He ‘Stretched Out the Heavens’: Starlight and Time – Dr. Jack L. Burton

by / November 23, 2016

Overview

While many people (including more than a few Christian ‘scholars’) have become convinced of the secular notion that the vast expanse of the universe was formed before the stars, planets, and other celestial bodies came into being; the Bible teaches the exact opposite of this supposition.

 

We are told in Genesis 1:1 that “In the beginning God created the heaven (literally ‘heavens’) and the earth”; however, it was not until Day #4 that He made the sun, moon, and stars. As we shall also see, it was at this time that He ‘stretched out the heavens’ (including the ‘2nd heaven’ which is the ‘outer space’ region of our universe) into their present form.

 

During this ‘stretching out’ period many things were set in motion by the Lord supernaturally – that is – working ‘outside’ the bounds of the physical laws that would be established of by the end of the 6th Creation Day (or perhaps more accurately – as we now ‘perceive’ them to be subsequent to Creation).

 

On Day #4 God ‘stretched out the heavens’ into their present form.

 

While there are many aspects of God’s miraculous and mighty Hand at work during the Creation Week, in this article we will confine ourselves to examining only those which involve how the ‘stretching of the heavens’ affects our view of the present universe.

 

 

Beginning with the ‘Correct’ Premise

Many well-intended articles, research studies, and their ensuing explanations which have been written by Creationists with an intended Creationist view, have in fact, resulted in having the exact opposite effect. This is due in large part to the foundation upon which these works have been constructed.

 

In His Word we learn that there are several immutable traits regarding the Lord God (in fact, immutability – the fact that He cannot change – is ONE of them [James 1:17]). Among those traits are the following:

 

He cannot lie – Titus 1:2

He is not the author of confusion – 1 Corinthians 14:33

He is consistent in all that He says and does – Hebrews 13:8

 

Logically, our God who embodies these (among all other virtuous traits) as the very essence of His being would make His Word very plain, especially in matters of utmost importance. In fact, this is exactly what He does in the very first chapter of the Bible.

 

Here He is unequivocally emphatic that there were six literal days in the Creation of the heavens and the earth. There are many liberal Bible ‘scholars’ who try to fit long time spans into these six days; however, virtually every reasonable and reliable Ancient Hebrew source or scholar that I have consulted on this matter agrees that the language and syntax can be interpreted no other way than six literal 24-hour periods (I have cited some of these sources in previous articles and have included them in the ‘References’ section of this article as well).

 

God is unequivocally emphatic that there were six literal days in the Creation of the heavens and the earth.

 

 

The Stretching of the Heavens

‘…He made the stars also.’

 

At the conclusion of Genesis 1:16 the above words appear almost as an afterthought. In fact, if we read the verse in Hebrew the words ‘He made’ (added by the translators for clarity) do not even appear. Thus, the key elements of the verse literally read, “And God made two great lights…the greater light…the lesser light…the stars also.”

 

From verse 14 we know that stars are not ‘insignificant’ things because they are part of God’s design for mankind to determine ‘signs’, ‘seasons’, ‘days’, and ‘years’. However, in verses 14-18 the sun and the moon are focused upon much more than the stars, which are (as some Hebrew root words suggest) ‘burned into’ or ‘heaped up’ in the sky at this time. Yet even in this, we know each one has been as carefully placed as the sun and the moon for the Lord, ‘telleth the number of the stars; He calleth them all by their names’ (Ps. 147:4).

 

In Isaiah 42:5 we read that, “God the LORD” is He that “created the heavens, and stretched them out”. This phrase is very important because it tells us the ORDER in which these events took place. First, the Lord “created”1 the heavens, then He “stretched” them out.

 

Isaiah 45:12 also bears out this order when the Lord says, “I…have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded”. At least one of the components of the ‘host’ of which He is speaking is the sun, moon, and stars (as well as all other celestial bodies) of the ‘2nd heaven’ – or outer space (i.e. the ‘universe’ beyond earth).2 Thus we see the Lord in control of all that He has created in the universe even after He has put it into place. This is a very important point to remember as we examine what starlight is actually telling us, versus what we may otherwise assume it is telling us.

 

Finally, the Prophet Jeremiah also gives us the placement of the ‘stretching out’ of the heavens in the sequence of the Lord’s handiwork when he records, “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion” (Jer. 10:12). The ‘making’ and ‘establishing’ of the earth speak of the events that took place in Days #1-3 of Creation; while, the ‘stretching of the heavens’ speaks of an event that took place on Day #4.

 

Isaiah 42:5; 45:12; and Jeremiah 10:12 all verify the order of the creation and formation of the earth and the heavens.

 

This tells us how and when the stars arrived at their (roughly) present locations (the universe is still expanding observably). However, it does not explain how their light could have gotten back to earth so quickly from so far away…

 

…or does it???

 

 

Accounting for the Time

While some scientists (and pseudo-scientists) have attempted to attack the validity of the speed-of-light value in recent years, the truth is, this value remains constant to a very fine and measurable value and is scientifically repeatable and verifiable. The issue is NOT with the present value of the speed of light. As we mentioned at the outset of this article, God is not the ‘author of confusion’, and would not give us such a useful scientific tool as the speed of light only to hide ‘secret’ and ‘perplexing’ properties within it. Especially since He Himself is called “Light” and ‘in Him is no darkness at all’ (1 Jn. 1:5).

 

The above statement does not emphatically state that the speed of light has always been a constant; nor, does it suggest that it will continue to remain a constant (the Bible speaks of changes in light properties during the Great Tribulation and after the Millennial Kingdom). As we shall see, Creation presents ‘special circumstances’ just as many secular scientific ‘spontaneous generation’ theories do. The difference is, all of the secular ‘theories’ spring from man’s notions, and all exclude God as the Prime Motivator.

 

With these things in mind, let’s examine three scenarios in an attempt to explain what we see from distant objects in the night sky according to the true Creation account.

 

Scenario #1: Something Happens NOW to a Nearby Star

Under the reasonable assumption that the speed of light (often represented by the letter ‘c’)3 is presently a constant through the near-vacuum of space, we can easily estimate the time it has taken the light to reach the earth from any point in the universe if we know the physical distance that point is from the earth. For example, the star Sirius (also known as the ‘dog star’) located in the constellation Canis Major (the Great Dog) is approximately 8.6 light-years (LY) from earth. This means that it takes light Sirius approximately 8 years and 7 months to reach the earth. In other words, if an event happens today on Sirius (let’s say a solar flare of some magnitude), we would see it here on earth in a little over 8½ years from now.

 

Scenario #2: We Record an Event within Approximately 6000 LY

If we agree with the record of Scripture that the universe is approximately 6000 years old, then this scenario also poses no problem. While there may be some evidence to suggest minor variations in the speed of light from the completion of Creation to the present, there is certainly nothing to indicate its value has varied so significantly as to alter our perception of distances in space. Therefore, we may reasonably assume that if we were to witness an event taking place in the Wild Duck Cluster, which is a cluster of approximately 200 stars located about 5600 LY away from earth, we would be witnessing an event that took place approximately 5600 years ago.

 

Scenario #3: We Record an Event (Apparently) Beyond to the ‘Creation Window’

This is the scenario in which many secular scientists revel while many Creation scientists struggle. Yet, when we consider the record given to us by God’s Word, this need not be the case.

 

Looking at the Creation account of Genesis chapter 1 we see that everything that the Lord made from Days #3-6 was produced in its ‘mature’ and ‘fully functional’ form.

 

For example, on Day #3 the Lord formed ‘trees’ and ‘herbs’ bearing the ‘seeds’ which would subsequently produce their offspring (Gen. 1:11). He later formed the sea and air life which were to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen. 1:21-23) on Day #5, and land animals and man (Gen. 1:24-28) which likewise were to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ on Day #6. In between these two, on Day #5, the Lord formed the sun, moon, and stars (all of the celestial bodies – see Ex. 20:11) in the same manner.

 

There are a number of reasons we know that all of elements of the heavens above us (sky and space) were created with the same ‘useful maturity’ as were all the things on the surrounding days. These reasons are found in Genesis 1:14 where the lights in the firmament of heaven will be for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years”. While the firmament often refers to the sky directly above the earth, in this instance it is clear that includes objects in outer space that also appear in the sky, since the sun and moon are not ‘lights’ located in the actual sky surrounding the earth. This brings the stars which He ‘made also’ on the same day (v16) into the same frame as the ‘greater’ and ‘lesser’ lights in the ‘firmament of heaven’.

 

It would not have made any sense for Adam to look into a blank nighttime sky after God had created an entire celestial heaven that was intended both ‘for signs and for seasons’ as well as ‘declare the glory of God’ and show forth ‘His handywork’ (Ps. 19:1).

 

When most Creationist studies that I have personally examined address the celestial component of Creation, they treat this event as if it were ‘static’. That is, they treat it as if God simply ‘threw’ all of the celestial bodies into place, then started the ‘time clock’ of the cosmos and sent them on their way. So far, I have found none that have even considered the possibility that the Lord created the universe, as it is functioning now, in‑process.

 

This is a very important principle to consider, because, like the trees, plants, animals, and people that the Lord created in the surrounding days, it only makes sense that He also created the cosmos in-process on Day #4.

 

We will call this time period, during which the Lord is involved in the act of Creation, the Creation Window. Any event taking place during this time will be said to be taking place ‘inside the creation window’. This is the time period in which God’s Creative Sovereignty is fully realized because He is actively involved in Creation. Thus, we cannot apply the physical laws of the universe in their present form due to the fact that the Lord is in the process of creating them as well.

 

God stretches everything, including light to reveal the grandeur of His Creation in its entire splendor; however, he does not stretch & extend all things at the same rate. This is one reason we see various far-away events at differing times, even if they may fall into an apparent time period ‘beyond’ (or ‘before’) the Creation Window.

 

Since we have all of the elements of the entire ‘celestial’ heaven created in-process, many of the events we witness happening today in space actually occurred during Day #4 of Creation. The reason that we see them occurring at various times ‘beyond’ the Creation Window is that when God formed the celestial heaven & ‘stretched it out’, He also brought the light back instantaneously so that Adam could witness the glory of His present creation in near real-time. From that point forward, starlight would begin to travel at the more constant rate of speed that we are able to observe today.

 

Therefore, as stated before with laws of physics being firmly established subsequent to Creation, any observation we make from space that has taken place since the time of creation (i.e. from a distance of approximately 6000 LY or less) can be dated according to the standard light velocity method used today (light travels one LY in one year, therefore age in years = distance in light-years).

 

However, events witnessed happening ‘beyond’ the Creation Window could only have happened during Day #4 of the Creation Week since there were no celestial bodies in existence before that time according to Scripture (Mark Harwood in his 2009 article entitled How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years? presents a fine explanation of this process in the final section of his article).4

 

All celestial events which ‘appear’ to have taken place before the time of the ‘Creation Window’ by necessity MUST have all occurred DURING Day #4 of the Creation Week.

 

Summary

The Lord God Almighty is Sovereign over all Creation; from how it was formed in the beginning to how it operates now to how it will be refashioned in the Eternity to come. Through all of this He has created one and only one planet ‘to be inhabited’ and that planet is our Earth (Isaiah 45:18). He also sent One and only One Savior in the Person of Christ Jesus to be the Propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10), because His Personal Desire is that each and every one of us comes to Him by faith (2 Peter 3:9).

 

Furthermore, the greatest ‘sign’ (Gen. 1:14) that the Lord prepared in the Heavens by the celestial bodies He placed there was the ‘star’ that would herald the birth of His Messiah – Christ Jesus (Mt. 2:2)!!!

 

In His Love,

Dr. Jack L. Burton

-Hebrews 11:1-3

 

 

References

(1) On the Six Days of Creation

  1. a) ‘Hebrew scholar affirms that Genesis means what it says! Interview with Dr. Ting Wang, lecturer in biblical Hebrew’. http://creation.com/hebrew-scholar-affirms-that-genesis-means-what-it-says-ting-wang
  2. b) ‘A DEFENSE OF LITERAL DAYS IN THE CREATION WEEK’ by, Robert McCabe. https://www.dbts.edu/journals/2000/mccabe.pdf
  3. c) ‘Theologian: Genesis means what it says! Jonathan Sarfati interviews Old Testament scholar Dr. Robert McCabe’. http://creation.com/robert-mccabe-old-testament-scholar-genesis

(2) New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, King James Version. James Strong, LLD., S.T.D. Nelson. ©2005.

(3) Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. W.E. Vine. Nelson. ©1996.

 

Additional Reading

(1) Does the Bible Really Present a Six-Millennia-Old Earth? Dr. Jack L. Burton

Does the Bible Really Present a Six-Millennia-Old Earth? – Dr. Jack L. Burton

(2) When Were the Sun, Moon, and Stars Created? Eric Lyons, M. Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1990&topic=327

 

End Notes

  1. Heb. בורא ‘Bara’. Absolute creation in this context (‘ex nihilo’ – out of nothing). This is the same root word used of the initial Creation in Gen. 1:1.
  2. Both Strong’s Concordance & Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon agree here.
  3. c ≈ 186,280 ft/s in a vacuum (this value can vary based upon a number of factors)
  4. How can distant starlight reach us in just 6,000 years? Mark Harwood. Sections: ‘God stretched out the heavens’ & ‘Distant starlight and the biblical timescale’. http://creation.com/how-can-distant-starlight-reach-us-in-just-6000-years

 

Notes

  1. All Bible quotes in this article are taken from the KJV.
  2. Bible passages in double quotes (“) appear exactly as found in the KJV.
  3. Bible passages in single quotes (‘) have been modified for emphasis or ease of reading only (such as capitalization of pronouns referring to God, bolded text, or modernized punctuation, etc.) without altering the actual wording of the text.

 

Disclaimer: While to the author’s knowledge all of the information cited in the referenced material related directly to the content of this article is correct and accurate, the author in no way endorses any of the cited references in their entirety – especially where the material contained therein is in direct contradiction with the Creation account given in the Word of God.

2 Comment

  1. This is a very good possibility, reminiscent of the proposals set forth by physicist Dr. Russel Humphreys and astronomer Dr. Danny Faulkner. There are other proposals with differing degrees of differences. I think it is wise that we keep in mind that we don’t really know such details. Those who deny the supernatural work of God in creating the Earth in 6 literal day-night cycle days as the Bible states, can claim that “science says” the universe is billions of years old, because they define science in such a way that it assumes natural processes have continued as they are now, without interruption or major alteration, from the very beginning. Naturally, we as creationists would like to have something as solid as “science says” to match everything they claim; however, while we have the absolutely reliable “God said” account in the Bible, it does not explain everything in detail. Perhaps we are right in taking various passages and applying them logically to come up with such answers, but in the process of doing so we are relying on our own thoughts, our limited knowledge and logic. As Hebrews 11:3 says, ” Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God…” It may help us in our own minds to “fill in the blanks” with such proposals, but ultimately we simply have faith in God’s Word that God “created the heavens and the Earth,” began the first day by saying “Let the be light” and “there was light,” yet it wasn’t until the 4 day that God made the sun, moon, and stars. God is so great that He may have worked this all out in a way that we cannot even imagine! All these proposals are helpful in giving us some idea of the possibilities. Thanks to Dr. Burton and all who, like Johannes Kepler, seek to understand God’s work of creation!

    • David,
      Thanks so much for your comments and your encouraging words!!!

      As my pastor once said many years ago, we are only the ‘finite’ trying to explain the ‘Infinite’.

      AMEN!!!

      As I am fond of saying most every time I speak or teach – “Everything begins and ends with God” (Rev. 1:8).

      If we don’t trust the Lord God at His Word to begin with then we have no foundation to build upon. One thing I have learned is that the more we research and the more we uncover about the world and the universe in which we live, the more we find that God has been telling us the truth all along (which is not a surprise when we consider that His Word says that He “cannot lie” – Titus 1:2).

      By the way, I’m thrilled to see you quoting part of my favorite Bible passage, too!!!

      In His Love,
      Dr. Jack L. Burton
      -Heb. 11:1-3

      Dr. Jack Burton

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