Covenant Compendium #4
Guest Blogger: Pastor Justin Wallick
Genesis 1:6-8 “And God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters. Let it separate between the waters from the waters.’ 7 And God made the firmament and separated between the waters, which were under the firmament, and from the waters, which above the firmament. And, it was so. 8 And God called the firmament ‘Heaven.’ And, it was evening and morning; the second day.”
On the second day of the creation week, God continued what He began on the first day. He also continued His creational patterned activities.
God created the heavens and the earth on the first day. He then proceeded to bring order. The earth was formless and empty. He spent the next three days bringing order…by separating. He separated light from darkness on the first day. The second day, He separated the waters above from the waters below. To separate, God put a firmament (raqia) between the waters. This is also called “expanse,” which means an extended surface. God’s firmament separation brought further structure to creation after the light-darkness separation.
The waters above formed the celestial ocean. The waters below formed the ocean that covered the whole earth before God brought forth land (Day #3; sorry, no SPOILER ALERT!).
What makes the second day different from the other days in the first week is that God did not declare His works here as “good” (tov). On Days #1 and 3-6, God declared His creative acts as “good” (Gen 1:4, 10, 18, 21, 25) and “very good” (Gen 1:31). Why not Day #2?
Can it be that the second day was bad? Since God is the Creator, and He separated the waters with the firmament, then we cannot describe the separation as bad. He did it. All His acts are good.
Can it be that God separated the waters as a response or result of sin, such as the fall of Satan and other angels? Since God continued to declare each day’s completion as good, and His sixth day assessment of everything was very good, then sin had not come into the world and Satan had not fallen, yet.
Therefore, the most likely reason is the separation was not ideal. God reveals in this week of creation that each day is perfect, and He declares each day’s completion as good (except, the second day). But, each day He changed what was good the previous day to make it better.* God can make something and have better future intentions for it, to make it better. He may have intended to remove the firmament at a later time even without it being a result of sin.
Another possible explanation is Day #2 and Day #3 were two halves of one creative act. God’s making of the firmament and the separation of the waters made the first part, and His bringing forth the land in the waters on Day #3 was the second part. The absence of a “good” declaration may have been a delay, which was answered at the conclusion of third day.
God’s progressive work in creation, and specifically the firmament, is revealed in later revelation. God brought the firmament down in the Flood when He “decreated” the earth. He brought the waters above and the waters below together.
In the Tabernacle and Temple, the LORD God commanded the veil curtain to be put up to separate God’s presence in the Holy of holies from His people. This was a symbolic “heaven on earth,” and the veil curtain was the symbolic firmament. When Jesus was baptized, the heavens ripped open, and the Spirit descended upon the Son (Mark 1:10). When Jesus was crucified, the veil curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom (Matt 27:51). In His ascension, Christ provides a new firmament. His flesh is the new veil between heaven and earth (Heb 10:20). We go to heaven only through Jesus Christ, God’s Son (John 14:6).
Firmament, creation to decreation to re-creation.
*Credit James Jordan and Peter Leithart for this explanation. See Leithart’s opening statement: The Future of Protestantism: A Conversation with Peter Leithart, Fred Sanders, and Carl Trueman
Justin R. Wallick is Pastor of Hamlin Reformed Church in Castlewood, SD