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Sat, Aug. 24

Letter: Bible’s references to flat earth not to be taken literally

I would like to comment on the letter written by T. Allen on Feb. 3. His statement that the Bible says the earth is flat is not a reasonable interpretation of the scriptures he references, Genesis 11:1-9; Isaiah 11:12 and Revelation 7:1.

Genesis 11:1-9 is the story of the arrogance of man thinking he can reach God through his own efforts by building a city, Babel or Babylon, with a tower to reach the heavens. The Lord came down and confused their language and “scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth.”

I guess Mr. Allen is taking “face” to be a flat surface like the face of a cube. Using Strong’s Dictionary in conjunction with the King James version of the Bible, we see the Hebrew word for face here, “paniym,” can also mean surface, like the surface of the ground. And I believe our globe does have a surface. The location in question is a plain, in the land of Shinar, and I assume the area is fairly flat. The ‘face of the whole earth” is referring to the whole known world at that time, not the geometry of Earth.

Isaiah 11 is a prophecy about the coming Messiah. Verse 12 says, “And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

The Hebrew word used here for four corners, “kanaph,” means edge or extremity, like the wing of a bird. The writer is likely referring to all four directions: north, south, east and west.

The remnants of Judah will be gathered from all over the world. This phrase is still in use today and I’m sure that those who use it do not believe the world is flat. It is just an expression.

Revelation 7:1 also uses the expression, four corners of the earth. The Hebrew word, gonia,” used here does refer to a corner. It can also mean a secret place.

The Apostle John had a vision of four angels standing at the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds of the earth. I do not know what John’s understanding of the physical earth was, but this was a vision that was rife with symbolism and I do not believe that God is saying that the earth is flat.

In fact, God knows the earth is not flat. He made the earth and everything in it. He made the whole universe, and I expect He knows a lot more about it than we do. The Bible is God speaking to us to try to bring us back to a right relationship with him. It is about God’s character and His plan to redeem us.

God sent his only son to die on the cross for our sins and then raised Him up on the third day. His son is a gift from God that we can either accept or reject. I pray that each one of us take another look at the Bible instead of reading it with the idea of finding fault. Open your heart and mind to God’s amazing gift to us.

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