“Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear’; and it was so.” (Genesis 1:9)
Pagans saw the sea as a great and unpredictable entity. Many pagan religions have a god specifically for the mighty oceans. In this passage we see the living God as the controller of the sea (compare with Matthew 8:26). His total sovereignty is further revealed not only by His ability to create but also to control. Again, this occasion in creation is done without God “making”, as He made in verse 7.
The waters are “gathered into one place”. When I was in grade school we learned about “pangea”, as it was called. It was a theory that all the continents were once one. I was blessed in that this was fairly new science. The 1960′s abounded with hypotheses of stagnant continents. Fortunately, the theory that the continents were once one and then were torn apart solved many geologic problems. Unfortunately, we were taught that this occurred over millions of years. A current theory put forth by Dr. John Baumgardner proposes a fast separation, which solves several issues that the slow separation does not solve. Dr Baumgardner’s theory seems to be supported by this verse (v. 9), a previous singular continent. A great catastrophe then occurred (Genesis 7) that divided them rapidly (again, the “theory” article above can draw insight from the Bible as to the origin of the catastrophe).
The dry land also “appears” in this verse. An important note is that the land was previously submerged and now appears when the waters are gathered. The land is not created in this verse. The water is removed from it.
The verse is the first time God does not create but rather organizes. The remainder of the third day contains His creations for this beautiful day.