15 Feb 2014 by Yeo Teck Thiam-
We see in the Gospel that John was revealing things of God when he described Jesus as ‘in the beginning was the Word’. It asks us to relate God’s Creation to Jesus through the Word.
It is written: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deeps into storehouses.” Psalm 33:6, 7
So we seek further to know how Jesus as the word of the LORD made the heavens, as the Psalmist also declared that “He gathers the waters into jars” at Creation.
The Waters of the Sea
This portion of the verse is not about the Father’s spoken words, but is about actively working and performing it. This work took time, as “He gathers the waters of the sea into jars”. So we seek to know this meaning that tells us Jesus was working with the heavenly Father in Creation.
In this verse, “the sea” obviously does not mean the waters of earth’s ocean. The thoughts here are in relation to the heavens. Here, “the seas” describes the waters in outer space.
The Hebrew word for sea is yam, and it has many different aspects in meaning, besides the “sea” that laps the shores of land that we think of. Yam also means the west, as opposite of the east. The meaning of yam depends on the context that the word is used in Hebrew.
We know that matter needed to be drawn together by gravitational forces to form the celestial bodies. Thus we understand “gathering the waters of the sea into jars” are in the context of — the beginning of the formation of galaxies out of swirling clouds of matter. We can picture elementary matter being gathered or pulled together, like water swirling as it is being poured into a jar.
You only have to look into the night sky to see the swirling clouds of particles of matter in the galaxies. This is what our Milky Way is composed of, in large part. And there are others like the Oort Cloud, Magellanic Clouds, the Orion Nebula, and so forth.
So it is written: God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water. So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky”. Genesis 1:6-8
We see that it is Jesus as the word of the LORD who gathers the waters as God commanded, and made the expanse called “sky”, so that the waters beneath the sky are separated from the waters above it. The “waters of the seas” above the sky are in outer space.
Likewise, Job says of God: He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. Job 9:7-9
How wonderful it is to picture that God alone is able to stretch the expanse of the universe and He alone is able to tread in outer space, the waves of the sea!
We also understand that as God stretches out the heavens, space is created by its expansion. We have a picture that what is beyond this universe is being pushed away — and so “the deeps are put into storehouses”. We remember the Holy Spirit hovers over the face of the waters.
So the Psalmist sings “Praise him you highest heavens, and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created. Psalm 148:4,5
The Stars that Shine
Psalm 33 shows us other aspects in Creation when we consider that God made the universe. Here, in contrast to Genesis, the Psalmist does not focus or highlight the earth, as it is about the heavens in declaring the glory of God.
Many will note that stars and other celestial shining bodies were not formed on the first day of Creation. As we know, stars are formed when matter are ignited to burn due to enormous force from gravitational collapse.
Since matter must first be formed, and we know that matter only came about at the time that the primordial light was released, stars did not form on the first day of Creation. As Scripture rightly tells us, stars formed later in time to give light in the universe.
Thus, in this context, the earlier discussion on the “primordial light” must not be taken to mean that light in our universe totally come from “primordial light”. When God said, “Let there be light” and there was light, we understand there is a wider meaning to have light in this universe. This would not be the case if we only consider the “primordial light” event.
The gathering of the waters points us to understand that God will set light to shine always in His universe, and this light will continue to come as the gathering and gravitational collapse of the waters lead to stars being formed. So then, in speaking of “there was light” and “He gathers the waters of the sea”, we see a wondrous revelation from God in the heavens. The stars shine to bring us light continually.
Plasma and Primordial Light Contrasted
This can be also viewed from another perspective. If we consider matter as we know in our daily life, we think of its existence as gases, liquids and solids. We may have thought that Creation gave a gaseous state of matter which gave out light. However, our universe is more than this idea.
The reality is that there is a 4th state of matter which is called plasma. This plasma is the material that exists in our sun and the stars. We also see plasma when we switch on the neon light, or witness the lightning in a storm, or in an atomic explosion. Plasma consists of light emitting energy plus ionized (charged particles of) matter in a hot gaseous state.
However, in this contrast, we also need to note that at Creation, the “primordial plasma” (if we may call Creation’s energy in an analogous way) did not originate in this way like the stars’ plasma. The Big Bang’s “primordial plasma” is a unified state of energy-matter bundles, and would only transform to matter as it cooled down with time. Light was not emitted because it would take years for light to be released. The “primordial plasma material” was dark as Genesis 1:2 tells us, and is therefore different.
Seeking God’s Light
These studies weary most of us. Thankfully, it is in God’s wisdom that we are finite in our intelligence. God does not require man to have high intelligence to know Him. Thankfully, we do not have to be rocket scientists to understand Creation.
God shows Himself, so that even a child can know Him. It is God’s good pleasure to reveal truth and infiniteness to those that seek Him, to the simple and to the wise, to young and old. It comes to those whose eyes are opened by the Lord, for it is in His light that we see light. Psalm 36:9.
Hence, in being simple, we see light in God’s light. So we shall see the glory of God shining around us, just as the shepherds did when Jesus was born and the glory of the Lord shone around. So we rejoice with the Psalmist when he sings:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
When we give thanks to God for His Creation, and look up into the sky at night, we shall see the light of God’s glory.
Note: Mr Yeo Teck Thiam is a retireer who used to work as a chemical engineer, specializing in food and perfume chemistry for an international food company and perfumer. His other main interest is astronomy and other mathematical matters, relating to the Biblical passages.
References for pictures