“Then God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters,
and let it divide the waters from the waters.’ Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day”(Gen. 1:6-8, NKJV).
God created the firmament, appointed its function, and gave it a name, heaven. The function of the firmament (heaven) was to divide the water below from the water above it. Today, we would probably use the term “sky” and recognize the division of the sky into the atmosphere, which is a part of our environment and the space beyond our atmosphere where the sun, moon, and stars are.
The atmosphere appears to be the portion of the “heaven” that was formed on the second day of Creation. The atmosphere provides a method for moving water uphill; water can evaporate and enter the atmosphere, where it can be transported to any place on the earth. Then it can be brought back to the surface, either through the mist as described in Genesis 2:6 or as rain.
God named the firmament, signifying His sovereignty over it. The act of naming implies that God is sovereign over space. Space does not limit God’s actions in any way, because He created and rules it. As with the lighting of the world on the first day, the creation of the firmament was completed before the end of the second day, another dark period of evening and a light period of morning.
Much discussion has centered on the meaning of the word firmament. The Hebrew word raqia is sometimes used to describe a sheet of metal that has been hammered into a thin sheet, hence the term “firmament.” Critics have argued that the ancient Hebrews actually believed there was a hard surface above the earth; thus, they argue, because no such thing exists, the biblical account is wrong. But this is faulty reasoning. The use of the word firmament, in that context, simply applies to the sky above, both the atmosphere and space itself. We only have to look at the immediate context to know what is being talked about. In Genesis the birds are described as flying on “the face of the firmament” (Gen. 1:20, NKJV),and in another place the firmament is where the sun and moon are seen (Gen. 1:14). Obviously the birds don’t fly in the part of the raqia where the sun and moon are.
Whatever the mysteries of the Creation narrative itself, one point comes through very clearly: nothing is left to chance. Why is that point important for us to know, especially at a time when many believe that chance played a big role in our creation?