Thunder And Lightning
May 31, 2019
There are a lot of people who say they will do something, but fail to get it done. These people might have good intentions and priorities to do the things they say, but the unpredictable variables of life often prohibit people from getting things done. People make both simple and complex promises that often go unfulfilled. Sometimes these things can be as simple as New Year’s resolutions, which often go unfulfilled within just a few weeks. Sometimes these promises are grander in scale, made by men in women with governing influence over nations. Things that people say as candidates for leadership often go unfulfilled once they get into office. The cause of this doesn’t really matter. The point is, as people, we are often speaking well beyond our means. We are often saying we’re going to do things that won’t ever happen. Thus, it is almost a miraculous thing when we are able to actually get something done that we said we would, resolved to do, and produced the results that were anticipated.
If it is so hard to do simple things we say we will do, how amazing is it that God does EVERYTHING that He says? The Word of God is perfect and sure. God commands that we trust in Him based on the proclamation of His Word because He has proved His integrity. When God said that He would flood the planet in the days of Noah, He did. The understanding and faith of the people was not a prerequisite for God to do what He said. God did what He said despite the people not believing or understanding. When God said He would provide Abraham a son, He did. It didn’t matter that Abraham was an old man, past the age of physical ability. It didn’t matter that God took twenty-five years to fulfill His promise. God did what He said. When God promised to deliver the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt, He did. When God promised to provide victory over Sihon and Og, He did. When God promised to judge Israel’s disobedience with the Assyrians and Babylonians, He did. When God promised to come into the world as flesh to fulfill His standards of righteousness, He did. When God promised to offer forgiveness of sins through His own atoning sacrifice as the Lamb of God, He did.
Whether the promise was big or small, simple or complex, physical or eternal, God has continually done everything He has said. He doesn’t always do so right away. In fact, we are still waiting for the fulfillment of some of God’s Word, but His track record proves that His Word is guaranteed, no matter the circumstances or how much time has passed! That makes the Word and works of God transcendent beyond comprehension. No one else can talk like God and work like God. No one can say what God says, guarantee as God guarantees, or work like God works. In Job 37:1-5 the Bible shows that Elihu sought to remind Job about this basic truth. If God’s works are so profound based on the declarations of His Word, then why should we despise our circumstances knowing that such a great and glorious God is in charge of all things, and promised to serve our eternal benefit?
The testimony of Job 37:1-5 shows an interesting transition in Elihu’s speech. Elihu had mostly been reminding Job about God’s attributes and greatness. However, in Job 37:1-5, Elihu changed his tone. He still talked about God’s greatness, but specifically spoke about the power of God’s Word and works compared to thunder and lightning. The phrasing of Job 37:1-5 makes it seem as if Elihu used thunder and lightning as his example because there might have been a loud thunder clap at the moment that he was speaking. When Elihu spoke of thunder as a comparison to God’s Word, he used the present tense to explain how his heart was trembling over the power and sound of thunder as if it had just sounded. He explained that thunder made his heart leap from its place, maybe at that moment. Thunder is startling. Though we can guess the general time it might come, often the suddenness, volume, and power of the sound can cause us to tremble a bit, recognizing that something far greater than human ability has just transpired. Elihu spoke about the thunder as if it happened in the moment, and since God appeared in Chapter 38 of Job to speak directly to Job, it is quite possible and plausible that Elihu spoke of thunder to exemplify God’s power, because God Himself was using thunder to exemplify His own greatness at that moment!
Elihu described the rumbling of the thunder, that its low-frequency growl comes from God’s own mouth. The original Hebrew language uses the word “rumble” also to describe the roar of a lion. Thus, this “rumble” is not a weak movement of sound, but a powerful one. As a lion growls then roars to express the dominance of his power, God does the same. A lion’s roar is able to fill the area in which the lion is. However, you won’t hear the roar of a lion in city streets or other parts of the world. A lion dwells only in certain areas, and so his roar is limited to those areas. The same is not so with thunder. Thunder happens all over the earth. Elihu marveled at the nature of thunder with God as the source. Though thunder doesn’t happen everywhere at once, it does happen everywhere. Some places have thunder more frequently than others, but thunder rumbles across the whole planet. If God is the source, and thunder rolls everywhere, then it is a testament to God’s power being able to stretch across the whole globe. Since thunder comes out of His mouth, thunder serves to be evidence of the power of God’s Word and the reach that it has all over the world.
Elihu recognized that thunder is usually accompanied with lightning. While God is able to get our attention with the things that we hear by thunder, He is also able to get our attention with the things that we see through lightening. Like thunder, lightning strikes all over the earth. It is amazing to see how simple streaks of light can illuminate so brightly, especially in the midst of the darkness of a storm. Lightning comes with power as well. Many people have died from lightning strikes. Many fires have been started and properties ruined on account of lightning strikes. This shows that the work of God’s hands is not just sufficient to illuminate the darkest of storms but also destroy in a quick moment. Like thunder, lightning strikes suddenly. It seems random and unpredictable, but God is the cause of it and makes it hit when and where He desires. Can the works of men and women compare to this?
Since the Word of God precedes the works of God, Elihu reminded Job about the majestic nature of God’s Word. When people speak, there is no comparison to God’s Word. Some words of people might scare others with threats. However, do the words of people make the heart jump like thunder? Do the words of people come with the transcendent power that thunder does? Do the words of people last like thunder does since thunder has rumbled across the world since the beginning? The sound of thunder comes from above, and yet the source of that sound is even higher. God’s Word is majestic in this way – highly exalted and elevated above all things. The extent of God’s elevated power was proved in the testimony of 1 Samuel 7:10. There, God aided Samuel in battle against the Philistines. He spoke and the clouds thundered to an extent that the Philistines were terrified, confused in their communication, scattered in their confusion, and overcome by the persistent volume until they were destroyed by the Israelites.
This shows that, while God can speak with a still and small voice, He is more likely to speak with power that can confuse the mind, stop the heart, and bring a quality of power that is too much to handle. When the Philistines heard the thunderous voice of God, the volume was too much to bear that it confused their thinking. When the Apostle John heard the sound of God’s throne in the Book of Revelation, he described a sound that was deafening. In other words, God has restrained the glory of His Word so that we can receive it, but its full power is sufficient to pop the eardrums of all people, causing more dire effects if He wants. God will send thunder into the world to give us startling reminders that He is still around, His Word is still powerful, and His promises are still sure.
Elihu told Job that God thunders marvelously with His voice, doing great things that we can’t even understand. The testimony of Jeremiah 25:30 explains that God’s judgments come through the roar of His mouth. Can we really know what that even means? When Jesus comes in the 2nd Coming to rid of sin, corruption, the anti-Christ and world army that formed against His people, He will come with a sword that proceeds from His mouth and destroy this massive army with the proclamation of His Word. How does that work? Who can do this? Can we even imagine what that might be like; that the Word of God being expressed through the glory of Jesus is sufficient to kill a massive army so that their blood makes His white robe drip red, and rise up to the bridles of horses? Indeed, the power and sureness of God’s Word is too much to understand. It is scary to know what God can do if He merely speaks. He spoke and the universe was formed in six days! When He returns, He will speak again, and the world will never be the same. If the suddenness of thunder and lightning seem frightening and marvelous to us, how much more should we fear and marvel over the God from which thunder and lightning come? Rather than complain about how hard life can be, we should be glad that such a powerful and amazing God is on our side if we confess our sins and trust in His righteousness!