I have long been enamored of the power and beauty of the disembodied voice. It is striking in its effectiveness. It is almost ethereal in its texture. And it offers clarity if one’s powers of articulation are given proper expression.
One can think back to the 2nd World War when American newsmen broadcast from the European theatre of war, being heard in almost every home across the American continent. Men and women in their 70s will remember being riveted to the radio as children as they listened to their favorite radio shows. And, perhaps speaking for myself, there has long been discerned a power of personality by way of the disembodied voice over the radio airwaves, with familiar voices of distinction affording great comfort and even light amidst difficult or, in the least, challenging times. The commanding and affectionate presence of disc jockeys and radio talk hosts has proven to be quite impressive and endearing to many.
Consider the power of the Word of God. We read of God’s creating movement: “By the Lord’s decree the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all the starry hosts … He spoke, and it came into existence. He issued the decree, and it stood firm” (Psalm 33:6,9 NET). What power! What fullness of expression and execution! What transformative effect, whereby where there was simply absolutely nothing, there was now egregiously and especially something, something tactile and palpable, something so very special that it defies all human understanding as to its originating processes!
There is another compelling text of Scripture, this time of prophetic strain, to serve in complement to the poetic, wisdom-oriented writings of the Old Testament, applying the beauty of natural imagery with the pungency of theological proposition and existential endeavor:
“My plans are not like your plans, and my deeds are not like your deeds,” says the Lord. “for just as the sky is higher than the earth, so my deeds are superior to your deeds and my plans superior to your plans. The rain and snowfall from the sky and do not return, but instead water the earth and make it produce and yield crops, and provide seed for the planter and food for those who must eat. In the same way, the promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend” (Isaiah 55:8-12 NET).
Higher in nature, yielding constructive product and attaining to God’s purpose; such is the nature of God’s Word as it is spoken. It is sublime, fruitful, and integral to God, both His character and His will. It is never a mere abstraction, nor is it content to simply offer mere theological propositions or bits of “religious” narrative.
The Word speaks to the heart. It beckons to the reader or hearer. It calls out across time and space, entering time from eternity. It transforms. It endeavors to be embodied by its followers. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16 NET).
Radio talk host Chris Stigall, our Reader of Paul’s Letter to the Romans, has spoken over his broadcast of the novel and the positive effect of reading aloud the Scriptures. Composer and former classical host Kile Smith, our Reader of the Book of Revelation, speaks of the transformative power of his life of reading aloud God’s Word.
I can attest to its extraordinary power, having both read and read-aloud God’s Word over many years. It gets into the interiority of one’s heart and mind. It is effectively inclined to assuming sovereignty over one’s life that is, if abrasive to one’s carnal nature, salutary to one’s overall life. And it yearns and labors, like a nubile kitten wrestling its way out of one’s embrace, to be made known through its disciples, by way of spoken word and manifested deed.
I hope, pray and very much trust that you will take time to listen to each of the Bible books as we upload them onto voicesofphiladelphia.org. I promise you that your encounter with the Holy Bible will prove to be of deep and abiding benefit to your welfare, as listening to these very fine and faithful voices will prove pleasurable.
The process of recording, editing, and uploading will play out over this year and undoubtedly into the next, while the process of God’s Word taking root in one’s life
will play out over the course of a lifetime.
Enjoy, be edified and ennobled, and be blessed! May Voices of Philadelphia and, through it, your encounter with the Bible, be all to the glory of the biblical Author, who is the Lord God Almighty, made most real through the Word made flesh who is Jesus, by way of the beneficent working of the Holy Spirit, the very One who came upon the earthly authors to manufacture God’s life-giving, life-transformative Word.
Bradley E. Lacey
President, Philadelphia Bible Society
Pastor, First Baptist Church at Conshohocken (PA)
Host, The Great Message on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT