I see in the Bible lots of references to God stretching out the heavens l.e, Isaiah 44:24, Isaiah 42:5 etc. Is this a potential reference to the universe’s expansion as approved by the vast majority of scientists today?  Is there any Hebrew to support this view in these “heaven stretching” passages with the universe’s expansion?  Thanks and God bless


When we look at statements by a Bible writer from the ancient Near East, we would be wise to look at what they write through the lens of a person from the ancient Near East, rather than through the lens of a person in the Western world in the 21st century.  If we do so with Isaiah 44:24 or Isaiah 42:5, I do not think that we will see an account of the “big bang” in these passages.  It would be nice to be able to pull some sort of supernaturally scientifically wise statement in these passages, but I think that is a bit of a stretch.  I used to say, many years ago, that the statement “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” in Isaiah 40:22 as proof that Isaiah saw the earth as a sphere.  I now see this as a “maybe” thing.  I no longer make big claims in public lectures that this proves the Bible says the earth is a sphere.  If we look at this passage through the eyes of the ancient Near East, this could just as easily be viewed as a flat circle as a sphere.  So, this passage may reflect a cosmology with a spherical earth, or it may not.  It is not a very strong proof-text for scientific wisdom in the Bible.
I would say the same for the passages about God “stretching” the heavens.  To see in this the big bang is more like us reading INTO the scriptures that reading this out of the scriptures.  Put it this way, before the big bang theory was proposed, I am confident that no one used this passage to show that the universe is expanding.  Those who heard this prophecy probably did  not envision a physically-expanding universe.  They used the analogy of a tent and the ropes “stretching out” the tent.
So (pun intended) I think it is a stretch to say that these passages in Isaiah are a sort of proof that the idea of the big bang–the expansion of the universe–is found in Isaiah.  I say “maybe” but nothing stronger than that.  I would not use this in a public forum to prove the scientific wisdom of the Bible.  If you personally see scientific wisdom in Isaiah 40:22, or in Isaiah 42:5, that is fine (I still think of Isaiah 40:22 in this way personally, to myself), but I would be cautious to declare this from the rooftops.
BTW, I did not go into the Hebrew word used here, as I doubt that it would shed any additional light.  The ancient Hebrew language generally does not lend itself well to discussions about scientifically precise statements about things.
John Oakes

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