What is the firmament?
Let’s look at what the bible tells us about the earth when it was first made and what changed when the earth was flooded.
Look at Genesis chapter 1 again.
First of all, let's list out a few facts about the layers God talks about;
Verse 20 tells us that there's a layer above the waters on the earth that the birds fly in.
Verses 9 and 10 mention the waters on the earth that are gathered together to make Seas.
Verses 14-17 tells us about another layer above where the sun, moon and stars are placed and set in motion for the division of days, nights, seasons and years.
Verses 6-8 show us that there are layers in between the waters to divide the waters from the waters.
Notice that verse 6 says this firmament divides the waters (plural) from the waters (plural). There are many layers that are divided.
Verse 7 says there's waters “under” and waters “above”.
The word “firmament” means an expanse, and by implication; to overlay.
OT:7549 u^yq!r*; raqiya` (raw-kee'-ah); from OT:7554; properly, an expanse
OT:7554 uq^r*; raqa` (raw-kah'); a primitive root; by implication, to overlay
The layers of water and expanses are divided and overlayed in many layers.
Notice the “firmament” (layer) that God made in verse 6? It was made “in the midst of the waters” to divide the layers of waters, and He called it “heaven”. In verse 9 He gathers one layer of waters together to make dry land. In verse 20 it says that the birds fly above the earth in another layer. In verse 17 God set the sun, moon and stars in even another layer. There is a layer “below”, on the earth, that makes up the seas, the then another layer was for the birds (our atmosphere), and then there was another layer of water “above”, and then another layer was for the sun, moon and stars (outer space). The layer “above” was between the atmosphere of the earth and the cold of space to divide them or separate them from each other. Take the time to really study this and get your arms around the implications of the layers and the expanses and understand that there was and is many layers, and was more than one layer of “water”.
We know that God doesn’t create anything that’s not perfect. That’s one of the arguments people use to say there must have been time between initial creation and the creation of man, because there’s imperfection that we see today, or corruption as would be a more accurate term. I show that their argument does not prove any lapse in time in this book, but I would like to agree, in part, with all those people and say that God indeed did not create an imperfect world! There are currently 6 layers to our atmosphere. What is God’s number for perfection? Did you think of the number 7? Yes, 7 is definitely perfection for God. 7 is everywhere in the bible. There was a seventh layer and that layer was “let go” when God flooded the earth. So, what was the seventh layer that isn’t there any more? Gen 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. Remember that the firmament God created to divide and make up the layers, like our atmosphere and space was called “heaven”? When God caused the earth to flood, He “opened the windows of heaven”. It had not rained on the earth prior to this. Gen 2:6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. When God opened the windows of heaven, the 7th layer, a layer of water, came raining down on the earth for 40 days in a torrential downpour such as never seen again in history. There was a layer of water surrounding the earth in the initial creation that is not there today. This layer of water did many things for the earth that we don’t have any more. There was increased atmospheric pressure (about double the 14.7 psi today). Oxygen levels were about 50% higher than they are today (Time Magazine Nov. 9, 1987 - Analysis of air trapped inside fossilized tree sap, Amber, shows an oxygen content of 50% more than we have today, proving this point). The layer of water would have filtered the suns rays and would have maintained a greenhouse effect on the whole earth. There would have been a whole lot more vegetation than we have today. The deserts would have been lush and green as well as the poles. More plants = more oxygen. The temperature would have been equalized around the globe and there would have been no ice in the poles or deserts on the equator. It was a pole to pole tropical planet.
I don't normally like to quote outside of the scriptures we have today, but there is a very, very interesting prophecy in the book of Enoch, a book found with the Dead Sea Scrolls, that talks about this very thing. It is not confirmed as a part of the bible so I'm just throwing this in here because I find it incredibly interesting. Enoch is mentioned in the bible in Genesis, Luke, Hebrews, and in Jude 14 Enoch's prophecy is mentioned. He was the great grandfather of Noah and it is possible that Noah had preserved the text of this book. I don't know for sure and I am definitely not saying that you should believe it to be authentic, so I'll just let you decide.
Enoch LXXXIX.1-9. The Deluge and the Deliverance
"89: 1-9 And one of those four went to that white bull and instructed him in a secret, without his being terrified: he was born a bull and became a man, and built for himself a great vessel and dwelt thereon; and three bulls dwelt with him in that vessel and they were covered in. And again I raised mine eyes towards heaven and saw a lofty roof, with seven water torrents thereon, and those torrents flowed with much water into an enclosure. And I saw again, and behold fountains were opened on the surface of that great enclosure, and that water began to swell and rise upon the surface, and I saw that enclosure till all its surface was covered with water. And the water, the darkness, and mist increased upon it; and as I looked at the height of that water, that water had risen above the height of that enclosure, and was streaming over that enclosure, and it stood upon the earth. And all the cattle of that enclosure were gathered together until I saw how they sank and were swallowed up and perished in that water. But that vessel floated on the water, while all the oxen and elephants and camels and asses sank to the bottom with all the animals, so that I could no longer see them, and they were not able to escape, (but) perished and sank into the depths. And again I saw in the vision till those water torrents were removed from that high roof, and the chasms of the earth were leveled up and other abysses were opened. Then the water began to run down into these, till the earth became visible; but that vessel settled on the earth, and the darkness retired and light appeared. But that white bull which had become a man came out of that vessel, and the three bulls with him, and one of those three was white like that bull, and one of them was red as blood, and one black: and that white bull departed from them."
There are man made machines called Hyperbaric Chambers that are used today to put people with injuries or sickness in, so that the increased atmospheric pressure and oxygen will help healing. It’s called Pressurized Oxygen Therapy. Professional sports teams; NFL, NBA, NHL, CFL, etc. use them to put players that are injured in so that they heal twice as fast! Google it and check it out for yourself!
With higher pressure and more oxygen, you could run for hours and never run out of breath. You would heal a lot faster. You would live a lot longer.
In high elevations where the atmospheric pressure is low, wounds will not heal.
The life span of people before the flood was in the hundreds of years! Some lived over 900 years!
Another interesting fact about the hyperbaric chamber is the amazing growth rate of animals when they are raised inside a chamber. They have been playing around with them for years and found that small animals will grow much, much larger in a hyperbaric chamber than they normally would. It makes it even more interesting when we know that they have found fossils of huge wombats, bear size beavers and sloth’s, bison size rodents, 17 foot tall rhino skeletons, 12 foot giant humans, etc. They’ve pretty much found anything you can think of in the fossil records in an enlarged form.
Understanding this makes everything else just fall into place!