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Right now, the world around you is saying something. You’re being spoken to. Are you listening? If you are, then the world will not seem so cold and impersonal. You won’t feel like a stone rolling along a vacant parking lot, just hoping for the dream of God to be true. Instead, your day will be filled with tangible reminders that God is more real than you know, and that he is the one who is, in fact, speaking to you through every fiber and follicle of creation.
Most of those who know my writing also know how much I love Psalm 19:1-4. The truth that these verses poetically express has gripped my imagination for years. Every time I read these words or hear them spoken, my mind feels like a kite in the wind, its sails full of God’s windy and wondrous revelation. And, as it turns out, one of my favorite theologians seemed bent on it as well.
The Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) put it this way:
In all things there is thought, language, voice and sound and tone comprehensible to humanity. The creation is not simply a text written by the finger of God, and neither is it a silent book. More than that, it is a speech from God to humanity. I know well that we are often unable to decipher that book, with its hieroglyphic script, and that we are often unable to understand that speech. Poets, however, those wide-eyed children of the conscience, understand them and have appropriated that word from Paul: “There are many different voices in the world, and none is without voice.” The poet of Psalm 19 understood them; “the heavens declare God’s glory,” he sings, “day to day pours out speech.” In the whole creation there are no speech or words whose voice is not heard by all humankind. The speech of created things goes on until the end of the world. Everything speaks. Each thing has its own language and voice. The creation, in its entirety, is eloquent; sin is the only dissonance in its song.
Herman Bavinck on Preaching and Preachers, pp. 23-24
It wasn’t just Herman Bavinck, though. Jonathan Edwards saw it, too.
As the system of nature, and the system of revelation, are both divine works, so both are in difference senses a divine word. Both are the voice of God to intelligent creatures, a manifestation and declaration of himself to mankind.
Jonathan Edwards, The Miscellanies: Number 1340
And so have many other theologians throughout church history. But this truth warrants echoing in today’s world, when many people have written off God as dead, at worst, or silenced, at best, by the swells of rationalism and empiricism. (For my readers less familiar with philosophical terminology, that just refers to our focus on logical or data-driven explanations for things.)
Our world is not cold, impersonal, and mute. It speaks. It tells us of God. But we don’t often hear it, not because God isn’t speaking through it but because our spiritual ears are clogged. But every once and a while, our ears “pop” when we read God’s word: the speech of God runs through our ear canals and draws our hands upward in worship. Let me give you an example.
I’ve been taking walks during my lunch break, in a little neighborhood lined by towering trees—sugar maples, red pines, hickories and hemlocks. The deciduous trees, of course, are leafless now. That’s why so many people popularly associate winter with an absence of life, a cold and desolate time of year. But as I walked the streets of the neighborhood yesterday, I thought of how God was speaking to me through the leafless canopies.
Deciduous trees are quiet in the winter. There’s no soft song of hush from the leaves. But the silence brought on by the cold is not so much silence as it is secrecy. A quiet song is still being sung, a song of coming resurrection. The trees are not dead. They are, as it were, sleeping, waiting, standing ready. They are testaments of what will come.
In Psalm 96:12, we read that because the Lord reigns, “all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” They sing. “That’s just a metaphor,” you say. But that doesn’t really answer the question of meaning. What does it mean for trees to sing? For me, it seems that the leafless trees in winter sing a quiet song of coming resurrection, a song of waiting. And as I listen, it builds my anticipation. I’m happy to wait with them, knowing that the promises of God are sure as sunlight. All things will be made new. And I know the one who is going to make them new (Rev. 21:5). I know the one who is waiting with me. The world above me says, “Wait . . . just wait.” And I respond to my God: “Okay. I’ll wait with you.”
My friends, the world that God has made isn’t mute. He made it through speech, and it speaks about him. It reveals both his character (Rom. 1:21) and his reigning work in the world (Ps. 96:12). Christians all need to train themselves to listen. And we do that by meditating on God’s personal speech to us in Scripture. Psalm 96:12 is a fine example.
God is speaking. Right now. All around you. Go and listen.
- Bavinck, Herman. On Preaching and Preachers. Edited and translated by James P. Eglinton. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2017.
- Edwards, Jonathan. “The ‘Miscellanies’: Number 1340.” In Christian Apologetics Past and Present: A Primary Source Reader, vol. 2, From 1500, ed. William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011.
Like what you read? I’ve been fascinated with this biblical truth for years and have written about it recently in the books below. You can download sample chapters of these books HERE. Or, just click on the images below to pick up your own copy on Amazon. Happy reading!