Friday, September 6, 2019

Acoustic Shadows

   During the Civil War, commanders communicated orders to their troops by various means: oral commands, dispatches carried by couriers on horseback, and the sounding of different bugle calls.  It was common for armies to be spread out over large distances and timely communication between these separated units was crucial to an army's success.  Military commanders needed to make decisions based on the current situation surrounding them.  One indicator of battlefield conditions was the very sounds of the battle itself.  The roar of cannons or musket fire, helped tell a commander where an attack was taking place, and was often used as the signal for his unit to join in a predetermined, coordinated attack.  Sounds from the battle field could alert an opposing army to the fact that the enemy was now on the move, even before they could be physically seen. 

 A strange phenomenon has been recorded during several battles of the Civil War.  The phenomenon is called an "Acoustic Shadow."  Sometimes referred to as a 'Silent Battle', where sound is unheard by those close by, but can be heard a very far distance away from the source.  When an Acoustic Shadow occurs, it hides the sounds of a battlefield from being heard, therefore communication has been lost and dire consequences may follow.  Timely responses by leadership is often the difference between victory or defeat. Battles where this Acoustic Shadow phenomenon occurred were: the battles of Fort Donelson, the Five Forks, Perryville, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.  In the case of Gettysburg, the cannon blasts were heard by people as far away as Pittsburgh, over one hundred and fifty miles away, yet was not heard by troops less than two miles from the fighting.

So what causes this randomly weird acoustic event?   Sound Engineers have since discovered, when there are unique combinations of wind, weather, temperature, forests, and topography (hills and valleys), sound waves skip silently over those low lying areas.  The battle can be raging, cannons booming, muskets firing, thousands of men shouting, yet there is a peaceful quiet just over in the next valley.

 These 'Acoustic Shadows' or 'Silent Battles' are not just the domain of the battlegrounds of earth.  They are also experienced in the invisible battlegrounds of the Kingdom of God.  In his Epistle to the church at Ephesus, Paul describes the forces of the Kingdom of Darkness in military like language.  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12
It is of the utmost importance that we stay aware of the Enemy's movements in the World today. "So no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not to be ignorant of his schemes." 
2 Corinthians 2:11

So how do we keep out of those 'Acoustic Shadows'?  How do we stay aware and alert to the enemy's movements?  As we have learned, those acoustic deaf spots were caused by obstacles blocking the sound.  Could it be possible that we have allowed obstacles like: sin, bitterness, unforgiveness, unhealthy habits and influences to blind us, even deafen us to the deceptive schemes of the devil?   We need to remove those things that block us from seeing the Enemy's subtle movements.  How do we stay alert to God's bugle call, so we can move with the battle plan of God?   When He calls us to move it is hard to hear Him when we are deep in the valley of worldly confusion.  Some of the more prudent Civil War commanders stationed watchmen on the high ridges to survey the enemy below.  Therefore, when the enemy moved to attack, the commander was quickly made aware by these lookouts, and took action.

The Word of God is our watchman on the mountain.  Scripture speaks exhortation and warning to God's people, even when we find ourselves in those deceptively silent valleys.  When we spend disciplined time in the Word of God, it is like setting a watchman over our souls. "For thus has the Lord God said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees." Isaiah 21:6

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