This past week we had severe storms rage through the Southeast. Pounding rains with strong winds (which made the falling rain descend on us horizontally, or at least it appeared so) pummeled the buildings and vegetation. There were a number of tornadoes throughout the region and many were dramatically adversely affected by such severe weather.
I had been out in the thick of it as I picked my grandson up from school. We drove back through rain but it seemed to be slacking a bit and we commented on how the storm appeared to have finally passed along. The sky confirmed our suspicions insofar as the dark heavy clouds had dissipated and there was even some hint of blue overhead.
So, with relief surging through our veins, we entered the house and I proposed that we celebrate his day with a slice of freshly made bread that had come out of the bread machine just before I left to get him from school. His face lit up in positive glee when …
A SIMULTANEOUS FLASH/BOOM
I literally jumped back and he lunged and wrapped his arms around me, plastering us together in an embrace that was based on our mutual thought “What was that?”
He answered the unspoken question first saying “Grammy, there was a jet engine in our kitchen!”
I responded that it sounded like a jet engine but it was lightning that hit something very, very close. Then I smelled an unmistakable ozone smell and I realized that the house had taken a direct hit by lightning.
While many hours and days have been taken up by the effect of the lightning strike, damage to the house was minimal and there was no personal injury. Inconvenience is irrelevant when we consider the possible ramifications of the storm, lightning, wind and tumult that may have occurred.
In short, we have praised the Lord for protecting us throughout the whole event.
The strike, however, did prompt me to look into Scripture to see what God has said about lightning. The reality is that lightning is often referred to, almost always in God showing us His power and/or His presence. While I am not citing all of the references, here are some of the ones that I found especially descriptive.
“Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off”
Exodus 20:18 ESV
God spoke to the people of Israel while they were in the wilderness of Sinai. God called to Moses from the mountain and, when Moses approached the mountain, God express His Law, the Ten Commandments. The people, however, were afraid at the sight of the mountain when God was there. Lightning was pivotal in expressing the power of God to His people.
One of Job’s friends, Elihu, made this argument to Job, underscoring God’s power and His inexpressible works:
“Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?”
Job 37:14-15 ESV
Then we have the vision of God that Ezekiel records in Ezekiel 1:1 and following. I will not cite all of the chapter, but some pertinent verses are:
“In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Chebar canal, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. … As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal. And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, … And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.”
Ezekiel 1:1, 4-5, 12-14 ESV
There are many more references to lightning in the Old Testament, but I want to look at the New Testament where we find the term in a new light (pun intended):
“His appearance was like lightning, and His clothing white as snow.”
Matthew 28:3 ESV
This, of course, is describing the appearance of Jesus at the time He was transfigured before three of His disciples. This occurred very shortly before He was arrested and crucified. His glorified appearance was so bright that it, in itself, was blinding, like lightning.
Then, another of the Gospel writers says this about lightning:
“For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.”
Luke 17:24 ESV
When the Lord Jesus Christ, also known as the Son of Man, returns in judgment, it will be sudden, like lightning. And, like lightning, it will be unmistakable.
Lightning is evidence of the power of the Creator God and it is undeniable in its mission. Just as mankind cannot stop lightning’s travel, mankind will not be able to stop the Son of Man returning to claim His people.
For the believer, lightning reflects a marvelous promise coupled with sense of expectation and wonder.
For an unbeliever, lightning represents judgment with unchangeable consequences.
Now is the day of salvation!
“For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.“
2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV
Father, I praise Your name in thankfulness for protection from the storm. For those who do not know You, I pray that Your Spirit would convict them of sin and draw them into Your arms, through Jesus Christ our Lord.