Deep Waters Above and Below


Deep Waters Above and Below

April 14th, 1991 @ 10:50 AM

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And 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. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Genesis 1:6-13

4-14-91    10:50 a.m.


Fred McNabb, our minister of music, has announced that the climactic worship service of this month of April will be the choir and orchestra presenting Haydn’s “Creation,” and he asked me to preach this month of April, the four Sundays, on God’s creation of this world: last Sunday, The Dividing Of The Light; this Sunday, The Dividing Of The Water ; next Sunday, The Astronomical Heavens; and the fourth Sunday, The Beginning And The End Of The World.  Our reading is in the first chapter of Genesis, verse 6:

God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

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.

God called the firmament Heaven.  And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear . . .

God called the dry land Earth; and gathering together of the waters called He Seas: God saw that it was good.

God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself. . and it was so.

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: God saw that it was good.

And the evening and the morning were the third day.

[Genesis 1:6-13]

“God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters”—raqiya [Genesis 1:6].  This is the only place in the seventeen times it is used in the Bible; in this chapter alone is it translated “firmament.”  The word means “a great, vast expanse.”  And God made, out of the chaotic universe into which it fell because of sin [Genesis 1:2], God made a beautiful firmament, a beautiful heaven, a beautiful expanse above us and the glorious planet Earth beneath us [Genesis 1:6-9].  And He did so in the dividing of the waters—the waters above us and the waters below the heavens [Genesis 1:7].  And one is as large and as expansive and voluminous as the other.  It is as great an expanse of the waters above us as it is the expanse of the oceans and the seas around us [Genesis 1:7].

One of the oldest jokes that I have ever heard, there was a preacher who was preaching on baptism—hipped on baptism; preaching on baptism all the time.  And the brethren visited him and said, “We want you to speak on something else.”  So they suggested he turn to the first chapter of the Bible.  That was as far away as they could think for away from baptism.  So he started out, and when he read “the waters of the earth,” three-fourths of this planet is water.  And he said, “God gave that to us so there would be plenty of water for baptism,” and away he started off on baptism again.  He was certainly correct in the vast expanse of the waters, above us and below us.  And they are held by the almighty hand of God [Isaiah 40:12].

An ancient map of this planet by a Persian made it flat, and around the edge of the flat earth he drew a high series of mountains.  Then he wrote an explanation, “The high mountains I have never seen, but they are of necessity there; else wise the waters would pour over the edge of the earth.”  We smile at that, but that is as good an explanation as you will find from some of these atheistic scientists today.

I have stood on the ocean at the bottom part of Australia.  And when you look at the map, when I was down there on the bottom part of Australia and thinking of us up here on the Atlantic, or the Gulf of Mexico, I was standing on my head down there, and that ocean was on the bottom side of the earth.  So I say to the atheistic scientists, “Why doesn’t that water spill out and off, and why don’t I fall off, being down there on my head?  What holds this world together?”

And the scientists said, “Why, you stupid idiot, don’t you know what holds this world together is gravity?”

“Why, certainly.  Why didn’t I think about that?”  Then I asked him, “But what is gravity?”

And he says, “Why, you stupid idiot, gravity is what holds this world together.”  This world is held together by the hand of Almighty God [Psalm 95:4]—one of the great miracles of the great Creator when He made these heavens and this earth [Genesis 1:1-23].

I speak now of the wonder of water.  What distinguishes our planet Earth from all of the other dead planets of this vast universe is water.  There are some wonderful, miraculous characteristics of this substance that God has created in such abounding abundance upon our earth.  Here is one: the great oceans of water above us are exactly like these oceans of water around us.  They are just the same.  These great oceanic expanses in the atmospheric heavens are exactly like these vast expanses of water in the terrestrial seas and oceans.  They have specific gravity.  You start at the bottom of the ocean, and it is heavy and full of weight, and as you come up and up and up, it is lighter and lighter and lighter.  The same with the oceans above us; the specific gravity at the bottom is heavy and goes up and up and up and up, and becomes so light it ceases to exist.

In one of my preaching journeys some time ago, I landed in a foreign country, and the airport was 14,000 feet above sea level.  And for three days and three nights in that capital city, I had a horrible headache.  I am not accustomed to that lightness of weight in the ocean above us.  As an animal in the ocean below us, the muscles are tense to fight the heaviness of the water around; bring it to the top, and it would explode.  They are exactly alike.  These oceans above us and the oceans around us are exactly alike.  They have billows, both of them.  They have currents, both of them.  They have tides, both of them.  They have billows and waves, both of them.  They are exactly alike.

And they are alike in giving life and supporting life.  In the ocean above us, there will be fowls who swim through it, birds who navigate through it.  In the ocean on the earth, there will be fish who will swim through it.  In the ocean above, there will be airplanes who will swim through it.  In the ocean below, there will be submarines and boats who will navigate through it.  And they both are alive and vibrant and viable, giving birth to extensive creative beings by vast currents, those above us and those around us.

One of the most phenomenal of all the things you could ever see is the Gulf Stream going through the Atlantic.  If you are in a little boat, half of you can be in the dark green of the Polar [Stream], and half of it can be in the clear blue waters of the Gulf.  The Gulf Stream will be 70 miles wide, 3,000 feet deep, a thousand times bigger than the Mississippi, moved out by the pressure of the heat of the tropical Caribbean.  And as it goes along the shores of Florida and of the eastern United States, near Nova Scotia it meets that dark green Polar Stream and current.  And there is an awful confrontation, and the Gulf Stream overcomes, and the Polar Stream is forced to go down, and it comes up in the Caribbean bringing fresh, cool air to the islands.  And the great Gulf Stream goes to northern Europe and makes England and Scandinavia and the countries of Europe habitable.  It is a miraculous creation of the hand of Almighty God [Psalm 95:5].

And the wonder of the water on the thirsting land.  What a miracle that the vapor of the sea and the waters of the oceans rise to replenish that vast ocean and sea above us.  The capacity of this expanse, this raqiya, the whole water is a miracle of God.  In a large living room there will be 252 pounds of water.  In a square mile of this atmosphere around us, there will be 500,000 tons, one billion pounds, of water.  The whole vast heaven above us is filled with water—a great ocean as large up there as down here.  And if the water is lifted up at 80 degrees and it is cooled by a stream of cold current to 70 degrees, it will lose one-fourth of its substance, and that waters the dry and thirsty land.

And the miracle of water, in its inherent structure, is something from God Himself.  Two gases are highly flammable: hydrogen and oxygen.  They are combustible in the extreme.  H2O, two parts of hydrogen and one of oxygen, will make water, and you can put out the fire with it.  And it violates every fundamental structure of creation.  One of the laws, the thermodynamics of matter; if you heat it, it expands and expands and expands and expands, and if you cool it, it contracts and contracts and contracts.  Water is the only substance that violates that universal law.  Cool it, water, cool it, it will contract and contract and contract and contract until finally it becomes, at 32 degrees, an instrument of expansion.  It violates every known law of thermodynamics.  And the reason is obvious: God saw that if it contracted and contracted, it would become like stone and fall to the bottom of the sea, and the whole sea would become solid ice.  And He turned it so that at 32 degrees it expands, and the great oceans, with their currents, bring life to the land.

I haven’t a time to speak of Jesus, the water of life.  One of the sweetest, dearest, most precious of stories in human speech; when that Samaritan woman came to the well, and Jesus was seated there on the side [John 4:6-7], and He said to her, “Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him shall never ever thirst; for the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” [John 4:13-14].  Jesus, the water of life.  And our great, creative Lord:

God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together [unto one place], and let the dry land appear; [and it was so].

And God called the dry land Earth: and the gathering of the waters called He Seas: and God saw that it was good. . .

And the earth brought forth grass, [and herb] yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit . . . after his kind.

[Genesis 1:9-12]

“The earth brought forth grass . . . and yielded after his kind” [Genesis 1:12].  This is the law of God in all life and living, each after its kind.  You reap what you sow.  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” [Galatians 6:7].  You sow tares, and you will reap tares.  You sow lies, and you will reap lies.  You sow evil, and you will reap wickedness.  There is no exception to it in all of God’s creation, whether it be the grass or the pasture or the sowings in the field or the living in human life.  Jacob cheats his brother, Esau, and he lies to his blind father, Isaac [Genesis 27:1-29].  Jacob had his wages in Padan-aram changed ten times [Genesis 31:7].  He worked seven years for the beautiful, lovely Rachel, then had an ugly woman put upon him [Genesis 29:18-27].  Jacob deceived his father with the skin of a goat [Genesis 27:16, 22-24]; his sons deceived him with the blood of a goat [Genesis 37:31-34].  He reaped what he sowed.  David had Bathsheba’s husband murdered [2 Samuel 11:14-21].  God said, “I will raise up evil in thy family, and the sword shall never leave thy house” [2 Samuel 12:10], and the story of David thereafter is written in human blood.

Maxentius built a false bridge to drown Constantine.  He was drowned there himself.  Bajazet built an iron cage to incarcerate Tamerlane.  Defeated, Tamerlane, carried him everywhere he went in that same iron cage.  Maximinus put out the eyes of thousands of faithful Christians.  A fearful disease of the eyes broke out among his people, of which he himself died in great agony. Valens, Roman emperor, persecuted his orthodox Christian subjects.  He sent about eighty of their leaders in a ship to sea, burned them up alive.  Defeated by the Goths, Valens fled to a cottage, and there was burned alive.  Borgia, Alexander VI, pope of the renaissance, most corrupt and hated of all the Borgia leaders, he poisoned his enemies.  On August 18, 1503, he himself was poisoned by wine he had prepared for others.  Henry III, the king of France, stabbed to death in the same chamber where he had contrived the cruel massacre of the French Revolution.  Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, queen of France, riding to Notre Dame Cathedral for her bridal, commanded the soldiers to drive from the streets all the poor and the ragged and the crippled.  She stated she could not bear the sight of these miserable wretches.  Over those same streets she was carried, bound in the executioner’s cart to the guillotine, and the crowds gazed upon her with hearts cold as ice and hard as granite.  Joseph Foullon, minister of finance of France, wealthy, inconsiderate—the people hated him.  They said to him, “The people have no bread.”  He said, “Let them eat hay.”  After the fall of the Bastille in 1789, he fled from Paris.  He was overtaken by the enraged multitude.  They hanged him.  They stuck his head on a street lamppost and stuffed his mouth with hay.

Hermann Goering, in my lifetime, I can remember the report, the leader of the Nazi Air Force said, “No bomb shall ever fall on der Vaterland.”  At that time he was bombing England.  I went through Germany soon after the war.  From north to south and east to west, I cannot ever forget the unbelievable damage.  Go through Munich; I stood in the middle of Hamburg and from horizon to horizon in that great city I never saw one building standing.  “No bomb shall ever fall on der Vaterland” as they bombed England.  Hitler commanded Field Marshal General Rommel to take his own life and to commit suicide.  I stood at the bunker in Berlin, wasted and destroyed, at the very place where Hitler took his own life and committed suicide.  You will not escape that universal law of God, whether it be grass yielding grass, wheat yielding wheat, life yielding life.  Whatever you sow, you reap [Galatians 6:7].  That is an incontrovertible, inexorable law of Almighty God.  O Lord, how we need what the pastor preached about this morning—the intervention of God to forgive us our sins and to save us to Himself in glory [Ephesians 1:7].

May I take the other?  And the Lord made an orchard, “trees yielding fruit after his kind, and God saw that it was good” [Genesis 1:12].  Trees yielding fruit, orchards of God filled with every infinite blessing for our lives and souls.  Just one tree interdicted [Genesis 2:17], and our first parents refused that interdiction and brought death to us all [Genesis 3:1-6, 19].  But God’s orchard still obtains, filled with all of the wonder and beauty and glory of God.

He showed me a pure river of the water of life, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was the orchard of God, and the tree bears twelve manner of fruits, and yielded their fruits every month.

[Revelation 22:1- 2]

The abounding goodness of God.  You can translate that in two ways: yielding twelve manner of fruits each month; you can translate that “twelve different kinds of fruits,” the abounding blessing of God; the joy and happiness and peace and glory and wisdom and knowledge, all kinds of the wonder of the blessing of the Lord.  Or, you can translate that in its meaning an abounding, month-by-month supply, never coming to the end of God’s mercy and God’s inexhaustible love and goodness toward us.

And that is what God says, “and the Lord saw that it was good” [Genesis 1:12].  It was good.  The orchard of God, filled with every lovely and beautiful fruit for us, and God looked at it and said, “That is good.”  There is not anything in human experience as abounding and overflowing as to love God and to give your heart to the Lord [Romans 10:9-13].  There are many who think that religion is possibly acceptable for a funeral service, but not to be thought of in terms of life and joy and happiness.  To them, in their thinking, to love God and to give your heart to the Lord is of all things most devastating to having a good time.  It is just the opposite.  If you want to live, if you want to be happy, if you want joy as high as heaven and as deep as earth and as long as life, love God.  Give your heart to the blessed Savior.  In preparing this sermon, I went through the hymn book just advantitiously; and these are not chosen because of any particular presentation of our joy and happiness in the Lord Jesus.  These are just typical hymns of the people who know our Lord.

Happy day, happy day,

 When Jesus washed my sins away.

He taught me how to watch and pray

And live rejoicing every day.

Glorious [Happy] day, happy day,

When Jesus washed my sins away.

[“O Happy Day,” Philip Dodderidge]

In the bright sunlight, ever rejoicing,

Pressing my way to mansions above;

Singing His praises, gladly I’m walking,

Walking in sunlight, Sunlight of love.

Heavenly sunlight, heavenly sunlight,

Flooding my soul with glory divine;

Hallelujah, I am rejoicing,

Singing His praises, Jesus is mine.”

[“Heavenly Sunlight,” H. J Zelley]

Down at the cross where my Savior died,

Down where for cleansing from sin I cried,

There to my heart was the blood applied;

Glory to His name.

I am so wondrously saved from sin,

Jesus so sweetly abides within;

There at the cross where He took me in;

Glory to His name.”

[“Glory to His Name,” E. A. Hoffman]

I shall go there to dwell in that City, I know,

Since Jesus came into my heart!

And I’m happy, so happy, as onward I go,

Since Jesus came into my heart!

Since Jesus came into my heart,

Floods of joy o’er my soul

Like the sea billows roll,

Since Jesus came into my heart.

[“Since Jesus Came into My Heart,” Rufus H. McDaniel]

Jesus is all the world to me,

My life, my joy, my all;

He is my strength from day to day,

Without Him I would fall.

When I am sad, to Him I go,

No other one can cheer me so;

When I am sad He makes me glad,

He’s my friend.

[“Jesus Is All the World to Me,” Will L. Thompson]

The song of Charles Wesley—

O for a thousand tongues to sing

My great Redeemer’s praise,

The glories of my God and King,

The triumphs of His grace.

Jesus!  The name that calms my fears,

That bids my sorrows cease.

‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,

‘Tis life and joy and peace.”

[“O for a Thousand Tongues,” Charles Wesley]

Would you know that glory and the happiness and the triumph of life?  Come to the Lord.  Find life abounding, everlasting in Jesus.

And to the great throng in the sanctuary today; from the balcony, down to the press of people on the lower floor, through one of these aisles, “Pastor, I am on the way; giving my heart and life to Him” [Romans 10:9-13’ Ephesians 2:8].  And a thousand times welcome, while we stand and while we sing.