When The Spoken Word Extinguishes Fire

Title slideThe idea that sound waves could be used to extinguish a fire has been theoretically toyed with over the past decade. The goal of such a process would be to minimize the mess that water, powder, foam and chemicals currently leave behind when dousing an out of control flame. Two computer engineering majors at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia appear to have developed a prototype extinguisher that has transformed this theory into reality. (Click here)

The science behind the technology is the way sound waves displace oxygen as they move through physical space. Essentially, if you can displace the oxygen long enough you will suffocate a fire, thus extinguishing it. After experimenting with various frequencies, the pair discovered that a higher frequency sound caused the flames to vibrate while the lower frequencies (30 to 60 hertz) seemed to effectively keep the oxygen from the flames long enough to suffocate them all together. As a minister, who appreciates and respects the science lab, I think this is really cool. However, as that minister, I also see this being sermon material. The idea of sound waves having dominion over flames isn’t much different than our personal theologies of God, Salvation, and Missions.

  1. Sound, Fire, and our Theology of God: God is all-powerful, (omnipotent) and by the sound of his voice the universe was created. For 6 days, the sound waves of God echoed through the void creating, filling, and sustaining the universe. John 1:1 mirror Genesis saying, “In the beginning, was The Word“. The word of God began it all and has a power and a dominion over the fullness of creation. What is your theology of God? Do you allow the idols of this world to consume you or are you living within the frequencies of the all powerful voice of God?
  2. Sound, Fire, and our Theology of Salvation: The stock images of Hell are often founded upon verses describing it as “a fiery lake of burning sulphur” (Revelations 21:8) or a “fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50). Although these images may vary when blended with our imagination, the word of God is quite clear that the suffering and punishment of this “fire” (Jude 1:7) “never goes out” (Mark 9:43). So how can one be saved from such destruction, how can one be saved from such a fiery dominion? Through Jesus! 7 cries were heard from the cross that fateful day of Jesus’ crucifixion from the sound of “Father forgive them” to “It is finished” Jesus would pave the way to eternal salvation, but it is only by him and through him. Jesus’ words to Peter, after his death, burial, and resurrection, teach us that even the “gates of hell” will not “prevail” over his church (Matthew 16:18).
  3. Sound, Fire, and our Theology of Missions: “14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! 16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.” (Romans 10:14-16)… How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news. Perhaps C.T. Studd said it best, “Some people want to live within the sound of [church] bells, but I want to run a mission, a yard from the gates of Hell”. Because we know of the power of God’s voice and because we know of the power of Salvation, we ought to have a fervor and longing to bear the good news of Christ!
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