This mysterious word and concept is one that is probably a little hazy in your mind. I know it was in mine. A question from a child in her class caused my darling wife of fifty years to search for an answer. She came across an interesting article on the Internet that may explain a lot.
On the second day of Creation, “God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.” (Genesis 1:6-7) Waters above and waters below? No wonder we are confused.
On the fourth day of Creation the Lord created the Sun, Moon and stars. “God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night.” (Genesis 1:14) These lights were in the firmament. That means the firmament is at least as high as the stars of the universe. This is confirmed by Psalm 148:4, “Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that [be] above the heavens.”
The Prophet Ezekiel described this, “And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible (awesome) crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.” (Ezekiel 1:22) The elders of Israel “saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.” (Exodus 24:10) Further, the Apostle John “saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire.” (Revelation 15:2)
It appears that the “waters above” are different from the water with which we are familiar. These waters are “firm” and the Saints were standing on it. (Revelation 15:2) These “waters” appear to be a boundary between our physical world and the spiritual world of Heaven. It seems there are three “layers” of the heavens; the sky above, the celestial realm, and Heaven. The Apostle Paul may have confirmed this idea when he spoke of someone ascending to the “third Heaven.” (Second Corinthians 12:2)
We are given a physical representation of this “water boundary” in the structure of the Tabernacle and the Temple. Upon entering, the first item is the altar which is where offerings were made for man’s sin. This is representative of the world and its sin. Next, before you can approach the Holy Place, the Sea is in the way. In the Temple, the Sea was a bronze basin that held thousands of gallons of water. The Sea is a boundary, and only when you pass the Sea can you enter the actual Temple or Holy Place.
The firmament is apparently a boundary. This also helps explain why the second day of Creation is the only day that is not described as “good” or “very good.” The Lord commanded it, “and it was so.” (Genesis 1:7) Rather than good, it was perhaps necessary as a boundary between the physical and the spiritual worlds.
There is more to this interesting passage which will be shown in the next lesson. Until then, pray for the lost and praise the Lord, always!