#13──第二層天 拉基亞──The Second Heaven – Raqia

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第二部分:可見的創造系統

一、天堂:第十三章 第二層天──拉基亞 (Raqia)

蒼天 (Ether) 並沒有像一些流行的網站所認為的那樣坍塌。當以羅欣.耶和華 (Elohim YHVH) 創造了穹蒼、大氣時,也稱之為空氣 (Aether)162,它經受住了時間的考驗。它今天仍然存在,並且仍然擁有和當時一樣的力量。「地還存留的時候、稼穡、寒暑、冬夏、晝夜、就永不停息了。」163 基督自己在馬太福音24:25和路加福音21:33中 告訴我們:「天地要廢去,我的話卻不能廢去」。164因此,總有一天, 天地(以及我們所假設一切的物質)都會消失,但神的話卻永不消逝。那個時候是什麼時候?「我又看見一個新天新地.因為先前的天地已經過去了.海也不再有了。」165這是在最後,甚至是最後的日子。但是當我們還在「時間」之內時,地、海和天都是堅定不移、不可動搖的。神的使者在撒迦利亞書1:11中告訴我們,它是「安息平靜」的:「那些騎馬的、對站在番石榴樹中間耶和華的使者說、我們已在遍地走來走去、見全地都安息平靜。」 166

正如我在第一句話中提到的,許多流行的教師認為以穹蒼 (Ether) 已經不存在了。他們相信 「天幕理論」(The canopy theory),在這個理論中,地球上方曾經有過一個穹蒼,但當上帝讓洪水落在挪亞身上時,穹蒼就坍塌,銀河系就得以開放供人探索。沒有什麼比這個更離譜的了。基督說,末日來臨時,諸天依然存留。挪亞離末日還很遠…,卻更接近於開始。我們比他更接近末日,但我們還沒有看到天塌下來。穹蒼依然存在,久經考驗、真實存在,就像起初因上帝的立約,水閘停止不再淹沒大地一樣。所以我們必須假設,穹蒼阻止了第二層天的水,不再淹沒大地。讓我們想起創世記1:7,在那裡上帝創造了穹蒼,將水與水分開。167我們看不見穹蒼,但我們知道它在那裡,因為第二層天的水至今沒有淹沒我們。對某些人來說,這似乎是孩子般的邏輯,但沒有證據證明上帝會撒謊。那麼第二層天是什麼?它是無形屏障之上的「上面的水」。「וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֮ אֶת־הָרָקִיעַ֒ וַיַּבְדֵּ֗ל בֵּ֤ין הַמַּ֙יִם֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ מִתַּ֣חַת לָרָקִ֔יעַ וּבֵ֣ין הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעַ֣ל לָרָקִ֑יעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃」168 翻譯過來就是說:「以羅欣 (Elohim) 創造了拉基亞—Raqia (穹蒼) ,在並在(第一層天)拉基亞—Raqia (穹蒼)下的水(海與洋)和蒼穹(第二層天)上的水之間劃分了一個空間,事就成了。還有一個第二層天,難道它不是一個安全的地方,它是一個有水和星星的地方

馬太福音24:29告訴我們:「那些日子的災難一過去、日頭就變黑了、月亮也不放光、眾星要從天上墜落、天勢都要震動。」169 幾十億170 顆真實的科幻小說中的星星將墜落到大地上,這將如何發生?如果我們的科學領袖告訴我們,這是真的,那麼 大地將被這蒸發了,因為這些巨大物,有一些比我們大50萬倍,甚至更大。但我們笑著知道,「神非人、必不致說謊、也非人子、必不致後悔.他說話豈不照著行呢、他發言豈不要成就呢。」171上帝如磐石般穩固,祂信實不誤事,祂所作的盡都完全,祂一切的應許盡都可靠的。172因此,如果祂說星星會墜落到大地上,地就不會被毀,那麼我相信。的確,在聖經中,星星墜落到大地上的事,並不是一個新的概念。173我們現在應該相信它了。

可以肯定的是,星星是強大的物體。在《列王紀下》和《歷代志上》中,我們看到人們對它們的偶像崇拜。每當我們這麼做的時候,我們就看到上帝說這是多麼大的一個禁忌。舊約中許多偉大的王、先知和士師都出去摧毀他們的祭壇。174他們會拆毀山上的祭壇,也會到城裡去,毀掉其中的神像 (Teraphim) 175。這些大多是與占星術和巫術結合在一起的,主要是針對這些小「神明」──星星。耶和華神不會對任何星辰崇拜感到喜悅,通常會向摧毀這些地方和偶像的人鼓掌。尼希米知道他們在主的手中應享有的地位,並在他的書中這樣寫道。176約伯,更是如此。約伯記(和約伯本人)書中,在無數的背景下談論星星。其全書中無數次地談論到星星。177甚至約伯記38:7:「那時晨星一同歌唱、 神的眾子也都歡呼。」似乎暗示著星星只是有任務在身的天使。它們是天使嗎?根據我們提到關於它們從天上掉下來的經文,有理由認為它們是。如果它們或是或不是,對這次的討論來說,並不重要,這乃是與天使學的分類有關,我們就不在這裡深入討論了。但對這次的討論,它們不是幾千億英里外的氣態巨獸。它們是真實地在我們的頭頂上方。

在我退出本節之前,許多人常常把「穹蒼」和 「天空」混為一談,或者他們說,天空 (sky) 是天 (heaven) 的一部分,穹蒼 (firmament) 也是天 (heaven) 的一部分。這說法接近事實,但不是真正的真理。在舊約中,有17處提到了拉基亞 (Raqia),但以西結書中的這段話在其中最為突出的,是關於什麼是哪裡:

「在活物的頭頂上,有一大片令人敬畏的形狀,像水晶一樣閃閃發光。在這塊大地上,它們的翅膀向彼此伸展。每個都有兩個翅膀覆蓋在身上。當這些活物移動時,我聽見它們翅膀的聲音像眾水的咆哮,像全能者的聲音,像軍隊的騷動鬨嚷的聲音。它們靜止的時候,就把翅膀放下。他們站住了,翅膀放下了,就有聲音從他們頭頂上的大地上傳來。在他們頭頂的大地上有一個像藍寶石一樣的寶座,在高高的寶座上有一個像人一樣的身影。」178(粗體字是我所要強調的)

從這段文字中我們可以看到,廣闊的天空在天上。可以說,人們可以爭辯說,天空的頂層可能是廣闊的一部分,但如果我們理解廣闊是由堅硬的透明金屬製成的,看起來像透明的黃金或水晶,那麼在其餘的經文中就可以為我們找到更多幫助。 第二層天是什麼?水。 它裡面有什麼?星星。 什麼支撐著它?穹蒼 (The firmament)。拉基亞 (Raqia) 上面是什麼?第三層天。由於這本書的部分內容是關於可見的創造系統,我們將在本書的另一部分深入探討什麼是第三層天。然而,可見的是屬於第三層天的一部分,或者至少是它的影子和反射。因此,讓我們探討一下,對其進行聖經上的論證。

162 “Ether “在今天的英語中「以太」、「大氣、蒼天」

163 創世記 8:22

164 「看哪、我預先告訴你們了。」(馬太福音24:25) 「天地要廢去、我的話卻不能廢去。」(路加福音21:33)

165 啟示錄 21:1

166 其他版本將最後一個短語解釋為「在和平和安寧中」,兩種解釋都是正確的。

167 創世記1:7 BSB 「於是上帝造出廣闊的天地,把下面的水和上面的水分開。果然如此。」(和合本翻譯:「神就造出空氣、將空氣以下的水、空氣以上的水分開了.事就這樣成了。」)

168 創世記1:7 出自威斯敏斯特-列寧格勒手抄本

169 BLB

170實際上 我們不知道這個數字,見耶利米書33:22。

171民數記23:19;提多書1:2

172 申命記32:4 GWT:「祂是磐石。祂所做的是完美的。祂所有的方法都是公平的。祂是信實的神,不誤事。祂是尊貴可靠的。」

173 啟示錄9:1,以賽亞書14:12

174 約西亞是我的最愛──見列王紀下第22章

175 字面意思是「家神」──詳細清單見羅馬書1。

176 見尼希米記4:21和9:6

177 約伯記3:9,9:7,22:12,25:5,38:31-32

178 以西結書1:22-26

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Part Two: The System of Visible Creation

I: Heaven──Chapter 13: The Second Heaven – Raqia

The Ether has not collapsed, as some popular websites would have you believe. When Elohim YHVH created the Firmament, Expanse, also called the Aether1, it lasted the test of time. It is still there today and still holds the same power that it did then. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”2 Christ Himself tells us in Matthew 24:25 and Luke 21:33 that: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”3 So there is coming a time where heaven and earth (and everything else material we assume) will pass away, but the Word of God will never pass away. When is that time? “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.”4 It is at the end, even the very end of time. But while we are yet inside of time, the earth and seas and the heavens are steadfast and immovable. The angels of God tell us it is immovable and at rest in Zechariah 1:11. “And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said, We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.”5 As I mentioned in the first sentence, many popular teachers believe that the Ether is no more. They believe in “The canopy theory” in which there used to be a firmament above the earth,

but when God let the flood down on Noah, it collapsed and the galaxy was open for exploration. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Christ says that the heavens will remain when the end is coming. Noah was nowhere near the end… He was much closer to the beginning. We are nearer to the end than he was and we have not seen the sky collapse. The firmament remains there, tried and true, just as it was in the beginning with the floodgates stopped because of God’s covenant to never flood the earth again. So we must assume that the firmament stops the waters of the second heaven from flooding the earth again. Let’s remember Genesis 1:7, where God created the Firmament to separate the waters from the waters.6 We cannot see the firmament but we know it is there because the second heaven’s waters are not currently drowning us. This may seem like child- like logic to some, but there is no evidence that God would lie. What else could the second heaven be? It is above the invisible barrier that holds in the “overwaters.” “וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֮ אֶת־הָרָקִיעַ֒ וַיַּבְדֵּ֗ל בֵּ֤ין הַמַּ֙יִם֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ מִתַּ֣חַת לָרָקִ֔יעַ וּבֵ֣ין הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעַ֣ל לָרָקִ֑יעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃”.

7 That is to say, translated: “Made Elohim Raquia (firmament) and divided a space between (the first heaven) the waters (oceans and seas) which were under the Raquia (firmament) from the waters which were above the firmament (the second heaven) and it was so.” There is a second heaven, and is it not a safe place. It is a place of water and of stars. Matthew 24:29 tells us “And immediately after the tribulation of those days: ‘The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”8 How will it happen that zillions9 of actual science-fiction stars will come crashing down to earth? If what our science leaders tell us is true, then the earth would be vaporized by this event, as some of these giants are 500,000 times larger than us, if not more. But we laugh and know that “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he would ever change his mind. Has he said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He won’t finish it?”10 God is as stable as a rock. He is faithful and does no wrong. His works are perfect. He is reliable in all His promises.11 So if He says that the stars will come crashing down to earth and the earth will not be obliterated, then I believe it. Indeed, stars falling to earth are not a new concept in the Bible.12 We should believe it by now.

Stars are powerful objects to be sure. All throughout 2 Kings and 1 Chronicles we see idol worship of them. And every time we do, we see how big of a no-no God says it is. Many a great King, Prophet, and Judge in the Old Testament went out and destroyed their altars.13 They would break up the mountain-top, sacrificial places and they would go around town and destroy the Teraphim14 among them… Most of these were in conjunction with astrology and witchcraft, chiefly aimed at these minor ‘gods’ – the stars. YHVH God would never be pleased with any star worship and would usually applaud the destroyer of these places and idols. Nehemiah knew their rightful place in the hand of His Lord and wrote such in his book.15 Job, even more so. The book of Job (and Job himself) talk about the stars in a myriad of context throughout his book.16 Even Job 38:7, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” seems to imply that the stars are just angels with a task at hand. Are they angels? It would stand to reason that they are, based upon the verses that we’ve mentioned about them falling from heaven. If they are or if they are not, it does not matter much to this discussion, but rather pertains to a classification of Angelology, which we will not delve into here. All that matters for this discussion is that they are not gaseous giants, hundreds of billions of miles away. They are hanging literally over our heads.

Before I quit this section, many people often confuse “The Firmament” with “The heavens” or, they say that the sky part of the heaven is also the firmament part of the heaven. This is close to the truth but not the actual truth. There are seventeen mentions of the Raquia in the Old Testament but the passage from Ezekiel stands out among them as the most declarative in terms of what is where.

“Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was the shape on an awesome expanse, gleaming like crystal. And under the expanse, their wings stretched out toward one another. Each one also had two wings covering its body. When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the roar of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings. And as they stood still with their wings lowered, a voice came from above the expanse that was over their heads. Above the expanse over their heads was the likeness of a throne with the appearance of sapphire, and on the throne high above was a figure like that of a man.”17 [emphasis mine]

From this text we can see that the expanse is above the heavenly skies. Arguably, one may contend that there may be a top layer of the sky that is part of the expanse, but if we understand that the expanse is made of a hard transparent metal, that appears as transparent gold or crystal, there is more help for us to be found within the rest of the scriptures.

What is the second heaven? Water. What is within it? Stars. What holds it up? The firmament. The Raqia. What is above it? The third heaven. Since this book part is dedicated to the system of visible creation, we will dive into what the third heaven is in another part of the book. What is visible however is part of the third heaven, or at least, shadows and reflections of it. So let us explore that, to its biblical justification.

Footnotes

1 “Ether” in today’s English

2 Genesis 8:22, CSB

3 CEV

4 Revelation 21:1 NASB

5 KJV. Other versions interpret the last phrase to mean: “at peace and tranquil.” Either interpretation is correct.

6 Genesis 1:7 BSB “So God made the expanse and separated the waters beneath it from the waters above. And it was so.”

7 Genesis 1:7 From the Westminster Leningrad Codex

8 BLB

9 We actually don’t know the number, see Jeremiah 33:22.

10 Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2

11 Deuteronomy 32:4 GWT: “He is a rock. What he does is perfect. All his ways are fair. He is a faithful God, who does no wrong. He is honorable and reliable.”

12 Revelation 9:1, Isaiah 14:12

13 Josiah, being my favorite – See 2 Kings 22

14 Literally: “Household gods” – See Romans 1 for a detailed list.

15 See Nehemiah 4:21 and 9:6

16 Job 3:9, 9:7, 22:12, 25:5, 38:31-32

17 Ezekiel 1:22-26

──Biblical Cosmology by Pauly Hart
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