And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” Genesis 1:6, English Standard Version
If you’ll recall, we saw that in verse 2 the Spirit or God was moving upon the waters which at that time existed as a “solid” mass, swirling about in the midst of space. In verse 3 we read that God created light; with light came heat, and what happens to water when you heat it?
It evaporates, and we read in verse 6 that this was all part of God’s plan, for He has decreed that there should be a firmament or expanse between the waters below and the evaporated waters above.
What is this expanse? It is the “First Heaven,” the atmosphere of Earth. The creation of this expanse is oft cited throughout the Scriptures, as it is the famous “stretching out” of the sky as if it were a tent (Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22).
A tent may seem like a funny way to describe the sky, but is it all that far-fetched? Tents provide protection against the elements, and is that all too different from what the (for example) ozone layer does for us? God formed the creation to work together in harmony — remove the ozone layer, and the light would cook us!
Also, we shouldn’t think of separation as though the waters above are contained within one room, the waters below in another, with the expanse acting as a wall between them. Rather, the expanse keeps the waters separated by containing the waters which are above the earth; this water may be in feathery clouds miles above your home town, or they may be contained in fog rolling in off of a lake. In either instance, the waters are separate; the expanse tirelessly does the job which God had created it to do.
We Christians would do well to live our lives with the diligence of the expanse. Wouldn’t it be grand if all of Christendom would unceasingly work toward the growth of the Kingdom of God? How different would the world be!
And yet the expanse has it easy; it has no will, no attention which could be pulled away from its task. We do. We can choose to disobey God — for many people in this world, that is all they will ever choose — or we can die to ourselves and embrace life in Jesus Christ. I’m still speaking primarily to believers here, and I just have to ask, are you performing God’s tasks, or are you distracted?