Sound in a Vacuum?

I was reading a really good article yesterday by Nicholas Batzig entitled “God’s Obedient Son”. This paper is worth reading in its entirety, but here I will only include a snippet.


“From the Jordan to the wilderness with its wilde beasts, from the devout acknowledgement of the Baptist, the consecration and filial prayer of Jesus, the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the heard testimony of heaven, to the forsakenness, the felt want and weakness of Jesus, and the assaults of the Devil–no contrast more startling could be conceived.  And yet, as we think of it, what followed upon the baptism, and that it so followed, was necessary, as regarded the Person of Jesus, His work, and that which was to result from it.”
–Alfred Edersheim

There are several defining moments in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ that deserve the deepest and most serious consideration. His baptism at the Jordan, His temptation in the wilderness, His transfiguration, His agony in Gethsemane and His sufferings on the cross are the most significant points in Jesus’ earthly ministry. The baptism and temptation are singular in their importance because of the representative character which they portray. In order to fully understand any subsequent act in the life of Christ the central importance of these two inaugural events must first be discerned.

Matthew, Mark and Luke each collectively bear witness to the fact that the wilderness temptation occurred immediately after Jesus was baptized. His baptism was nothing less than identification with those for whom He came to die. John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. Jesus needed no repentance, but He underwent it to show that He was the sin-bearing representative of His people. It was most likely also the Messianic anointing with which His public ministry was inaugurated. This event, for the first time in human history, led to the unfolding of the mystery of the Trinity. There at the Jordan, the Father pronounced his declaration of delight over the Son, as the Spirit descended upon Him. The readers’ mind must reach back to the first manifestation of the Spirit, where, at the creation of the world, He is said to have hovered over the waters that the Father and Son spoke into existence. The declaration of the Father at Jesus’ baptism was meant to carry the Son through His entire ministry, especially through the atoning death He was to endure on the cross. The declaration that Jesus was the Father’s beloved Son, is put both to Jesus and to those who were present at the baptism. Jesus was obeying the Father by undergoing a baptism of repentance–a “repentance” that He alone, of all mankind, did not need. As the representative of His people, Jesus was obeying what His Father had commanded Israel to do, and was therefore well pleasing to Him. He was, in brief, the second Adam doing all that the Father commanded His people to do.


For some reason when I read that, what really just jumped out and grabbed my attention was the statement, “This event, for the first time in human history, led to the unfolding mystery of the Trinity.”  This got me to thinking about something I remember from my college days.  I remember from physics something about sound does not exist in a vacuum.  I looked this up and sure enough, this is what I found:

Why can’t sound travel in the vacuum of space?


Sound travels in waves by making molecules vibrate within the environment they are emitted (water/air). There must be something for molecules to travel through causing the vibrations necessary to stimulate the structures within your ears. Since there are no molecules to vibrate in space, sounds have no way to be transfered from the source of the sound. Even if “sound” could exist in space, we would not be able to “hear” it.

Sound is mechanical energy.

Mechanical energy, generated by whatever means (a vibrating string, a hammer blow, a rock falling into water), travels in a medium. The actual energy is transferred into the medium in order to move away from the source. The medium actually carries the mechanical energy of the sound after it is “put into” that medium. If there is no medium into which to transfer the energy, the sound cannot exist. A string could vibrate in the vacuum of space, and the “source energy” would be there, but the energy would not “go anywhere” because of the lack of a medium.


Now, I’m not a physicist and science was not exactly my strong suit, but I thought that this was very interesting.  Sound cannot exist in a vacuum… there must be some “substance” or “atmosphere” to carry the sound.  Now, the Hebrew word for Spirit is Ruach, which can also mean “wind” or “breath”.  We know, also, that to speak words, we ourselves need not only atmosphere, but air from our very lungs to carry the sound from our throats.  We also need some intelligence, so that the sounds we make with our throats and airways get shaped correctly by our lips and tongues so that instead of just making unintelligible sounds that mean nothing to another person, they carry meaning.  When I form the sounds for “banana” and speak that word aloud, anyone who speaks English at a basic level probably makes several associations with that sound.  One might think of the color yellow, of fruit, the smell and the taste of a banana… that is because the “hearer” of the word has some knowledge of the thing being spoken of, and the abstract term “banana” carries with it a whole set of substantiating ideas and elements of knowledge.  When I say the word “banana” to you and you know what I’m talking about, I am not speaking into a void.  However, if someone were to say “banana” in another language to me, it is very unlikely any of those associations would come to my mind.

Now, I know that is a bit abstract, and I do not intend to get into cognitive theories of language or anything like that.  The main principle I wish to keep in mind here is that there really are three basic units involved in the speaking process, and I mean that independently of the hearing and understanding process.  First, there must be the idea.  This exists before the sound emission.  It is “a priori”.  Second, there must exist the “medium” (or the “substance” or ‘atmosphere” for lack of a better term to my unscientific mind) to carry the sound.  And then, the sound itself.

Gen 1:1  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Gen 1:2  The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Gen 1:3  Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Is this at all reflected in these first three passages of Genesis?  It seems to me that it is.  Now, let us reflect again on the nature of the Trinity regarding the baptism of Christ when the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and the voice spoke from Heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Mr. Batzig said, “This event, for the first time in human history, led to the unfolding mystery of the Trinity.”  I think he is absolutely right, and yet the mystery was present even “In the beginning.”

Now, I think it is also worth noting what John says in the beginning of His gospel.  The first five verses of the gospel of John say this:

Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2  He was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Joh 1:4  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.
Joh 1:5  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Who was this Word?  Who was this Light?  It would be hard to mistake the Apostle here; it is none other than Jesus Christ.  “He was in the beginning with God.”  He was not a created being, but is the very revelation of the mind of God.  We know that God the Father is Spirit, invisible, eternal; and as we study our Bible and our favorite systematic theologies we learn about some of His great communicable (and incommunicable) attributes.  But all of our knowledge of God is but a drop in the ocean, or a grain of sand in the desert.  Anything we know about God is purely a gift of grace… the outworking of the revelation of the Son by the Father through the means of the Holy Spirit.  Without the work of the Spirit, our minds are like a vacuum — the Word is neither heard nor understood.  And without Christ, there is neither Word nor Light to see or comprehend.  God the Father would be completely unknowable were it not for the Triune interaction in revelation.

And implicit in what I just said in that last paragraph is the means of understanding.  For understanding to occur, there must be a means to understand.  When you and I speak, there must be agreement between us on the sounds and syllables and meanings conveyed or no real communication takes place.  If the words that I use or the language that I speak are unintelligible to you, then the lack of knowledgable agreement in the transmission of the message renders the content of the communication as worthless.  If you can understand nothing of which I wish to communicate, then you receive no benefit from the attempt to communicate.  And such, unfortunately, is the state of the unbeliever, in whom the Holy Spirit does not dwell and who is unable to understand (or comprehend) “the Word”.

As Paul states so perfectly in his first epistle to the Corinthians:

1Co 2:1  And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
1Co 2:2  For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
1Co 2:3  I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,
1Co 2:4  and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
1Co 2:5  so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
1Co 2:6   Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;
1Co 2:7  but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
1Co 2:8  the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
1Co 2:10  For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
1Co 2:11  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
1Co 2:12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
1Co 2:13  which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
1Co 2:14   But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
1Co 2:15  But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
1Co 2:16  For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

“The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolish to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”  No one may understand the mind of the Lord; unless the Spirit has opened their eyes and “breathed” new life into them, they are as dead to the things of the Spirit of God as a room full of corpses would be to a Physics lesson no more how gifted the teacher might be.  Yet our Lord Jesus Christ came to give life, to call it forth from death itself, to reveal the mind and the glory of God, to die the death for His chosen and suffer God’s wrath in their place, and to deliver the gift of the Spirit so that those things may be understood.  What a great SAVIOR we have in Christ!  Listen to Him speak as He explains these things to His disciples just before He prays His great prayer on their behalf just prior to His betrayal:

Joh 16:3  “These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.
Joh 16:4  “But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.
Joh 16:5   “But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’
Joh 16:6  “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
Joh 16:7  “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.
Joh 16:8  “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
Joh 16:9  concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
Joh 16:10  and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;
Joh 16:11  and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
Joh 16:12   “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
Joh 16:13  “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
Joh 16:14  “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.
Joh 16:15  “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

If God has granted you the Spirit by which to understand the revelation of His Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, then praise Him and follow Him.  HE is the eternal life.  If, however, the things of the Spirit are confusing to you, and difficult to discern, then seek His mercy.  Cry out to Him and plead with Him for understanding.  Beg for Him to reveal Himself to you through the person of the Son, by the power of the Spirit.  Call out to Christ.

Act 4:8  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people,
Act 4:9  if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,
Act 4:10  let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
Act 4:12  “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

There is no other name under heaven that has been given by which we MUST be saved!



1 Comment

Filed under Devotions, Gospel, Scripture

One response to “Sound in a Vacuum?

  1. Very nice article. I wish all Christian knew Jesus’s identity better, because we read in
    2 Thess.1:
    7. And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
    8. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

    Not knowing Him as who he truely is, and not obeying the gospel as defined by 1 Cor.15:1-4 and Acts 2:38 will be horrible. There are many baptized believers, like Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8), who are not saved…not born again…merely baptized believers!

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