The Bible contains many metaphors, literary devices that work as word pictures and increase our understanding of the Creator and His creation. Many of them are meant only as metaphors...no one really believes that a man can have a heart of stone, for instance. Stone is the word picture that helps us understand just how hard, cold and dead the human heart is without the life-giving touch of grace.
But when we look at every word picture in Scripture as no more than a metaphor, we may be missing truths that God has meant us to experience in the natural world.
Yesterday I ran across this story:
Astronomers at the University of Sheffield have managed to record for the first time the eerie musical harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun.
They found that huge magnetic loops that have been observed coiling away from the outer layer of the sun's atmosphere, known as coronal loops, vibrate like strings on a musical instrument.
In other cases they behave more like soundwaves as they travel through a wind instrument.
Using satellite images of these loops, which can be over 60,000 miles long, the scientists were able to recreate the sound by turning the visible vibrations into noises and speeding up the frequency so it is audible to the human ear.
Professor Robertus von Fáy-Siebenbürgen, head of the solar physics research group at Sheffield University, said: "It was strangely beautiful and exciting to hear these noises for the first time from such a large and powerful source.
While this may be a surprising finding, it should be totally believable to those familiar with the Psalmist's words:
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
(Psalm 148:2-4, NIV)
Why shouldn't this praise be literal music? We praise God with music, so why shouldn't we assume that the heavens could have been created to praise Him with music as well? And yet, for thousands of years, it's been heard by no one but the Creator and maybe His angels, just as all the brilliant colors in the deepest, darkest part of the sea have been visible only to His eyes until recently. He's now allowing us to hear the music of the heavens, but He created it for His own pleasure and is just now inviting us to share in His enjoyment!
It makes me wonder how many of the metaphors of the Bible (trees of the fields clapping their hands, heavens being glad, etc.) are also part of the natural order that we're just not aware of yet. What an opportunity it is for Christian astronomers, biologists, chemists, geologists to look for manifestations of God's voice and character in the arenas they study and to make them known to the world!