The Waters above the Earth
By Reed Benson
A fascinating aspect of the Kingdom Age is the dramatic environmental and climatic changes that will be engendered. The prophet Isaiah provides a hint of the extent this changes: "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (Isaiah 67:17). So dramatic will be the alterations that we will not recall the environment conditions of the present world! The new heaven and earth will be similar to the natural world before the flood of Noah, very much like it was when God created the universe. In Genesis 1:31 we find that God finished His creative work and called it "very good." Certainly, the natural world we now inhabit cannot be considered "very good". This is obvious given that 70% of the planet is covered by vast oceans, and of the remaining portion, some 60% is either desert, tundra, polar ice cap, or high mountain, being thus unsuitable for man. It is apparent that major transformations would be necessary in order for the natural world to resemble the pre-flood condition. Yet that is exactly what we should expect. From Revelation 21:1 we read: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." No more sea! How could this be? Where would it go? In truth, the sea will be re-turned to the sky as it was before the great worldwide flood of Noah. An examination of the pre-flood world, therefore, will yield a glimpse of the world to come. One of the most striking features of both the primeval world and the Kingdom Age is a vast canopy of water vapor suspended in the sky. The remainder of this article will attempt to survey some of the vital biblical and scientific implications of the ancient water canopy as a peek into the environment that will be in the Kingdom Age.
The nature of the ancient water vapor canopy is found in Genesis 1:6-7: "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so." Firmament is nothing more than empty space or in this context what we would consider sky. Thus, it can be reasonably postulated that there was brought into existence a layer of water vapor, completely invisible to the naked eye, above the level of the remaining liquid water and would soon be become dry land (Genesis 1:9-10). The psalmist David provides a record of the placing of water in this water vapor canopy, or storehouse: "He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses." The presence of this water vapor canopy would make the natural process of life dramatically different than what we now experience. Several scientific models have been devised in an effort to study these possible changes. The implications suggested by these models are remarkably consistent with the description scripture provides of both the pre-Noahic world and the Kingdom Age. Let us now consider these implications.
The first implication of a water vapor canopy is that the earth’s surface would not be watered primarily through rainfall, but by a mist. This is well known fact of the pre-flood environment as documented in Genesis: "For the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground" (Genesis 2:5-6). This condensation is easily imagined under such conditions. The range of temperatures through out a given day was probably slight, but since the atmosphere was close to being saturated, only a small drop in the temperature would produce condensation. Profuse plant growth would be encouraged because this reliable amount of moisture. This is consistent with what scripture predicts in Kingdom Age: " Behold, the day is come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that sowth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt" (Amos 9:13).
Absence of seasonal change is the second implication. After Noah’s flood, the earth began the routine of seasonal change involving warm and cold portions of the year (Genesis 8:22). When the new heaven and earth are brought forth, the extremes of seasons will cease. No seasons will mean only insignificant pole-equator temperature gradients. Consequently, air masses would be of the same density and pressure, meaning negligible wind and little to no rainfall. It is possible that the earth’s tilt of 23.5 degrees was a result of the catastrophic events surrounding the flood, and that during the Kingdom Age, the earth will be righted once again, eliminating seasonal change.
The third implication of a water canopy is the greenhouse effect. An invisible layer of water would act as a reflective barrier trapping more heat from the sun, thus causing the sun to feel warmer. Scripture appears to confirm this idea in Isaiah: "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and health the stroke of their wound" (Isaiah 30:26). The net albedo of the earth’s surface would be significantly altered, and combined with a moisture laden atmosphere, would produce a tropical climate. A higher level of carbon dioxide would be likely, which would trap additional heat and promote a great profusion of plant life. Temperatures throughout the world would be relatively even, despite any latitude variations.
The forth implication of a water canopy implies a greater atmospheric pressure. Different scientific models vary in their estimation, but generally it can be safely assumed that atmospheric pressures at sea level would be at least doubled. This explains many of the anomalies concerning the fossils of huge invertebrates. Under present conditions, life would be impossible for many of these monstrous insects and shellfish. Current atmospheric pressure does not allow the oxygen to sufficiently diffuse throughout such huge bodies to sustain metabolic processes. But with increased partial pressure of oxygen due to greater atmospheric pressure, the oxygen tension in their open circulatory systems increases and makes larger growth possible. Increased air pressure also explains how extinct, giant, flying reptiles were able to become airborne. One in particular, the pterosaur, is believed to have had a wingspan of some 53 feet and weighed approximately 450 pounds. It is mathematically impossible for it to have produced the thrust needed for flight; such muscle efficiency is not possible under present conditions. If the atmospheric pressure were significantly increased, however, greater air density would have allowed flight with less air speed. Also, the partial pressure of oxygen would have increased the oxygen tension in the bloodstream, allowing greater muscular efficiency without a build up of oxygen debt.
The Fifth implication is the change in certain metabolic possesses in living creatures. This is a result of the increased atmospheric pressure produced by the water vapor canopy. According to several studies, increased air pressure over a long period can produce quite unusually effects in humans and animals. Wounds have been documented to heal much more rapidly. Digestive enzymes are altered, allowing dramatic dietary changes. Some researches believe that venom in snakes will lose its toxicity over a period of time. Under these conditions, statements of the Kingdom Age such as those found in Isaiah seem less fanciful: "The lion shall eat straw like an ox. And the sucking child shall play in the hole of the asp." (Isaiah 11:7-8). Increased atmospheric pressure may be the means God uses to fulfill prophecies such as these.
The sixth implication is a decrease in the amount of cosmic radiation reaching the earth’s surface. Specific wavelengths of radiation produced by the sun are known to be a major factor in aging. It is reasonable to assume that the water vapor canopy would act as a barrier to these harmful effects. This accounts for the greatly increased longevity of pre-flood patriarchs as recorded in Genesis. After the flood, remnants of the canopy dissipated slowly, resulting in a logarithmic decline in life expectancy in the patriarchs immediately subsequent to Noah. If the water vapor canopy were restored in the Kingdom Age as a feature of the new heaven and earth, we would expect corresponding increases in the human life span. From Isaiah we read: "There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed." (Isaiah 65:20). It is apparent from this verse that the natural life span of men will be dramatically altered, as in the days of Noah.
The seventh and final implication that will be considered is not a direct consequence of the water vapor canopy, but something scripture indicates was complimentary to it. This is the absence of high mountain ranges. From Genesis we discover that the floodwaters covered "All the high hills that were under the whole heaven" (Genesis 7:19). Precise mathematical computations prove that the volume of water in the present ocean basins would cover the entire planet to a depth of several hundred feet were the earth leveled. Thus, the mystery as to where the water vapor canopy went is solved: it is found in the existing oceans’ basins. At the outset of the flood "Were all the fountains of the deep broken up" (Genesis 7:11). This involved catastrophic volcanic and tectonic activity, which ultimately yielded an uneven surface when the floodwater receded. This entire process will be reversed at the establishment of the Kingdom Age. Again, Isaiah provides insight: "Every valley shall be exalted, ever mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough place plain" (Isaiah 40:4). The absence of high mountains will prevent the build up of air masses with distinct characteristics, thus contributing to even global temperatures we would expect under a restored water vapor canopy.
It can be seen that the world to come in the kingdom Age will have a number of environmental similarities to the world prior to the flood of Noah’s day. Probably the greatest factor in reproducing these characteristics is the presence of a restored water vapor canopy in the upper atmosphere. This canopy provides a reasonable scientific explanation that accounts for the prophetic utterances about the new heaven and new earth in the Kingdom Age.