The history of the church is one astonishing deliverance tale after another. At every moment she is threatened to be engulfed and drowned by the floods of persecution, internal explosion, anti-God philosophy, apathy, and materialism. Yet the Lord who said on Day Two, “Let there be a firmament-expanse between the waters to separate water from water,” continues to provide breathing space and life for his church.
My son was two years old at the time. We were in our neighbor’s yard, standing next to their swimming pool. He stepped into the water and fell like a stone. For a split second (though time slows in these situations, and it seemed much longer), he didn’t struggle or try to get out—he simply sat on the bottom of the pool. I reached down instantly and hauled him out. I was much more disturbed than he was, and shocked at how quickly and silently a little child could drown.
God’s church is always in danger of drowning.
God’s church is always in danger of drowning—suffocating in the waters of outward persecution and inward materialism and temptation. This applies to us as a body, and this applies to us individually. But we need not fear, for our Savior—from the very beginning—showed how he can deliver us from the chaotic suffocating waters in whatever form they come.
In Genesis 1:6-8, we read about God’s work on the second day:
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.
The “expanse” (raqia) separates the water that made up the original formless, empty, lifeless, black, and watery chaos (1:1-2). It creates a horizontal space between water that is above and water that is below. And God called it “Heaven” (shamayim), which is the very common Hebrew word for the place, both seen and unseen, that is far above the surface of the earth.
Raqia, thus, is a sturdy barrier that God stretches out above the earth. And when we put this with its name, shamayim, “heaven” or “sky,” we see that on Day Two God made the sky, a powerful spacious barrier that holds apart water that is down from water that is up.
What, though, is the water that is above? Proverbs 8:27-28, a very beautiful picture of creation spoken by “Wisdom” personified, tells us:
“I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep.”
The “waters below” are the oceans, and the “waters above” are the clouds.
What a magnificent picture that God paints before our eyes! First, we see creation: formless, lifeless, lightless, empty, and watery. This is the raw material. On Day One God floods creation with light. And periods of light will alternate with periods of darkness to make “day and night.” Yet, although creation is no longer black, it is still a formless watery chaos. On Day Two God builds structure, a firmament-expanse, a sky which separates water below from water that is above.