In reading the first creation story, one can get caught up in unfamiliar vernacular with no particular meaning with which we can identify, and therefore dismissible as meaningless. In reality, it is expressive of a worldview that was maintained from the time of the early biblical writers through the New Testament.
That worldview was of the earth with its seas, below which was the primeval ocean, pillars of the Earth (Psalm 75:3), and foundations of the earth (Psalm 104:5, “he set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved;” Job 38:4, “where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” 1 Samuel 2:8, “For the pillars of the Earth are the Lord’s, and on them, he has set the world.” Above the earth was the firmament with its stars, above that was another body of waters with “floodgates of heaven” (Genesis 7:11), the ocean of heaven (Psalm 148:4, “Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!”), and above that was the heaven of heavens.
In that view, “the ends of the earth” did not mean simply a long, long way, but literally, the ends of the disk of earth (Isaiah 41:9, “you I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners…;” Psalm 65:5, “O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas…;” Zechariah 9:10, “his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth;” Mark 13:27, “and then he will send out to the Angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”. In that worldview the earth did not move (Psalms 93:1; 104:5) and the sun did move across the skies, literally (Joshua 10:13; Ecclesiastes 1:5). There was an underworld, Sheol; reference the number of times throughout the Bible (Numbers 13:32 – 33 and the Psalms).Revelation 5:3, 13, “and no one in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth …;” Exodus 20:4, “you shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
A basic three – tiered system of the world is mentioned throughout the Bible, but, having no modern concept with which to relate it, the modern reader typically dismisses it without so much as a thought.
This same world view was shared throughout the Mesopotamian region. The Babylonian ziggurats were believed to have foundations extending well below the earth, into the underworld. Brian Godawa concludes, “Evidently, God did not consider it important enough to correct this primitive inaccurate understanding.”
The divine, the transcendent is revealed throughout the world.
Would you please share your own faith story?