Before we can understand the following terrestrial challenge, we must first step for a moment into a science class. When a material object is struck, strummed, plucked, or somehow disturbed, it vibrates. The vibration in turn disturbs the immediate surrounding air molecules, which molecules disturb neighboring molecules. This chain reaction of vibration carries on from molecule to molecule until the final molecules of the chain reaction collide with a receiving eardrum, specifically the eardrum of our inner ear. The vibration of molecules against our eardrum is then translated into electrical energy, which energy is sent on to our brain. The brain receives and perceives that a sound has been created by the vibration of some material object. Now that you have graduated from “sound school” we can now move on to a better understanding of God.
We believe in a God who hears no sound as we hear sounds simply because He exists beyond the molecules of our atmosphere. No humanly produce sound of this world can make its way outside the confines of our atmosphere. Since God is not confined to our physical means of hearing, then He does not need to hear sounds. He thus needs no physical ears. He is spirit without ears, and thus does not “hear” as we hear one another (Jn 4:24). So how does God “hear” our prayers? Now we have moved into the realm of metaphor—keep reading.
He is likewise a God without vocal cords to excite air molecules in order to be carried alone through the atmosphere by air molecules bumping against one another, and eventually ending up as vibration on our eardrums. He is indeed the God beyond our senses, and certainly, beyond the molecules of our atmosphere.
When God “said” to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM,” He was not speaking through the vibrating vocal cords of a literal mouth (Ex 3:14). The same would be true in reference to what the bystanders heard from heaven at the time of Jesus’ baptism: “Behold, a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son’” (Mt 3:17). By applying our scientific understanding of sound to this “voice,” we must conclude that the God who has no physical vocal cords was able to vibrate the molecules of our atmosphere until neighboring molecules eventually made their way to the eardrums of the bystanders, whose brains eventually translated the sound of the words into a message. However, the origin of the “voice” came from space where there is no atmosphere, where there is no sound. It was thus the miraculous power of God that generated words for our eardrums, and thus a message from the dwelling of God (See Jn 12:30).
It is God’s power that vibrates the molecules of the physical atmosphere of our world in order that words be generated. It was the vibrating molecules of this atmosphere that came as a “voice” to Moses on Mount Sinai (At 7:31). We must not be so naive as to think that the “voice” with which God spoke to Moses assumes that God has physical vocal cords and lips that can produce words. The “voice” only assumes that God, who is spirit, can powerfully touch the molecules of our atmosphere in a way that words can be formulated in order to bring us a message from beyond the confinement of our world.
Therefore, we believe in a God who is beyond the limitations of the blue atmosphere that surrounds this world, and in which our continued existence is made possible. Since man can reside only within an atmosphere of air, then unless we can find an atmosphere with air on another heavenly body of the universe, we must assume that man resides on this earth alone.
And since the “voice” of God can be produced and heard only where there are air molecules to bump against one another in order to produce “words” for eardrums, then we extend our reasoning beyond this world in view of the fact that there need be no atmospheres on other heavenly bodies that can be used by God to communicate through “words.” The conclusion, therefore, is that there is no life on other heavenly bodies, specifically human life, for whom the Son of God would have to be incarnate also for their salvation.
Richard Branson, with other fellow earthly passengers, recently climbed into the Virgin Galatic vessel named SpaceShipTwo, and then blasted themselves into the realm where our God dwells—space. In order to survive in this realm where only God can exist, the occupants of the SpaceShipTwo enclosed a portion of this earth’s atmosphere in order that the occupants might be able to communicate with one another with their voices when they arrived outside the confines of our atmosphere. However, they had to remain in the confines of their transported portion of earth’s atmosphere. Likewise, and a week later, Jeff Bezos and other passengers, made a similar trip into space, transporting with them also a portion of earth’s atmosphere.
If any of these space travelers could have stepped outside their portion of transported atmosphere that they took along with them from earth, then they could never have communicated with one another except through electronic radios. They could not have communicated because there are no air molecules in space, and thus, no voice transmission from one person to another. The triune God in whom we believe dwells in this realm, but does not communicate among themselves with words of this world.
This nature of space in which God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwell was pictorially illustrated in the 2013 movie entitled GRAVITY. Stars, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, could communicate with one another in space only through the electronic transmitting devices within their space suits. In order to prepare the viewing audience for an “out-of-this-world” experience, the movie prepared the audience for the experience with the leading statements, “372 miles above the earth.” “There is nothing to carry sound.” “No air pressure.” “No oxygen.” They thus explained the environment in which our God dwells.
The theme of the movie realistically communicated the tragic drama that was experienced by Bullock and Clooney. However, the producers could only graphically illustrate the eventful and tragic decimation of their space station and space shuttle. When encircling debris from an exploded Russian space station on the other side of the world eventually encircled the earth, the debris began to impact and destroy the space station and shuttle of Bullock and Clooney. As viewers, we could only see, not hear, the destruction.
The visuals of the impact were graphic. However, the audience could hear no sound of ripping metal, or the impact of the Russian space station debris impacting the US space station. There was no sound at that time in the movie. We cannot even use the words “explosion” to explain the tragedy because such a word assumes sound. So on screen there was the space station being silently torn apart without any sounds whatsoever. If one did not understand the introductory explanation at the beginning of the movie, then he might have thought that the sound system of the theater had failed at the time of the impact.
This is the realm in which our God dwells. It is truly the “third heaven” in which there is no sound. If a giant meteor the size of our moon somehow hurdled through space and struck the moon, there would be total silence of the destruction on earth because there are no air molecules between the earth and moon that could bump against one another. Therefore, if God seeks to communicate personally out of this realm of silent space to those who are confined to the atmosphere of this world, then He must either vibrate the molecules of our atmosphere, or communicate with us through incarnate vocal cords. And that He did.
If one does not understand the metaphors of communication that are used by the Holy Spirit in Scripture in reference to our communication with the God who resides in the silence of space wherein there is no sound or the transmission of sound, then he or she might move into the realm of idolatry. It is in the realm of idolatry that we perceive gods with whom we can communicate with words as we do with one another on this earth.
We must guard ourselves against using the earthly definition of communication that we use with one another in the confinement of our atmosphere in reference to God communicating to us from His realm of total silence. If we do not understand that God’s communication with us through the metaphorical use of the words of our world, then we will be moved into creating a god after our own physical image. We will argue that this god must speak as we speak, and thus have vocal cords and lips as a human being.
If our world with its atmosphere did not exist, would we conclude that our god also would not exist? If we assumed that He speaks as we speak to one another with vocal cords and lips, then we have conceived an idol god in our minds. Therefore, in order to understand the God who is beyond this world, we must understand Him as though this world did not exist. And indeed, He existed without time long before the creation of this world, its atmosphere, and earthly bound inhabitants.
Our God is beyond the definitions of the words of our dictionary, specifically the definition of those words that refer to our communication with one another concerning His existence. In fact, there are no words in our dictionary that can adequately explain the God of space. By believing in this God of space, some might think that we are somewhat distant from being idolaters. And they would be correct.
We have witnessed in Africa of old that drums are used in “pagan,” or animistic ceremonies in order to excite an emotional self-hypnotic frenzy on the part of those who worshiped the spirits. The worshipers of gods (spirits) came alive in the minds of the worshipers only when the drums rhythmically stirred alive the imagination of the subjects. This same means of generating gods in fertile imaginations has been brought into the realm of many religious groups in these times. Instrumentalists in worship centers around the world turn up the volume and beat harder on the drums in order to call on gods who respond to their noise and the beat of their drums.
Nothing has changed since the days of Elijah. An opportunity to illustrate imagined gods was organized by Elijah who invited all the religionists of the Baals and the Asherah to Mount Carmel (1 Kg 18:17-46). It was at Mount Carmel that a challenge was made between the imagined gods of the religionist idolaters with the God of space who is above and beyond this world.
During the contest of “gods,” and after the religionists had cried out aloud for hours and cut themselves in order to gain some response from their god, “Elijah mocked them” (1 Kg 18:27). He continued his mocking with the words, “Cry aloud, for he is a god” (1 Kg 18:27).
Unfortunately, Baal was a god only in their minds. He was a god who could not be awaken no matter how much noise the worshipers produced. Nevertheless, he was a god they believed could hear their loud cries (or, drum beats), and see the blood flow from the ascetic self-inflicted wounds of their wrists. He was an idol god they believed could “see” and “hear.” This god dwelt in the confines of this world’s atmosphere, and only in the minds of the deceived.
We believe in a God who cannot see as we see and who cannot hear as we hear. He is a God who dwells in a realm that is not confined to our atmosphere where sound exists and can be scientifically defined. He is a God, therefore, who cannot be awaken out of sleep, as Elijah mocked the Baal prophets (1 Kg 18:27). He need not be awaken by the drummers playing louder and the instrumentalists strumming more vigorously to produce an ear-splitting noise through magnified speakers. Those sounding instruments may stir the worshipers into a self-hypnotic frenzy emotional ecstasy. However, the one true God who is spirit is in His holy temple beyond this world. Therefore, let all the earth keep silence before him.
The apostle Paul was caught up in vision to Paradise, whatever or wherever this may be. We do not fully understand. He “heard” what he later defined as “inexpressible words” (2 Co 12:4). They were certainly inexpressible as words that we use in this world, if indeed he was caught up in vision to a place that was beyond the atmosphere of this world.
The destination of his terrestrial journey “landed” him in the “third heaven” (2 Co 12:2). To the Jews, the birds flew in the first heaven, the clouds were in the second, and the third was the dwelling place of terrestrial bodies as the sun, moon and stars. If indeed Paul were caught up to a realm in which only God dwells, then the only Greek word phrase he could have used to speak of what he encountered would be “inexpressible words.” There are no words of our world that could be used to explain that which he saw in a realm in which “words” do not exist.
The God in whom we believe is spirit, and thus must be communicated with through our inner spirit. Vocal words can pour out as vibrated sounds through our mouths, but the intent, meaning and definition of these words that proceed from our mouths must first have originated in devoted hearts. It is for this reason that God “listens” to hearts, not the strumming sounds of harps. It is something like the first Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gargarin, later said after being the first man to orbit the earth in 1961: “An astronaut cannot be suspended in space and not have God in his mind and heart.”
One may want to cry out his prayers at the top of his voice. However, we must always remember that the God who dwells in the realm of total silence is listing to the silent pleas of our hearts before our thoughts make their way to our vocal cords, and eventually to the God who dwells in a realm of silence. He truly hears the sound of our silence long before we ask. This is the God in whom “we live and move and have our being” (At 17:28).