Author: Pastor Paul A. Bartz
In Genesis 1:9-10, we have the account of God’s separation of the land and the water, which resulted in the creation of the continents and the oceans. We know that God here summarizes what He did because in Job 38:4-18 God provides us with more of the details of His design for the ocean. As we read the details of Job 38:4-18, we see that God’s design anticipates needs which we could never have known about, had the design of the oceans been left up to us. In fact, many of the details about the design of the oceans given in Job were not discovered by modern science until the past few decades!
Starting in verse 4 of Job 38 God invites Job to pit his wisdom against God’s. This section goes on for two chapters, but verses 4 through 18 deal with oceanography and the geology related to oceanography. In verses 4 through 6 God talks about His wisdom in placing the foundations of the earth and its measurements. Both of these are very crucial. The earth, floating out in space, must still be solid. And the earth must be placed in such a way, because of all its water, that the tidal forces which have their origin in the gravitational force of nearby bodies in space, are not so powerful that the land surface of the earth is swept clean of all life twice a day by powerful tidal waves.
The size of the earth is crucial. The earth’s gravity must be strong enough to hold gases like oxygen and ozone which are crucial for life to exist here, and at the same time, the gravity must not be too strong or life as we know it would be very unpleasant, if not impossible! If the foundations of planet earth were set only a little closer to the sun, or a little further away, our water-cycle would not work as nicely as it does now, and again, life as we know it would be difficult if not impossible.
The earth, with its precious inhabitants, exists within some very narrowly defined limits, each of which has thousands of variables. Since we are still learning about our earth, it is clear that even with today’s advanced knowledge and with our computers, we could not place the earth in a proper place in space, nor could we make it the right size to fit all the limitations, which we would also have to design from scratch. God’s wisdom is indeed truly great!
No wonder, as verse 7 says, there was great praise and joy in heaven as God designed and built the world, carefully placing it in space. What a travesty it is to give the credit for all of this to the chance movements of some ancient explosion!
Verses 8 and 9 talk about the oceans themselves. When verse 8 talks about the sea “bursting forth, out from the womb,” we have much more than figurative language. We have learned that the earth has major amounts of water locked into the rocks of the earth’s crust. We are also just learning that even the deep rocks of the earth contain a lot of water. As God separated the land from the waters during creation, and again when the fountains of the deep opened up to produce the flood at the time of Noah, on a smaller scale today great amounts of water are coming forth from deep earth rocks. Truly, then, the earth may be called the womb of the sea.
In verses 10 and 11 we get into a very important subject that most people seem to take for granted. The sea stays in its place. The boundaries of the sea have been set by God. As we learn from the great flood at the time of Noah, there is a lot more water available to fill the seas. It appears as though much of the excess water is tied up underground and in the icecaps of the earth. We can thank God that He sets and controls the boundaries of the seas, or else, as some fear, there would be nothing to keep us from being washed away except a precarious chance balance of forces.
Verses 12 through 18 discuss the fact that the earth is a sphere (specially verses 12 and 14), and mention the springs in the seas, the depths of the seas, and the size of the earth again. All of these points, as we have discussed, have far-reaching implications for the conditions of life on this earth. And all of them are carefully controlled by our all-wise God. But all these points are offered to go beyond making the point that the earth is designed. If the earth is designed, as it very obviously is, by a Designer Who continues to care for it, then there must be some implications in this for our relationship to Him. This conclusion should drive us to desire to learn more about Him and how we might have a meaningful relationship with Him. This desire should drive us to the revealed Word of God, where we learn of His love for us in sending His Son to save us from the consequences of our sin.
Actually, the science of oceanography was a result of the literal reading of Scripture. Psalm 8 describes the dominion of the coming Savior, mentioning that He has dominion over the paths of the seas and over the fish which travel these paths. In 1855 Matthew Fontaine Maury, who is also noted as the founder of Annapolis Academy, was ill and resting in bed while his son read Psalm 8 to him. Maury’s attention was caught by the mention of paths in the seas, and he asked his son to repeat that part of the Psalm. He said that he didn’t know that there were paths in the sea, but if the Bible said there were paths, there must be paths. After he was feeling better he set out on a series of voyages that documented the paths of the seas, and the resulting book, Physical Geography of the Sea, is considered the first modern textbook of the science of oceanography. Since his time, it has been learned that these ocean currents often contain large schools of fish whose lives revolve around the ocean current in which they live.
And some say that the Bible is not a “textbook of science”! Since God calls this knowledge about the oceans “wisdom” as He questions Job, we know that we cannot separate science from wisdom, the beginning of which is the fear of God. And a Godly fear is only possible to one who is God’s own child through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. This is why there are no unimportant facts in the Bible, and why all of the revealed word of God is true and accurate -inerrant -for the center of all is the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Note: Creation Moments exists to provide biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
Photo: Courtesy of Brocken Inaglory. (CC-BY-SA 4.0)
Copyright © 1983 Bible Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz. Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 839 Foley, MN 56329, 800-422-4253 www.creationmoments.com