Back in 2017 I had what I might now acknowledge was divine inspiration to start painting and writing on the theme of Genesis Chapter One. I felt that any painting I created was something that I would give away rather than sell and, indeed, because the images often intrigued the recipient, I found that I was able to share a little about YHWH’s Creation with those who otherwise closed their minds to anything ‘religious’. My paintings were a way into letting those friends around me know about my deeply held beliefs and faith in YHWH and His son Yeshua. The writing happened as part of what I began to research when developing my initial paintings. But there was another element to all of this as well.
In 2016 I discovered ‘the biblical flat earth’ and, let me be honest, it really did not take much for me to accept that YHWH had created a flat, stationary earth. I watched Rob Skiba and his journey to the realization of flat earth, rooting that he would make the right choice (“Come on Rob! What does it SAY in the bible? Look, you’re on a boat and can see those buildings miles away, when you shouldn’t be able to!”); thankfully he and many others realized the truth and a community of sorts was formed in the ether. Looking at Genesis Chapter One alone gave a wealth of information which I, at that time, had not really looked at in microscopic detail. Once I looked closely, the images for my paintings began to emerge and the firmament played a prominent role in their construction.
While people were waking up to the biblical flat earth, others were dismissing it and calling those who ventured down that road ‘stupid flat-heads’ and the rest. Funnily enough, quite a few years earlier President Obama had made a speech at a climate change meeting at Georgetown University in Washington DC. The then president made an extraordinary statement which would go on to resonate through the following years as many ardent researchers stumbled upon the flat earth phenomenon… “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society,” he said. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.” The meeting was reported in June 2013 by the BBC, and at that time, most of the population would not understand the significance of the statement. I would hasten to add that the part about the flat earth is one thing, but the part about “it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm” is quite another. I would argue that knowing that the earth is flat and protected by a firmament looked over by the mighty YHWH is knowledge that is infinitely needed in our present times. Those finding the biblical truth of cosmology can be truly thankful.
Once I had the format for my paintings—always with a firmament—I began to research the truth of YHWH’s creation and started a blog so that I could record my findings and anyone who found it could discover something for themselves…about Creation, about YHWH our Creator and about His Son, Yeshua. I called my blog ‘creationpenandbrush’ and my journey began.
As I have explained, an essential part of my paintings was to incorporate the firmament/expanse which God placed over the earth on Day 2 (you will see examples in this post). The way that I decided to depict this was by placing the sky at night as a surrounding to the day sky on each painting and, where the canvas was larger, the blue of the waters above the firmament around the night sky. Therefore, there would be three sections on the larger paintings: blue day, black night, blue waters. What I am leaving out of my paintings is the depiction of Heaven which would be above the blue waters. A cursory search on your computer will give you some great artistic depictions of the “three heavens” and the Hebrew views of heaven and earth.
During my initial days of research on the firmament, I found that YHWH revealed many truths in my day-to-day life and so, as often happened, I was driving to work early in the morning when I observed the sun ahead of me with two small rainbows (also known as sundogs) on either side. I was fascinated as I had never observed this phenomenon before. The scientific explanation of this is as follows:
Patches of light that sometimes appear beside the sun are called sundogs. The scientific name is parhelion (plural: parhelia) from the Greek parēlion, meaning “beside the sun.” Called sundogs, this phenomenon is caused by sunlight being refracted through ice crystals.
However, while this all sounds plausible, there is another more biblically based explanation which is based on the idea of the Firmament/Dome over YHWH’s created world. Simply, the sunlight is reflected off the dome over the earth creating rainbows or light reflections on the water vapor in the atmosphere. As I am not a scientist, I found that many researchers had produced videos showing some simple experiments to show how sundogs and other sun halos could be formed using a glass dome.
From sundogs, the natural next step was to look into rainbows.
For this I skipped forward a few chapters in Genesis to get to the episode about Noah and the flood. YHWH saw how the people of the earth had become corrupted in their ways and that animals as well as people were totally defiled: ₅The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time…₇So the lord said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, off from the face of the earth…”
YHWH planned to flood the earth and destroy everything. But Noah was a God-fearing man and so YHWH told him to build an ark so that he and his family along with many animals could be saved and then go on to repopulate the earth.
When it was time for the rain to fall and the ark to voyage out, YHWH commanded the floodgates to be opened so that the waters from above the dome would pour mercilessly onto the earth: On the seventeenth day of the second month, when Noah was 600 years old, all the springs of the great deep burst open, the floodgates of the heavens were opened. Genesis 7 v 11
Here we see a vivid picture of how the firmament over the earth has windows or floodgates. And not only were the floodgates opened but they were also closed again when enough water had poured out. Some scholars, however, believe that when YHWH flooded the earth, the firmament (which has been described as a glass-like structure) was destroyed as the waters flooded out. But we read: Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. Genesis 8v2.
It is clear from this verse that the floodgates in the firmament were still in existence after the great flood and that YHWH closed them tightly promising Noah and his generations that YHWH would never again flood the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:11-13
And here we see the emergence of the rainbow; the covenant between Yah and humans, a promise that it will not be a flood that destroys the earth in the end days. With this rainbow casting its light in a bow shape, we can see it, like the sundogs mirroring the firmament, resembling a reflection from a glass ceiling (let’s try NOT to think of Hilary Clinton here, please! Ok we will…so why did she use this image? “Now, I know, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday, someone will.” 2016).
It recently came to my attention that the phenomenon of lightning known as sprites and elves could actually show the shape of the firmament. There are many images of these sprites and elves lightning captured by scientists as well as by amateur photographers; they move very fast and so you need to be really watching the skies to observe them. Curiously, the images often show a curved upper surface to the lightning as seen in the images from the scientific paper produced in the JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 111, August 2006. Look closely at the image in the center and notice the upper curve:
Commenting on this image further we read from this scientific paper that: We could not easily identify the type of these two sprites: event 6 consisted of three grouped small carrot-like elements. They seemed to occur closer to the camera than the preceding sprites, or alternatively, higher in altitude. The second frame [centre] showed many small elements shaped like a fan. What is more interesting to read in the paper is that the coldest cloud tops during the sprite occurrences around _54 _C (the tropopause level according to the soundings), while sprites appeared over areas of cloud tops warmer by 2–16 degrees, consistent with the findings of Lyons et al. . The average reflectivity values in a circle with a radius of 10 km around a sprite-producing +CG were very uniform among the sprites, generally between 30 and 35 dBZ. So here the scientists are talking about the circle of light emitted by a sprite/elf; the curve can be clearly observed in the image below.
An article from January 2014 by Live Science gives us some facts about sprites and elves (explained diagrammatically in the image below). Sprites are more than just mythical creatures; they are a mysterious form of lightning that dances near the edge of space. They are reddish bursts of electricity at altitudes of about 50 miles (80 kilometers) that last less than a second but are bright enough to see in daylight. These enigmas are often shaped like jellyfish, starting as balls of light that rapidly stream downward, but can also look like crowns or carrots. Scientists recently developed 3D images of sprites that could shed light on their origins and their influence on planetary climate. Like sprites, elves are reddish, ultra-fast bursts of electricity bright enough to see during the daytime high in the Earth’s atmosphere. But elves are ring-shaped halos that can spread to more than 185 miles (300 kilometres) wide. Scientists first captured images of elves and sprites dancing above thunderstorms in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The leading culprit behind elves and sprites is positive lightning.
An interesting article by Brian Clark Howard (National Geographic, October 2016) gives us some more information on this subject:
As Hurricane Matthew intensified into a Category 5 storm in the Caribbean this weekend, the tempest also produced vibrant colours in the sky. The rare atmospheric phenomena, known as lightning sprites, were photographed by an observer about 400 miles southwest of Puerto Rico.The lightning sprites were seen as fleeting flashes of brilliant red light above the clouds. (See the giant sprite observed from the space station.) Sometimes called “upward lightning” and “cloud-to-stratospheric lightning,” sprites are momentary bursts of electricity that can literally reach the edge of space, about 50 miles above the ground. They’re rarely documented because they are so short lived (typically about 10 milliseconds) and are often obscured by clouds. In fact, evidence of sprites is so rare, the phenomenon was thought to be a myth until it was photographed by a pilot in 1989. Closely related to more typical lightning, sprites are thought to be produced when discharged electricity shoots out from the top of a cloud, instead of heading to the ground. Sprites are typically formed above powerful thunderstorms or hurricanes, where lots of electrical energy is churning. Still, the precise details of how sprites form is unknown. Scientists also don’t know if they play some important role in weather or if they’re merely curiosities.
Further research into this lightning phenomenon I made some interesting connections with what we can read in the both the bible and in extra-biblical texts.
Ezekiel describes the angels he saw in his awe-inspiring vision and from this we can take note of some of the attributes concerning the light/fire they emitted in his vision:
₁ Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God…4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. (Ezekiel Chapter 1)
Enoch further adds to this vision in his own revelation when he writes: Also another phenomenon I saw in regard to the lightnings: how some of the stars arise and become lightnings and cannot part with their new form (1 Enoch 44: 1).
These two pieces of writing made me pause for thought: what if sprites and elves lightning were somehow connected to the angels spoken about in the passages above? Let us see what the two sections of verse say in their descriptions of the angels which were observed by the authors:
Their appearance described:
- like burning coals of fire;
- of lamps;
- the fire was bright;
- out of the fire went forth lightning;
- [the] creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning;
- some of the stars arise and become lightnings and cannot part with their new form.
From an article by Mike Bettwy (Unlocking the Mystery Behind Lightning’s Puzzling Friend) we can read further about the characteristics of sprite lightning in particular: Giant red blobs, picket fences, upward branching carrots, and tentacled octopi – these are just a few of the phrases used to describe sprites – spectacular, eerie flashes of colored light high above the tops of powerful thunderstorms that can travel up to 50 miles high in the atmosphere.
[From the] image [above]: This dramatic, garishly colored image was captured with a low-light level camera on June 7, 2001. It shows what appears to be a “burning tree”, or red sprite, above the National Cheng Kung University campus in Tainan City, Taiwan.
Sprites, so-named by a University of Alaska scientist inspired by the creatures in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” have been observed since the 1800s, though rarely visible from the ground. Aircraft pilots began reporting sightings of sprites in the 1950s and ’60s, but they were not formally identified until 1989 when the Space Shuttle (STS-34) recorded the flashes as it passed over a thunderstorm in northern Australia. While many theories have been offered on the cause of this rare phenomenon, new NASA-funded research is settling the mystery and helping to determine the driving force behind these marvel displays of light. Most researchers have long supported the theory that sprites are linked to major lightning charges. Still, some scientists believe that conditions high in the atmosphere, like meteoritic dust particles or gravity waves might also induce sprite formation.
(Images above: Sprites over thunderstorms in Kansas on August 10, 2000, observed in the mesosphere, with an altitude of 50-90 kilometers as a response to powerful lightning discharges from tropospheric thunderstorms. The true color of sprites is pink-red).
Sprites, like lightning strokes, are largely unpredictable and brief – lasting only 3 to 10 milliseconds and inherently difficult to study…Much research to date has…relied on the strategic placement of multiple low light video cameras. Sprites and other phenomena, including elves – that bring a millisecond flash of light that fills the entire night sky within a 100 kilometer (62 mile) radius of the associated lightning strike – are generating much interest because of their strong electric fields and electromagnetic pulses that may interact with the Earth’s ionosphere and magnetosphere.
To summarize the characteristics of sprites as observed by the scientists in this article, sprites are:
- Giant red blobs, picket fences, upward branching carrots, and tentacled octopi;
- spectacular, eerie flashes of colored light high above;
- burning tree;
- like lightning strokes, are largely unpredictable and brief;
- bring a millisecond flash of light that fills the entire night sky within a 100 kilometer (62 mile) radius.
It is interesting to view the biblical descriptions of angels against the scientific descriptions of sprite lightning. I am not making a definitive judgement here, but am just reflecting on what I have learnt; I will leave the reader to make up their own minds!
Here are my findings from the bible next to the findings from science:
YHWH has created some amazing phenomena on this earth and, as with the sprites and elves, there are still some unexplained and unexplored events that occur daily around us. Could it be that this lightning shows us YHWH’s handiwork?
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. (Psalm 19:1)
Perhaps the sprites and elves are indeed showing us the splendour of YHWH’s handiwork through the radiance of His firmament…