A Relook of Genesis 1: The Expanse That Separates The Waters

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.”

Genesis 1:6-8, ESV.

The story of God’s creation of “the expanse” has puzzled people since its time of writing. What does Moses mean when God created “space” between waters? Sure, in the passage above, we see the expanse separating the waters. There were waters above it and below it. Sure, the waters below the expanse were called “sea” (ref: Genesis 1:10). But what are the waters “above the expanse”? Are they clouds? Clouds rain down water, yes? But then again, how can clouds be “above the expanse” if the expanse includes celestial bodies like the Sun, the moon, and the stars (ref: Genesis 1:14-18)? Surely, the “waters above the expanse” are not clouds. But if it isn’t, then what it is? And… to add to the mystery, don’t you think that it is weird why God included the creation of “seas” when the “seas” were already present in Genesis 1:2? Or is there more to the story? Is the “waters” in Genesis 1:2 the totality of “waters” that were both now split into “above” and “below” the expanse?

Considering that we are still in the stage of creation before celestial bodies were created, my search for the “waters above the expanse” brought me back to Revelations 22. In the restored Eden, John painted an imagery of Heaven with “waters” playing a major part within it. Revelations 22 started off with the angel showing John “the river of the water of life” that is “as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city”. However, strikingly, just a chapter before this, John wrote that in the “new heaven and new earth”, “there was no longer any sea” (Revelations 21:1). But here’s the thing, the “water” is no longer in the form of a “sea” as we see in Genesis; or can we say “first heaven and first earth” (ref: Revelations 21:1). Rather, the water here comes in the form of the “spring of the water of life” (ref: Revelations 21:6).

The “expanse” is a physical separation of the two “worlds”. This separation transcends the limitations of space-time.

So there we have it. It appears to me that the “waters” in heaven are similar to that of earth. It is something that a human being, in our physical form, can drink (ref: John 4:10-11). This water comes from the navel of God (ref: Song of Solomon 7:2); the rounded bowl in which living water flows from. From God’s bellybutton, these water branches out into streams, watering the garden (ref: Song of Solomon 4:15). No wonder God would call Himself “the fountain of living waters” (ref: Jeremiah 2:13); the water that will quench all thirst, forever (ref: John 4:14).

Now, when we come back to God’s deliberate attempt to create of the expanse that separates the waters, it appears that God is working to make a demarkation between what is above and what is below. Hence, at this juncture, we must understand what God intends for the world below.

In “Relook of Genesis 1: Let there be light”, I looked at Ezekiel 31:14 and pointed out that the earth (as narrated by God to be geographically, “below”), is the realm of the dead. From the literal standpoint, it sounded very weird to call the “earth” we live in to be “the realm of the dead”. But when we dive into the text, we appear to see that “earth” was used interchangeably with “Sheol” (Ezekiel 31:10-18). Now according to Merriam Webster dictionary, “Sheol” meant “the abode of the dead” in early Hebrew literature. This is weird, yes? But in context, being on “earth” appears to be a punishment for Pharaoh and his multitude. Ezekiel wrote in Ezekiel 31:14-15; 32:18, “For they are all given over to death, to the world below, among the children of man, with those who go down to the pit… On the day the cedar went down to Sheol I caused mourning; I closed the deep over it, and restrained its rivers, and many waters were stopped… Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and send them down, her and the daughters of majestic nations, to the world below, to those who have gone down to the pit.

It is hard to believe that Ezekiel associated the earth with everything that we associate with hell: “the pit” and “Sheol”. But God in His loving kindness still made life in hell, a little bearable by beautifying a part of it (we will later call this, Eden). He said to Tyre, “I will make you go down with those who go down to the pit, to the people of old, and I will make you to dwell in the world below, among ruins from of old, with those who go down to the pit, so that you will not be inhabited; but I will set beauty in the land of the living” (Ezekiel 26:20). 

So yes, now we have on the “earth below”, both the “land of the living”, and the “pit”. However, when you have these two places placed together, you will need to make a clear demarkation between the “pit” and “heaven”. That is where the “expanse” come into play to draw the line between the two. The “expanse” is a physical separation of the two “waters” (or in context, “worlds”). Such an expanse transcends the limitations of space-time. To go across it meant to break down the very fabric of the universe and enter into the spiritual realm. If we think about it, the “expanse” acts like the Temple Veil that separate the Holy of Holies from the less Holy Place in the Temple. No one can access God’s presence without crossing it; much less drinking the living water that flows from God’s navel.

Now, as Christians, we are able to transcend the spatial boundary and access the rivers of life freely as long as we ask of Christ. Through Christ, our sins are forgiven. Through Christ, we are given the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. Through Christ, we can cross the “expanse” and gain access to an infinite amount of living water that will satisfy us for all of eternity.

But not everyone is so lucky. In the next post, “Relook of Genesis 1: Human Beings”, I will talk about the distinction between Adam and Eve and the other people that God had created (yes, there are other people). Adam and Eve had direct connection to God, but not the rest. So, stay tuned!

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