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Electricity Through the Spectacles of Scripture

When we use electricity we are using something that is foundational to everything earthly that God has created. Electricity is the flow of electrons. Electrons are minute particles that whiz around the nucleus of each atom like planets around the sun. These electrons have a negative charge which is attracted to the positive charge of the protons in the nucleus. This force of attraction between the positive and negative forces can be thought of as the glue that holds the atoms together.

Man first witnessed the great power of these positive and negative electrical charges when the first terrifying bolts of lightning arced across the sky and split trees and rocks during the upheaval of the Flood. God reveals His wrath against sin and wickedness in the lightning. We read in Nahum 1:6 “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.” Yet this manifestation of His power is understood by the righteous as the power to save and deliver as we read in the song of David after God delivered him from Saul. He sang, “And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them” (II Samuel 22:15).

Throughout most of the history of the world, man has known very little about the electrons that surround him and fill his very body. Many discoveries and inventions were made even before the time of the Flood. Many more discoveries about the elements and characteristics of this world and inventions were made since the Flood. God has created the earth and He has filled it with wonders. We read in Psalm 104:24, “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.” Because man has fallen into sin, all these wonders that he discovers he attributes to his own wisdom and refuses to give God all the glory. In this the day of the Lord, man has discovered how to harness this great foundational power and, like never before, he has used it to develop in wickedness.

We must not forget, however, that electricity is a good gift of God. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (I Timothy 4:4). Though man uses it sinfully, God turns all these things to serve His purposes. It is our desire as believers to look at these wonders ourselves that we may give God the glory and use them in His service.

Let us look a bit at how electricity was discovered. As believers, when we look at the discoveries of electricity and its uses, we must put the emphasis on God making known this work of His hands rather than put the emphasis on the men making discoveries.

The Greeks at the time of Christ were some of the first to record observations of static electricity. They noticed the small blue discharges of static electricity when pieces of amber were rubbed with fur. I remember well the fascination I had with static electricity as a young boy. I would stand for hours in a pitch-dark room rubbing my pajamas in my hair and watching the light blue flashes of static.

Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706. He is best known for his experiments with kites and lightning. He came to the conclusion that the bolts of lighting in the sky were the same as little flashes of static electricity generated by friction only on a much larger scale.

In 1745, E. J. von Kleist and Pieter van Musschen-broek discovered a way to store electrical charges in something called a Leyden jar. The Leyden jar was simply a jar wrapped with a thin metal on the outside and a separate layer on the inside. The attracting positive and negative electrical charge was held apart by the glass separating the metal.

In 1800, Alessandro Volta discovered how to use chemicals to push electrons through a conductor, thus inventing one of the first batteries. This discovery of making electrons flow through a conductor in contrast to the static electricity that remained fixed until instantly discharged led to the discovery in 1821, by Michael Faraday that electricity flowing through a wire produced a magnetic field. In that connection he also discovered that a wire moving through the magnetic field of a magnet would cause the electrons to flow in the wire, thus inventing the first generator.

Through the spectacles of Scripture, the believer sees in such a discovery a great wonder of God’s creation. Move a magnet along a circular piece of metal and you can make the very glue of the creation surge and move like a river through the metal! God soon made known the usefulness and power of this amazing feature of the creation to Samuel Morse. Mr. Morse put together a long circuit of wire. On his end he put a simple switch. On the other end he wound some wire around an iron bar. When he turned on the switch the electrical current produced a magnetic field in the iron bar. The magnetic field, in turn, pulled down a pen which put marks on a piece of paper. Thus the first telegraph was invented. (“tele” is the Greek root for “far off, and “graph” is the Greek root for “writing.”) Electricity had the power to enable one to write something to someone else from a distance. By 1843, Morse with some friends strung wire from Washington to Baltimore and sent the following message from the Supreme Court “What hath God wrought?” These principles of using electricity were then enhanced by Alexander Graham Bell, when he invented the telephone in 1876. By the 1890’s, Thomas Edison’s light bulbs were trying to chase away the night in entire cities.

The next great leap took place about 100 years ago when Wilhelm Rontgen discovered how to use electricity to produce X-rays, and Guglielmo Marconi discovered that an electrical spark produced a wave of energy that traveled through space. Since then man has quickly discovered ways to use radio waves to carry sounds and pictures almost instantaneously around the globe. The invention of the computer employs electrons today for the storage and transmission of vast amounts of information.

Today man revels in the awesome control he has over the electrons. The electron has become his servant. As we consider all that can be done with electricity, we must be mindful that God has created the electrons. He providentially upholds the properties and forces of the electron and has the power to turn the world upside-down if He wills. We must remember also that we and all that we discover are but creatures of God. “The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works” (Psalm 104:31). We also must understand that the church is the kernels of wheat and everything else in this world is the chaff which is used until the harvest for the service of the wheat kernels. We can use all the inventions of this world as we serve God on this earth, but we must remember that it will all be burned up once the harvest comes.