Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Shape of The Earth

Biblegems # 287

Earth: NASA files (public domain)

Question: Science has clearly proven the earth is a sphere, but does the Bible contradict this by describing it as a flat disk?

The question goes to the issue of biblical accuracy and authority. If the Bible is indeed to be treated seriously as scientifically and historically reliable, then it should line up with the facts.

So…what does the Bible teach regarding the shape of the earth?

The Bible clearly states, repeatedly and in a variety of ways, that God brought the earth and the universe into existence in its present, mature state.
Ps. 33:6  By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

Genesis 1:1-2 presents what is intended to be an accurate account of the formation of the earth in the larger context of the creation of the entire universe. Verse two specifically describes the first moments of earth’s existence as “unformed and uninhabited” (“formless and empty”—NIV), with the basic elements of water (Heb. Tohum—“the deep”) and the chemical properties of the material universe (Heb. eretz—“earth”) swirling in the darkness of newly created space (Heb. shamayim—“heavens”), even before the formation of the stars (see vv. 14-19).

This formless mass of water and earth’s elements is next described in Genesis 1:2 as having been acted upon by the Holy Spirit and sent into a highly energized motion (Heb. rachaph: “to shake” or “flutter”—“hovering” [NIV]). The book of Proverbs also speaks to this early shaping of the earth into its current form:
         Prov. 8:24  When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water

“No watery depths” (NIV) means before the oceans were formed. The passage goes on to read:
Prov. 8:27  I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep

“Marked out” (NIV) in Proverbs 8:27 translates the Hebrew word “chug,” which literally means to inscribe or trace a circle.[i] This same word is used in Isaiah where God is described as looking upon the earth and space from a distance, seeing earth as a “circle” or "sphere" in space, and space itself as stretched out like a vast canopy:
         Is. 40:22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

Way ahead of the times scientifically, the Bible accurately describes the earth as shaped by God, who applied powerful waves of energy to the formless glob of the universe’s basic elements, into a a circular sphere He then suspended in space:
         Job 26:7 He…suspends the earth over nothing.

[i].trace, mark out, a circle, c. lo over the face of deep. BDB, 3.

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