The Bible in many instances refers to acts of nature such as wind, rain, rainbow, and thunder. Depending on the context, there could be symbolism attached to such mentions or it could be a pure mention of an element of nature. That notwithstanding, one thing we are sure of is that all elements including lightning are under the control of God.
In the Book of Job 28:26, the Bible confirms this:
“When he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder”
Below are some of the symbols that lightning represents in the Bible.
What You'll Learn Today
God’s Glorious Majesty
The Bible describes God in different ways. While it doesn’t plainly help us figure out what God looks like, it uses elements such as lightning and thunder to describe his unique characteristics. God is all powerful and majestic in the things he does.
In Revelation 4:5, the Bible describes this majestic and awesome presence of God using the following line of scripture:
“From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.”
Just as thunder and lightning were fascinating and powerful elements of nature, the author of Revelation used them to describe the majesty of God.
The Presence of God
The presence of God is described in the Bible using different elements. For instance, when God appeared to Moses, the Bible gives an account of a burning bush that was not consumed by the flames.
On a separate occasion on Mt. Sinai where God gave Moses the 10 commandments, the Bible speaks of lightning and thunder. This was to signify the presence of God on the mountain.
In Exodus 19:16, the Bible describes the vent as follows,
“On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.”
God is powerful and as the subjects, we hardly comprehend the magnitude of that power. However, through the description of the power of God and the things that he is able to do, we can have a glimpse of what that power is like. For instance, when God parts the waters at the Red Sea, we get a feel of how powerful he is.
In Psalm 135:7, the Bible talks of this power in a figurative way as follows,
“He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.”
God has unique characteristics some of which represents what we feel and go through at times. In some instances, the Bible portrays God’s anger at certain things happening in the world such as injustice and sin. In Psalm 144:5-6, the Bible talks of God’s intervention in the presence of his enemies.
This is what the Bible says,
“Bow Your heavens, O LORD, and come down; Touch the mountains, that they may smoke. Flash forth lightning and scatter them; Send out Your arrows and confuse them.”
In a similar line of scripture, the Bible uses lightning again as an expression of God’s wrath towards his enemies in 2Samuel 22:15,
“He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.”
In many instances in the Bible, God has shown people how he judges the world. While all of us are waiting for the great judgment when the earth is folded up, there are miniature versions of God’s judgment through the pages of the Bible.
In Job 36:30-32, the Bible talks of how he uses lightning as one of the instruments of judgement. This is what the Bible says:
“Behold, He spreads His lightning about Him, And He covers the depths of the sea. For by these He judges peoples; He gives food in abundance. “He covers His hands with the lightning, and commands it to strike the mark.”
When God is not pleased with things going on in the world even amongst his own people, he unleashes his punishment either directly on the people or indirectly by what they own. In the Book Psalm 78:48, the Bible says,
“He gave over their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning.”
Usually, God protects property including animals from destruction, but in this case, we see Him withdrawing his safeguards thus exposing them to destruction. The picture here is that of hail mixed with fire from lightning that smites the cattle.
After such punishments, God’s overall agenda is for the hearts of his people to draw to him so that he can lead them to their destiny.
The Sign of the End
In the Gospels according to Matthew and Luke, there are descriptions that give us an idea of the signs of the end. This had been a question that Jesus kept on receiving from the disciples as they wanted to know how the end will be and when it will be. Instead of giving them a straight answer, Jesus responded to their queries using symbols and signs.
In Matthew 24:27; the Bible says,
“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
In the Gospel according to St. Luke, the same response is recorded in Luke 17:24:
“For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.”
The use of lightning in the Bible is both figurative and plain. It is a clear display of God’s command and power over the elements as well as instruments of destruction and wrath.
Oftentimes, God used lightning either to strike down his enemies or to punish his people to serve as a warning against their waywardness. In all this, God never loses his inclination towards mercy and he always forgives even when the people wrong him.
Looking for more symbolism? Then you can read this guide to the meaning of ashes in the Bible.