And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.Genesis 1:8 RSV
We must never read these passages in Genesis without asking ourselves what they intend to teach us on the moral or spiritual level. What inner reality is reflected in the atmosphere's ability to suspend water above the earth? The key is found in what God called this firmament: Heaven. There were heavenly waters, and there were earthly waters. Water is used very frequently in the Scriptures as a symbol of life. In the book of Revelation, John was told that the great harlot that he saw sitting upon the waters was a picture of the false church and that the waters were peoples and nations and multitudes gathered together (Revelation 17:15). Thus, the waters here in Genesis are a picture of human life.
What God is saying by this beautifully symbolic description is that there is earthly life and there is heavenly life, and, further, that we are surrounded by an invisible spiritual kingdom, just as with an invisible atmosphere. That spiritual kingdom is as real as anything we can see or taste or touch or feel. And from it, just as from the atmosphere around us, comes blessings that make human life happy and even possible—blessings such as joy, love, and peace; hope, trust, and power. Without that invisible spiritual kingdom, human life would be mere animal life devoid of all these other qualities that make life worth living.
Furthermore, as the rain falls upon the just and the unjust alike, so do these blessings come to the good and the bad equally all over the earth. Paul reminds us that all these mercies come from God upon the just and the unjust alike, in order to lead people unto repentance (cf. Romans 2:4) and to make them stop and think,
Where does this come from? Why is it that we are granted the ability to love and to share companionship with others? The apostle tells us that all these blessings come from the loving heart of a Father who pours them out even upon those who are resistant to His will. He loves and blesses mankind throughout this life in order that we might come to a change of mind about ourselves and God, that we might remember where these blessings come from and open our hearts to the influences of God's gracious kingdom. These blessings grow fewer for unbelievers as life goes on because of their resistance to the grace of God, but for the believer they come in increasing abundance, pouring into the life that recognizes the spiritual atmosphere around us.
Also, just as the waters upon the earth are invisibly drawn up and disappear into the higher ocean above, so the human spirit, as it comes to the end of its journey, quite unseen, leaves this earth, for good or evil, depending on the attitude shown in life toward the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ. All this is beautifully symbolized in the creation of the firmament and the operation of the atmosphere in its physical manifestation. It is all designed to teach us that there is a life to come as well as a life now.
Lord, I realize that I only see in part with my human eyes. Open the eyes of my heart that I might see the spiritual realities that govern my own existence.
The Genesis story of creation is meant to open our eyes to something far greater than the visible. What is the two-fold reality that governs our present and future existence?