I have always been fascinated that sometimes Jesus wanted to be by Himself, away from the crowds and even His disciples. He was God in the flesh, but He needed to escape the human noise. There are times in my life when I just want silence. There is an island on Saganaga Lake in Ontario where my family built a cabin. I have always loved going there because all you can hear is the wind and the waves.
The December 2020 issue of Scientific American carried an interesting article about human noise. Amazingly, human noise produces seismic vibrations that can be measured by instruments as deep as 400 meters below Earth’s surface. Scientific studies of seismic vibrations in 172 locations worldwide showed that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the volume of human noise fell by 50% in some places. In rural areas, the noise level depression was even lower. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the human noise level fell on Sundays, but it has declined and stayed depressed since the pandemic began. When you add up the noise of trains, buses, planes, and cars, the noise level is very high. It is not enough to cause earthquakes, but it does have other effects.
The big question for science to answer is, What effect noise has on not just humans, but on the world as a whole? Are animals affected by the noise levels we create? How does noise affect a child’s ability to concentrate? Do noise levels affect the concentration and productivity of workers in a factory? Are some forms of mental illness affected or even caused by our exposure to noise?
Noise has a role in the Old Testament. In Joshua 6, we see that noise played a role in the fall of the walls of Jericho. Many passages talk about various noises in a variety of situations. Some passages emphasize the need for quiet. Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God …” After the noise of wind, earthquake, and fire, God spoke to Elijah in a soft whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). In the New Testament, Paul commends the Christians who study “to be quiet, and to do your own business (1 Thessalonians 4:11).”
All of us need to escape the human noise of this world and have a quiet time to focus on God and quietly glorify Him.
— John N. Clayton © 2020