4:5 “Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
a primitive root; to be luminous (literally and metaphorically):—x break of day, glorious, kindle, light, set on fire, shine.
You ever see a good lighting storm? In the natural it illuminates the entire night sky. You can’t miss a flash of lightning; it captures the attention of your eyes. It often instills a sense of awe and wonder.
In the Old Testament we see often see lightning used in a way to describe the appearance of God. Of course we see the entire first sentence of verse 5 in Exodus when Moses and the Israelites witnessed God descend upon Mount Sinai
- Exodus 19:16 “So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. “
- Job 36:30“Behold, He spreads His lightning about Him”
- Psalm 97:4 “His lightnings lit up the world”
- Dan. 10:6 “His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning”
- Ezek. 1:4 “As I looked, I saw a great storm coming toward me from the north, driving before it a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone with brilliant light. The fire inside the cloud glowed like gleaming amber.” (NLT)
Flashes of lightning were also used as a metaphor for a shining sword or spear.
- Ezek. 21:15 “That their hearts may melt, and many fall at all their gates. I have given the glittering sword. Ah! It is made for striking like lightning, it is wrapped up in readiness for slaughter.”
In the New Testament lightning is used to give a description of the return of the Lord.
- Matt. 24:27 “For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.”
- Luke 17:24“For just as the lightning, when it flashes out of one part of the sky, shines to the other part of the sky, so will the Son of Man be in His day. “
2. Sounds (or Voices): “Sounds” carry a wide variety of possibilities. But just as the lighting captures the eyes, sounds capture the ears.
It was in the Garden of Eden when it was said that Adam and Eve heard the sound of the LORD God. (GEN 3:8)
In the OT there are sounds of the horn, sounds of war, sounds of singing, etc.. This could be the voices or sounds of the Lord Himself. It could also be the saints, creatures, and angels lifting up voices of praise to the Most High.
Moses brought forth thunder and hail as one of the plagues upon Egypt
- Ex. 9:23“And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.”
- Is. 29:6“From the LORD of hosts you will be punished with thunder and earthquake and loud noise, With whirlwind and tempest and the flame of a consuming fire.”
James and John were given the name, “Son’s of Thunder” (Boanerges) by Jesus.
The voice of God is also described with the word thunder. Here is a great verse that has all three of the words used from verse 5.
- Job 37:4 “After it, a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice; And He does not restrain the lightnings when His voice is heard.
John Wesley’s Notes:
Verse 5. And out of the throne go forth lightnings—Which affect the sight. Voices—Which affect the hearing. Thunderings—Which cause the whole body to tremble. Weak men account all this terrible; but to the inhabitants of heaven it is a mere source of joy and pleasure, mixed with reverence to the Divine Majesty. Even to the saints on earth these convey light and protection; but to their enemies, terror and destruction.
I did not have time to touch on the seven lamps of fire aka the seven Spirits of God. If you have any thoughts or opinions on the topic feel free to share.
••• I am sure we have all seen lightning and heard thunder as well as “sounds”, but I know the words that John used for this description hardly scratch the surface! Try and put yourself in this place, it is not easy, but I hope that you can at least feel the reverence that comes with standing before the Great and Mighty Throne of God. Let us stand in awe of our God. I encourage you to use the Beauty Realm of Revelation 4 and 5 to keep things in perspective.
King David gives another description that causes great wonderment in Psalm 97:1-6
The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
Fire goes before Him, And burns up His adversaries round about.
His lightnings lit up the world; The earth saw and trembled.
The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory.
Go to the beginning of this Beauty Realm Bible Study