Q. I tend to take the foundations of heaven & the earth physically because the Bible mentioned that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, unless new heaven and new earth means another dimension closer to God’s.
A. Yes the Bible referred to new heaven(s) & a new earth in two passages:
• 2 Pet 3:11 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
• Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
The new heaven and new earth are physical, because the new Jerusalem & its foundation stones are physical:
• Rev 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
• Rev 21:19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;
But while the first heaven & first earth are physical, that does not automatically mean their “foundations” are physical. Go over the 7 appearances of the term “foundations of the earth” in the Bible again. Insert your physical interpretation, say the tectonic plates on which the continents rest, & see if it would fit e.g.
• Ps 82:5 They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken – They (kings & judges) walk about in darkness; the tectonic plates are shaken. What does the former have to do with the latter?
• Prov 8:29 When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth – So that the water (the sea) would not transgress God’s command, when He marked out the tectonic plates. But much of the tectonic plates are submerged under the sea. They don’t set the boundary or shore line!
Try substituting “tectonic plates” for “foundations of the earth” in the other 5 occurrences:
While a physical interpretation could fit Isa 24:18 or 51:13, it wouldn’t fit the others. Remember, unlike a figurative interpretation which could be different depending on the context, a literal interpretation has to be consistent in all the passages. That just would not do. That’s why I said the meaning is figurative. Think it through carefully.
(Continued from yesterday)
The term “foundations of heaven” appears only once in the NASB:
• 2 Sam 22:8 “Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling And were shaken, because He was angry.
There is a similar expression “foundations of the world”, which appears twice in the NASB:
• 2 Sam 22:16 “Then the channels of the sea appeared, The foundations of the world were laid bare By the rebuke of the LORD, At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.
• Ps 18:15 Then the channels of water appeared, And the foundations of the world were laid bare At Your rebuke, O LORD, At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.
The context of 2 Sam 22 is David’s song of praise after his victory over the Philistines. There is a parallel account in Ps 18 (compare 2 Sam 2:22:2-51 to Ps 18:2-50). Basically 22:8 speaks of God hearing David’s cry & coming to rescue him from his enemies, accompanied by thunder. The foundations of the world passages seem to recall God delivering the Israelites by taking them across the Red Sea on dry ground. It does not necessarily refer to physical foundations.
Finally, why heaven & heavens? Ordinarily we refer to heaven as where God dwells, but the Bible actually describes three heavens:
1. Ps 8:8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. This is the sky, the atmosphere.
2. Deut 17:3 and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded. This is the starry heaven.
3. 2 Co 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. This is the heaven of heavens (Deut 10:14; 1 Kgs 8:27; Ps 115:16, 148:4), the abode of God.
Context decides which heaven we mean. Judaism, Islam & popular culture refer to 7th heaven, but there is no biblical basis for that.
Q. Isa 48:13 My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens …
2 Sam 22:8 “Then the earth shook and quaked, The foundations of heaven were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry.
Does the Bible tell us what are the foundations of the earth and the foundations of heaven? Why heaven and heavens? (singular and plural)
A. It appears you’ve quoted the NIV for Isa 48:13 but the NASB for 2 Sam 22:8. For consistency I will use the more literal NASB throughout. The term “foundations of the earth” appears 7 times in the NASB, as follows:
• Ps 82:5 They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are shaken.
• Prov 8:29 When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth;
• Isa 24:18 Then it will be that he who flees the report of disaster will fall into the pit, And he who climbs out of the pit will be caught in the snare; For the windows above are opened, and the foundations of the earth shake.
• Isa 40:21 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
• Isa 51:13 That you have forgotten the LORD your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth, That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, As he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor?
• Jer 31:37 Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,” declares the LORD.
• Micah 6:2 “Listen, you mountains, to the indictment of the LORD, And you enduring foundations of the earth, Because the LORD has a case against His people; Even with Israel He will dispute.
While you may be thinking of a literal, physical foundation, the Bible uses this term more figuratively:
• Ps 82:5 – In context God addresses kings & judges as “gods” who know & understand nothing. So the “foundations” or world order under their rule are shaken.
• Prov 8:29 – God’s work in creation is compared to the construction of a building. It is pictorial language.
• Isa 24:18 – The shaking of the foundations refers to earthquakes
• Isa 40:21 – “from the foundations of the earth” means “since the earth was founded” i.e. since the beginning of creation
• Isa 51:13 – Poetic description of God as Maker or Creator
• Jer 31:37 – A promise that God will not completely cast off Israel, similar to the Lord’s “it is easier for heaven & earth to pass away” in Lk 16:17
• Micah 6:2 – Here God is depicted as prosecutor bringing charges against Israel & calling inanimate objects (mountains & foundations) as witnesses because they are enduring or lasting.
Although I believe in a literal interpretation as far as possible, I also believe the Bible uses figurative language and we need not always push for a literal physical explanation.
(To be continued)