Job And The Spinning Earth

It is written:

Job 38:12-14-Have you commanded the morning since your days began, And caused the dawn to know its place, 13  That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? 14  It takes on form like clay under a seal, And stands out like a garment.

Here, the Bible points to the fact that the Earth is spinning on its’ axis. From this statement in the Book of Job, we see another amazing evidence of the scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers.

Renowned scholar Henry Morris has written of this passage:

“Furthermore, the earth was not resting on the shoulders of Atlas or on the back of a cosmic elephant. God “hangeth the earth upon nothing.” Suspended in the formless void of space without support, the earth is rigidly maintained in its orbit by a mysterious force we call gravity, but which could just as rationally be called nothing—or perhaps better, the will of God. Job suggests not only that the earth was suspended in space but also that it rotates about its north-projecting axis. “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth; that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment” (Job 38: 12-14). Though figurative language, this reflects a true physical process. God is pictured as taking hold of the two ends of the earth’s axis and turning it as if it were a clay cylinder receiving an impression from a seal. The seal toward which the earth is turned, however, is not a metallic pattern. Rather, it is the “dayspring,” evidently the sun fixed in its place. The welcome light of the morning dispels the formlessness of the earth’s surface when shrouded in darkness and unveils the beauties of the earth’s structure and verdure. The darkness also hides the wickedness of the earth’s inhabitants, but they and their works stand out like a garment exposed to the light of day.” (Henry M. Morris, The Remarkable Record of Job, 479-491 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books)

Ray Comfort also points out:

“Today, we know that the earth’s rotation on its axis is responsible for the sun’s rising and setting. But around 3,500 years ago, it was written, “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place? … It [the earth] takes on form like clay under a seal” (Job 38: 12,14). The Hebrew word for “takes on form” means “to turn,” and alludes to the rolling cylindrical seal used to stamp an impression on clay—an accurate analogy of the earth’s rotation.” (Ray Comfort, Scientific Facts In The Bible: 100 Reasons To Believe The Bible Is Supernatural In Origin, 145-149 (Kindle Edition); Newberry, FL; Bridge-Logos, Inc.)

In our day and age, the Bible teachings regarding the rotation of the Earth and its rotundity (cf. Isaiah 40:22) have come under fire from the “flat-Earth” conspiracy theorists.

There are, of course, many evidences which demonstrate that the Earth is spherical in nature. Many of these evidences were even known during the Middle Ages!

“Imagine the year is 1300. You are a student at the University of Salamanca, Spain’s oldest university. In class, you have studied Aristotle’s argument for a spherical Earth based on the changing positions of the stars as one travels north or south. This was standard in the medieval curriculum. You wish to demonstrate it for yourself. How will you do this? First you note that the apparently motionless North Star is located about 40 degrees above your horizon in Salamanca. Then you travel to the southernmost point of Europe. There, you find that this star appears only about 35 degrees above the horizon. Why the change of angle? Almost every medieval university student learned a simple explanation: the Earth is round. This and other reasonable arguments were combined to present a very strong case.” (William A. Dembski, Casey Luskin, Joseph M. Holden, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos, 58 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

Historically, one of the evidences which demonstrates that the Earth rotates on its’ axis was in the form of a science experiment from 1851.

“In 1851, the French physicist Léon Foucault gave the first direct evidence of the earth’s rotation. Foucault used a pendulum consisting of a large mass suspended by a long wire. With a Foucault pendulum, the mass is pulled to one side of its equilibrium position and released. As with any pendulum, gravity pulls the mass back to its equilibrium position, the mass overshoots, the mass swings on the other side to the same distance from where it was released, and the cycle continues. Since the only net torque or force acting on the pendulum is gravity, conservation of momentum constrains the pendulum to swing in the same plane. If a pendulum operates on a platform that is rotated about a vertical axis, an observer not on the rotating platform will see that the pendulum’s plane of swing does not change. However, to an observer on the rotating platform, the plane of the pendulum’s swing will appear to rotate in the direction opposite to the platform’s rotation. We call this effect precession. Since the earth is not a platform but is a spinning ball with gravity locally directed toward the earth’s center, the Foucault pendulum’s behavior on the earth is a bit more complicated. At the earth’s North Pole and South Pole, the situation is indistinguishable from the platform example—a Foucault pendulum will be observed to rotate with the earth’s sidereal period (23 hours, 56 minutes, 4 seconds). However, at the earth’s equator, the plane of swing of a Foucault pendulum does not rotate. Effectively, its precession period there is infinite. It is beyond the scope of this book to derive this result, but the period of the plane of the swing of a Foucault pendulum, T, is given by T = T0 sin ϕ where T0 is the earth’s sidereal period and ϕ is the latitude. Foucault demonstrated the first of these pendula at Paris Observatory in 1851, followed by a more public demonstration shortly thereafter. A reproduction of the original Foucault pendulum is still in operation in the Pantheon. I have performed this experiment myself many times. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University is in Kinnard Hall. Between Kinnard Hall and Martin Hall, there is a Foucault pendulum that extends through four floors encased in a tube with a window on each floor so that the pendulum is visible. On the basement level, there is a large glass window where one can see the swinging suspended mass with a circle marked in degrees below the pendulum. A point on the bottom of the mass indicates the angle at any given time. By noting the time and the angle over several days, one can determine that the period of rotation is a little more than 42 hours, just as the equation above predicts.” (Dr. Danny Faulkner, Falling Flat: A Refutation of Flat Earth Claims, 179-180 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books)

For centuries, astronomers have also been able to observe that the other planets are rotating.

“In the mid-1640s, Fontana used the belts of Jupiter to hypothesize that the planet must rotate9. Another Italian cleric, Francesco Grimaldi (1618–1663), showed the belts to be parallel to the jovian equator in 164810. (Grimaldi, a professor at the University of Bologna, is better known as the discoverer of diffraction11.) The first person really to see something moving on Jupiter was probably Grimaldi’s mentor at Bologna, Professor Giambattista Riccioli (1598–1671). Riccioli studied sunspots, double stars and the planets. A Jesuit, he disapproved of Galileo and his Copernican idea of a moving Earth. (In Riccioli’s system of lunar nomenclature, which we have inherited today, Galileo has a very nondescript crater, begrudgingly named for him.) Riccioli’s ambition was to discredit Galileo’s interpretation of the Galilean satellites. The new satellites were a danger to geocentricism inasmuch as they seemed a clear case of something revolving around an object other than the Earth. If the four Galileans could orbit the larger Jupiter, why could the five planets (and, for that matter, the Earth) not orbit the supposed larger Sun? However, Riccioli ended up providing evidence in support of the heliocentric theory when through his telescope, he made out the actual shadows of the satellite bodies traversing the jovian disc in approximately 164312. In Sicily, father Gioanbatista Odierna (1597–1660) also witnessed jovian satellite shadows in 1652. He used a modest telescope sent to him by Galileo after Odierna wrote a positive review of the Siderius Nuncius…The easiest way to prove planetary rotation was to find on its disc a feature with little longitudinal extent (a ‘spot’). This feature could be observed when it was on an imaginary line dividing the planet into east and west halves. Such a line is called the central meridian. If the planet rotated, and the axis of rotation were roughly perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic, the spot could be observed to move off the central meridian and disappear around the limb of the planet, only to reappear on the opposite limb some time later. Timed observations of two successive central-meridian transits (easier to observe than the appearance or disappearance of a feature at the limb) would yield the rotation period of the planet, the length of its ‘day’. Priority for the earliest observation of an intrinsic spot on Jupiter went to either Cassini (along with Campani) or Robert Hooke (1635–1702). The first strictly scientific journal in English, the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, appeared in print just in time to document the controversy in volume 1. It staunchly supported Hooke, a British hero of sorts for his work with Christopher Wren in the rebuilding of London, and, in an age when editorial fairness was a new idea, reported Cassini’s work only in passing. Hooke found ‘on the ninth of May, 1664, … a small Spot in the biggest of the 3 obscurer Belts of Jupiter’ 25. Through his 12-foot focal-length† telescope he saw that ‘… within 2 hours after, the said Spot had moved from East to West, about half the length of the Diameter of Jupiter’. Actually, Cassini only claimed to have seen two ‘spots’, which were the shadows of Galilean satellites, on July 30, 166426. He suggested that other astronomers look for them, too 27.”(Thomas A. Hockey, Galileo’s Planet: Observing Jupiter Before Photography, 41-42, 48-49 (Kindle Edition); Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press)

All of this reminds us that (true) science and the Bible are friends, not foes. We are also able to discern from the amazing scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers another powerful evidence that the Bible is indeed the Word of God.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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