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The Walls of Brokenness

Many of us were familiar with the film critic duo Siskel and Ebert. Gene Siskel died in 1999. Then, in 2006, Robert Ebert lost his lower jaw and his voice to complications from cancer. He had to rely on Post-it notes, some of his writings, and various automated voices much like Alexa and Siri. He typed in the words and then pushed a button that translated his written words into spoken words that came out of speakers.


One voice was called Alex. A generic American accent with no emotion. Very robotic. He had used a British accent named Lawrence. But no off-the-shelf automated voice matched his distinctive voice, a voice that millions knew from his show, At the Movies, for so many years. The voice he most wanted was his own.  Enter CereProc. A Scottish company that customizes text-to-speech software for voiceless customers. robot. The company custom-built voices by mining an individual’s own archived voice recordings and piecing together, syllable by syllable, in this case it was Ebert’s voice. Ebert sounded more like Ebert. At least more so than Alex or Lawrence.


Sometimes we don’t miss a voice until it goes silent. At the end of the Old Testament there is a period of 400 years often referred to as “the silent years.” Years without any prophets or leaders whose words or lives were recorded in Scripture. Years where there was no voice from God. But before the silence Ezra read the word of God to the people.  His desire was that they rebuild the wall around Jerusalem for protection. And God’s greater desire was to rebuild the hearts of his people. The men, women and children gathered together. They heard the word. They understood the word. And then they followed the word. 

After realizing that the silence of God was due to their lack of reading and understanding of God’s Word (Nehemiah 8:1-2) Ezra prayed, “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day.” (Ezra 9:6-7) They were ignoring the voice of God. They had neglected to follow His will. Therefore, they were suffering the consequences of their sin. 


You can hear God’s voice in the same way these people did. Through His word (II Timothy 3:16-17). It’s not Alex’s voice. It’s not Lawrence’s voice. It’s His voice. When you hear it there will be a response. The Israelites wept. Others have repented. Still others have heard good news and rejoiced. And you? If you hear it today, it can rebuild your life. Ebert’s real voice may never be heard again. But God’s is still speaking today. He speaks to us through His word. You only need to gather the men, women, and children, open his book, and listen.  Have a great week!

You are loved.

Ray Reynolds, PhD

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