Dr. James J. S. Johnson

It is He Who sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; it is He Who stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in. (Isaiah 40:22)

What is “the circle of the earth”? Just because an interpretation seems to “help” win arguments does not make it right—it’s the truth that really counts.  (Sad to say, quite a few creation scientists, employing superficial review of the Scriptures, are guilty of this.)

For decades some creation scientists have suspected (and/or assumed) that Isaiah 40:22 refers to Earth’s spherical shape, because Earth is round like a ball.  But is that what the phrase “circle of the earth” refers to, in Isaiah 40:22?  As a matter of Biblical creation apologetics (as opposed to deistic science practices), it is important to take a philological “magnifying glass” to the Biblical Hebrew text’s details, in order to see what this verse is actually describing.

The foundational question — if truth is the priority — is whether the Hebrew noun chûg, used in Isaiah 40:22 (and translated as “circle” by the King James Bible translators), means “round” like Earth’s spherical shape, as opposed to some other kind of “circle”.

The noun “ball” is used to translate the Hebrew noun dûr in Isaiah 22:18. So, if God had wanted to describe Earth as a globe (i.e., a ball), in Isaiah 40:22, why not use the Hebrew noun dûr? Obviously that noun was part of Isaiah’s vocabulary, because Isaiah used that noun (dûr) in Isaiah 22:18.

But, to understand this part of Isaiah 40:22, the most focal question is what does chûg (“circle”) mean? To answer this question, we should compare Scripture with Scripture, i.e., especially by reviewing how that same Hebrew word is used elsewhere within Scripture.

First, consider that the noun chûg is used only 2 other times, in Job 22:14 and Proverbs 8:27.

Job 22:14 says: “Thick clouds are a covering to Him, that He seeth not; and He walketh in the circuit [chûg] of heaven.”  Question: is this “circuit” an orbit-like pattern or a spherical ball?

Proverbs 8:27 says: “When He prepared the heavens, I was there; when He set a compass [chûg] upon the face of the depth.” Question: is this “compass” an orbit-like pattern or a spherical ball?

Next, consider the root verb (that this Hebrew noun derives from), which is the Hebrew verb chûg, spelled that same as the noun (similar to how our English words “report” and “record” are either verbs or nouns, depending upon context).

As a verb, chûg appears in Job 26:10 (“He hath compassed the waters…”), denoting cloud-contained rainwaters, being part of Earth’s water cycle dynamics. The idea here is cyclical or circuitous movements, not sphericity.

Furthermore, we can review other Hebrew words that utilize the consonantal stem CHG (also transliterated ḤG), such as the verb châgag that uses the extended stem CHGG (also transliterated ḤGG). By doing this we acquire more relevant data for identifying the core meaning of chûg. Consider, therefore, these Scriptures that employ some form of the verb châgag, and/or a noun derived from that verb: Leviticus 23:9 (“feast”); Leviticus 23:34 (“celebrate”, “feast”); Leviticus 23:41 (“celebrate”, “feast”, “celebrate””); and 1st Samuel 30:16 (“dancing”).(1) Do the concepts of celebratory feasts—or “dancing”—fit the idea of Earth’s spherical roundness? Or, do “dancing” and cyclical celebrations compare better with Earth’s orbit-motions, while circling the sun, within our solar system that itself orbits within the Milky Way Galaxy?

The best English word, to picture the core idea here, is choreography—an amazingly well-ordered, orchestrated, festive, happy, harmonious DANCE.(1),(2) Like King David, even the heavenly bodies “dance” unto God’s glory!(2)


(1)The Hebrew noun chûg (“circle” in Isaiah 40:22, KJV) is related to the verb châgag, which is translated “celebrate” in Leviticus 23:9 & 23:41. The Hebrew noun chûg shares the same root verb as chag, another Hebrew noun, which is translated “feast” (referring to the Feast of Tabernacles) in Leviticus 23:34 & 23:9 & 23:41. The concept of celebratory dancing is illustrated in 1st Samuel 30:16, where the Hebrew verb châgag (in participle form) is translated “dancing”.

(3)See 2 Samuel 6:14 & Psalm 149:3. Notice that the festively cosmic choreography of Isaiah 40:22 is like the mathematically blended and harmonious interactive movements of a perfectly performed Norwegian Leikarringen folk dance (see photograph above), as opposed to a frenzied solo dancer’s break-dancing gyrations.

><> JJSJ    profjjsj@aol.com

In AD1982, at Wake Forest University, Dr. Johnson received the American Bible Society Award for scholarship in Biblical languages, especially Hebrew and Aramaic. However, despite many repeated efforts (and repeated encouragement from Kermit and Glenda Anderson), Johnson has unquestionably failed to learn the memory-challenging choreographic artistry of Norwegian folk dancing.


God purposefully made the moon.

God purposefully made the moon.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Genesis1.16-PPT-ruleGod made the moon to rule the nighttime, just as is clearly reported in Genesis. (See Genesis 1:14-18; Psalm 104:19 & 136:9; Ezekiel 32:7.)  But how and why did God make the moon, such as how does it “rule” the nighttime?  By His own command By His own command, on Day #4, God made the moon to give light, especially light to help us (and to help animals) to see, during nighttime on Earth.  Moon-rules-Earth.PPT-gravitational-tides

Also, the moon “rules” many activities on Earth due to the moon’s gravitational pull (in combination with the sun’s similar gravitational pull) on the earth and on its inhabitants, such as animals and people, and even on the waters of the oceans — producing the repeating and rhythmic movements of the oceans that we call “tides”. Moon-ocean-tides.PPT-governor-rulesThis action of “ruling” can be compared to a speed-limiting “governor” installed on a truck’s engine; the truck engine’s “governor” is not a person but it forcefully and controls the behavior of the engine in a way that limits the speed of the truck, to accomplish the intentions of the clever inventor who designed the truck engine’s “governor”.  Governor-rules.PPT-CanadaDry-truck

In a similar (yet much superior) way, God cleverly invented the moon’s gravitational traits, with the intention that the moon’s gravity limits various activities on Earth, via the moon’s complicated movements and their related gravitational attractions on the earth (in relation to interrelated and complicated motions of the sun and earth), from different directions at different times — resulting in an ongoing choreography of gravitational attractions between those heavenly bodies. The moon’s periodic movements, as the moon moves around the earth, in a regular cycle (called lunar phases), also affect how all plants grow and how all animals behave. ChristmasIsland-RedCrabs.PPT-moon-tidesExamples of animal behavior being affected by moonlight (or its absence) include the timing of Pacific salmon going downstream to the ocean, the timing of Christmas Island red crabs going to the ocean to dump baby crabs into the water, and the tidewater movements that bring floating food particles unto filter-feeding oysters.  [For more about how the moon “rules”, see my article “The Moon Rules”, ACTS & FACTS,  44(9):21 (September 2015), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/moon-rules  .]oysters-filterfeeders.PPT-need-moon-tidesThanks, God, for making the moon!


God purposefully made the sun.

God purposefully made the sun, to rule the daytime.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

God chose to make the sun to rule the daytime, just as is clearly reported in Genesis. (See Genesis 1:16; Psalm 19:4-6 & 136:8; Ezekiel 32:7.)  But how and why did God make the sun, such as how does it “rule” the daytime?  By His own command, on Day #4, God made the sun to give light, especially light to help us (and to help animals) to see, during daytime on Earth.

Also, God made the sun to move in ways that help us to know what time it is, and also to provide earth with seasons (like spring, summer, autumn, and winter). The sun is shining directly on us when it is “day”; when it is “night” the sun is not shining directly on us. Also, God made the sun to “rule” the daytime, such as by providing daytime light and heat that is needed to for plants to live and to grow – and also by providing gravitational attraction so that the earth’s ocean tides move in ways that help life in the oceans and seas.   (For more about this, listen to my podcast, “The Created Sun and Moon”, posted  at http://www.icr.org/article/created-sun-moon-podcast  .)If plants did not use sunlight to grow, and to be warm enough to live, plants could not grow in ways that are needed so that plants can be eaten as food (such as grains, roots, fruits, seeds). When plants use sunlight energy (especially in the chlorophyll parts of green leaves) to convert water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into breathable oxygen (O2) and carbohydrates (CxHyOz), which they do all over most of the world, the result is plant food containing lots of usable energy. This process is called “photosynthesis”. Accordingly, without sunlight there is no photosynthesis and thus no plant food for animals or for us. Likewise, if there was no photosynthesis, plants could not produce the kind of air (oxygen) that we (and animals) need to breathe. So, without sunlight we would not have enough healthy air for us to breathe. (The same is true for animals, because they need the same kind of air, to breathe, that we need.) God made the sun to help us in many ways; without the sun we could not live on earth.     Thanks, God:   You are great!




Dr. James J. S. Johnson

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God Himself Who formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.   (Isaiah 45:18)

How has God made Earth to serve as “home” to mankind and to animals, providing them with what they need to live?

God intentionally designed and made the heavens and the earth to provide for the needs and benefits of humans, with earth to serve as the home of mankind and other creatures. (See, e.g., Isaiah 45:18; Psalm 115:16.  See also “Why We Want to Go Home”, ACTS & FACTS, 44(4):20 (April 2015), posted at  at http://www.icr.org/article/why-we-want-go-home/ .)

The universal habit of using a personal shelter, a home that belongs to us, is nothing new. Longing for home is not limited to humans. The Lord Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests” (Matthew 8:20). Eagles, swallows, sparrows, storks, doves, owls, and other birds use nests (Job 39:27; Psalm 84:3 & 104:17; Deuteronomy 22:6-7 & 32:11; Isaiah 34:15; Jeremiah 48:28 & 49:16; Obadiah 1:4). Spiders make web-silk homes (Isaiah 59:5). Worms and other creepy creatures live underground (Micah 7:17; Job 21:26 & 20). Lions have dens (Job 38:39-40; Song of Solomon 4:8; Nahum 2:12).  Salmon routinely return “home” to spawn.  Polar bear mothers sometimes live in dens, sheltered from colder weather outside.  The list could go on and on.

But what explains the origin of homing habits? Scripture does provide the key for understanding this universal habit—the Genesis mandate. God commanded humans and animals to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. Because God designed His creatures to do more than just populate, He programmed diverse creatures to fill living spaces all over the globe—on land, in water, and to some even the air is a home of sorts.

God has providentially equipped creatures with physical bodies (with helpful anatomies and physiologies) and programmed bio-informational instructions (coding and equipping for habitat-interactive behaviors) that are fitted to the ever-changing challenges of physical environments (and animal-and-plant communities) all over the globe.

The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD‘s: but the earth hath He given to the children of men.   (Psalm 115:16)


God, Who loves variety, made the heavens with glorious variety.

God, Who loves variety, made the heavens with glorious variety.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars:  for one star differs from another star in glory(1st Corinthians 15:40-41)

God has demonstrated His love for variety in the many differences (including differences in “glories”) that He has artistically designed variety into the heavenly bodies, including the uniqueness of the stars and of the planets.  Consequently, stars, groups of stars, and other heavenly bodies show variety and artistic uniqueness.   (See 1st Corinthians 15:40-41; Psalm 147:4; Job 26:13.)

Yes, God loves variety—more variety than we can fully appreciate, even if we had multiple lifetimes to investigate His creation!  Here are three easy proofs:  (1)  Scripture shows that variety matches God’s own divine nature (i.e., God Himself is personally plural, yet one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit  —  see 1st John 5:7);  (2)  God made mankind plural-yet-one, when He made mankind in His own image (as Adam and Eve, male and female, yet one kind — see Genesis 1:27);  and  (3)  God’s physical non-human creation (including the stars, all of which differ from one another — see 1st Corinthians 15:41).

Because of how God created His creation, nature displays differences in details of diverse animals, plants, microörganisms, earth’s geophysical environment, and even the innumerable galaxies of outer space – including each and every star that is out there, regardless of whether any human ever sees it or not!  (See “Valuing God’s Variety”, posted at http://www.icr.org/article/valuing-gods-variety/.)

How do the heavens show the hugeness of God’s love for variety?  There are at least 100 billion stars in the heavens (that’s 100,000,000,000 different stars!) – that we are of (and maybe there are many more!), yet Psalm 147:4 says that God not only can count exactly how many there are, He has even given a specific name to each of those many stars!

Also, 1st Corinthians 15:40-41 says that God gives a different “glory” to each star – and that should remind us that God gives a unique dignity to each human. In other words, each of us is valuable to God in a way that no one else is – what a wonderful fact! Since God treats each of the stars as unique, with its own name, that proves that God loves variety.

In other words, God has demonstrated His love for variety in the many differences (including differences in “glories”) that He has designed into the heavenly bodies, including the uniqueness of the planets and of the many, many, many stars.  As mere humans, we cannot actually count all of the stars, one at a time, and know their individual names – to do so would take trillions of years – and during our earthly lives we cannot live that long.  How amazing: God has chosen to make and to love each of us (Psalm 8)!


The heavens and Earth, that we see today, are only temporary — but they are “home” for now.

For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.  (Isaiah 66:22)

The present heavens — and Earth (which is our home, for now) — are finite and temporal; they shall ultimately be replaced by new heavens and new Earth.  (See also Mark 13:31; 2nd Peter 3:7-13; Revelation 21:1.)  All the more reason to live for the Lord Jesus in the here-and-now, so that  each day counts toward the hereafter.

So, even while living here (and now) below, we keep in mind our real homeland (Philippians 3:20).  For a creationist-ecologist’s perspective on appreciating “home”, see my article “Why We Want to Go Home”, ACTS & FACTS, 44(4):20 (April 2015), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/why-we-want-go-home .

The hugeness of the cosmos reminds us how valuable we are to God.


The hugeness of the heavens is a reminder of how valuable we are to God, because he chose to give us – as small as we are – the amazing value of having life as creatures made in His own image.

O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!  [Thou] Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens.  Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.  When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained:  What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?  And the son of man, that Thou visits him?  For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou made him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet:  all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passes through the paths of the seas.  O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!  (Psalm 8:1-8.)

Thank You, God, for caring about us humans whom You have made for Your pleasure (see Revelation 4:11).