The Size and Structure of the Universe According to the Bible
Genesis 1:18 …And to rule over the day and over the night, and to Divide the Light from the Darkness: and God saw that it was good. Comment: The specific purpose of the different Lights (sun, moon, stars) is again stressed. God uses the Lights to dispel the Darkness (which He also creates: Is. 45:7) in the daytime with the Sun, and to illuminate the Darkness at night with the Moon and the Stars. All three Light sources are situated inside the Firmament/Heaven.
Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament [expanse] of heaven. Comment: Here we see that the firmament/expanse of heaven comes right down to where the fowls of the air fly, and they fly right down to the earth to snap up a rodent or a fish don’t they? So the “waters below” fit the Hebrew connotation of “below” (#8478) which is: “below, underneath, beneath”, i.e., they are underneath this 1st part of the firmament/heaven.
Thus, regardless of speculations and interpretations, the six rudimentary Biblical facts about the structure of the universe given in Genesis I are:
The Earth is the focal point of everything…the first created part of the structure of God’s Creation of the Universe. (Since the universal acceptance of Copernicanism, of course, cosmologists have relegated the Earth to the status of an infinitesimal speck of cosmic flotsam indebted to the sun’s fortuitous proximity for its ineffable array of plant and animal and human life and all that goes with it. Copernicanism re-activated a not-so-subtle form of Pagan Sun-Worship and we call it “science”.)
The second part of the structure of the universe is the space–and its components (the atmosphere where birds fly, the clouds, magnetosphere, Van Allen Belt, ozone layer, etc.)–between the Earth and the limit of its gravitational and/or electromagnetic influence. This distance is said to be 216,000 miles, just 5000 miles short of the Moon at perigee or 36,000 miles at apogee.
The third part of the structure of the universe is the one that starts where the Earth’s influence ends, i.e., basically the Moon, and also includes the sun and all the way to the end of the accepted accepted influence of the sun (the heliopause)…which is the (recently demoted) planet Pluto. This third part of the Biblical structure of the universe is the second of three regions or zones of what the Scriptures call the “Firmament” and the “Heavens”. Scripturally, there are three “heavens” (II Cor. 12:2), i.e., three parts to the “firmament”. This part–the moon, sun, and planets–constitute the second part of the firmament…or the second heaven.
The fourth part of the structure of the universe is the realm of the stars. Scripturally, as we shall see, the stars are in the 3rd Heaven of the firmament.
The fifth part of the structure of the universe according to the Scriptures is a zone above the stars where God’s temporary Throne and all His activities are located (Is. 66:22; 65:17; Jn. 14:2; Rev. 21:1, 3; etc.). This is still the 3rd heaven (II Cor. 12-2), i.e., it is still the 3rd part of the firmament where the stars are located… but is it is above and beyond the last star in that zone.
The sixth and final part of the structure of the universe according to the Scriptures (explained just ahead) is called “the waters above the firmament”. (This sixth part is the outer limit beyond which the existence of no other entity is indicated).
That’s it. That is a verbal description of a static cut-away view of the physical structure of the universe from the Earth outward, according to the Bible. (Graphic descriptions of this and related schematics are given in the seventh essay…after all the written information and explanations have been furnished.)
We begin here with some very interesting details which flow from these six rudimentary Biblical facts, details which tell us much more about size and structure. For example:
The Moon –as we’ve seen–is described as being inside the Firmament/ Heaven (Gen. 1:14-17). Since the Moon at Perigee comes as close to the Earth as c.221,000 miles and goes no further out from the Earth at Apogee than c.252.000 miles, it follows that what the Bible defines as the entrance into the 2nd Firmament (Heaven) is never any further away from Earth in this Biblical structure of the universe than just over a quarter of a million miles.
At first glance, this distance…this dimension seems to be the only one that is actually inherent in the structural facts that are given. But a closer look at the components (moon, sun, planets) of the 2nd zone of the firmament, i.e., the 2nd zone of the three heavens, actually gives us a distance marker which–inflated or not–is pretty standard in the books, viz., the distance from Earth to the last “planet” Pluto. That distance is given as 3,670, 000,000 miles. So, from a Scriptural standpoint, we can confidently assert that the second part of the Firmament/Heaven–which begins at the Moon’s average negligible distance from Earth of c. 238,000 miles and ends at the furthermost reach of the last “planet”–is actually some 3,670,000,000 miles thick. Thus, we know that the thickness of the 2nd heaven part of the three-part firmament begins with the Moon’s position between Perigee and Apogee and that it ends just beyond the last most distant “planet” (Pluto). That distance is standardized in the books as being 3,670,000,000 miles… and is acceptable for the conclusions of these essays even though there is good reason to suspect that this figure–as with all other deep space distances–is substantially inflated.
Beyond that 2nd heaven, as we have seen, there is another zone, a 3rd heaven, which completes the Biblical firmament. Scripturally, this 3rd zone of the firmament/heaven contains ALL of the stars. They are “sealed up” in that zone (Job. 9:7). Also, Scripturally, we know there is yet another structural entity “above the stars” (Isaiah 14:13) but which is still located in the 3rd part of the firmament/heaven, being designated as the location of God’s Throne (II Cor. 12:2). We will look at those verses in the appropriate place. Already, though, it should be obvious that the part of the Biblical structure of the universe where the stars are located is: a) A finite, specified band around the Earth; b) A zone where ALL stars are confined; c) A zone/band in the firmament which is above that zone/band which contains the sun, moon, and planets and is 3,670,000,000 miles thick; d) A zone in the firmament which includes God’s Throne and His present operations above all the stars but still in the 3rd heaven/firmament…the thickness of which is estimable from Scripture, as will be seen further along; e) The star-filled 3rd heaven of the firmament is revolving around the Earth every 23 hours and 56 minutes; f) Its thickness is finite and, Scripturally, needs be no more than the thickness of the 2nd part of the firmament/heaven, i.e., 3,670,000,000 miles. Indeed, it could be substantially less given a Scriptural design feature in the structure of the universe which provides a mechanism for innumerable reflective reproductions of the finite and comprehensible number of stars that are really known to exist. More later on this….
The final part of the structure of the universe is described as the “Waters” that are “Above” the Firmament. As to the description of these “Waters Above” and how far above the Firmament they are–and even how thick they are– the curious connotation of the Hebrew word “Above” in this context provides information that forces conclusions about all three of these questions.
Let’s focus here on this Biblical extremity of the structure of the universe for a bit and then continue with those other distance markers: Observe:
a) As quoted in the Note under Genesis 1:7, “Above” can mean “against”. In other words, the “Waters Above” the Firmament could begin right where the Firmament ends. Under this connotation, the part of the structure of the universe called “the Waters Above the Firmament” could be just “on top of”–i. e., “above”–the Firmament…much as the cover of a ball would be “above” or “on top of” the air inside. According to the Hebrew meaning of “above” in the context, the final part of the structure of the universe (“the Waters Above the Firmament”) could be–but is not necessarily–against the Firmament itself.
b) However, this indecision causes us to focus on the use of the words MIDST and DIVIDE in verse 6. The note there tells us that the meaning of MIDST is also flexible in this context. It can mean the MIDDLE or it can mean BETWEEN. If it means “middle” then it could be “against” the waters above just like the waters under the firmament/heaven are “against” the Earth. Also, even if MIDST means “between”, the firmament/heaven could be “against” the ‘waters above” as it is against the “waters below” and still be “between” the waters below and above, and thus also seem to accommodate the Scriptures on this point.
c) Furthermore, the meanings of the words DIVIDE and DIVIDED in verses 6 and 7 are non-elastic. The words mean “separate”. Thus, grammatically and semantically, the only solution is to conclude that the firmament at both extremes is “against” (contiguous with) the “waters below and above”…but, nevertheless, they are still physically separate entities by reason of their functions and roles in the overall structure. Strong additional confirmation of this conclusion was seen in the verse from Gen. 1:7 (p. 3) where the Hebrew definition of “above” (… “from the waters which were above the firmament….”) prepares us for an inescapable conclusion about the final part of the Biblical structure of the universe. Remember that definition of “above” #5921? It said that it can mean “against”…(“yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect”). That is to say: The firmament/heaven can be “against” the “waters above” but only on the bottom side of those waters.
If those “waters above” have a bottom side, they must have a top side. Whatever has a bottom and a top is a finite entity that has a thickness. We will see the Biblically inescapable composition of this final part of the size and structure of the universe in Part II, (“The Biblical Role of Water Crystals in Determining the Size and Structure of the Universe”. [See: Size-Structure Pt 2] So, grammatically and semantically, this understanding puts the Firmament literally in the middle/MIDST of the Waters Under the Firmament and the Waters Above the Firmament, and also literally BETWEEN the two.
d) The reason for this rather tedious analysis is to underline three things: FIRST, It’s not smart to mess around with God’s words. He says exactly what He means and He means exactly what He says. (Apply that truism to: “Sun, stand thou still” and other geocentricity Scriptures, [See: Sixty-seven References] especially if you are a Bible-believing Christian or Jew [or a Koran-believing Moslem for that matter [See: Koran]] and see where you come out!) SECOND, though we still don’t know how thick the entire Scriptural Firmament/Heaven is, we know that the distance from the 1st to the 2nd heaven is in the quarter-million mile range and the thickness of the 2nd heaven–which begins with the Moon and ends with the last “Planet” Pluto–is rounded off in the books at 3,670,000,000 miles. These are definitely the kinds of distance figures that tell us that we can expect equally intelligible distances when we determine the thickness of the starry realm and, indeed, the entire universe according to the Bible. THIRD, the assurance that the outer and final part of the structure of the universe incorporates a watery rim or boundary of some sort underscores the certainty that the Scriptural “lights in the Firmament”– specifically the Stars in the 3rd heaven–ARE BEING REFLECTED off of that watery shell back toward the Earth.