In the previous chapters we looked at how the Bible uses figurative language in general. In this chapter we will examine figurative language in the context of Geocentric and Flat Earth cosmology.
Geocentrists often mention how the Scriptures portray the heavens from a Geocentric perspective, and in this they are correct. The Bible does speak of the sun, moon, stars, and heavens in general from an earthly, geocentric standpoint, as everyone does yet today. Even the most die-hard Heliocentrist speaks of "sunrise," "sunset," etc., in his normal conversation. We all live on the earth and naturally view the physical world from an earthly perspective, and since the Scriptures were written for men on the earth, they also speak from an earthly perspective. They speak to men "under the sun" (Ecc 1:3).
The geocentrists will often brag about how they have 100, 200, or even 300 verses in the Bible that show geocentrism is true, but upon examination almost all of them are relative, earth perspective statements. For an example we will look at the first mention of the "sun" rising found in the Scripture, Gen 19:23,
"The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar."
Consider these words carefully. It says the "sun was risen upon the earth." If this is taken as an absolute statement then there must be a time when the sun is NOT risen or shining upon the earth...but that is not possible! The sun is shining somewhere on the earth at all times in any cosmological system. When pushed on this the geocentrists will usually say, "Well...here the earth is not the whole earth but just the local area." Ah, equivocating already. Their absolute approach to dealing with these terms is falling apart at their very first "proof" verse!
If one will be honest with the Scriptures and himself he will admit the sun does not literally and absolutely set in any scenario. It is always relatively moving and shining on half the earth at any given time. To "set" means to stop or rest. The sun never does. This simple observation proves that when the Bible speaks of sunrise/sunset it is plainly speaking from the local, relative perspective of a person on the earth gazing into the sky. It is by no means making a dogmatic, absolute statement about the movement of heavenly bodies. When the sun is setting for me, at the same moment it may be rising for you.
When cornered with this fact the geocentrists will then claim, "Well...the terms still mean the sun is the object doing the moving even if it doesn't actually set." Really? We shall see.
For scriptural proof the Lord and His Scriptures speak from an earthly frame of reference we only need to look at one of His most profound promises. In Genesis 15:5 the Lord made a key promise to Abraham. He told Abe to gaze into the sky and "Tell the stars if thou be able to number them?". Then the Lord, in just five words, unloaded an unconditional promise that still has huge ramifications today. He told Abe, "So shall thy seed be." This promise that Abraham's seed would number as the stars speaks of the beginning of the nation of Israel and of Israel's seed, Jesus Christ. This promise based of the number of the starts was reiterated again and again,
"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven,..." (Gen 22:17)
"And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven,..." (Gen 26:4)
Several hundred years later, after Israel was freed from Egyptian bondage, Moses said to them (Deut 1:10),
"The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude."
He said again in Deut 10:22 (see also Deut 28:62),
"Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude."
Nehemiah even gets in on this (Neh 9:23),
"Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land..."
And the author of Hebrews gives a New Testament confirmation of the promise's fulfillment (Heb 11:12),
"Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude,..."
Many times the Scriptures say this promise has been fulfilled, but how could this be? Did Abe already have billions and billions of descendants, as many as all the existing stars, only 400 years or so later? At most Abraham could only have had two million or so descendants (Ex 12:37), no where near the number of stars that are in the heavens (100 billion in our Milky Way Galaxy alone!). How do we reconcile this? Simple, the Lord was using Abraham's limited human vision and earthly perspective of the heavens as the quantifying basis for His promise. He did not use as the quantifier the literal, absolute number of the stars of heaven as He knows them (Psa 147:4). He only used the number of stars Abraham could actually see: probably less than three thousand stars, even on a very clear night.
Imagine the scene: in a manner of speaking the Lord is on His throne in the third heaven looking down through all the billions and billions of galaxies He created (100 to 200 billion estimated at present), each with around 100 billion stars, finally stopping his gaze at tiny planet earth and sees an old man standing looking up into the heavens; looking back towards Him. Then the Lord tells the man to count the stars (if he can), knowing the man with his very limited human vision can only see 2,000-3,000 of the very brightest stars that are near the earth. Then the Lord makes a promise generally based upon the number of stars the man sees.
This scriptural observation sets a precedent of the "frame of reference" the Lord uses when He communicates with man and relays information. Unless specifically and clearly shown otherwise, the Bible perspective of reality and the universe is from the earth, and that is the basis of the "geocentric" terminology the Bible uses.
Here are even more texts that indicate this,
"Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD." (Oba 1:4)
Can birds fly to the stars? Since we know NOW the nearest star is over four light-years away, it is impossible. However, from a human perspective 3000 years ago, the stars are in heaven and birds fly in heaven, so the concept is somewhat conceivable.
"Thou (Nineveh) hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven:..."
Really? There were more merchants in Nineveh 2500 years ago than the stars of heaven? From who's perspective God's or an earth bound man? Obviously, this is not an absolute statement. No, geocentrists, God is not deceiving us; He is simply using figurative, relative, and even hyperbolic language. In these cases it is not only relative for the location, but also for the time period.
In relation to the Lord having Abraham count the stars 4000 years ago, around 1400 years later he said through Jeremiah (Jer 33:22),
"As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me."
Here the Lord is not referring to the children of Israel, but of David's seed. However, this time He says the host or stars of heaven cannot be numbered. Ah...it seems a little advanced revelation is going on here! The Lord told Abraham to count all the stars he saw and then fulfilled the promise a few hundred years later. Many centuries after Abraham a Greek named Ptolemy counted a total of 1026 visible stars claiming they could be numbered thus "proving" Jeremiah 33:22 is an overstatement or false. Today we know the truth of the passage. The stars in heaven cannot be numbered, no more than the sand of the sea.
Note: A few years ago some researchers tried to estimate the number of stars in the known universe and the number of grains of sand on all the sea shores. Obviously, no exact number of either can be determined by man, and it never will be. The best we can do is estimate. They determined that there are 70 thousand million million million (70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) stars visible from the Earth through telescopes. This is roughly 10 times more than there are grains of sand on all the beaches. Looking in another direction, there are about the same number of water molecules in 10 drops of water as there are stars in the heavens! God's creation contains very small things as well as very large.
Notice the Lord does not say in Jeremiah 33:22 that the seed of David will number as many as the host of heaven; it says they will be innumerable as the sand is innumerable. The number could be much less and still innumerable. Nevertheless, in this instance the Lord said the stars cannot be numbered. Around 600 BC when these words were spoken men could not see anymore stars in the sky than they could in Abraham's day. However, the Lord progressed from "tell the stars" to you can't number them in that time period. This seems to be an instance of progressive revelation hidden in the Scriptures which Bible readers could only understand AFTER the telescope was invented in 1608!
In Genesis 22:17 the Lord reaffirmed the promise to Abraham concerning his seed. He again mentioned he would multiply his seed as the stars of heaven, but also added another quantifying comparison?the sand which is upon the sea shore." The number of Abraham's descendants drastically increased with this "enhanced" promise! Before it was a few thousand according to the number of visible stars (which certainly tickled Abraham), but now it is much, much more. Anyone can stand on the beach and by merely looking between his feet see more grains of sand than he can stars in the sky. Thus with this new quantifier, Abraham realized his descendants would be as countless as the sand.
Later on in the Scriptures it is revealed that the terms "stars of the sky" and "sand by the sea" are metaphors for an innumerable amount. The actual number (which God only knows) is not to be taken literally. Look at Judges 7:12,
"And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude."
Obviously, there were not as many camels as there is sand by the sea side, but the camels were just as uncountable. The phrases are thus figures of speech. Further proof of this is found in Revelation 20:8,
And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
The earth cannot hold as many people as there are actual grains of sand (7 thousand million million million), so, again, this verse is speaking figuratively of a countless number.
Another fascinating phrase found multiple times in the Bible is where it speaks of the sun "waxing hot" during the day (Exo 16:21, 1Sam 11:9, Neh 7:3). The phrase has a very clear and understandable meaning: as the day progresses and the sun appears higher in the sky, the local "heat" from the sun increases. This is something everyone has experienced and when the Bible speaks of it the meaning is instantly understood. However, the sun "waxing hot" is a bane to the geocentrists. They will never bring the verses up and when confronted with them they usually become very defensive, irrational, and even combative. The reason? If they treat these verses as literal as they treat the sunrise verses, they will look like blank fools.
Look at Exo 16:21,
"And they gathered it (manna) every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted."
What does it mean if this verse is taken absolutely literally? It means the sun actually, in itself, gets hotter. But that simply can't happen because when it is noon and "hot" in one place, it is dawn and dusk (and thus cooler) in other places, all from the same sun. Obviously, the sun itself is NOT changing its temperature; it does not actually get hotter. What is changing is the sun's angle of exposure to a local area. At mid-day the sun's rays are the most direct. At dawn and dusk they are weaker and diluted because of the shallow angle.
Example: Take a flashlight, for instance. Turn the light on and hold it directly over a desk so that the beam is shining straight down. The light will be a bright circle not much larger than the lens of the flashlight. Now hold the light almost flat or horizontal on the desk so the beam is shooting all the way across it. See how the light is spread across a much larger area and the brightness is diminished? The amount of light and heat generated by the flashlight is constant, but since it is spread out over a wider area when held at a shallow angle its relative intensity at any given spot is weaker. Now imaging holding a light bulb over a basketball in a dark room. Although it is a little harder to see, the light will be brighter on the center of the ball facing the light that it will be on the very edges of the light. The same goes for the sun and earth. The light and heat reaching the edges of the earth is "thinner" than the heat hitting it "head on."
Rational people realize the sun cannot change its temperature every day to increase the temperature only in a very localized area. They understand when the Bible says the sun "waxed hot," it is speaking in a relative, local sense. However, some geocentrists try to "have their cake and eat it too." One insisted the sun absolutely and literally got hotter, but only in a local sense, but "saying doesn't make it so." This is a conflation of terms. Something cannot be absolutely true in a local sense. As the dictionary states, "Absolute truth is something that is true at all times and in all places." It is something that is always true no matter what the circumstances." Either the sun absolutely waxed hot or it didn't, and as we have seen, the sun itself cannot get hotter in one locale and not another.
Now the question arises, why does the Lord use relative language in some places that is impossible to be taken literally? He could have said "the day waxed hot" instead of the sun and there would have been no issue...but maybe he wanted an issue! Maybe He wanted to make it clear to Bible readers that references to the sun in His book are to be understood from an earthly perspective. There could be other reasons, but when it comes to creation, the movement of the heavenly bodies, geocentrism, and even the Flat Earth idea, it appears the Lord wants to be purposely vague. What do the terms "sunrise" and "sunset" tells us? Relatively, they tell us that from the earth it appears the sun is moving, but the only absolute conclusion one can arrive at is simply there is movement of something.
How passages like this are dealt with will reveal ones maturity and consistency in dealing with the scriptures. If a geocentrist treats the action of the sun waxing hot as absolute as he treats the action of the sun "moving" when it sets or rises, to be consistent he must conclude the sun itself (its body) is in some unknown way getting hotter in a very local area. But since only an ignoramus would contend this, the Hyper-Literal geocentrists are in a dilemma. They either have to confound the terms and hope no one will notice; admit the terms are relative, perspective language; or look like a blank fool.
The simple fact is "sunrise" no more requires the sun to move than "waxed hot" requires it to get hotter. The Scriptures have "thrown a monkey wrench" into the geocentrist's whirling contraption of geocentrism. The honest and spiritual believer will acknowledge what the Lord has done with this obvious relative language and try to learn from it. The "simple," however, will continue on in his simpleness.
Since most of the verses that deal with the sun "moving" in some way have been dealt with, the geocentrists only have a few other Bible passages to appeal to for support, and we will look at them in the following chapters on Bible Cosmology. Nevertheless, during the summer of 2017 your author posted a list of questions for geocentrists on Facebook. The only geocentrist to sensibly address them all was one of the most notable among them, Robert Sungenis. He kindly answered every one without ridicule or mockery and without an air of defensiveness (a bad habit of some of the Bible-believing geocentrists) Sungenis was quick to admit that most Bible verses that deal with the sun moving, etc., were what is known as "phenomenal language." That is, the language of the senses or appearance.
When asked, about sun rising and sun setting being relative to the observer. Sungenis replied, "Correct, since the "Sun rising" and "Sun setting" is phenomenal language."
When asked about the sun waxing hot, He replied, "This is merely phenomenal language..."
When asked about Nahum 3:16 where it says says, "Thou (Nineveh) hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven," and if he believes that to be literally and absolutely true? He replied, "It is phenomenal and hyperbolic language that humans uses frequently, as does Scripture."
When asked, "Were the merchants greater in number than the stars of heaven or were they placed physically above the stars?" Sungenis answered, "It is a figure of speech."
It is clear Sungenis realizes that many of the passages used by most Bible Believing geocentrists to prove their claims are not to be taken in an absolute, literal sense. They speak using phenomenal language. It is a shame that a Roman Catholic (Sungenis) can make these obvious and necessary distinctions but the Bible Believing Fundamentalists often cannot.
In the following chapters we will examine the Bible to try and determine its "cosmology," and address most of geocentrism's other key arguments.