Revelation 7:1—Does the Bible teach that the world is square?

Problem: John speaks here of the “four corners of the earth,” which implies that the earth is square. But modern science teaches that it is round. Isn’t this a mistake in the Bible?

Solution: The Bible does not teach that the world is square. First of all, this is a figure of speech meaning “from every section of the globe” or as Jeremiah put it, “from the four quarters of heaven” (Jer. 49:36). It is a succinct way of referring to the four directions, “north, south, east, and west.” In this sense it is akin to the phrase, “the four winds ... of heaven” (Jer. 49:36).

The only references to the shape of the earth in the Bible speak of it as round. Isaiah spoke of God “who sits on the circle of the earth ... (Isaiah 40:22, mkjv). And Job refers to the world as hanging in space, asserted that God “stretches out the north over the empty place, [and] He hung the earth on nothing” (Job 26:7, mkjv). There is certainly nothing unscientific about these statements.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.