THE STRUCTURE OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH
A. God loves to build. He wanted a place where His creation could run to Him and enjoy Him. He wanted a place where His children could walk with Him. He wanted a place where creation could hear Him sing and share in His laughter and joy. So He created a house and called it the heavens and the earth. The Bible likens the heavens and the earth to a house with different levels and chambers. The heavens are the upper chambers of God’s household. The earth is the lower chamber of His house.
Amos 9:5-6 (ESV)
5 The Lord God of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who dwell in it mourn, and all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt; 6 who builds his upper chambers in the heavens and founds his vault (NIV – “sets its foundation”) upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—the Lord is his name.
B. The heavens are also likened to a tent in Scripture. When God created the heavens, He stretched them out like a tent to live in.
Isaiah 40:22 (ESV)
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in.
Isaiah 45:12 (ESV)
I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.
C. So what was it exactly that God “stretched out like a tent” when He made the heavens and the earth? Genesis 1:6-8 tells us that when God created the heavens and the earth, He put an “expanse” in the midst of the waters, and that this expanse formed some sort of gap or separation in the waters over which the Spirit was brooding.
Genesis 1:2 (NIV)
Now the earth wasformless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep (Heb. “tehom”), and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (waters being somehow dynamically related and connected to “the deep”).
Genesis 1:6-8 (ESV)
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters (Hebrew “mayim”), and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse (God made the earth from these waters, cf. 2 Peter 3:5) from the waters that were above the expanse (these waters are located somewhere in/above/in proximity to the highest heavens, cf. Ps. 148:3-4) . And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven (Hebrew “shamayim” or heavens). And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
D. This expanse or gap is what God stretched out like a tent. Peter tells us that some of the waters were used for the creation of the earth (2 Pet. 3:5). The rest of the waters either went to the heavens, or are still situated beyond the heavens. We usually think of water in connection with the earth. But in and around and even beyond the highest heavens, there is a lot of water. God must really like water!
2 Peter 3:5 (NIV)
But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
Psalm 148:3-4 (ESV)
3 Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! 4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
E. Both groups of water were originally connected and dynamically related somehow to “the deep” (Hebrew “tehom”) in the beginning. This is why once the earth was formed, the waters under the surface of the ground were still called “the deep” when the Flood came, and then after the flood the oceans were called “the deep.” The waters in and beyond the heaven are also part of the original “deep.” The waters on the earth are the deep, and the waters beyond the heavens are “the deep.” This is a mind blower. This is too deep for me. My mind starts to melt if I think about it too much. All life needs water to live.
Psalm 33:6-7 (ESV)
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps (Hebrew is plural) in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
Proverbs 3:19-20 (ESV)
19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in
place; 20 by his knowledge the deeps (the deep of earth and the deep waters of the heavens) were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.
Genesis 7:11 (NIV)
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs (under the ground) of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.
Psalm 106:9 (ESV)
He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert.
F. God created His household. He is the Father of His household. He has authority over His household of the heavens and the earth. All of His creatures in the heavens on the earth are expected to acknowledge His authority. The identity of all creation is derived from God as our Father and Creator.
Ephesians 3:14-15 (NIV)
14 For this reason I kneel (humble submission) before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.