Tuesday, July 20, 2010
We have been getting some much needed rain here in Tennessee in the past week. Even with the humid, hot days, it had been so dry that the yards were drying up after two weeks of no rain. Now that it has rained, you’d never guess that the grass was sickly brown just a week ago. Rain storms here are very different from rain storms back in Illinois. Back home, it can rain for long periods of time, and it doesn’t necessarily thunder and lightning. Here, rain usually comes in the form of a storm, it rains hard and fast, and it is over with quickly. And lately, the lightning has been rather impressive.
Depending on who you ask, people either love lightning or they really dislike it. Lightning is such a powerful and beautiful sight all at the same time. It lights up the sky in streaks, and at night it has almost a fireworks quality. But it is unpredictable and dangerous as well. Did you know that lightning burns up to 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun? That’s a lot of power in one bolt. It is healthy to have a respectful fear of lightning.
I looked up the word lightning in the Bible and I found that it occurs 46 times in the NIV. Almost every instance was in direct reference to God. Thunder and lightning surrounded Mount Sinai when Moses went to get the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19, 20). David composes a song about God scattering his enemies using bolts of lightning like arrows (2 Samuel 22). The story of Job tells about how God controls the lightning and how He scatters it (Job 36-38). Many of the Psalms use lightning to describe the presence of God and His power, such as the power of His voice (Psalms 18, 29, 97). Many of the prophets talk about lightning as well: God’s power over it, in description of his glory, and His vengeance against His enemies.
Jesus talks about lightning in the Gospels in reference to His second coming (Matthew 24:27). When Jesus’ appearance changed at the Transfiguration, and when He appeared in glory after His resurrection, the disciples described His face and clothes as being bright as a flash of lightning (Matthew 28, Luke 9). Just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, two men appeared with Him who also had the bright appearance of lightning (Luke 24). And in the book of Revelation, thunder and lightning are described as events take place in heaven as the new Kingdom is ushered in (Revelation 8 ,11, 16).
It is no wonder that we sometimes fear lightning. God uses it as reminders of His power and glory. He uses it around His throne. It even describes His appearance and voice.
In Luke 10:18, Jesus explains that He saw Satan fall from Heaven like a flash of lightning. This is the one instance that we do not see lightning associated with God. Here we see it in reference to Satan, who was at one time Lucifer – one of the most beautiful creatures in Heaven. But because of his betrayal, he was cast out, along with the angels that followed him (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28).
So we see that every instance of lightning in the Bible talks about power and God’s authority. I think it’s fabulous that God chooses to remind us of His power in a storm. Usually in those same storms we also are reminded of God’s faithfulness and promises in the forms of rainbows.
Just last night, in the midst of a rather noisy storm, I looked outside and saw a most perfect arched rainbow stretching above the trees, set against the dark storm clouds as the thunder rolled. Thank you God for being all-powerful, as well as faithful and true to your promises.