On a certain thundering, rainy day, a mom went to pick her six-year-old son from school thinking that he would be afraid of the lightning. But she found him smiling at the sky for every flash of lightning. She asked, “Why are you smiling, aren’t you afraid?” Her son answered, “God is taking pictures of me and I need to look good.”
The story is cute, but what do lightning bolts and thunder peals represent?
The Bible has plenty to say about these beginning as early as the book of Exodus. But first, let’s see what causes lightning and thunder.
When a cloud builds up, it creates many small bits of ice (frozen raindrops) that circulate and bump into each other. These collisions create an electric charge. The positive charges (protons) form at the top of the cloud and the negative (electrons) form at the bottom of a cloud, creating an atmosphere that is unbalanced and unstable.
Since opposites attract, it causes a positive charge to build up on the ground beneath the cloud.Thus, to rectify the imbalance, lightning is produced. The lightning seeks the shortest route to something that has a positive charge–such as a tree or a tall building.
Lightning strikes last only a few microseconds, and it can contain millions of volts. The average temperature of lightning is 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Did you know that the longest bolt of lightning across the U.S. sky was 199 miles long? I just heard that today during a weather forecast!
I heard many years ago that the first bolt of lightning goes from ground to cloud (which we do not see), and it triggers the responding bolt from cloud to ground (which we do see).
When a bolt of lightning strikes from cloud to ground, it opens up a channel in the air. When that air channel collapses back, it creates a sound that we hear as thunder.
Lightning can even occur during volcanic eruptions, dust storms, snow storms, forest fires, tornadoes – or when God shows up.
Let me explain how lightning occurs when God shows up:
In the Bible, God’s presence and glory are marked by:
- Trumpet sounds; and
The first mention of lightning and thunder is in Exodus 9:23. During one of the Egyptian plagues, God sent thunder, hail, and fire which darted to the ground (which would be lightning). But in Exodus 19:16, God showed up in a thick cloud with “thunderings and lightnings,” plus a loud trumpet sound.
God descended on Mount Sinai, and it was completely engulfed in smoke. The whole mountain quaked greatly. Then, Moses spoke, and God answered him audibly.
But you know what? The Israelites’ response was one of fear, not faith. The Bible says, “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off” (Exodus 20:18).
The children of Israel experienced the glory of God with their senses.
They saw lightnings, a thick cloud, smoke, and fire. They heard thunderings, a loud trumpet, and the voice of God Himself. And they felt the whole mountain shake and quake. All those things should have inspired a holy fear of the Lord! This phenomenal display of glory should have motivated a desire to obey and honor God.
Sadly, however, the children of Israel had a fear–but not a reverence.
Thus, they would soon turn away from the Lord to serve other gods. BUT MOSES, on the other hand, DREW NEAR.
The last book in the Bible–the book of Revelation–also contains descriptions of how this holy energy of God manifests in lightnings and thunders. Revelation 4:4 says that, all around the throne proceeded “lightnings, thunderings, and voices.” When John saw an angel take a censer, fill it with fire from the altar, and throw it down to earth, it also produced “noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:5).
Then, John was given an open vision of the temple in heaven and the ark of the Covenant surrounded by “lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail” (Revelation 11:19). Finally, John was shown the seventh and final angel, pouring out his bowl with the plagues of the wrath of God. He said, “It is done!”
Then, the Bible says, “And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings, and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth” (Revelation 16:18).
How do we respond to all these manifestations of God’s holy energy, as shown in Scripture?
Are we fearful? Or, do we draw near like Moses? I believe the best response is the one John gave wrote in Revelation 5:13: “And every creature which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever!’” INDEED!
I want to worship at God’s throne. I want to draw near.
I want my prayers to be answered, too. So, I must ask, “What is the content of our prayers?” Are they just a rote of memory–a ritual with just mechanics–or are they real, heartfelt, and filled with meaning? Selah! Think about that!
James 5:16 says that the effectual (energetic), fervent (with passion) prayer of a righteous person avails much. The Bible also says that the prayers of the saints are rising like incense and being poured out of bowls in heaven (Revelation 5:8).
Picture those prayers rising up in the context of what I said above about the science of thunder and lightning.
God is all powerful and full of energy (positive), but sometimes we have needs in life (negative). So, our prayers rise, like incense which represents the first lightning strike going up. Then, the responding flash is when God answers our prayer from heaven to earth. WHOA!
Also, in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus asked for God’s will to be done on earth (negative charge) as it is in heaven (positive charge). Again, that shows the negative charge of our needs on earth “priming the pump,” so to speak, of God’s positive charge–His power, provision, and supply. All in response to our prayers!
So, saints, we need to pray. Our prayers have energy.
I’m not talking about New Age theories. Our prayers simply create an atmospheric condition in the Spirit realm which is conducive to receiving answers from heaven. If we pray, the Lord might just get rid our problems (negatives) as quick as lightning. We actually see Him doing so in the Bible; Jesus said He saw Satan fall “like lightning” – that fast.
Our God is full of creative energy, and He longs to bless His children.
But, like Moses, we have to draw near to God. Moses was so close to God’s glory that his face shone. The Hebrew word for shone is “qaran”, which means to shine or send out rays. Finis Dake says that God’s glory (which Moses encountered) “seems to indicate that the glory of God in Moses’ face was like rays or darts of lightning shooting forth” (notes on Exodus 34:29, p. 106). Wow!
Paul also referred to this. Furthermore, he said that God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Then he said, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). So, “let us draw near with a true heart” (Hebrews 10:22).
There is one more atmospheric condition in heaven which is important to this study.
The Bible says, “Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal” (Revelation 4:6). Does this come as a shock? In the midst of something like volcanic eruptions, and despite all the energy occurring around the throne, there is PEACE. The conditions that were so frightening to the children of Israel–and so startling to John–are offset in the throne room of Heaven by a calm, serene sea of water.
What does this mean? It means that the energy of God around the throne is not out of control. In other words, God has everything under control. And in the backdrop and around the throne is the sign of God’s eternal promise: the rainbow (Revelation 4:3). It’s His COVENANT promise!
Friend, God is holy. He is not slack concerning His promises!
Draw near to Him today. Don’t be afraid to enter the real Holy of Holies. Let us come with clean hands and pure hearts before a holy God. We are welcome there, and we can come assuredly without being wary of all the high energy, noise, and motion. We can come often, unlike the High Priest who could only enter one time a year.
The throne room of God is open to us, and the Spirit and the bride are beckoning us to COME! (Revelation 22:17). Will you respond today? Will you go boldly before the throne of grace? Leave a comment below!