the rakia is not a solid, or the sun could not travel through it. Vs. 2, 3, imply that the sun, moon and stars are in the rakia and thence give utterance to knowledge. Applying Ps. 19: 1-6 symbolically, they prove that Jesus and the Church individually will move amid the symbolic rakia, the powers of spiritual control. In Dan. 12: 3 the sun is called the brightness of the rakia, i.e., to man the brightest object in the rakia. This verse gives us a basis for understanding what the symbolic heavens, rakia, are; for it shows that Christ and the Church will be to the Millennial world (order of affairs) what the literal sun is to the literal world. Thus these literal passages prove the rakia to be the sky in its widest sense, the heavens in their first and second literal senses, the first literal sense being the space where the birds fly, and the second the space where the heavenly bodies are, and including them. The third set of the literal heavens is the abode of God, etc., and is not included in the rakia.
The proper translation of rakia is expanse, i.e., of the heavens, as also the etymology of the word suggests. It is derived from the verb raka, i.e., to stretch out, to expand. Hence the Bible speaks of the heavens as being stretched out like a wrapped-up curtain, which stretching out occurred by the falling of the earth's canopies, each in falling stretched out these figurative curtains a fold wider, and when the last fell the figurative curtains, the heavens, had reached the utmost extent of their expansion. There is but one passage that is quoted as a proof that the rakia is a solid, but it occurs in the speech of Elihu, who, like job's other three friends, was not inspired. But even if viewed as inspired, job 37: 18, while teaching that the sky is strong, does not say anything about its being solid.
The thought of its being solid is imported into the text. Of course an uninspired statement is not a source of faith. The literal translation of the passage is as follows: "Didst thou with Him expand [raka, the verb, not rakia, the noun] the skies [which are] strong as a molten mirror?" The idea of the skies as being a rakia, a thing expanded, is in this verse, and the skies are spoken of as strong in unbreakableness, like a molten mirror; but they are not here spoken of as solid, for whose proof the proponents of the firmament theory claim it. But even if it taught such an idea, we would not be obligated by the Lord to believe the thought any more than we would be obligated to believe, e.g., Satan's uninspired and false statements in Gen. 3: 1-5, or the statements of other uninspired persons recorded in the Bible, like those of Job's other three friends, the falsehoods of the Jews against our Lord at His trial and crucifixion, Peter's advice to elect a successor to Judas, the Judaizers' claim that Gentiles must be circumcised and obey the law of Moses to be saved, etc., for we must distinguish between the utterances of uninspired speakers recorded in the Bible and the utterances of inspired speakers and writers in the Bible. The latters' sayings are infallible and are obligatory as sources of faith and practice, while the formers' are not. Hence Elihu's statement, even if it meant that the rakia is solid, which it does not assert, would not obligate us as a matter of faith. Accordingly, we conclude that the firmament theory of the rakia is false, and that the Bible thought of the rakia as an expanse is true. Now we can proceed with our study.
Above we spoke of the point of departure and the point of arrival of the second creative day's work. This would include the work done in the second epoch of creation. It started with an ocean-covered earth and with a steam, fog, cloud and mist filled space from this ocean's surface up to the second canopy, and
ended with an empty space and an atmosphere extending from the surface of earth's shoreless ocean to the bottom of the third canopy. Thus the second day's creative work did a destructive and a constructive thing. It removed the dense clouds of steam, fog and mist that enveloped our planet, and gave it an atmosphere. The former was a means to the latter, for the above-mentioned clouds had to be removed to make room for earth's atmosphere; and both were necessary, partly to pave the way for the earth to become a habitat for the vegetable and animal creations that were to follow. We can readily recognize that after the introduction of light to our planet the second day's work would be the next logical step. It is true that it was not the only step necessary for the introduction of vegetable and animal life to the earth, but it was the natural next step before the gift of life on earth could come. The first part of the third day's work, making the land appear out from underneath earth's shoreless ocean, had to be done before there would be land, and that dry enough to grow vegetation, before such vegetation could come and, of course, before land animals could exist. The priority of the second day's work to that of the third day's work was also the logical thing; for there could have been no dry land as long as the dense clouds of steam, fog and mist reached from the earth to the second canopy. Accordingly, we recognize the logical order of the second day's work as coming between that of the first and third creative days.
The main part of the second day's work was giving earth its atmosphere, which was possible by making the expanse of the second day. Earth's atmosphere is, of course, its air, which had to exist separately from the clouds of steam, fog and mist, to fulfill its mission as air. Air, or the atmosphere, consists of certain gases. These gases existed as such amid the clouds of steam, fog and mist, perhaps as separate things, whereas to
constitute air they had to be mingled in certain proportions. There were amid earth's swaddling clouds other gases besides those that are required to form air. Additionally there were many acids there. These gases and acids do not call for study here; but those gases that constitute our atmosphere do call for our present study. Air is not a chemical compound. It is a mixture of gases. Prof. Schule in 1772 first discovered that air contains two gases: oxygen and nitrogen. Prof. Cavendish in 1781 first discovered their nearly relative proportions. Thinking that air consists of only two gases, he fixed their proportions on the basis of oxygen being in volume 20.83% and nitrogen as 79.17%. A little over a century later other gases were found to be constituents of air, which fact required a small modification of these figures. Dr. Priestly, whose work on chronology has greatly helped to establish the date of Nehemiah's finishing Jerusalem's walls, was, a few years later, the first scientist to discover that the constituents of air are not constant in their amounts; but it remained for Prof. Bunsen definitely to establish this variability. That air is a mixture in its constituents, and not a compound, is evident from three facts: (1) Its composition is not constant and the quantities of its different constituents do not have a simple relation to their weights. (2) Its components can be and have been separated, e.g., oxygen is taken from the air as a therapeutic agent for invalids and high-altitude travelers on mountains, in airplanes, balloons, etc.; and nitrogen is taken out of the air to enrich soil, etc. (3) Air dissolves in water, and, when expelled from it, contains a larger proportion of oxygen than before dissolution. The constituents of air vary a great deal in high altitudes and also slightly at the surface of the earth, dependent on the latitude, or on the presence of much vegetation or sea water.
Prof. Humphreys, as quoted in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th Edition, Vol. 2, page 640, from the
Scientific Monthly, 1927, gives the following table on the permanent per cents and kinds of gases in dry air
Substance Volume % in dry air
Dry air …………………100.00
Water vapor…………..very variable
Immediately below the above-given table comes the following table of Prof. Hahn, showing the variation with latitude in the main components of air.
2.63 Water vapor
Latitude 50° N.
0.92 Water vapor
Latitude 70° N.
0.22 Water vapor
In very cold weather the amount of water vapor in the air approaches zero. Usually there is about 1.29%, but at times, in great humidity, it reaches 5%. Its great variability caused Prof. Humphreys to omit its amount from his table given above. We are, however, not to understand that the above-given tables set forth the amounts of the gases in the atmosphere at the end of the second day; for if now the presence of large populations, manufacturing sites, swamps, volcanoes, decaying bodies, e.g., on battle fields, slaughter houses like Chicago's stockyard, and bodies of water, particularly oceans, modify these proportions and charge the air with still other gases, surely the immense quantities of these and other gases discharged from the uncovered molten mass, later escaping from it through its scum, still later through its scum and the latter's covering of water, must have made the
air at that time rank with gases; and still later through the successive strata deposited by the falling canopies, such gases, however, in gradually diminishing quantities, must have escaped. Certain facts that we will give while treating of the third creative day, usually called the carboniferous age, will further prove the statement to be true, that at the end of the second day's creative work the air was not pure and in the same proportions in its ingredients as now, but rank with what would be deadly poisons to vegetable and animal life. Nor was the atmosphere so high at the end of that day as it is now; for then there was no stratosphere, which now begins at about 6.25 miles above our sea level and extends an unknown number of miles upward. The great differences of opinion on its height among scientists proves that they are guessing or basing their calculations on unreliable data. Nor did the atmosphere at the end of the second creative day extend so high as the top of the troposphere, which begins at sea level and ends at the stratosphere. The five remaining canopies limited the height of the expanse probably to not less than three miles. Thus we see that as giving light to the earth was not finished, but only begun in the first creative day, so giving an expanse and an atmosphere to the earth was not completed, rather only begun during the second creative day.
We are now ready to study the process through which God made the expanse and the atmosphere. Let us remember that none of God's creative work was done by the unassisted operation of blind laws and forces of nature, as materialists hold; but by God, through the Logos and the latter's angelic assistants manipulating such laws and forces to realize the Creator's plans and purposes as to creation. The process that He used was a fourfold one: (1) cooling the waters that covered earth's surface; (2) causing the dense clouds of steam, fog and mist to disappear;
(3) causing earth's second canopy to fall to the earth, and (4) causing part of the rank and surplus gases to ascend into the higher canopies, some of them then passing through the last of these, dissipating themselves into space beyond. We say that part of these rank gases were so disposed of, because we know that part of them remained and were disposed of mainly during the next creative day, as will be shown later. That the first of the above processes operated is evident from the fact that the flight of time and contact with the less hot, heavy clouds of steam, fog and mist, must have made this water cooler. Then, too, the constant thickening of the crust over the molten mass and the constant hardening of the first deposit of slime on this crust, first into mud, then into clay and finally into stone, would result in this water cooling. Hence it kept giving off a constantly decreasing amount of steam. This was a step preparatory for operating the second process of bringing the expanse into existence, causing the dense clouds of steam, fog and mist to disappear. This disappearance must have started some distance from the bottom of, and not immediately under the second canopy; for after some distance away from the molten mass the banks of steam, etc., would be cooler than toward their bottom or top, since the heat would ascend to, and gather just under the canopy. This fact caused the central parts of these columns of steam, fog and mist to condense and to fall as rain into earth's shoreless ocean, a fact that would tend further to cool that water. The reason we know that this must have happened is that rain is caused by colder air coming into contact with the clouds and condensing their moisture into rain. Accordingly, clouds of steam, fog and mist began to disappear gradually from the center first, then gradually this process worked toward the top and toward the bottom until these clouds had as a constant thing entirely disappeared. By the time this process
had ended it had, combined with the other conditions mentioned above, considerably cooled the earth-covering water that had at the beginning of the second creative day been boiling hot; hence little or no steam arose from it by the end of this creative epoch.
The third process was now ready to operate, the fall of the second canopy, which occurred at the end of the second creative day. That it was denser than the banks of steam, fog and mist previously under it is evident from the fact that part of its constituents was water and the rest slime, soot, mud, minerals, etc. We know this to be the case, partly from the fact that part of these condensed into a thick rock stratum, and partly from the fact that water was in all the canopies, as implied in the nature of the case, and because this is expressly taught as being the case of five of them, by the words of v. 7, "the waters above the expanse." This canopy was quite thick, as we may surmise from the fact that its heavier materials condensed as it solidified into the second stratum deposited above the granite, etc., layer immediately above the molten mass. The stratum deposited by the second canopy is solid and hard rock 800 feet thick at the Grand Canyon. And presumably it averaged that thickness everywhere, which we infer, not only from general principles, but from the fact of its uniform thickness at the Grand Canyon. If the solid parts of it petrified into stone nearly a sixth of a mile thick, in its condition as the second canopy it must have been many times thicker. Two miles thick would be a conservative estimate; for the large mixture of water in the slime, soot, mud, etc., must have swelled these enormously beyond the compressed resultant rock of 800 feet thickness. Thus the space formerly occupied by the first canopy, then by the thick banks of steam, fog and mist, and the second canopy, must have made an expanse of probably three miles high. It is quite likely that it was higher than three miles, but we would
rather underestimate it than overestimate it. Of course, the making of so much more empty space conduced to make the gases within this space more attenuated, i.e., less dense, because they had all the more room to spread, which fact made them approach nearer to the nature of our present air than they were before this space was made vacant of its former occupants.
The final process that worked during the second creative day toward creating an atmosphere, more and more becoming like our own, was the ascending of part of the ranker gases through the canopies yet remaining, parts of them passing into the vast spaces beyond the seventh canopy, and parts of them remaining amidst upper canopies for epochs. This doubtless went on during the entire second creative day, discharging a greater amount of these noxious gases than came up from below during that period. We know that it is the nature of rank gases to seek a way of escape, which could alone be found through the canopies above. As a result of this operation parts of the surplus amounts of these noxious gases escaped; and as they increasingly did so the gases that remained increasingly approached the constituency of our air, which constituency, as said before, was not completely effected until long after the third creative day. Thus we see how the work of the second creative day was accomplished. It brought to a successful issue its Divinely intended purpose, the creation of a large expanse probably three miles in height all around this earth, filling it with an atmosphere that in due time could be developed into one fit for vegetable and animal life. This was the mission of that day: not to complete the expanse and its atmosphere, but to bring it along sufficiently to contribute its part to the full preparation of earth for its vegetable and animal life in due time. Hence from the standpoint of the purpose of that day its work was a full success. Later periods were to extend the expanse to its utmost and
to perfect earth's atmosphere, which when completed will be a perpetual and perfect arrangement. And as shown above this day's work was done in its logical order in relation to the past and future creative processes. How like God to do all so well! It will be noted that the statement that God saw that it was good is made in connection with the work of every day as respects things lower than man, except in connection with the second day. Of man's creation God saw that it was very good, while the term good alone is applied to the creation of things lower than man. It will be further noted that twice is it said of the third day's work, "God saw that it was good" (vs. 10, 12). The absence of such a characterization of the second day's work and its twice presence as a characterization of the third day's work, as well as its presence as the characterization of all the other days' works, as to those lower than human, raises the question, Have not the pertinent words been taken from v. 8 and placed by mistake in v. 10? It would seem so, but should not be affirmed positively.
In v. 6 the expression, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters," would better read, "Let there be an expanse between the waters," as is proven by the next clause, "Let it divide the [lower] waters [those on the earth] from the [higher] waters [those above the expanse, even as v. 7 teaches]." The expanse was to be on the second creative day, yea, until Noah's flood, between the waters on the earth "under the expanse" and "the waters above the expanse," the waters in the canopies. That those err who teach that the waters above the expanse are our clouds, is evident from the fact that our expanse reaches to the farthest stars of our own universe, while clouds seldom are five miles high. Those who understand the Bible's teaching on the canopies as earth's swaddling bands, the bands that covered it in its early infancy, at once recognize that the second day's expanse separated the
waters on earth from those in the canopies above the expanse, and progressively the expanse did this later, as long as any of them remained there. It will also be noted that our view of the expanse is evidently correct, from the fact that God called this expanse the heavens in v. 8, a name suitable to the expanse throughout the time that there were canopies above it and since the last one passed away. Well may v. 8 end the description of the second day's work with the words, "There was an evening [obscure beginning] and a morning [progressive development] of the second day."
Again, God said, "Let there be firmament
Amid the waters, and let it divide
The waters from the waters"; and God made
The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,
Transparent, elemental air, diffus'd
In circuit to the uttermost convex
Of this great round; partition firm and sure,
The waters underneath from those above
Dividing: for as Earth, so He the world
Built on circumfluous waters calm, in wide
Crystalline ocean, and the loud misrule
Of Chaos far remov'd; lest fierce extremes
Contiguous might distemper the whole frame:
And Heaven He named the Firmament: so even
And morning chorus sung the second day.
THE SECOND DAY OF CREATION.
THIS world I deem but a beautiful dream
Of shadows that are not what they seem,
Where visions rise, giving dim surmise
Of the things that shall meet our waking eyes.
Arm of the Lord! Created Word!
Whose glory the silent skies record
Where stands Thy name in scrolls of flame
On the firmament's high-shadowing frame.
Soft they shine through that pure shrine,
As beneath the veil of Thyself Divine
Beams forth the light that were else too bright
For the feebleness of a human's sight.
I gaze aloof on the tissued roof,
Where time and space are the warp and woof,
Which the King of kings as a curtain flings
O'er the dreadfulness of eternal things—
A tapestried tent, to shade us meant
From the bare everlasting firmament;
Where the blaze of the skies comes soft to our eyes
Through a veil of mystical imageries.
But could I see, as in truth they be,
The glories of heaven that encompass me,
I should lightly hold the tissued fold
Of that marvelous curtain of blue and gold.