What is meant by “heavens” in the context of the book of Genesis? This notion can have more than one meaning and it is important to see in what way these meanings are compatible with other biblical texts and first of all with all the texts from the book of Genesis. In the first book of the Bible, the sky, without which no physical heavens would have been possible, would have been created only on the second day, but in spite of that the creation of “heavens” would have happened on the first day of creation.
The creation on the first day of “heavens” would have been prohibited by the lack of space. This situation doesn’t have anything to do with miracles. To create “heavens” before the sky as Genesis chapter 1 says is not a supernatural action, it is an absurd situation. This is also an obvious contradiction which shows the incompatibility between the descriptions offered by the book of Genesis and reality.
“1 In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1; 1-5 NRSV) 6 And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ 7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” (Genesis 1; 6-8 NRSV)
Anyone can compare the two texts. There isn’t anything else in them other than what is written. We have on the first day the “heavens”, meaning the atmosphere of the earth, outer space, and God’s place, and only on the second day was the dome of the sky created. If this isn’t a contradiction I wonder what it is. On the first day of creation or in the beginning, no physical “heavens” could have been created with the lack of sky. Consequently, the book of Genesis got it wrong. Under the waters, “heavens” are not what we mean by them. What kind of physical “heavens” would have been created deep under the waters of the primeval sea? The image generated by the book of Genesis in connection with the beginning is the initial chaos, the waters which would have covered everything, earth, the place for the sky, and all. Noah’s Flood would have been a repetition on a smaller scale of the initial “flood”, the watery chaos which would have covered the earth. The mythological sense of the second Flood would be that when God became upset with His creation He returned the earth to the initial chaos from which the whole creation started. Of course, these aren’t real facts but mythological imagination. The majority of the biblical commentators see the following meanings of the plural “heavens” used by the book of Genesis:
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“Contrary to popular belief in the contemporary Church, according to Scripture there is not one, but three Heavens in the Universe created by God in the beginning (CP Gen 1:1). Note that Heavens is plural (except KJV Bible, where it is recorded in the singular form Heaven, although it is also plural in the Textus Receptus Mss from which KJV Bible is translated). The first Heaven is the atmospheric Heaven. This is the atmosphere surrounding the surface of the earth - the locality of the clouds (CP Gen 1:6-8; Psa 77:17-18; 104:1-3, 13). The second Heaven is the vast stretched out expanse of sky above earth’s atmosphere where the sun, moon and stars are located – the Firmament (CP Gen 1:14-17; 15:5; 22:17; Psa 19:1; 150:1; Isa 13:13). The Third Heaven, or Heaven of Heavens, is the dwelling place of God – Paradise – where Jesus sits at God’s right hand on the Throne of Heaven (CP De 10:14; 26:15(A); 1Ki 8:27, 30, 39, 43, 49; 22:19; 2Chr 6:18; 18:18; Neh 9:6; Psa 80:14; Isa 14:12-14; 40:22; 66:1; Eze 1:22-26; Amos 9:6; Mt 5:34; 6:9; 7:21; Lu 23:43; He 4:14-16; Rev 2:7; 3:21; 4:1-11).” 43
The first heaven is the atmospheric heaven; the second heaven is the vast stretched-out expanse of the sky above Earth’s atmosphere, and the third heaven, or heaven of heavens, is the dwelling place of God – Paradise – where Jesus sits at God’s right hand on the Throne of Heaven. There isn’t any way that they could have existed before the second day of creation so the first line of the Bible which says that in the beginning, God created the “heavens” and the earth, is wrong. Even the place in which God’s Kingdom is located couldn’t have had any meaning without the existence of the first two aspects of what “heavens” is understood to be.
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