DIG: What happened on the second day of creation? How can we know it was a literal twenty-four hour day? What was the water canopy and how did it function? When might it function again? How did it come into being? What is noticeably absent from Moses’ account? What was the expanse?
REFLECT: Elohim spoke the stars into existence. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing (Isaiah 40:26). Do you think you are more valuable to God than a star? Look at the birds of the air . . . are you not more valuable than they (Matthew 6:26)? If Yeshua calls each star by name, what do you think your new name will be? To those who overcome . . . I will give a new name, known only to those who receive it (Revelation 2:17b).
And God said marks the beginning of a second day where the LORD separated the sky from the sea. Notice once again that God accomplished His work by simply speaking it. He commanded: Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water (1:6). He is Elohim, the God of creation. Basically, He commanded the water to separate and He placed an expanse between the water that remained on the earth and the water above. ADONAI called the expanse sky.20
The verb underlying expanse (raqia) means something that is spread out, either by stretching it out like a tent (Psalm 104:2) or hammering it out like metal (Exodus 39:3), specifically, the stretching out of the earth at creation (Psalm 136:6; Isaiah 42:5, 44:24), or the spreading out of the sky (Job 37:18). In Isaiah 40:19 the meaning is to overlay or plate with gold.21
Separated by this expanse, or atmosphere, the two bodies of water were ready to sustain life on the earth. The water above the expanse probably constituted a vast blanket of water vapor. This water canopy would be transparent in order to give light on the earth and let the sun and the moon serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years (1:14-15). Even in immeasurable amounts, water vapor is visible and a vapor canopy could sustain life on the earth in a spectacular way. This might explain why prior to the Flood it was common for humans to live as long as nine hundred years. According to this hypothesis, the water canopy shielded people from the sun’s more harmful rays, regulated the climate at a perfect temperature, and provided other benefits that increased the longevity of life on the earth. But at the Flood, according to this theory, that canopy fell, the floodgates of the heavens were opened (Isaiah 24:18; Psalm 78:23) drowning all those on the earth.22 However, it will apparently be restored in the messianic Kingdom and in the new earth that God will create. The Psalmist says: Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. He set them in place for ever and ever; He gave a decree that will never pass away (Psalm 148:4 and 6).
The action: So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it (1:7). Elohim separated the water that remained on the earth from the water above the expanse or the sky. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy and spreads them out like a tent to live in (Isaiah 40:22b).
The fulfillment: And it was so is the only possible outcome, whether stated (1:7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30) or implied to God’s: Let there be. He speaks and it is done, whether in heaven or on earth.23
The naming: God called the expanse sky (1:8). The account of Moses is notable for the absence of any mythological features. All other ancient literature about the origin of the earth include fantastic legends about gods and sea monsters and cosmic battles that supposedly explain the emergence of the earth’s atmosphere and the formation of the land out of the sea. The Babylonians, for example, said that earth and heaven were separated when the god Marduk defeated Tiamat, the ocean-goddess, and cut her body in two. Half of her body became the earth, and the other half became the heavens. But the Biblical account is entirely different. What the Bible says is entirely reasonable. God divided the waters, and some rose into the upper atmosphere. The remaining waters still engulfed the earth. And in between was an expanse He called sky. Again, this expanse was simply the earth’s breathable air.24 Five things were named by Elohim, man not yet having been created to name them: light, darkness, the expanse, the water above it, and the water that remained on the earth.
ADONAI did not evaluate the Second Day: God saw that it was good on each day of creation, except for the Second Day. The rabbis maintain that Scripture does not add that it was good because Creation was not completed until the Third Day when dry land emerged from the water and the earth was made fit for living things (1:10). On that day, Elohim saw that it was good twice (1:10 and 12), as if to make up for not saying so on the Second Day. Another rabbinic tradition says that Gahanna, the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15), or what we would think of as hell, was created on the Second Day and that was not good. Therefore, ADONAI did not say that it was good on that day because hell was not good.
The numbering of each day: And to make sure we would understand that it was a literal twenty-four hour day, Moses records: There was evening, and there was morning – a second day. Once again, that must have been a literal twenty-four hour day (see creation.com/how-old-is-the-earth). I don’t see how you could get anything else out of it.