Question: "Does the Bible teach that the earth is flat?"
Answer: Many a skeptic claims that the Bible depicts a flat earth. Scriptural references such as Revelation 7:1 are cited, which speaks of “four angels standing at the four corners of the earth.” However, this passage makes reference to the cardinal directions as seen on a compass – i.e. north, south, east and west. Terminology to a similar effect is used today when we speak of the sun rising and setting each day, even though we know that it is, in fact, the earth which orbits around the sun.
Another passage often referred to is Psalm 75:3, which speaks of God holding the pillars firm. However, the psalms are written in the poetry genre. Rather than referring to literal pillars, this is representative of God’s guaranteeing the earth’s stability. Even when the moral order of the world seems to have crumbled, God will not fully withdraw His sustaining power.
In contrast to the supposed “flat earth” verses, there are numerous Scriptures that clearly indicate otherwise. The earth is described in Job 26:7 as being suspended over empty space, implying a spherical figure. This notion is further entertained in Isaiah 40:21-22, which refers to “the circle of the earth.” This is further supported by Proverbs 8:27 (NKJV), which speaks of God drawing a circle on the face of the deep. From a “bird’s-eye view” of the ocean, the horizon is seen as a circle. Such an observation indicates that where light terminates, darkness begins, describing the reality of day and night on a spherical earth.
The round-earth idea is further supported by Jesus in Luke 17:31,34: “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back...I tell you, in that night there will be two people in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left.” This would seem to indicate the phenomenon of day on one side of the globe while darkness abides on the other.
In conclusion, the curvature of the earth is certainly a biblical concept, and there is little or no basis for the charge that the Bible teaches a flat earth. The Scriptures that seem to present a flat earth can all easily be explained when correctly interpreted and understood.
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